The Blessed Month of Ramadan began on the evening of April 13th and will continue for a period of 29 to 30 days depending on the sighting of the new moon. Ramadan is on a lunar calendar which means that it moves up every year for approximately 11 days. It is a month of fasting for over 1 billion Muslims around the world. Ramadan is one of the five basic pillars of faith required in the religion of Al-Islam.
The other pillars are The belief in The One G-d Allah (Allah is the name of the Supreme Being that is referred to in scripture by other names, Yahweh, Jehovah, Elohim, etc). Offering 5 daily prayers (before sunrise, mid-day, mid-afternoon, after sunset, and before retiring at night), Giving charity (recommended to give 2.5% of your accumulated wealth after reasonable expenses) and to make the Pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime if you can afford to do so.
Each day Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, abstaining from any food, drink, or intimate relations with their spouse. Muslims are also to be on their best behavior, refraining from arguments, foul language, intoxicants, any negative behaviors that can essentially break the spirit of fasting even if you did not eat or drink anything. Women who are pregnant or on their cycles are not to fast. Anyone with long-term or pre-existing medical conditions that would be compromised by fasting is not to fast. Provisions are made where 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 G-d (Allah) who is the only One who truly knows whether you are honoring your fast. Prophet Muhammad said, (peace and blessings be upon him) “Allah says, fasting is for Me and I shall reward you for it.” The word Ramadan means burning. As in burning off sins and 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 of their sins from 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 or the wherewithal to provide for themselves or their families. This is a natural pattern in human life to “want for your brothers and sisters, what you want for yourself.” Blessings for performing good deeds during this month are multiplied 70-700 times more than any other time throughout the year.
Restraining from food, drink, and undesirable behavior makes a person more mental discipline and less prone to unhealthy behavior. Muslims are to take a small meal at pre-dawn to help get one through the day. When it is time to eat at sunset, there is no need to overeat as it would cause discomfort. 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 times of day that you consistently eat. Although a person is eating and drinking less during Ramadan, the body metabolism slows down during Ramadan and balances the food intake to make it sufficient for a person to stay healthy. The Qur’an states, “O you who believes, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those who came before you, that you may learn self-restraint (obedience and devotion to G-d).
To strengthen one’s 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. Muslims also offer additional special prayers at night where the daily reading of the Qur’an is recited.
At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate by having congregational prayer followed by a three-day feast and celebration called Eid al Fitr, which means reoccurring happiness. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all traditional congregational activities will be scaled back for safety precautions.
Eid al Fitr 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 meals and or food to share with the needy and community. We anticipate the Eid al Fitr to be on approximately May 13th (depending on the sighting of the new moon) we will distribute food in front of the Masjid at 1373 Fillmore Ave, Buffalo, NY 14211.
May you all have a blessed month of Ramadan (Ramadan Mubarak!) and receive Bountiful rewards from G-d (Allah), The Merciful Benefactor, The Merciful Redeemer.
Fajri Ansari, is the Imam of Masjid Nu’Man Buffalo, NY