As a Singaporean from multi-religious Singapore, with friends among the Muslims, I decided to find out about Ramadan from the Wikipedia and here are some extracts of information to share among ChristianBlessing’s readers.
Ramadan the fasting month for the muslims began on Wednesday August 11, 2010 with the sighting of the new moon in the ninth month on the Muslim calendar in the year of 1431 Hijri.
In the Qu’ran, God proclaims that “fasting has been written down (as obligatory) upon you, as it was upon those before you”. According to the earliest hadith, this refers to the Jewish practice of fasting on Yom Kippur. Fasting was practiced before Islam among the Arabs during times of intense heat, scorched ground and shortness of rations.
Muslims believe Ramadan to be the month in which the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, and many other important revelations (Mary was told that she would give birth to Jesus, etc).
Muslims refrain from eating or drinking starting from dawn till dusk. To prepare for the fasting, Muslims wake up before dawn and the fajr prayer to eat a meal (Sahoor). Muslims break their fast at Maghrib (at sunset) prayer time with a meal called Iftar.
Fasting is intended to teach Muslims about patience, humility, and spirituality. It is a time for Muslims to fast for the sake of God (Arabic: الله, trans: Allah) and to offer more prayer than usual. During Ramadan, Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds. Ramadan is also a time when Muslims are to slow down from worldly affairs and focus on self-reformation, spiritual cleansing and enlightenment; this is to establish a link between themselves and God through prayer, supplication, charity, good deeds, kindness and helping others. The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm. It also teaches Muslims to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate; thus encouraging actions of generosity and charity (Zakat).
People who are travelling long distances do not have to fast. Also exempt are pregnant women if they believe it would be harmful to them or the unborn baby, women during the period of their menstruation, and women nursing their newborns.
In addition to fasting, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Qur’an. Some Muslims perform the recitation of the entire Qur’an by means of special prayers, called Tarawih, which are held in the mosques every night of the month, during which a whole section of the Qur’an (Juz’, which is 1/30 of the Qur’an) is recited. Therefore the entire Qur’an would be completed at the end of the month.
Since it is a festival of giving and sharing, Muslims prepare special foods and buy gifts for their family and friends and for giving to the poor and needy who cannot afford it; this can involve buying new clothes, shoes and other items of need.
There is also a social aspect involving the preparing of special foods and inviting people for Iftar. The sundown meal starts with the ritual eating of a date — just as Prophet Muhammad was believed to have done. Then it’s time for a prayer to thank Allah followed by the meal. In many homes, this is a simple meal of fruits and vegetables along with traditional Middle Eastern fare.
Over time, Iftar has grown into banquets and small festivals. This is a time of fellowship with families, friends and surrounding communities, but may also occupy larger spaces at mosques or banquet halls, where a hundred or more may gather at a time.
The holiday of Eid ul-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر) marks the end of the fasting period of Ramadan and the first day of the following month, after another new moon has been sighted . Eid ul-Fitr means the Festival of Breaking the Fast; a special celebration is made. Food is donated to the poor (Zakat al-fitr); everyone puts on their best, usually new, clothes; and communal prayers are held in the early morning, followed by feasting and visiting relatives and friends. The prayer is two Raka’ahs only, and it is optional (mustahabb) prayer as opposed to the compulsory five daily prayers. Muslims are expected to do this as an act of worship, and to thank God.
To Christians for whom Christ gave His life, Jesus said “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. ” Mark 12:30, 31.
Does the practice of Ramadan speak to us? What does your salvation mean to us? Have we periodically paused to reflect on our relationships with God and our fellow-men?
Do we love ourselves and the world more than God?
Is our relationship right with God? If not, let us confess our sin and re-establish our love relationship with God.
Do we love our neighbours as ourselves? God forbid if we do not even know who they are. It is our responsibility to get to know them and let the love of God shine through us.
J-O-Y results when it is loving Jesus first, Others in between and Yourself last.
Is there a miserable Christian among us?