Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic, lunar-based calendar. The anticipated day for the start of the Ramadan fast this year is May 5 with the actual date to be confirmed with the physical sighting of the new moon.
Worldwide, Muslims observe the Islamic fast during this holy month. During the daylight hours, the Muslim faithful do not eat, drink or engage in sexual activity. The time is spent otherwise with prayer, reading of the Holy Qur’an and other Islamic activity, i.e., teaching Islam to others.
Ramadan is the month for restraining one’s appetites, desires and passions. Allah (G_d) revealed in the Qur’an, “O 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 actually begins their daily fast in the darkest hour of the day, just before the break of day appears in the eastern horizon. The individual fasting that day eats a light meal, called “suhoor” in Arabic. He or she, begins each day 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. The Muslim will read 1/30 of the Qur’an each day, thus completing the whole of the Holy Qur’an during the month of Ramadan. 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. Allah teaches humanity another valuable lesson. “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 his or her five daily prayers during Ramadan. Additional prayers are said at night prior to bed. The first of the five prayers is said after dawn begins, but before the sun rises above the horizon. The second prayer is said just after high noon.
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 third prayer is said in the afternoon. The mind is still the master ruling over our body’s calling out for pleasure and food. This is Ramadan; the human person exerting their human will power and 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 have 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.
The fifth prayer is said when the sky is completely dark in the western sky. 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 knowing that 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 holidays. These special days are called “Id” (pronounced Eid). The Id 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).
Michael “Mikal” Saahir is the resident Imam of Nur-Allah Islamic Center. He can be reached at email@example.com or at 317-753-3754.