by Fajri Ansari
The Blessed month of Ramadan began on the evening of May 5th this year and will last for a period of 29- or 30-days, (depending on the sighting of the new moon). Ramadan is a month of fasting for over 1 billion Muslims worldwide. It is also one of the five pillars of faith that is required for all Muslims. The five basic pillars of faith are:
#1 Belief in the One G-d Allah (Allah is the name of The Supreme Being that is also called by Yahweh, Jehovah, Elohim etc.)
#2 Offer the 5 daily prayers (before sunrise, mid-day, mid-afternoon, at dusk and before retiring at night).
#3 Give in Charity (tax 2.5% of your accumulated wealth after your reasonable expenses).
#4 Fast the month of Ramadan (for those who are of age of puberty, not ill or not travelling away from home)
#5 Make the pilgrimage to Mecca. (at least once in a life time for those who can afford to do so)
Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset abstaining from any food, drink or intimate relationships with their spouse. Muslims are also to be on their best behavior refraining from arguments, foul language, intoxicants, all negative behaviors that can essentially break your fast beyond partaking in food or drink. Women who are pregnant are not to fast as well as people with long term medical conditions. Provisions are made were one can make up the fast days later or if unable to fast they can feed a poor person(s) for each day that they miss.
Fasting is for Allah (G-d) who is the only One who truly knows if you are honoring your fast! Prophet Muhammad said, “Allah says: Fasting is for Me and I shall reward you for it.” The word Ramadan means “burning” as to burn off impurities and sins. It also means to grow. The fast is designed to burn off all the impurities that have stained the soul and character of a person over the previous year. Prophet Muhammad also stated that “Whoever intends and successfully completes the fast of Ramadan, will have all their sins of the previous year forgiven by Allah.”
Ramadan is a time for yourself to spend with your Lord. To reflect, relax and rejuvenate your spirit to worship and serve. Ramadan is also a time to be mindful of the hurt of those who do not have homes and or the wherewithal to provide for themselves or family.
This is the natural pattern of human life “to want for your brothers and sisters what you want for yourself.” Blessings for doing good deeds during the month of Ramadan are rewarded 70-700 times more than any other time throughout the year.
Restraining from food, water and undesirable behavior, makes a person more mentally disciplined and less prone to unhealthy behavior. When it is time to eat prior to sunrise or at sunset, there is no need to over eat. In fact, one should eat a meal comparable to what a poor person would eat, to stay mindful of the needy. The body has a regulatory mechanism that adjusts your hunger appetites to the time(s) of day that you consistently eat.
Although a person is eating and drinking less, the body metabolism slows down during Ramadan and balances the food intake to make it sufficient enough for a person to stay healthy.
The Qur’an states “O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was for those who came before you that you may learn self-restraint (devotion to G-d).”
To strengthen their intellect and knowledge of scripture, Muslims also read a portion of the Qur’an each day of the fast to complete all 114 chapters by the end of the month.
At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate by having congregational prayer followed by a feast of three days celebration called Eid al Fitr, which means reoccurring happiness. It is a very joyous time as Muslims look forward to sharing food and gifts with family friends and the community at large. Masjid Nu’Man annually prepares a meal to share with the community on the Eid Day in front of the Masjid located at 1373 Fillmore Ave, Buffalo, NY 14211.
May you all have a Blessed month of Ramadan and bountiful rewards from Allah (G-d), The Merciful Benefactor, The Merciful Redeemer!