The Muslim community in the Puget Sound Area and around the world began celebrating Ramadan on July 10, which is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar year.
Fasting is done as an act of worship between dawn and dusk locally from about 3:30 a.m.-9 p.m. when Muslims abstain from all food, drink and intimate relations.
In addition to this physical component, the spiritual aspects of the fast include refraining from gossip, lies, obscenity or any sinful acts in compliance to the following verse: “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint... Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Quran, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting...” (Q 2:183,185).
Fasting is the fourth of the Five Pillars of Islam, the others being declaration of faith, prayer, charitable giving, and the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj).
Fasting, together with the other pillars, forms the foundation of the faith.
Muslims invite one another for the Iftar meals, for awareness and concern among neighbors, families and friends.
Many people also take Iftar at the mosque together with the wider community, especially the poor and needy.
Fasting should not place hardship on anybody. Pregnant women and nursing mothers, the sick and those traveling may defer their fast until their situation or journey is over.
The aged and infirm or those who have a permanent illness that prevents them from fasting, are excused and may expiate by feeding a needy person for every day missed.
BENEFITS OF FASTING
During this month Muslims focus on strengthening their relationship with the Creator.
It is a time for spiritual reflection, prayer and doing of good deeds.
Fasting is intended to inculcate self-discipline, self-restraint and generosity and raise awareness of the many bounties of God.
The hunger and thirst remind the fasting person of the less fortunate who may rarely eat well and reinforces the concept that wasting the Creator’s bounties is a sign of ingratitude.
Wealth is regarded as a trust from God, with which we strive to please him by sharing it generously with others especially during Ramadan.
RAMADAN IS THE MONTH OF THE QURAN
Muslims believe the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad during Ramadan in the year 610 C.E.
It is the most-read book in the world and often memorized in the original Arabic in its entirety.
One of the practices unique to Ramadan is a long congregational prayer or Taraweeh offered late night, locally between 11:00 p.m.-12:30 a.m.
During this prayer, it is customary for the entire Quran to be recited over the course of the month.
The end of Ramadan, which this year fell around Aug. 8, was marked by a day of celebration known as Eid-ul-Fitr or the festival of fast-breaking.
Families will woke up early in the morning, put on their best clothes and went to the mosque for the Eid sermon and congregational prayers.
They thanked God for having given them the opportunity to experience another blessed month of Ramadan.
The day was accompanied by celebration, socializing, festive meals and modest gift-giving especially to children.
But before the festivities began, every person, adult and child, must have already contributed towards alms-giving.
This is the giving of a meal, or cash equivalent, to a needy person to make sure that none are excluded from this happy occasion.Mustafa Mohamedali PE PMP, contributing editor, is a member of the Islamic Center of Olympia. Perspective is coordinated by Interfaith Works in cooperation with The Olympian. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Interfaith Works or The Olympian.