Ramadan: Everything You Need to Know, Plus Greetings

Learn more about the significance of Ramadan, why Ramadan is important to Muslims, and what one can do during the sacred month, including greetings!
by Ustaz Muhammad Aniq Faris Bin Amin 2024-03-13 • 21 min read
After graduating from Madrasah Al-Arabiah Al-Islamiah, Ustaz Aniq Faris pursued his Bachelors degree in the university of Al-Azhar, Cairo. He loves to provide Islamic knowledge to the community and currently, he is the Youth Development Officer in Masjid Al-Islah.
2024-03-13 • 21 min read

All blessings to Allah s.w.t. for giving us another opportunity to meet the month of Ramadan again. Ramadan is the time of the year when Muslims worldwide partake in collective and individual spiritual rejuvenation, fulfilling their religious obligation and expressing their servitude to Allah s.w.t.

Although Ramadan occurs every year, it is only sometimes second nature to everyone. It is a month of development and constant learning as we embrace life’s fluctuating demands and discover new things about ourselves and the depth of our faith.

In addition, we live in a multicultural and multi-religious society. It is always enlightening to share some information with our friends, colleagues, and neighbours about our way of life. Let's start with the basics! Here are some commonly searched questions about Ramadan:

Why is Ramadan celebrated

What Does Ramadan Mean?

Linguistically, ‘Ramadan’ comes from the Arabic word ‘Ramidha’ (رَمِضَ) or ‘Ar-Ramad’ (الرَمَضُ), which means intense scorching heat. Like the scorching heat from the sun that dries the muddy water on the ground, Ramadan is ushered in with a chance to cleanse the sins of the hopeful believer and purify one’s soul.

Therefore, Ramadan is like a time of renewal for Muslims. It is a month of boundless rewards where every good deed is multiplied. Around the world, Muslims look forward to this month. Fasting, reading the Quran, praying Terawih, the constant search for Laylatul Qadar, and congregational iftars are some of the things we do to celebrate this beautiful month.

Read: The Spiritual Significance of Ramadan: Is It Really About Understanding How The Poor Feels?

Why Is It Important for Muslims?

Fasting in Ramadan is one of the pillars of Islam. It is an obligation for Muslims who are physically and mentally able, and those who have reached puberty, to fast. It is also an excellent opportunity to purify our body and soul.

Ibn Umar r.a. reported that the Prophet s.a.w. said:

 بُنِيَ الْإِسْلَامُ عَلَى خَمْسٍ شَهَادَةِ أَنْ لَا إلَهَ إلَّا اللَّهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ، وَإِقَامِ الصَّلَاةِ، وَإِيتَاءِ الزَّكَاةِ، وَحَجِّ الْبَيْتِ، وَصَوْمِ رَمَضَانَ

"Islam has been built on five (pillars): testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammed is the messenger of Allah, performing the prayers, paying the zakat, making the pilgrimage to the House, and fasting in Ramadan."

(Muttafaqun ‘Alayh)

Read: What is Zakat?

What Does Ramadan Kareem Mean? How Do We Do It Locally?

“Ramadan Kareem” loosely translates to “Generous Ramadan”. It is a common greeting amongst fellow Muslims to usher in the blessed month of Ramadan, filled with abundant rewards. 

Another common way to wish each other is “Ramadan Mubarak”, which means “blessed Ramadan” or “happy Ramadan”. As most Muslims in Singapore are the local Malays with a long history of Islam in the region, you may also be familiar with the common wish of “Selamat berpuasa”, which means “Happy fasting” in Malay. 

Wishing someone a blessed Ramadan greeting

You may also wish your Muslim friends, neighbours or colleagues a happy Ramadan by simply saying, “Happy fasting!” or “Have a meaningful Ramadan!” There is no prescribed wish in a specific term or language as long as it is meant to uplift one another and enliven the sacred period. For Muslims, it can mean God’s pleasure when we instil happiness in the hearts of others.

