1433 rd Ramadan - the Month of Blessings and Peace
By Imam Ali Siddiqui
O! You who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for the people before you, so that you may acquire self-control and God-consciousness - Quran 2:183
2.8 billion Muslims of the world will celebrate the blessed month of Ramadan starting Friday, July 20, 2012. During this month, healthy Muslim adults will observe fasting during the daylight hours.
Muslim Fasting is a total abstention from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk for 29 or 30 days of the month of Ramadan. In addition, avoiding immoral behavior and anger and showing compassion is part of the requirements of fasting.
The purpose of fasting is manifold. Allah (the God Almighty) mentioned it in the Holy Book of Islam, Qur’an, that fasting is prescribed for the believers as it was prescribed for the people before them, so that they may acquire self-control and God-consciousness (Qur’an 2:183). Therefore, the purpose of fasting is to develop self-control, God-consciousness, improvement of health by reducing or eliminating impurities from the body, and to become aware of the plight of the poor, hungry, and the sick.
Ramadan is a month of spiritual consciousness and high sense of social responsibility. The fulfillment of one’s obligations during this month is rewarded 70 times. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam including Announcement of Faith, Salaat (praying five times a day), Zakaat (the right of the poor on the wealth of the financially able), Fasting during the month of Ramadan, and Hajj (once in a life time pilgrimage to Kaaba). It is an obligation on every adult and healthy Muslim to fast during the month of Ramadan.
The month of Ramadan is also the month in which the Holy Qur’an was sent down from the highest level of heaven to the first level, from where it was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in a piecemeal basis over a period of 23 years. It is a very joyous occasion for the Muslims of the world. They fast during the day, pray, and read Qur’an during the part of the night.
There is a special night called the Night of Power, which is mentioned in the Qur’an (Chapter 97), as a night of peace, mercy, and light. Worshiping during this night is better than the worship of 1,000 months. During this night, Muhammad was chosen by Allah, as the Messenger and Qur’an was sent to the first level of heaven. During this night, Allah, God Almighty, sends down an army of special angels, under the leadership of Archangel Gabriel, who go to every nook and cranny of the earth to pray for the mercy of Allah, God Almighty, and salvation of the believers.
Unlike the common calendar, which is solar-based, Islamic calendar is lunar-based. It does not mean that Muslims worship the moon. It is another way to count days of the month and the year. Like all Islamic months, Ramadan, ninth lunar month, begins after sighting of the crescent, but not the new moon. The probability to see the crescent for Ramadan is on Thursday, July 19, 2012 just after the sunset on the western horizon.
The population of Muslims in the US is estimated at nine million, of which about two million lives in California. All healthy Muslim adults including homemakers, school-going kids around the age of 13, factory workers, businessmen, and others among them will be fasting. Your Muslim neighbors will be getting up very early to take their sahoor, a pre-dawn meal before starting their fast. So, don’t get alarmed if you hear lot of noise next door. The school staff has to show understanding and consideration towards Muslim students who may be fasting during the month of Ramadan from July 20 to August 18, 2012. They should be assigned alternate activities instead of strenuous gym activities.
Physicians should also understand that their patients might be fasting. They should prescribe the medicine in a way that they could take it with their pre-dawn or after sunset meals. However, if the patients’ life may be in jeopardy, explain it to the patients or seek help from a Muslim Medical Chaplain at a local hospital or an Imam/director of a local Masjid/Islamic Center. According to Muslim physicians, there are some physiological benefits from Muslim Fasting (total abstention from food and liquids) including lowering of blood sugar, lowering of cholesterol, and lowering of systolic blood pressure.
At the completion of the month of fasting, Muslims all over the world celebrate their holiday of Eid al-Fitr. It is the biggest Muslim holiday. It is a true thanksgiving for a Muslim believer for having the opportunity to obey Allah, God Almighty, by observing fasting. It is celebrated on the first day of the tenth lunar month, Shaw’waal. This year, it will be on Sunday, August 19, 2012.
The holiday begins with Muslims putting on their best, preferably new clothes and going to the Eid congregation. Eid congregations are very large gatherings of Muslim men, women, and children across the country. You can witness these gathering at local convention centers, fair grounds, and/or community parks. Afterwards, people greet each other with hugs and handshakes. The children receive gifts of money and toys. After the congregation, Muslims visit each other at their homes and hold lunches or dinners for family and friends. Don’t be surprised if you are invited to an Eid dinner or Eid celebration by your Muslim neighbors or friends. Please do accept such an invitation. The hospitality, friendliness, and variety of international Muslim cuisine will pleasantly surprise you.
Greetings of Ramadan, Ramadan Karim!
The Muslim Communities across the nations appreciate the police and the law enforcement agencies for looking after their safety and request them to take extra precautions during the month of Ramadan around the local Masjid / mosque / Islamic Center, and the places of Eid Congregations.
They are also thankful of interfaith volunteers who have provided support and vigilance. Thank you! May Allah, the Creator, look after you in your hour of need! Amen!
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