Muslims around the world seek spiritual and physical renewal in the Holy Month of Ramadan by fasting as required of all muslim adults that are able. This fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. A typical day in the month of Ramadan involves fasting from sunrise to sunset, a meal to break the fast after sunset (Iftar), and typically a predawn meal before sunrise (Suhoor). Here are some informational tidbits from our Muslim readers
A time for empathy and rediscovery ...
Ramadan ... symbolizes and teaches patience, compassion, and empathy for our fellow humans. To people unfamiliar with Ramadan, upon first glance it may seem like we are just starving ourselves but that could not be further from the truth. By not eating, drinking, and indulging one’s self in his or her vices from sunrise to sunset, one not only gains an appreciation for the feeling of purity that comes along with fasting but also gains a deeper understanding and feeling for what people in unfortunate situations deal with on a regular basis. By not consuming anything all day one begins to better understand the plight of those living in poverty around the world. The fact that many of us are fortunate enough to be able to break our fast at the end of the day really brings the importance of empathy and charity back into perspective. This reminds us all that even when we feel like our lives are at their worst, there are people in the world in more unfortunate situations and that renewed perspective refreshes our humanity, empathy, and love towards others and fosters a stronger sense of community.
In the Sudanese-American community, Ramadan is also a time to practice more of our traditions from back home. Many of us spent most of our lives in the United States and, because of that, there are times when we lose touch of who we are and our culture. Therefore, Ramadan becomes a time ... to grow closer to our fellow Sudanese people and to remind ourselves of our culture and traditions. This is done through social gatherings such as group “Iftars” (which means the breaking of one’s fast), spending more time volunteering as groups, etc. We are all very proudly American but it is very important for one to have an understanding of their background in order to find their identity. Because Ramadan already fosters a stronger sense of community, it becomes the perfect time to also rediscover one's roots.
- Wafa Saeed (Denver, CO)
Ramadan is healthy ...
Ramathan is healthy for me because during this time I feel closer to Allah than ever by replacing many earthly desires with prayer, prayer and more prayer, participating in community outreach and reading the Quran.
- It's a time to renew your faith and relationship with God. Hell is closed and the doors of Jannah are open - all the devils are chained.
- If you fast with good intention and belief in Allah, all your past sins are forgiven
- A dua of a fasting person is always accepted by Allah - it is a time to ask Allah to bless you for the year ahead.
- Fasting teaches you humility and you appreciate what hunger means and what people who lack food go through
- It helps me to lose weight :) and also brings about more discipline
- Leenah (Denver, CO)
Good food for Iftar and Suhoor ...
I recommend the following foods [influenced by Indian cuisine]:
For Iftar: Haleem, Vada, Water Melon, Dates, Agar Agar For Suhoor: Rice, Roti (Naan, Chappati), Pilaf, Goat Curry, Chicken, Yogurt, Fish
- Jahira (Roseville, MN)
To a non Muslim ...
Growing up attending inclusive schools meant that I got to watch, and envy, Muslims during the month of Ramadan. Of course most of my envy was driven by the sumptuous meals as they broke fast. But there was a collective spirit in the Muslim community that always made this look like a very merry time for Islam - it didn't ever seem as challenging as fasting can surely be. So for me I can only congratulate Muslims around the world for keeping a tradition that is healthy physically and spiritually, and keeping it as a month of solidarity through the ages!
- Julius (Denver, CO)