Growing up in a Muslim household we are taught the importance of Ramadan and fasting in this holy month from an early age. Through the years from our first fast that we keep with great fervour to the ones that follow in the years to come we can at times become disillusioned as to the purpose of fasting in this month and that is to practice patience and a little self-control.
As Muslims we should always be mindful of others and be kind, however, Ramadan pushes us to try to be even better. Which is why every year, Muslims from all over the world, continue to fast for a month between the Fajar (sun up) to the Maghrib prayers (sun down).
How It Works? We have to abstain from food, water and other bodily indulgences [such as physical gratification] during the time that we are fasting. We also need to be kinder to those around us. We have to refrain from doing or saying things that might be harmful to others, such as getting into verbal and/or physical fights, cracking inappropriate jokes et cetera.
The Three Ashra’s! Depending on the sighting of the moon, fasting in Ramadan is generally up to 29-30 fasts. These are further divided into three sections devoted to a specific form of prayer; these divisions are called Ashra’s.
First Ashra: The first ten fasts are considered the days of “rehmat” [mercy] where Muslims seek mercy from Allah. The prayer is translated as:
“O! My Lord forgive and have Mercy and You are the Best of [the] Merciful.”
Second Ashra: The second section is to seek “maghfirat” or forgiveness from Allah. The prayer is translated as:
“I seek forgiveness from Allah, my Lord, from every sin I committed.”
Third Ashra: The last Ashra is considered one of “nijaat” [to seek Refuge]. These are the last 10 days of Ramadan. The prayer translates to:
“O Allah! Save me from the Hell-Fire.”