The holiest month for all Muslims, the month of Ramadan is a time of penitence and prayer.
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Once every year, Muslims all over the world observe the month of Ramadan. Most commonly known for daily fasting, Ramadan is a month where all Muslims are required to fulfill certain requirements under Islamic law. Here in Malaysia, Muslims will begin fasting from the crack of dawn until sunset, abstaining from any sort of food or water. Do not be surprised to see food outlets or eateries packed to the brim just before the breaking of fast as many city dwellers find it more convenient to break their fast at these eateries. Others take a stroll through the many Ramadan bazaars that offer a variety of food, including traditional specialties like lemang and bubur lambuk.
Ramadan, however, still brings together communities as many organisations take the opportunity to hold dinner gatherings, or 'buka puasa', during this month. Some are corporate entities showing appreciation to their staff whereas others, like mosques, view it as a social obligation to the community that they serve. During this time, mosques tend to organise more community events to remind Muslims of their obligations and to promote good values. One mosque with such a tradition is the Masjid Jamek Kampung Baru, which prepares and distributes bubur lambuk, a savoury rice porridge. The preparation of bubur lambuk at Masjid Jamek Kampung Baru is a highlight of Ramadan in Kuala Lumpur, and has been a proud tradition maintained by the residents of Kampung Baru for generations.
The ninth month in the Islam calendar, Ramadan is considered to be the holiest month of all as this was the month where the Qu'ran was delivered to Prophet Muhammad. It is generally believed that every good deed carried out in this month bears a tenfold return to the doer. As such, Muslims are encouraged to not only fulfil their mandatory obligations but also optional good practices. Known as 'sunat', these practices include attending 'Terawih' prayers which are carried out only during the month of Ramadan. The mandatory observations of Ramadan includes fasting and the five daily prayers which begins with the 'Maghrib' prayers at dusk and ends with 'Azar' prayers during the late afternoon.
Another mandatory observation during Ramadan is the giving of alms to the poor and needy, which is known as 'Zakat Fitrah'. Traditionally in Malaysia, every household would donate one 'gantang', a local measurement equivalent to 2.8 kilograms of rice for every member of the household, which would then be distributed to the poor. 'Zakat Fitrah' is still practiced in Malaysia till today with money being donated in lieu of rice. A fee of RM 7 for every member of the family is levied by the Islamic authorities of the country.