For Ramadan, we asked Daniel Abdullah Hernandez, Imam of the Pearland Islamic Center, to write a series of blogs about this sacred religious observance. This is Part One in the series:

In the name of God, the Most Gracious the Most Merciful.

We are blessed to announce that on Sunday, June 5, 2016 after sunset prayer, the President of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, M.J. Khan announced at the River Oaks Islamic Center the arrival of the month of Ramadan. The 1st of Ramadan is June 6th 2016.

The Month of Ramadan is observed by more than 1.7 billion Muslims around the world. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims (with some exceptions such as children, the elderly and the sick) observe fasting for the entire month from dawn to sunset.

What is the origin of the word Ramadan?

The word Ramadan is derived from the root word ramada which means “intense heat or scorched ground.”

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Lunar Calendar, the month of fasting in which Muslims believe was the beginning of the Revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad.

What is the Origin and Definition of the word Sawm?

“Sawm” means to abstain and refrain from something. For Muslims, this means abstaining from eating, drinking, sexual intimacy with one’s spouse, indecent speech, lying, getting angry and fighting from the time of Dawn to the time of Sunset.

For the believer, observing the fast is a fulfillment of safeguarding one of the 5 pillars of Islam.

The Five Pillars of Islam:

  1. Testimony of Faith (Believing in One God and Muhammad as the Last Messenger)
  2. Prayer five times a day
  3. Almsgiving: charity for the poor, needy, wayfarer etc.  
  4. Fasting in the Month of Ramadan
  5. Pilgrimage: The Journey of a Lifetime to Mecca

Story of Revelation in Ramadan

The situation in Mecca, the birth place of Muhammad, needs to be understood before discussing the Revelation of the Quran. In matters of religion, the Meccans used to worship idols and sacrifice on their behalf.

Muhammad was born in Mecca, a descendent of the Prophet Ishmael, son of the Prophet Abraham. He was an orphan, unlettered, raised by his uncle and earned the nickname of Sadiq (Truthful) and Al Amin (Trustworthy). Muhammad knew that the way of his people was wrong, but he unable to change the condition and practices of his people. This hardship led him to a time of intense prayer at the cave on Mount. Hira.

While Muhammad was in this time of prayer during the Month of Ramadan, the Angel Gabriel appeared to him and instructed him to read.  Muhammad responded, “I do not know how to read.” Then again, the Angel instructed him to read and he said, “I do not know how to read.” The third time is when the Angel revealed the following verses to Muhammad which are found in sura (chapter) 96:

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

[96.1] Read (Prophet Muhammad) in the Name of your Lord who created,
[96.2] Created the human from a (blood) clot.
[96.3] Read! Your Lord is the Most Generous,
[96.4] Who taught by the pen,
[96.5] Taught the human what he did not know.”

Legislation of Fasting the Month of Ramadan: 

Allah says in the Quran, sura (Chapter) 2:185: “The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.” 

Daniel Abdullah Hernandez

Imam of the Pearland Islamic Center