*Please amend as you see fit*
Hello ‘XX‘: ),
I thought it might be nice to share a personal perspective about the month of Ramadan, a month of fasting that I always participate in.
This month (based on the lunar calendar) represents an opportunity for many Muslims, who observe the fast to pause, reflect and focus on their devotion and service to God.
Practicing Muslims will be fasting every day from dawn to sunset. This is a strict fast during the day- so no food or drink. Muslims will begin their fast, rising early in the morning to take a meal (called suhoor) before the dawn and first prayer of the day and will break their fast (called Iftar) as soon as the sun sets.
Fasting is not only about abstaining from food and drink, Ramadan encourages one to go beyond the physical ritual of fasting and attempt to purge the self of negative thoughts and motivations- anger, cursing, greed, gossiping, complaining etc. Fasting is an exercise of focus and self-restraint as well as humility and one is encouraged to reach out to family and friends, seeking to also mend any broken relationships.
It is important to note, that while Ramadan is an important tenant of the Islamic faith- there are categories of people who are excused from partaking in the physical act of fasting; for instance, the young, old, pregnant and nursing mothers and those who are unwell.
The act of fasting in Islam is a continuation of the traditions found in the other two Abrahamic faiths of Judaism and Christianity. At face value, it is an external act, but in reality its purpose is primarily to influence and affect the internal through a fast of the soul. By fasting, I aim to achieve ‘consciousness’; that is to say that I try to be mindful and grateful for all that I have been given by God.
Another important aspect of Ramadan is the awareness that fasting brings to us of other’s suffering and the compassion we can cultivate from that awareness. I often take food and water for granted and feeling the absence of those things during a fast makes me more aware of those who do not have enough food, clean water to drink or shelter overhead. As a result there is an emphasis of charity and community service throughout the month that should try and be maintained for the rest of the year. One of Ramadan’s ‘nick names’ is the month of charity.
The whole point of Ramadan is to be changed – for good. The emphasis is always on reflection, gratitude, prayer, charity and company with loved ones. Similar to New Year resolutions, Ramadan is a time for renewal, of rededication of yourself to live a good life and to try and continue from lessons learnt post-Ramadan.
The end of Ramadan is marked by the celebration Eid ul Fitr in which Muslims celebrate with family and friends the completion of the fast. In the days leading up to the end of Ramadan, each Muslim must pay Zakat ul Fitr; this is a small amount of charity that goes towards people living in poverty.
I have brought in some dates (food that Muslims traditionally tend to break their fast with) to share in the spirit of giving and sharing of the month, please do help yourself : )