Wednesday, October 05, 2005

One month of spiritual detox, a lifetime of implimentation

Ramadan Kareem, Ramadan Mubarak or just plain old Happy Ramadan!
Whatever way you say it, if you're a Muslim you'll know what I mean! Even if you're not, you may have even heard of this word 'Ramadan', or even better you actually have a good idea of what it means. If its all Greek to you then here's a very short and compressed description of what exactly Ramadan is:
  • Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar (there are 12 months in all) which follows the lunar calendar
  • Ramadan is the month during which the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) by the Angel Gabriel ('Jibreel' in Arabic), it happened on the 27th day of the month
  • Consequently the current Islamic year is 1426 as it is calculated from the year the prophet Mohammed (PBUH) made his journey (or Hijra) from the city of Mecca to the city of Medina on the east coast of modern-day Saudi Arabia as he and his followers were being persecuted for preaching about 'this strange new religion' there
  • Muslims around the world must fast from a few hours before dawn till sun down, that means you can't eat or drink anything for this entire period
  • Ramadan typically lasts for approximately 30 days depending on the sighting of the new moon
  • The festival of Eid-al-fitr marks the end of the month of Ramadan when for 3 days Muslims around the world are in a celebratory mood but are never more than a thought away from remembering the less fortunate of thier fellow human-beings and so all Muslims who are able to, must give a certain portion of their and their dependents' wealth in charity which is known as 'Zakaah' or 'Zakaah-al-fitr' before or on the first day of Eid. This compulsory 'wealth-shedding' excercise is as Dr. Bilal Philips (a well known scholar) explains a method whereby 'The rich are obliged to come in direct contact with the poor, and the poor are put in contact with the extremely poor. This contact between the various levels of society helps to build real bonds of brotherhood and love within the Islamic community and trains those who have, to be generous to those who do not have.'

  • The philosophy behind fasting during Ramadan is to purify one's soul; strengthen it spiritually as a fasting person must abstain from the regular evils of daily life e.g. partaking in immoral acts such as using bad language, lusting after the opposite sex be it in thought or in action. On a practical and more scientific note, it gives the digestive system a well-earned break. And lastly but not least, you get to experience what your poor hungry fellow human-being must endure on a daily basis in the poorest parts of the world

I hope that's cleared a few possible misconceptions up, I've endevoured to dispel any possible or potential misconceptions as much as I can. I also don't profess to know more about Islam than the next Muslim you might meet as I am on a constant journey to learn (and perhaps re-learn) about my spiritual identity in addition to the wordly one that has manifested itself in so many different ways over the years.

If this has gone some way in intriguing your interest in Islam and you would like to know more, I'd humbly refer you to which seems to have balanced answers to just about any questions Muslims and non-Muslims alike have.

Anyhow, I'd like to wish everyone, regardless of your religion (or lack thereof) a Happy and prosperous Ramadan and I truly hope you find the contentment that every one of you yearn for whether conciously or subconciously. Thanks for bearing with me in this entry, normal irregular service shall resume uhhh soon.


Mybrid said...

Thank you so much for your wonderful explanation on Ramadan. I think I prefer your version to any website that tries to preach and give me too many details. As a Jew, I don't know a whole lot about Islam beyond studying about it in class. Sometimes it's better to hear it from someone who practices.

By the way, us Jews got you beat by 4340 years! We just celebrated the New Year 5766 this week. :)

southerngirl said...

Ramadan Mubarak, 3mr@n!