By Imam Fajri Ansari
The month of Ramadan began on May 27th 2017. It is the month of fasting observed by 1 billion Muslims around the world. Ramadan is scheduled on the lunar calendar which begins and end at the sighting of the new moon in your region. Ramadan moves up approximately 10 days each year. All who are at the age of puberty, in good health, not traveling (or in case of women), not pregnant or on their menses are required to fast. Muslims will fast for a period of 29-30 days from sunrise to sunset abstaining from all foods and drinks and marital relations. In addition to abstaining from physical foods, Muslims are to be on their best behavior. Abstaining from negative environments, arguments, bad behaviors, bad deeds etc. which are equally important in that it could cause Muslims to break their fast mentally and spiritually.
Ramadan derives from a term which means “burning” or purification. It is a time to burn off your sins and get a complete cleansing. It is said by Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him that “whoever intends to fast the month of Ramadan and completes the fast that all his/hers sins from the previous year will be forgiven”.
“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was to those before you that you may (learn) self restraint”
There are many benefits to fasting the month of Ramadan. The individual(s) who fast are drawn nearer to Allah (God) by increasing their sacred regard and reverence for The Creator and Sustainer of everything. There are great health benefits by allowing the digestive system that is usually overworked to thoroughly digest and clean waste out its system. The discipline of maintaining the fast increases ones patience and tolerance when socially interacting. Your senses are sharpened as well as your consciousness.
What is the fast for? Allah (God) says fasting is for Me! This serves one’s logic because God is the only One who knows whether or not you are keeping your fast.
The focus on the fast should be to help those who do not have what others have. There are people who involuntarily fast throughout the year because they do not have food and even shelter. Muslims are to be more charitable during the month of Ramadan. Good deeds in AI-Islam are multiplied by 10 times…in Ramadan those good deeds are multiplied by a minimum of 70 times and greater.
The late Imam W. Deen Mohammed said regarding the fast of Ramadan,”It is to have us share what we have with those who have little or nothing. It is to go to the aid of the hungering and those who are poor and destitute who need help. It opens our heart to them and we help them. So fasting is for God. If the believer keeps his fast that way, then he benefits his own life more and he benefits the community more. But if he fast just because he says this is a law I have to fast or if he fast just because he knows when he comes off the fast after the month of Ramadan he feels better health-wise or he just feels good, that is not it…the purpose is too serious. The seriousness is a healthy community where people register the hurt and suffering of their brothers and sisters, so that is what God means.”
Fasting in Ramadan should not be an emphasis on how long you are fasting each day but more so on how well you are fasting each day. Prophet Muhammad said “Perhaps a fasting person will receive nothing from his fasting except hunger and thirst.” “Every action of the son of Adam is given manifold reward; each good deed receiving ten times it’s like, up to seven hundred times.
Allah the Most High said except fasting, for it is for Me and I give recompense for it, he who leaves off his desires and his food for me, for the fasting person there are two times of joy; a time when he breaks his fast and a time of joy when he meets his Lord, and the smell coming from the mouth of the fasting person is better with Allah than the smell of musk. “
During the month of Ramadan Muslims also commemorate the time The Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel (Jibril). The entire 114 Chapters would take a little over 23 years to be revealed. Muslims are encouraged to read at least 1/30th of the Qur’an each day in Ramadan in order to complete the entire reading by the end of the month. The purpose of reading the Qur’an is to become closer to Allah’s (God’s) words. Muslims read to gain direction and instructions for Guidance, Forgiveness and for Mercy. At the end of the month of Ramadan it is expected the fasting believer is renewed and looks to begin life on a new start. There is a three day celebration called Eid al Fitr which means a “reoccurring happiness” and a return to your original human nature. Muslims have a feast and share gifts with families, friends and neighbors.
We encourage all to make prayers and supplications for those who are suffering from hunger, oppression, discrimination, violence, homelessness, ignorance and lack of education. Ramadan is an excellent time also for Muslims to educate family, friends and the community at large about the true tenants of Al Islam. Suicide bombings, kidnapping, forcing religion against one’s will, murdering innocent people etc. cannot be substantiated by Qur’an and or the life example of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). One example is the term “Jihad”, which means a personal internal struggle to surrender your will to do God’s will, has now been redefined in the media as “Holy War”. Every person who identifies with a faith is to be measured by the revealed Book and God’s messenger they profess to follow. Not by what they do in the name of religion that’s merely self-serving. Temperatures for the month of Ramadan are expected to be hot and the fasting days are on average 16 hrs. Allah does not intend for the faster to have difficulty but to complete the fast. It’s important to drink plenty of fluids before and after day light hours. Remember that those who are ill, diabetic etc. are not too fast. Instead you can feed a poor person and stay in compliance with the fast.
This year’s Eid al Fitr celebration is anticipated to around June 26th or 27th. Please look out for our celebration and join in with us as we plan to feed the neighbors at Masjid Nu’Man.
Ramadan Mubarak! Blessed Ramadan to all!