The New International Encyclopædia/Ramadan
RAMADAN, rä'mȧ-dän' (Ar. Ramaḍȧn, from ramiḍa, to be burning hot). The ninth month in the Mohammedan year. Mohammed is said to have had his first revelation in Ramadan, and every Moslem is therefore enjoined to keep a strict fast during this month from dawn to sunset of every day, and to abstain from eating, driving, smoking, bathing, smelling perfumes, and other bodily enjoyments. During the night, however, the most necessary wants may be satisfied, and this permission leads to nightly indulgences in all sorts of enjoyments. As the Mohammedan year is a lunar one, the months rotate through the different seasons, and the fast of Ramadan becomes a severe affliction upon the faithful when the month happens to fall in the hot days of the summer. The sick, travelers, and soldiers in time of war are temporarily released from this duty, though it must subsequently be performed during an equal number of days. Nursing and pregnant women, and those to whom it might prove really injurious, are exempted from fasting. During this month twenty additional prayers are said after the night prayer. Very pious believers seclude themselves and devote their time to the reading of the Koran. The fast is followed by the feast of Beiram (q.v.). In establishing this fast Mohammed seems to have been guided by the Christian institution of Lent, which in the early Church varied in length from four to six weeks. The principal passages treating of the fast of Ramadan are found in the Koran, sura ii. 179-184. Consult: Wellhausen, Reste arabischen Heidentums (Berlin, 1897); D'Herbelot, Bibliothèque orientale (Paris, 1781); and the commentaries on the Koran.