Read: Addressing Misconceptions: Islam and Diversity 

In Singapore, Ramadan brings us through a routine of waking up for our pre-dawn meal (sahur) and doing our Subuh prayers before going about our daily affairs. We look forward to breaking our fast with our family or friends by getting a variety of food from bazaars scattered throughout our island or indulging in home-cooked meals prepared in the comfort of our homes. We would often tune in to our local radio station to listen to the tazkirah (a brief segment of religious advice and guidance) from our local asatizah, while waiting for the maghrib call to prayer (azan). 

Check out The Asatizah Youth Network

What Is Fasting (Saum) in Islam? 

In Islam, fasting is defined as having no food, drink, or sexual intimacy from before the first light of dawn (Subuh) until the setting of the sun (Maghrib). The purpose of fasting is to reduce our desire and appetite so that we can have the strength to increase our taqwa (Mindful of Allah s.w.t). Fundamentally, as mentioned above, Muslims participate in the fasting of the whole month of Ramadan to fulfil their religious obligations.

Read: 4 Ways to Internalise the Essence of Fasting

Apart from Ramadan, there are other opportune times when Muslims can fast to gain rewards and seek Allah’s pleasure, not as an obligation but as recommended acts of worship.

Read: Understanding the Sunnah of the Prophet s.a.w.

We are encouraged to fast on the day of ‘Arafah (9 Dhul-Hijja), the day of ‘Ashura (10 Muharram), the first ten days of Zulhijjah, the first ten days of Muharram, Rajab and Sha’ban, and six days in Syawwal. We are also encouraged to fast on the “white days”, which are the 13th, 14th and 15th of every month. Fasting weekly on Mondays and Thursdays is also a sunnah we can emulate.

Read: Fasting On The White Days​​​​​

Basics of Fasting

The Intention to Fast

Intention helps to differentiate between activities that are considered acts of worship and acts that are not. We will be rewarded by our intention as we strive to carry out our worship sincerely for the sake of Allah s.w.t. 

Similarly, for fasting, we are encouraged to express our intention by reciting:

 نَوَيْتُ صَوْمَ غَدٍ عَنْ اَدَاءِ فَرْضِ شَهْرِ رَمَضَانَ هَذِهِ السَّنَةِ لِلَّهِ تَعَالىَ

Nawaitu shauma ghadin ‘an adā’i fardhi syahri Ramadhāna hādzihis sanata lillāhi ta‘ālā

“I intend to do obligatory fast tomorrow in the month of Ramadan this year because of Allah”

Read: Will my fast still be valid if I forgot to say the niyyah (intention) the night before?

The Duration to Fast

The hours of fasting differ depending on where in the world we live. As mentioned above, Muslims fast from Subuh until Maghrib. In Asia, we typically fast for around 13 to 14 hours daily. In countries like Iceland, Muslims are expected to fast for up to 17 hours.

وَكُلُوا۟ وَٱشْرَبُوا۟ حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَكُمُ ٱلْخَيْطُ ٱلْأَبْيَضُ مِنَ ٱلْخَيْطِ ٱلْأَسْوَدِ مِنَ ٱلْفَجْرِ ۖ  ثُمَّ أَتِمُّوا۟ ٱلصِّيَامَ إِلَى ٱلَّيْلِ

“You may eat and drink until you see the light of dawn breaking the darkness of night, then complete the fast until nightfall.”

(Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:187)

What Is the Sahur?

Linguistically, sahur loosely translates to ‘of the dawn’. You may also come across different spellings of the word in Romanised letters, which include ‘suhoor’. In the context of Ramadan activities, it is the pre-fasting meal that we eat before Subuh. Part of the sunnah is to wake up and have our sahur as described in a hadith. Anas r.a. reported that the Prophet s.a.w. said:

 تَسَحَّرُوا فَإِنَّ فِي السَّحُورِ بَرَكَةً ‏

"Take the predawn meal (sahur) as there is a blessing in it."

