Ramadan

Published 2021-04-12

During Ramadan, we hear Arabic words and phrases that may be interesting to us that loves to study Arabic. In this blog post, I will describe some of them.

I focus on the pronunciation of the words, important letters and related words. Of course, I also provide links to more information about the words.

The word Ramadan

We start with the word Ramadan. Ramadan is the same word in Arabic as in English, but the pronunciation is different. We can look at how the word is written in Arabic (click on the eye if you want more information, for example to see the word letter by letter).

ﺭَﻣَﻀَﺎﻥ
ramaDaan
Ramadan

Ramadan is pronounced (ramaDaan) in Arabic, with a long (aa) at the end. The Arabic letter alif, that looks like a vertical bar (ا), shows that it should be long aa.

You can see that I write (ramaDaan) with a capital D. This is because it is not the regular letter d, but the letter Dad that is emphatic. This D is pronounced darker than a regular d.

In addition to denoting the month of Ramadan, (ramaDaan) is also a proper name. Men can have it as their first name and men and women can hav it as their last name.

The word (ramaDaan) has the root ر م ض, that is, the letters r, m and D. Other words with the same root are for example (ramaD) which means parchedness or scorchedness and (ramDaa') which means soil that has become very hot from the sun.

ﺭَﻣَﺾ
ramaD
heat, parchedness
ﺭَﻣﻀَﺎﺀ
ramDaa'
hot ground

The crescent

Ramadan lasts between 29 and 30 days. From the crescent moon can be seen, until the next crescent moon can be seen. The Arabic word for crescent is (hilaal).

ﻫِﻠَﺎﻝ
hilaal
crescent

Crescent is not the same as new moon. The new moon cannot be seen while the crescent is visible a day or more after the new moon.

When we talk about the moon, I can take the opportunity to mention the Arabic word for moon: (qamr).

ﻗَﻤَﺮ
qamar
moon

Fasting

During Ramadan, one should fast - neither eat nor drink anything - when the sun is up. This applies to adults who do not have medical reasons for not fasting. The Arabic word for fasting is (Sawm).

ﺻَﻮﻡ
Sawm
fasting

I write (Sawm) with a capital S because it is not a regular s but the letter Sad that is emphatic. When a person is fasting, we say that he or she is (Saa'im) in Arabic.

ﺻَﺎﺋِﻢ
Saa'im
fasting

The words (Sawm) and (Saa'im) are related, they both have the root ص و م, that is (S w m). The Arabic letter (w) is a weak letter, therefore it has been converted and is not visible in the word (Saa'im).

Breaking the fast

Breaking of the fast is called (fiTr) in Arabic.

ﻓِﻄﺮ
fiTr
breaking the fast

At this point, you might be able to guess that I am writing (fiTr) with a capital T because the word does not contain the regular letter t but the letter Ta which is an emphatic letter.

Ramadan ends with (3iid al-fiTr). The word (3iid) means holiday or feast and (fiTr) means, as we know, the breaking of the fast.

Eid al-Fitr

The meal you eat during Ramadan when the sun has set is called ('ifTaar). The word ('ifTaar) also means breaking of the fast.

ﺇِﻓﻄَﺎﺭ
'ifTaar
breaking the fast

Just like (ramaDaan), ('ifTaar) has a long aa at the end, which is revealed by Arabic letter alif (ا). If you click on the eye symbol below (fiTr) or ('ifTaar), you will see that they are related to each other. You also see that they are related to the word (fuTuur) which means breakfast

ﻓُﻄُﻮﺭ
fuTuur
breakfast

That is logic. When you eat breakfast, you break the fast of the night. You may be able to figure out that the common root of the words is ف ط ر, that is (f T r).

Very early meal

You eat two meals every 24-hour period during Ramadan. We already know about (fiTr) that you eat after sunset. There is also a meal that you eat before sunrise, it is called (saHuur).

ﺳَﺤُﻮﺭ
saHuur
meal before daybreak

You may see that the letter H in the middle of the word is capitalized. This is because it is not a regular h, but the letter H that is pronounced more forcefully. Imagine you are thirsty and warm, take a sip of water and sigh deeply Hhh... This is what the H sounds like.

Click on the eye symbol to see how (saHuur) is written letter by letter. You will also see related words, for example (saHar) which denote the time before dawn.

ﺳَﺤَﺮ
saHar
before dawn

When we talk about meals, I think we should mention the Arabic word for date.

ﺗَﻤﺮَﺓ
tamra
date

One date is (tamra) while several dates are (tamr) in Arabic. Eating dates during Ramadan is a tradition.

Good deeds

I have focused a lot on meals and fasting so far. Of course, Ramadan is about more than that. Not least to make an extra effort to be a good person. For example, you donate money to charity. There is the word (zakaa) which can be translated to alms.

ﺯَﻛَﺎﺓ
zakaa
alms, charity

There are two types of (zakaa). One applies all year round, and is a certain proportion of one's fortune. The other is given around Ramadan and is a fixed fee. It is called (zakaatu l-fiTr).

Zakat al-Fitr

Greeting phrases during Ramadan

Here are three greeting phrases that you will probably hear during Ramadan. I start with (ramaDaan mubaarak) which means blessed ramadan.

Ramadan Mubarak

Click on the eye symbol and you will see that (mubaarak) is an adjective that means blessed. You probably recognize it from another common greeting phrase: (3iid mubaarak).

Eid Mubarak

(3iid mubaarak) means blessed holiday. You say (3iid mubaarak) during (3iid al-fiTr).

Since we have learned two phrases that contain (3iid), it is a good idea to show the word.

ﻋِﻴﺪ
3iid
holiday

The first letter in (3iid), which I write as 3, is the letter ayn. It is pronounced far back in the throat and can be described as a sound you make when you suffocate or strangle.

Another greeting phrase that you can hear during Ramadan is (ramaDaan kariim).

Ramadan Kareem

If you click on the eye symbol, you will see that (kariim) is an adjective that means generous. When you say (ramaDaan kariim) to someone, you want Ramadan to be generous to that person.

Glossary

Since we have studied several new Arabic words and phrases, I want to end this blog post by repeating them.

Words related to Ramadan
Ramadan ramaDaan ﺭَﻣَﻀَﺎﻥ
crescent hilaal ﻫِﻠَﺎﻝ
fasting Sawm ﺻَﻮﻡ
beaking of the fast fiTr ﻓِﻄﺮ
meal after sunset 'ifTaar ﺇِﻓﻄَﺎﺭ
meal before sunrise saHuur ﺳَﺤُﻮﺭ
date tamra ﺗَﻤﺮَﺓ
alms zakaa ﺯَﻛَﺎﺓ
holiday 3iid ﻋِﻴﺪ

Greeting phrases related to Ramadan
Blessed holiday 3iid mubaarak عِيد مُبَارَك
Blessed Ramadan ramaDaan mubaarak ﺭَﻣَﻀَﺎﻥ ﻣُﺒَﺎﺭَﻙ
Generous Ramadan ramaDaan kariim ﺭَﻣَﻀَﺎﻥ ﻛَﺮِﻳﻢ