رمضان – Ramadan

The name of the month Ramadan is related to the root verb رَمِضَ ramida. It is interesting to reflect upon the various meanings associated with this verb as they seem to reveal something about the month of fasting.

رمض من الأمر ramida min al-amr implies that somebody is worried or anxious about something. The long days in some northern latitudes, for example, have sparked a debate about fasting hours which is ultimately rooted in worry and anxiety.

The verb ramida is also used to describe earth or rock that has been scorched in the sun to such a degree that it burns the feet when walked upon. It has been said that the month of Ramadan is so named because it burns away a person’s sins in the same way that the scorching hot earth burns the feet.

The fasting of Ramadan is therefore both a fat-burning and sin-burning exercise. Unfortunately for many, it remains nothing more than the former. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “Many a fasting person gains nothing [from his fast] but hunger and thirst” (reported in al-Tabarani and others).

It has also been said that Ramadan received its name due to it being extremely warm during that particular time of the year when the Arabs first named their lunar months. In this case, the name simply reflects the outward circumstances that were present when the month was named.

But if we return to the first explanation, we can see a clear parallel being drawn between the outer and the inner world. Feet burning in the outer world relates to the inward burning away of sins. This parallel (between the outward and the inward) also applies to another of the root verb’s meanings. Ramida can also mean “to return from the desert to cultivated land”. Outwardly, this implies a return from a dead and barren landscape to a lush and bountiful one. Inwardly, it implies a revival of the soul, as it returns from spiritual death to spiritual life.

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3 Responses to رمضان – Ramadan

  1. يوسف says:

    Great post!

    As I see it, Ramaḍān (رمضان) is a remedy for ramadān (رمدان), i.e. physical & spiritual ophthalmia. ‘Tis the season for smashing (رض) false idols & restoring (رم) the soul from accumulated distress (مض).

    Here’s to drawing further nigh to the All High!

    بارك الله فيكم ورمضان كريم

  2. يوسف says:

    Interestingly, Arabic for prayer i.e. salat (صلاة) is related etymologically to the word for burning (تصلية/صلاء), perhaps because prayer is but a means to roast away previous wrongdoings and accumulated sin.

  3. Jazakumu Allahu khayran for your interesting replies and Ramadan karim!

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