History of Ramadan

Let’s take a straightforward journey through time to uncover the historical roots of Ramadan, a tradition that spans over 14 centuries. We’ll delve into the origins of this holy month, shaped by the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, and discover how it has evolved while maintaining its core practices.

Origins History of Ramadan

The history of Ramadan, stemming from the seventh century when Prophet Muhammad outlined the five pillars of Islam, emphasizes fasting during this special month. Commemorating the Quran’s revelation, Ramadan holds deep significance in shaping the spiritual beliefs of Islam, with a key practice being to read surah al waqiah to enhance the spiritual experience.

Etymology and Early Practices

The term “Ramadan,” derived from the Arabic word meaning ‘intense heat,’ has its roots in the pre-Islamic Arab calendar. Early Muslims observed fasting, starting their day with suhoor, and refraining from eating until iftar in the evening, breaking their fast with dates. Fasting, beyond spiritual discipline, aimed to nurture honesty and good conduct.

Evolution of Ramadan Practices

While the fundamental rituals of Ramadan have remained constant since 624, the way people observe this holy month has evolved. Prophet Muhammad introduced additional night prayers, known as tarawih, which later evolved into congregational tarawih. The global spread of Islam added diverse practices to the Ramadan experience.

History of Ramadan

Cultural Expressions and Traditions

Ramadan’s journey across the world brought forth diverse cultural expressions. In Ottoman Turkey, drummers signaled the pre-dawn meal, and Egypt embraced the iconic Ramadan lantern or fanoos. The tradition of the ‘iftar cannon’ in Egypt, possibly dating back to the 15th century, adds a unique touch to Ramadan’s history.

Poetry and Charitable Traditions

Throughout history, poets, including Sufi poets like Jalaluddin Rumi, found inspiration in Ramadan. Prophet Muhammad’s emphasis on feeding the poor led to the tradition of zakat-al-fitr, evolving from a bartering system to a monetary contribution for the less fortunate.

Eid ul-Fitr and Culinary Traditions

As Ramadan concludes with Eid ul-Fitr, a day of communal prayers and celebration, the historical roots of joy envisioned by Prophet Muhammad come to life. Starting the day with something sweet has given rise to a global variety of sweet dishes, reflecting the cultural diversity within the Muslim community.


Uncovering the historical roots of Ramadan unveils a tradition that has endured and adapted over time. From its modest beginnings with a handful of early Muslims to a global practice embraced by 1.8 billion people, the history of Ramadan is a testament to its simplicity, spiritual significance, and cultural richness.

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