Ramadhan, the origins

Ramadhan, the origins

We all know that the ninth lunar month of the Hijri calendar is Ramadan. It is the holy month when the Quran was first revealed (Quran II,185). Strict fasting (çiyâm or çawm), the third pillar of Islam, is observed every day of the month since the appearance of the new moon. We also know that Ramadan is also supposed to be an opportunity for a certain conviviality, and that it has above all taken its place as a fundamental institution in the practice of Islam to the point that its rigorous application takes on an expiatory and even redemptive meaning. in our collective memory as Muslims.

If the fast of penance is cited several times in the Koran, Ramadan as an entire month of fasting is only cited once, it is also the only name of the month that is named in the Quran. Koran. In fact, we find in the Koran a recommendation for expiatory fasting on various occasions. Thus, it concerns the one who reverses a decision to repudiate his wife (Quran LVIII) and who will have to fast for two consecutive months, the one who will have killed another believer by mistake, and who will first have to pay the price of the blood debt and then fast for two months in a row failing to free a slave (Koran IV), also one who has not kept an oath and who will have to fast for three days failing to feed or clothe ten poor people, and also the one who, while he was in a state of ihram (sacralization of pilgrimage in particular), will have killed a game; he must compensate for this illicit act by fasting (Quran V) etc.

But apart from the codification of Ramadan and the licit and illicit aspects attached to it, what about its origins and what interesting historical facts could we mention about it?

1) In the ancient lunar calendar of the Arabs, in pre-Islamic times, the month of Ramadan always occurred in the hot season, in summer, due to the fact that the periodic intercalation of an additional lunar month had the effect of adjusting the lunar year to the solar year. Etymologically, the root of the word Ramadan refers to heat (ramâd means ashes). In fact, the lunar year has 10 to 11 days less than the solar year depending on whether the latter is 365 or 366 days. The abolition of intercalary months constitutes a change introduced in the calendar under the Prophet Muhammad. This abolition was late: Verses IX, 36-37 were made public by the Prophet in a speech he gave in Mecca during the Farewell Pilgrimage in the year 632. Ibn Ishâq cites the names of pagan priests who practiced according to particular rites (little known) the arrangements of the sacred months in the lunar calendar. The first was Hudayfa ibn 'Abd, and the last, before Islam, was Abou Thoumâma Jounâda ibn 'Awf. This practice was called “nasî'” in Arabic.

2) In Yathrib (Medina) before the Hegira, Jewish rites were dominant. Indeed, Yathrib had long been controlled by three Jewish tribes. Even following the arrival of the first Mouhâjiroun (Emigrants), the Ançars (Auxiliaries) continued to adapt to certain Jewish religious practices such as 'Achoura. The Ançars were of Medinan origin who had adopted Islam and hoped for the intercession and arbitration of the Prophet Muhammad to put an end to the conflicts which regularly ravaged Yathrib where two enemy Arab tribes, the Aws and the Khazraj, tore each other apart. . Many Ansars were linked to the Jews of Yathrib and observed the fast of Ashura which took place on the same date as the Jewish festival of Atonement, the 10th of the month of Tishri.

Upon his arrival in Medina, the Prophet recommended remaining in accordance with Jewish custom, and Muslims continued to practice this fast of 'Ashura.

But, despite the Prophet's efforts to show the Jews of Medina that he was preaching an Abrahamic religion like that of the “People of the Book”, the Jews were suspicious and even hostile. Even when the fast of Ramadan was prescribed in 624 (Quran II, 183-185 and 187) and replaced 'Ashoura, the latter was not prohibited by the Prophet to Muslims, but simply became optional. The favorable disposition that the Prophet Muhammad showed for the Jews of Medina is also reflected in the fact that the first qiblah (direction of prayer) was towards Jerusalem. It was only in 624 that the Quran recommended the change of qiblah in verses II,143-145. Ibn Ishaq tells us that this change occurred in the month of Sha'ban, the 18th month after the Prophet's arrival in Medina. This allows us to appreciate the duration of the period during which the Prophet undertook numerous steps to conciliate, without success, the Jewish tribes of Medina.

In this same vein, we can cite an equally striking fact concerning the origin of the Friday prayer. Before the Hegira, in 621, the Prophet who was still in Mecca, sent a man converted to Islam to teach the precepts of Islam and the verses already revealed to the first converts of Medina, i.e. say those who participated in the first meeting of 'Aqabah. In his Sirah or Biography of the Prophet, Ibn Hishâm cites the name of this man: It is Mus`ab bnu 'Umayr bnu Hâshim. When Mus`ab arrived in Medina, he asked the Jewish authorities in the oasis for permission to bring together the new Muslim believers. Authorization was granted on the sole condition that such meetings took place on Friday, that is to say the day devoted by the Jews to preparation for the Sabbath.

The obvious intention behind this decision was to ensure that Jews, busy preparing for the Sabbath, would not be available to attend Muslim meetings and listen to the preaching of Muhammad's missionaries, thus avoiding they allow themselves to be influenced by the new doctrine and do not become complacent to it. The Jewish tribes then hoped in all likelihood that a Meccan Qorayshite coalition would come to put an end to the invasive projects of the new Prophet. But whatever the case, it was through this anecdote that the Friday cult was established in Islam. The most important thing to note is that the Prophet Muhammad subsequently endorsed this decision, and himself performed the prayer on the first Friday which he spent in Medina after his arrival. Here then is a man, depositary of a Revelation, with a grandiose project both on a spiritual and social level, and who accepted all concessions to find common ground and solidarity with the dominant Jewish tribes of his time.

On the eve of Ramadan this year, and in the painful context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, what we can remember from these historic events is that the wisdom of the Prophet Muhammad has always inspired reconciliation, pushing back as much as possible. far from the limits of rupture. Even more than fasting, the best tribute that we can pay to the Prophet is to continue to work for peace, the peace that he must have desired so much between the children of Abraham.

the day after Rosh Hashanah, the 3rd of Tishri, the fast of Gedaliah takes place. It is one of the four fasts established by the biblical prophets (Zechariah, VIII, 14) in memory of the misfortunes which befell the people of Israel, in order to encourage them to meditation and penance. The ten days of penance which extend from the 1st to the 10th of Tishri culminate in the day of Youm Kippur)