Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is a highly sacred time that honours the fourth pillar of Islam, Sawm, which means “to fast.”
It’s a highly significant time for Muslims everywhere that sees them fast for a full month between sunrise and sunset. It’s an extremely poignant time that is based on a rich yet complex history. So, when did Ramadan start in history?
To understand Ramadan, we go back to the origins of Islam. Islamic history starts in Mecca, Arabia, in 610 A.D. A 40-year-old man by the name of Muhammad (SAW) lived in the city and frequently visited Cave Hira in the Jabal an-Nour mountain in order to meditate. On the 27th night of the ninth lunar month, Muhammad (SAW) was meditating in the cave when he was descended upon by the angel Jibril (also referred to as the angel Gabriel).
The angel told Muhammad (SAW) of Allah (SWT), the only true god. At this time in Mecca, it was widely believed that there were several gods and, as such, people prayed to many different deities. The angel told Muhammad (SAW) that this was wrong because there was only one God, and His name was Allah (SWT). The angel went on to reveal the first segments of what later became known as the Qur’an – the direct words of Allah (SWT).
The angel asked Muhammad (SAW) to recite, to which Muhammad (SAW) responded that he could not read. Angel Jibril squeezed the Prophet (SAW) and told him to read again, to which the Prophet (SAW) again responded that he could not read. The angel squeezed him again a second time, and the Prophet (SAW) had the same response. Angel Jibril squeezed the Prophet (SAW) for a third time and told him to read. This time, the Prophet (SAW) read the verses of Surah Al-Alaq perfectly.
The angel went on to tell Muhammad (SAW) that he had been chosen by Allah (SWT) as the final of the 25 prophets of Islam. As such, Muhammad (SAW) was commanded to spread the word of Allah (SWT) and tell everyone that He is the only true god. This night is referred to as Laylat al-Qadr, which means the night of power.