“Ramadhan is the month in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.” Qur’an 2:185
The Islamic greetings of peace be with you: As-Salaam Alaikum!
Before getting into the main topic of this writing, let us first acknowledge that March marks 32 consecutive years that the Indianapolis Recorder newspaper has carried this Islamic column, initially called “Al-Islam in America.” We are grateful for this opportunity to bring to our readership insights and perspectives of the Islamic religion and community.
Ramadan is scheduled to begin April 2 in shaa Allah (G_d Willing) and will last for 29 or 30 days, depending on the sighting of the new moon. The Islamic calendar, as with the Jewish calendar, uses the lunar cycle to count our months. (The word “month” is derived from the word “moon.”) As Muslims, we do not worship the moon.
Able-bodied Muslims fast from one hour before sunrise until sunset each day of Ramadan. No intake of food or drinks or any other items (such as smoking), nor any sexual activities, arguing and agitating other people. The fast of Ramadan is a time for spiritual and mental strengthening while simultaneously bringing our physical appetites under our command and control.
All Muslims are not always able to fast each and every day, especially if one is ill or on a journey. Also, women during their menses do not fast; nonetheless, all Muslims, during Ramadan, regardless of illness, traveling, etc., still should mentally and spiritually maintain the purpose and intent of Ramadan with prayers and the reading of the entire Qur’an. One-thirtieth of the Qur’an is to be read each day of the month, thus having read the entire holy book.
Allah speaks highly of fasting. Prophet Muhammed, the prayers and peace be upon him, shared that Allah said, “Every good deed of Adam’s son (humanity) is for him except fasting; it is for Me. and I shall reward (the fasting person) for it …” For the individual Muslim fasting is a very personal relationship with her or his Lord-Creator. Albeit, that millions of Muslims around the world are fasting at the same time, still, this act is between each individual Muslim and their creator. No person can fast for another.
The main objective of the fasting Muslim is to mature into a state of G_d-consciousness. In Al-Islam we call that mental-spiritual state “Taqwa.” Our self-denial of food and drink during the daylight hours is a discipline that brings us into that state of taqwa. Ramadan elevates our whole human life above being driven by the animalistic physical level of existence. Ramadan gives us the opportunity to develop our command and control over our lives in accord with the Word of Allah (G_d) — in order that we’ll be an asset toward the betterment of the human family.
In closing, we invite our readers to join us in the practice of Ramadan, if not for the entire month, then maybe observe a day or two. Fasting is for learning and earning the blessings of building a disciplined life of mind and spirit over matter, with a focus upon pleasing our creator.
Upon the completion of the Ramadan fast, Muslims worldwide celebrate the Islamic holiday called Eid Al-Fitr; the “Returning victory of one self to their original natural.” Eid Al-Fitr is a time for special prayers, good food (in the daytime), fun and games and visiting the sick, and reflecting on the blessings of Ramadan.
Michael “Mikal” Saahir is the resident Imam of Nur-Allah Islamic Center. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 317-753-3754.