• 02 Dec, 2022

Navratri [Hindu New Year] and Ramadhaan - Why did they fall at the same time this year? PART 1 OF 2

Navratri [Hindu New Year] and Ramadhaan - Why did they fall at the same time this year? PART 1 OF 2

Navratri [Hindu New Year] and Ramadhaan - Why did they fall at the same time this year? PART 1 OF 2

The sighting of the crescent moon at sunset (6.21pm) today, Tuesday April 13th 2021, is significant for both Muslims and Hindus.

For Muslims, it marks the first night of the ninth (9th) month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadhaan.

To mark the occasion, Muslims in the Caribbean usually congregate for an extended nightly prayer (namaaz) called taraweeh.

The pandemic-imposed limitation to congregating this year, as was the case last year, will prevent namazees from observing this practice at the various masajids.

However, it will not thwart some family members praying [taraweeh] together at home or the Muslims’ routine of fasting from the next day, Wednesday. 

There is a common misconception among some Hindus and other non-Muslims about the duration and rituals associated with the observance of the fast.

According to Chapter 2 verse 187 of the Holy Qur’an, “… eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct to you from its black thread.”

The Muslim community accepts this to mean that abstention from food begins at dawn (approximately 4.44 am) i.e. when the light of the sun begins to lighten the sky, not at sunrise (5.55 am) which is usually over one (1) hour later.

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The morning meal (sehri) is therefore eaten before 4.44 am (-10 mins) and then the fast commences as the fasting person pledges (neeyat):

“I intend to do obligatory fast in the month of Ramadhaan this year to fulfil my duty towards Allah.”

At this time, the call to prayer (adhaan) is usually issued from various masajids, signalling it is time to begin the morning (Fajr) prayer (namaaz).

The acceptable duration of time during which this namaaz should be performed is within that hour from as early as the break of dawn, but no later than sunrise.

The Fajr namaaz requires about 10 to 15 minutes.

From 4.44 am (-10 mins) the fasting person will neither eat nor drink; neither engage in vain conversations nor reprehensible behaviour; neither engage in sexual acts nor be flirtatious.

Rather he or she will practice restraint in words and actions; be charitable, and spend more time in the remembrance of Allah through making supplications (duahs), reading Qur’an and performing early afternoon (Zhur) and late afternoon (Asr) namaaz.

This continues daily until sunset (approximately 6.17 pm).

Sunset marks the time to begin the evening (maghrib) namaaz and when the adhaan is heard, the fasting person will recite the neeyat: “Oh Allah, for thy sake have I fasted and now I break the fast with the food that comes from thee, O most merciful of those who grant mercy.”

He or she will then sip some water and eat a date or small piece of fruit or sweet delicacy. The fast is broken.

The 15 to 20 minute maghrib namaaz is then performed after which dinner (iftar) is served. By 7.30 pm iftar ends and it is time for taraweeh which extends for 1 hour to 90 minutes.

The purpose of taraweeh is to recite all the chapters of the Holy Qur’an incrementally over the course of the month because Ramadhaan is the month in which the Holy Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace).

Later, during the night, namazees make additional duahs and perform namaaz to increase in spirituality. 

It is also permissible for them for eat, drink, converse and engage in intimacy during the night as then is the non-fasting hours.