Ramadan in The Pre-Islamic Period and In Islam

EsinIslam Ramadan Explorer

Muhammad 'Abdul-'Aziz

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 "Ramadan."

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.

EsinIslam Ramadan Team

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