Ramadan 2015 Timetable: Find Out When Is The First Holy Fast In Your Country
Representational image: Muslim groups in Kerala protested against a Malayalam newspaper over a controversial comment about the Prophet on Wednesday, March 9, 2016.Reuters File

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calender, marks a period of fasting and deep reflection for Muslims worldwide.

Since the Islamic calendar is lunar, the fasting for Ramadan will start from either 17 or 18 June, based on when the moon is sighted.

In the 30-day period, all Muslims abstain from having food and drinks starting from sunrise to sunset. During the period of fasting, Muslims also tend to abstain from smoking and sexual activities. 

After the fasting period, on the next new moon day, Muslims will celebrate the end of Ramadan with a day-long celebration known as Eid-ul Fitr around 17 July.

Ramadan is also a season of prayer. Here are top 10 prayers to help the believers feel closer to God.

Prayer for Forgiveness

Observant Muslims see Ramadan as a time for seeking forgiveness from God for all their sins and transgressions. Teachings in The Quran and in The Hadiths (sayings of Prophet Muhammad) clearly state that during the period of Ramadan, the sins of believers who engage in sincere worship and repentance will be forgiven.

Here is a prayer by Abdullah-ibn Amar, a companion of Prophet Muhammad:

"Allahumma inni as'aluka birahmatika al-lati wasi'at kulli shay'in an taghfira li." [Oh Allah, I ask You by Your mercy which envelopes all things, that You forgive me.]   [Source: BeliefNet]

Special Prayers

The Tarawih prayers are a special type of prayer, performed in cycles of movement (standing, bowing, prostrating, sitting). During Ramadan, attending Tarawih prayers is the best way to grow in closeness to God.

Prayers of Zikr (Dhikr)

Zikr, or prayers recited over and over again in the remembrance of God, is an integral part of a pious Muslims' life. The Zikr prayers are a great way to connect with God while doing any mundane chores of daily life such as driving or while in the kitchen. 

Repeating simple expressions such as Subhan'allah [Glorious is God], Alhamdulillah [Thanks be to God],  Astaghfirullah [I seek forgiveness of God] and Allahu Akbar [God is the Greatest] can make oneself aware about the greatness of God.

Prayer of Mercy

Ramadan is considered auspicious that Muslims believe that any man, who seeks God with a pure heart, his prayer will be heard. 

Reciting a simple prayer such as: "Rabbigh-fir war hum wa anta khair ur rahimeen." [Oh my Lord and Sustainer, please forgive me and be merciful to me. You are the best amongst those who show mercy] can draw one closer to his Maker.

Prayer to Seek Pardon from Sin

In the second 10 days of Ramadan, a prayer, which is from Quran, was recommended by the Prophet Muhammad to be recited for seeking God's blessing and forgiveness of sins.
"Allahumma innaka afuwwun tuhibbul afwa fa'fu anni." [Oh Allah indeed you are the greatest pardoner and you like the act of pardoning. Hence, please forgive us.]  [Source: Ahlesunnat]

Prayer of Repentance 

Prophet Muhammad has particularly mentioned about this prayer, which is to be recited during the last 10 days of Ramadan as much as possible. 

"Astaghfirullaha rabbi min kulli zambin wa atabu ilaih." [I seek forgiveness of all my sins from Allah who is my lord and sustainer and I return back in repentance to him alone.]

Prayers on Laylat al-Qadr

Laylat al-Qadr, in Islamic belief is the night when the first verses of the Quran were revealed.

As per Islamic belief, whoever prays by heart "Laa ilaha il-lal lahu Muhammadur Rasulullah" [There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger] will be forgiven for all their sins.

Prayer During Bedtime

Before going to bed, one must recite "Subhanallahi wa'l hamdu lillaahi wa laa ilaaha illallaahu wallahu akbar " [Glory be to Allah, and praise be to Allah; there is no god but Allah, and Allah is the Greatest].This is equal to doing Haj and Umra, it is believed. [Source: Duas]

Personal Prayers

Ramadan is a great month for understanding the will of God. Praying and subjecting oneself to his will helps us grow in closeness with the Creator.

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