Ramadan in The Pre-Islamic Period and In Islam
Ramadan was not known with that name in the Pre-Islamic Period like all lunar
months. In the old language, the language of the Pure Arabs: 'Ad, Thaműd, and
others, that month was called "Tatil" which means a person who draws out water
from a well or a fountain.
This indicates, as Mahmoud Al Falaky says, that month was a winter month as
another name indicated "Zahir". It was said that its crescent used to show up
in the time of flowers' bloom according to the Arabs who used to live in
deserts in the early Pre-Islamic Period and plants would not have been bloomy
unless there was rain.
Then the name of the lunar months were changed at Al 'Arab Al Musta'ribah [the
offspring of Ismael] two hundred years before Islam. The rule according which
they set up the names of months was extracted from the social and climatic
conditions according to the times in which these months began. This was the
suggestion of the Qurishy "Kilab ibn Murrah" who is said to be the one who
named these months with their current names, especially Ramadan which came in
the beginning of heat that was called "Ar-Ramda'," therefore it was called
Because Ramadan was connected in the minds with fasting, there were several
interpretations to the meaning of "Ramadan" but they are connected to the
meaning of heat and burn too. It was said: The fasting person will suffer hot
in his stomach because of the intensity of thirst.
It was also said: It was called Ramadan because it wipes away sins.
It was also said: It was called Ramadan because hearts are affected by
admonition and thinking in the matters of the hereafter as sunlight affects
sand and rocks.
It was also said: "Ramadan" is driven from "Ramadat Al Makan" i.e., the land
stopped growing plants because the one who observes fasting is stopped to do
the forbidden matters. All these last interpretations are Islamic although the
name was present before Islam when it came in hot summer and the land stopped
its plants, so they said: "Ramadan." However, there is another group who sees
no connection between Ramadan and heat because Ramadan does not only come in
summer but comes in different times of the four seasons: winter, spring,
autumn, and summer that is because it is one of the lunar months not the solar
months. Accordingly, the derivation of Ramadan is taken from "Al Ramda'" i.e.,
"the Heat of" thirst not the heat of summer. The meaning of "Harran" in
language is thirsty no matter the heat was in any of the four seasons.
If we accept this interpretation to the name of Ramadan, that means the Arab
in the Pre-Islamic Era knew about fasting which we shall discuss later.