(Muttafaqun ‘Alayh)

We are highly encouraged to wake up and enliven this sunnah of our Prophet s.a.w. Ideally, we fuel our stomachs during sahur with food that can give us an energy boost, like dates and oats so we can continue our daily activities without lethargy and constant hunger pangs.

On that note, you can also opt to eat your choice of comfort food or any other meal to indulge in that satisfies your fill. But do so at your own risk. Such food may take a toll on you if you do not consider how your body works and the nutrient consumption as you progress throughout the day. Hence, Ramadan prompts us to focus on what matters most and teaches us to be mindful of what we may take for granted every other day.

What Do Muslims Need to Stay Away From While Fasting?

Muslims are prohibited from consuming food, drinks, and participating in sexual intimacy with their spouse while fasting as part of disciplining themselves (the nafs). However, that is not all there is to it. Abu Hurayrah r.a. reported  that the Prophet s.a.w. said:

رُبَّ صَائِمٍ لَيْسَ لَهُ مِنْ صِيَامِهِ إِلاَّ الْجُوعُ وَرُبَّ قَائِمٍ لَيْسَ لَهُ مِنْ قِيَامِهِ إِلاَّ السَّهَرُ ‏

“Perhaps there are people who fast and get nothing from their fast except hunger, and perhaps there are those who pray (at night) and get nothing from their prayer but a sleepless night.”

(Sunan Ibn Majah)

A complete fast entails us restraining every part of our body from what Allah s.w.t. dislikes. We must protect the eye from looking at things He dislikes, the tongue from uttering what does not concern us, and the ear from listening to what Allah has forbidden.

What Do Muslims Break Their Fast With?

Iftar’ is the Arabic term Muslims use to mean ‘breaking our fast’. Traditionally, we break our fast by eating dates first to emulate the sunnah of our Prophet s.a.w. It is highly encouraged to practice moderation in our meals. 

We should not eat excessively as it can be a burden on our stomachs and prevent us from doing our ‘ibadah (worship) with ease throughout the night. 

Read: 6 Tips to Break Your Fast During Ramadan

The Traditions of Ramadan

Increase in Doing Good and Donate Generously

Ramadan is when Muslims race towards doing good deeds as the reward for every act of worship that we do will be multiplied. As mentioned in a hadith, the Prophet s.a.w. said: 

كُلُّ عَمَلِ ابْنِ آدَمَ يُضَاعَفُ الْحَسَنَةُ عَشْرُ أَمْثَالِهَا إِلَى سَبْعمِائَة ضِعْفٍ قَالَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ إِلَّا الصَّوْمَ فَإِنَّهُ لِي وَأَنَا أَجْزِي بِهِ

“Every deed of the son of Adam will be multiplied between ten and seven hundred times. Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, said: Except fasting. It is for Me and I shall reward for it. He gives up his desires and his food for My sake.”

(Sahih Muslim)

Read: 5 Good Deeds To Do In Ramadan

Protip: There are several initiatives where you can automate your donations every day in Ramadan. If you are not able to, consider focusing on the last ten nights of Laylatul Qadr to maximise your rewards!

Visit: https://www.ourmasjid.sg/ 

Introduction to the Terawih Prayers

Do you know that terawih means ‘rest and relaxation’? Terawih prayer is a time for us to rest, refresh and connect with Allah s.w.t. It is a uniqueset of prayers done after Isha’ in Ramadan. 

Read: How To Perform Solat Terawih - Step by Step Guide

Terawih prayers usually consist of 8 or 20 raka’at followed by 3 raka’at of Witr prayer. It is a highly encouraged sunnah of our Prophet s.a.w. to be done at home with our family or at the mosque. 

مَنْ قَامَ رَمَضَانَ إِيْمَانًا وَاحْتِسَابًا غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ 

“Whoever stands (in worship) in Ramadan out of faith and hope for the rewards (from Allah), his past sins will be forgiven.” 

