As self-mastery for God's sake, Ramadan is an inner holy war against temptations, where valor is shown through endurance (sabr) against Satan and the strengthening of faith. But it is first and foremost an act of pure submission (the literal meaning of the word islam) to God's command, given in the sura (chapter) entitled Al Baqarah in the Koran. This is the only passage where a month is mentioned by name, with instructions to fast throughout the month during which the holy book was first "revealed as guidance to man and clear proof of the guidance, and criterion (of falsehood and truth)." ...
Thus, the fast regulates the entry into the body of all foreign substances, whether food, drink, smoke, or medication. All of these are banned between the first glimmer of dawn until the sun has completely set, at which time all these exchanges between inside and outside become licit again. These two moments of the start and end of the daily fasting period are signaled by cannon shots during Ramadan in the cities of many Islamic countries.
Just after sunset and the iftar prayer for the breaking of the fast has been said, it is usual to have a light snack, such as one or three dates as was Muhammad's custom; this evening "breakfast" is experienced as a kind of sacrament of brotherhood. Once the daily evening prayer has been completed, a full dinner may be consumed—obviously none too soon. In this context, a festive atmosphere overtakes Muslim neighborhoods as friends visit each other's families. Near bedtime, extra tarawih prayers for Ramadan follow the daily night prayer at home or at the mosque ….
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