rah-mah-dahn • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun proper
Meaning: The ninth month of the Muslim calendar is devoted to the Fast of Ramadan. That fast is taking place around the world today. One night around 610 AD, according to the Muslim faith, the archangel Gabriel appeared to Mohammed, a caravan trader, in the vicinity of Mecca, and told him that he had been chosen to hear the word of God (Allah). Over the following days, Mohammed began reciting the verses that ultimately became the Qur'an (Koran).
Notes: Ramadan begins the day after the lunar crescent and ends with the next new crescent. During the Fast of Ramadan observant Muslims do not eat or drink during the daylight hours. Neither smoking nor sexual relations are allowed. The fast may be broken at the end of the day with prayer and a meal that usually begins with dates called the iftar. The fast is resumed the next morning after a predawn meal, the suhoor, which usually is prepared from the leftovers of the iftar the night before.
In Play: The end of the fast is celebrated as Eid ul-Fitr, the Festival of Fast-Breaking. On Eid ul-Fitr Muslims universally greet each other by saying, "Eid mubarak" (a blessed Eid). In 2016 Ramadan began around June 6 and ends around July 6. We hope all our Muslim readers around the world have had a blessed and happy Ramadan.
Word History: Ramadan comes from the Semitic root *rmd which appears in Arabic as ramida and ar-ramad, meaning "intense scorching, heat, and dryness". (Semitic roots usually contain only consonants. Different sets of vowels are inserted between them to convey the same meanings that suffixes convey in Indo-European languages.) The same root produced ramdaa "sunbaked sand" and the famous idiom: kal mustajeer minar ramadaa binnar "to jump out of the frying pan into the fire." Hebrew remetz "embers" is another member of this Semitic root.
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