The blessed month of Ramadan 1428
1.9 billion Muslims of the world will celebrate their blessed month of Ramadan starting Thursday, Sept. 13, 2007. During this month, healthy Muslim adults will observe Fasting during the daylight hours. Muslim Fasting is a total abstention from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk for 29 or 30 days of the month of Ramadan. In addition, avoiding immoral behavior and anger and showing compassion is part of the requirements of the fasting. The purpose of fasting is manifold. Al’lah (the God Almighty) mentioned it in the Holy Book of the Muslims, Quran, that the fasting is prescribed for the believers as it was prescribed for the people before them, so that they may acquire self control and God-consciousness (Quran 2:183). Therefore, the purpose of fasting is to develop self-control, God-consciousness, improvement of health by reducing or eliminating impurities from the body, and to become aware of the plight of the poor, hungry, and the sick. Ramadan is a month of spiritual consciousness and high sense of social responsibility. The fulfillment of one’s obligations during this month is rewarded by 70 times.
Fasting is one of the 5 pillars of Islam including Announcement of Faith, Salaat (praying 5 times a day), Zakaat (the right of the poor on the wealth of the financially able), Fasting during the month of Ramadan, and Hajj (once a life time pilgrimage to Kaaba). It is an obligation on every adult and healthy Muslim to fast during the month of Ramadan. The month of Ramadan is also the month in which the Holy Quran was sent down from 7th level of heaven to the 1st level, from where it was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in a piece meal basis over a period of 23 years. It is a very joyous occasion for the Muslims of the world. They fast during the day, pray, and read Quran during the part of the night. There is a special night called the Night of Power, which is mentioned in the Quran (Chapter 97), as a night of mercy and light. Worshiping during this night is better than the worship of 1,000 months. During this night, Muhammad was chosen by Allah as the Messenger of Allah and Quran was sent to the 1st level of heaven. During this night, Al’lah (the God Almighty) sends down an army of special angels, under the leadership of Archangel Gabriel, who go to every nook and cranny of the earth to pray for the mercy of Al’lah (the God Almighty) and salvation of the believers.
Unlike common calendar, which is Solar based, Islamic calendar is Lunar based. It does not mean that Muslims worship moon. It is another way to count days of the month and the year. Like all Islamic months, Ramadan, 9th lunar month, begins after sighting the Crescent, but not the new moon. The probability to see the Crescent for Ramadan is on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2007, just after sunset on the western horizon. The population of Muslims in the US is estimated at 7 million, of which about 1 million live in the Southern California. All healthy Muslim adults including homemakers, school-going kids around the age of 13, factory workers, businessmen, and others among them will be fasting. Your Muslim neighbors will be getting up very early to take their sahoor, a pre-dawn meal before starting their fast. So, don’t get alarmed if you hear lot of noise next door. School staff has to show understanding and consideration towards Muslim students fasting during the month of Ramadan from Sept. 13, 2007 to Oct. 11, 2007. They should be assigned alternate activities instead of strenuous gym activities. Physicians should also understand that their patients might be fasting. They should prescribe the medicine in a way that they could take it with their pre-dawn or after sunset meals. However, if the patients’ life may be in jeopardy, explain it to the patients or seek help from a Muslim Chaplain at a local hospital, (like Imam Ali Siddiqui, 951-734-4599, Siddiqui@aol.com, a Hospital Chaplain in Southern California) or an Imam/director of a local Masjid/Islamic Center. According to Muslim physicians, there are some physiological benefits from Muslim Fasting (total abstention from food and liquids) including lowering of blood sugar, lowering of cholesterol and lowering of systolic blood pressure.
At the completion of month of Fasting, Muslims all over the world celebrate their holiday of Eid al-Fitr. It is the biggest Muslim holiday. It is a true thanksgiving for a Muslim believer for having the opportunity to obey Al’lah (the God Almighty) by observing Fasting. It is celebrated on the 1st day of 10th lunar month, Shaw’waal. This year, it will be on Friday, Oct. 12, 2007. The holiday begins with Muslims putting on their best preferably new clothes and going to the Eid congregation. Eid congregations are very large gatherings of Muslim men, women, and children across the country. You can witness these gathering at local Convention Centers, Fair grounds, and/or Community Parks. Afterwards, people greet each other with hugs and handshakes. The children receive gifts of money and toys. After the congregation, Muslims visit each other at their homes and hold lunches or dinners for family and friends. Don’t be surprised if you are invited to an Eid dinner or Eid celebration by your Muslim neighbor or friend. Please do accept such an invitation. The hospitality, friendliness, and variety of international Muslim cuisine will pleasantly surprise you. Greetings of Ramadan, Ramadan Karim!
The local police and other law enforcement agencies should take extra precautions, during this month around the local Masjid / mosque / Islamic Center and where the Eid Congregation will be held, for the safety of Muslims and their facilities. The Muslim Communities across the nation appreciate the local police officers and the law enforcement agencies for doing such a great job for their safety. Muslim Communities are also thankful of volunteers from many faiths who have provided support and vigilance. Thank you! May Allah, the Creator, look after you in your hour of need. Amen!
P.S. Muslims should call their local Masjid for the beginning and end of Ramadan.
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About the author
Imam Ali Siddiqui with 35 years of service, is a Friday Khatib, Islamic teacher, Muslim Chaplain, youth advisor, family counselor, educator, poet and writer with a vision who has been involved in the teaching Islam, history, comparative religion, contemporary issues to Muslims and non-Muslims. He is actively involved in the community service including spiritual/educational development, service to the sick and the incarcerated. He has been on speaking tours to the Belgium, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, India, Iran, Pakistan, and across the USA. He frequently presents Islamic Prospective and Muslim Point of View on current affairs to Non-Muslims and Muslims. He has been very active in organizing seminars, workshops, conferences, and teach-ins to promote Islamic awareness and inter-faith understanding. He has received numerous commendations for his work, service, and scholarship. Presently, Imam Siddiqui is the President of California Muslim Institute; Vice Chair/Director, Peace with Justice Center of the Pomona Valley; and member of the Board of Directors: Corona-Norco Interfaith Association, and Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, Los Angeles. For additional information about author’s involvement, please Google: “Imam Ali Siddiqui”