By Imam Fajri Ansari
Ramadan is the 9th month of the lunar calendar arriving on April 23rd (whenever the new moon is sighted). It is a month where 1 billion Muslims from around the world will spend approximately 29-30 days fasting. The fasting period each day is from sunrise to sunset, where Muslims abstain from all food and drinks. Those who have reached the age of puberty, who are healthy, (physically and mentally) are obligated to fast. Those who may be travelling and/or are ill are not required to fast. Women who are pregnant or who may be on their cycle are also exempt from fasting.
Provisions are offered where missed days of fasting can be made up by fasting additional days after the month of Ramadan. One may also feed the needy each day they are unable to fast. The fast of Ramadan is not only about abstaining from food and drink. It requires the Muslim to practice abstinence of marital relations until it’s time to break the fast at the end of the day. Muslims are to avoid arguments, fighting, negative behavior and environments which in essence can cause one to break their fast and the spirit of Ramadan.
Allah or G-d says in The Qur’an, “Fasting is for Me” so the fast is for the pleasure of G-d. The faithful is aware that only G-d knows for sure whether or not you are keeping your fast and desires to complete the fast. There are numerous benefits and countless blessings to be gained by fasting. Prophet Muhammad has said, “Whoever make their intentions and complete the fast for the entire month will have all of their sins of the previous year forgiven.” Each good deed or act of kindness performed during the month of Ramadan, earns 70 to 700 times the blessings earned in times outside of Ramadan. It’s a time to practice discipline and cleansing (mentally, physically, morally and spiritually).
Ramadan is the month that the Angel Jibril (Gabriel) revealed the Qur’an on the “Night of Power,” to Prophet Muhammad (prayers and peace be upon him). The revelations of all 114 chapters of Qur’an will continue over the next period of 23 years.
The Qur’an says : “O you who believe, fasting is prescribe for you as it was prescribed for those who came before you that you may practice self-restraint piety (taqwa) having sacred regard (for G-d). 2:183.
“Indeed, We have revealed it (Qur’an) in the Night of Power. And what will explain to you what the Night of Power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. Therein descends the Angels and the Spirit by Allah’s (G-d’s) permission, on every errand: (they say) ‘Peace’ till the rising of the dawn.”
Imam W. Deen Mohammed once said, “I think the greatest benefit is given to us in Qur’an from G-d Himself, Allah, (The Most High and Glorified is He). “In fasting, the main benefit is for purification and discipline for the sake of G-d called “taqwa.”
Taqwa means respecting those things that G-d ordered us to respect. First of all, we are to respect our relationship with G-d, that we are servants, all of us are servants of G-d.”
During Ramadan, we are to obey the commandments of G-d whatever He has ordered us to do and the results is purification. The name Ramadan actually translates as “burning” meaning you are burning off impurities to become cleansed and gain closeness to G-d.
Muslims fasting this year, for the first time will experience a pandemic taking place worldwide. The major impact will be that Muslims are unable to frequent their houses of worship (Masjid or Mosque). During Ramadan Muslims are accustomed to praying the five daily prayers together, breaking fast together at sunset and offering special night prayers.
This year, we will have an opportunity to bring families closer together and to be mindful of others who are suffering not only from the pandemic, but those who hunger year-round. While fasting in Ramadan one should not waste time nor only think about when you will be able to eat or drink. Those who are fasting should register the hunger in their stomachs, like those who hunger year-round and do not know where or when their next meal will come. Ramadan teaches us to be sympathetic and compassionate to those in worst conditions.
During Ramadan, Muslims are also encouraged to read a portion (1/30th) of the Qur’an each day so by the end of Ramadan you would have completed reading all 114 chapters. The Qur’an states: “Ramadan is the month in which was sent down the Qur’an as a Guide to humanity also clear signs of Guidance and Judgement between right and wrong.”2:185
During Ramadan, Muslims spend more time studying the Qur’an and the model character of Prophet Muhammad. Prophet Muhammad is a Mercy to all of the world, not just for Muslims. His life is to be viewed from birth to adulthood. Prophet Muhammad’s life is relative to anyone who struggles and faces serious life challenges. He endured many trails in his life with unwavering faith in Allah (G-d) while providing service to humanity.
At the end of Ramadan, Muslims will have a victory celebration called Eid al Fitr. A reoccurring happiness and a victory of overcoming the temptations of our appetites, ignorance, confusion and conflict. It’s like having a renewal of the natural human form, which sets the theme for the rest of the year until the next Ramadan. Muslims will pay a tax that is collected to ensure all will be able to participate in the happiness and celebration. On the Eid day Muslims offer morning prayers and listen to a sermon called (Khutba) reminding all to hold on to the discipline and blessings gained during Ramadan. Afterwards all will share food and gifts with their relatives, friends and the needy.
This year celebrations again will be unique in that most of the prayers offered will be virtual online and within people homes. Allah is G-d everywhere and sees everything! Everyone have a Blessed Ramadan “Ramadan Mubarak.” We encourage all to offer special prayers of healing for the world and to pray for peace, togetherness and love for the human family. Amen
For more information about Ramadan and Masjid NuMan, visit masjidnuman.org. Friday Jumah prayers are offered at 1p.m. on Facebook live. Connect at masjidnuman.org. Fajri Ansari is Imam of Masjid NuMan 1373 Fillmore Ave, Buffalo, New York 14211