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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Ramadan: The month of fasting is approaching

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Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic, lunar-based calendar. The anticipated day for the start of the Ramadan fast this year is Wednesday Aug. 11. The actual date must be confirmed with the physical sighting of the new moon.

Worldwide, Muslims observe the Islamic fast during this holy month by fasting during the daylight hours with no eating, drinking, or engaging in sexual activity. This time is spent praying, reading the Holy Qur’an, and other Islamic activity, i.e., teaching Islam.

Ramadan is the month for restraining one’s appetites, desires and passions. Allah (G-d) revealed in the Qur’an. “Oh you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may learn self-restraint…” [Sura (Chapter) 2, ayat (verse) 183].

The Muslim daily fast actually begins in the darkest hour of the day just before the sun’s rays appear in the eastern horizon. By eating a light meal, called “suhoor” in Arabic, the fasting men and women begin each day by stating their intention to fast for Allah (G-d), the Lord cherisher and sustainer of all life.

The Qur’an is conveniently divided into 30 sections. Therefore, reading 1/30 each day during Ramadan will result in reading the complete Holy Qur’an during the month. It is common to see the youth and the elderly reading their daily portion of the Qur’an in mosques around America, and the world. The Qur’an teaches, “Nothing misleads mankind more that his appetites unchecked by knowledge.” Therefore the reading of the entire Qur’an, during Ramadan, becomes ever more important.

The fasting Muslim maintains the five daily prayers during Ramadan. Additional prayers are said at night prior to bed. During the day when the fasting Muslim may feel hunger pangs, he or she knows that this is a time to reflect upon the individuals who may be involuntarily hungry year-round. Allah gives the believer no more than they can bear.

Through the disciplines of fasting, the Muslim learns to appreciate the blessings of Allah that he has freely bestowed upon humanity. Blessings that the fast of Ramadan reminds us, that we often take for granted.

Ramadan is very beneficial to our youth who often are the main targets of the commercial world. The lessons learned from practicing self-restraint support our youth in saying “no,” and practicing “no.” The practice of no food and no drink for 30 consecutive days builds within our youth the mental and moral muscles to say no to drugs, unlawful sex, and other evils. We are proud and supportive of our youth’s willingness to serve Allah by fasting in Ramadan.

The mind is the master that rules over our body’s calling out for pleasure and food. This is Ramadan! The human person exerting their human will power – controlling their desires and passions – not for themselves; but for the good pleasure of Allah. Ahh! What a wonderful feeling! Praises be to Allah.

As the sun makes its final descent in the waning hours of the day, the faithful Muslim knows that in a couple of hours he or she will be able to eat. The hunger pangs are no longer a challenge because, the desires of the human body, has submitted to the will of the fasting Muslim.

Immediately upon sunset the fasting Muslim must break their fast by eating and drinking a small portion. Some Muslims may feel a desire to fast beyond sunset; however, obedience to Allah is more important than fasting beyond sunset. Therefore the fasting Muslim will break their fast, and say the sunset prayer, before eating a full meal. Additional prayers, as performed by Prophet Muhammed, are said after the night prayer. This prayer includes more reading of the Holy Qur’an.

Soon the Muslim retires for the evening for rest. Tomorrow is another day of fasting for the good pleasure of Allah. When the 30 days of Ramadan are complete, the Muslim community will gather for the first of Islam’s two main holidays called “Eid” (pronounced Eed). The Eid consists of prayer, exchanging of gifts, and joy on the part of the Muslim for completing another month of fasting for the good pleasure of Allah (G-d).

NOTE: The spelling of G_d for “god” is used when referencing or mentioning our Creator to avoid the spelling “God,” which in reverse spells “dog.” We feel that it is disrespectful to have a spelling for our Creator that reminds the reader of a dog. Surely our Creator is greater.

 Al-Islam in America, a monthly column, welcomes your questions and comments. Please forward them to: Al-Islam in America, c/o Imam Mikal Saahir, Nur-Allah Islamic Center, 2040 E. 46th St., Indianapolis, IN 46205. Or e-mail nurallah-ic@juno.com.

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