(Muttafaqun ‘Alayh)

Read: 5 Beautiful Dua for You This Ramadan

Muslims' Connection With the Mosque

During Ramadan, many Muslims are motivated to visit the mosque more often as it is a place to find a community and a sense of belonging. For some of us, Ramadan is a springboard for change, and the mosque is a great place to start. 

Interior of Masjid Sultan for prayers especially during Ramadan

For families, the mosque is a place where they can strengthen their family bonds together while actively performing their ‘ibadah. Parents can also take this chance to bring their children to the mosque and encourage them to frequent it.

Read: The Importance of Mosques in Islam

While it is encouraged for us to enliven our local mosques during Ramadan with good deeds and acts of worship, it is equally rewarding to observe our Ramadan nights diligently in the comfort of our own homes, or perhaps at work too. Some of us may have commitments that don’t allow us to frequent the mosque. Our Prophet s.a.w. himself focused on spending his time with acts of worship at home in the nights in Ramadan.

What is important is that we optimise our circumstances to seek the pleasures of Allah s.w.t. 

Muslims’ Connection With Quran

Ramadan is also known as the month of the Quran. In this blessed month, we aim to develop a better relationship with Allah s.w.t. through actively engaging with His Book. 

Read: 5 Benefits of Reciting the Quran

Here are some ways you can build a connection with the Book of Allah: 

Recitation: It is mustahabb (recommended) that we read the Quran as much as we can during Ramadan and strive to complete it. However, if we are still learning how to read it, it is okay. There is an additional merit for those who strive to learn how to read!1

Tafsir: Strengthen your relationship with the Quran by studying the tafsir (exegesis) of the Quran.

Memorisation: Choosing to engrave the Quran in your heart opens an infinite door of goodness for you in this world and the hereafter. 

Every time you recite a verse, you're getting rewarded for each letter. As Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud reported that the Prophet s.a.w. said, 

مَنْ قَرَأَ حَرْفًا مِنْ كِتَابِ اللَّهِ فَلَهُ بِهِ حَسَنَةٌ وَالْحَسَنَةُ بِعَشْرِ أَمْثَالِهَا لاَ أَقُولُ الم حَرْفٌ وَلَكِنْ أَلِفٌ حَرْفٌ وَلاَمٌ حَرْفٌ وَمِيمٌ حَرْفٌ

“Whoever recites a letter from Allah's Book, then he receives the reward from it, and the reward of ten the like of it. I do not say that Alif Lam Mim is a letter, but Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter and Mim is a letter.”

(Sunan At-Tirmizi)

Read: How to Learn to Read Quran

The Last Ten Nights of Ramadan - Laylatul Qadr

The most valuable of these nights are the last ten, with the greatest night of all being Laylatul Qadr.

Allah tells us in the Quran that Laylatul Qadr is better than a thousand months. You may have heard people equate Laylatul Qadr to around 83 years worth of worship, but in reality, this night is better than a thousand months.

This means that not only could we be forgiven for a lifetime of sins, but any good deeds done on this night give us the golden opportunity to earn more rewards than we could ever do in an entire lifetime.

Although it is said to be in the last ten nights, the date is never clearly identified and left ambiguous, suggesting that we should embark on the quest to look for it by striving to be consistent throughout Ramadan in hopes of chancing upon it.

Read: 4 Beautiful Significances of Laylatul Qadr


Ramadan is an opportunity to renew our faith and devotion to Allah s.w.t. It is a time of great solidarity, shared sacrifice and celebration. This blessed month is a gift for us to purify our souls and race towards doing good deeds with the intention to develop taqwa and to be better Muslims.

May Allah accept our ‘ibadah, and may this Ramadan be the start of a better version of ourselves.

Blessed Ramadan to you!

Read: Frequently Asked Questions During Ramadan

1 The Prophet s.a.w. said in a hadith: “The one who is proficient in (reciting) the Quran will be with the honourable and righteous scribes (angels), and the one who recites the Quran and stumbles over it, will have double rewards.” (Sahih Muslim)


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