Muslims in Bermuda and around the world will in the next 24 to 48 hours begin to observe the fast of Ramadan, as we enter into the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and in high gear to embrace the blessed month of Ramadan.
What does this business of Ramadan mean to Muslims, especially since it encompasses Muslims from every nook and cranny of the globe?
What is this Ramadan phenomenon that can have over a billion people in complete obedience and solidarity — a phenomenon indeed!
Well, for starters, Muslims around the world consider Ramadan to be the holiest month of the year and anticipate its arrival with zest and hope. Muslims from all continents unite in a period of fasting and spiritual reflection.
Each year, Muslims spend the month of Ramadan observing a community-wide fast.
The annual fast of Ramadan is considered one of the five “pillars” of Islam.
Muslims who are physically able are required to fast each day for the entire month, from sunrise to sunset.
The evenings are spent enjoying family and sharing meals, engaging in prayer and spiritual reflection, and reading from Allah’s Book, the Holy Qur’an, at a community level.
The first revelation of the Holy Qur’an was during the month of Ramadan; Surah Israa 17:106: “And it is a Qur’an which We have revealed in portions so that you may read it to the people by slow degrees”.
The Qur’an is a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong) –– Surah Al-Baqarah 2:185.
The actual night that the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad is called Lailat ul Qadr, and to stand in prayer on this one night is said to be better than a thousand months of worship.
Ramadan is often called the ‘month of the Qur’an’ and Muslims attempt to recite as much of the Qur’an as they can during the month.
Most mosques will recite one thirtieth of the Qur’an each night during the Taraweeh prayers.
No one knows on which particular night the Qur’an was first revealed, but it is said to be one of the last 10 nights of Ramadan.
The benefits of fasting are many, both on a spiritual and physical level.
Fasting helps one to experience how a hungry person feels and what it is like to have an empty stomach.
It teaches one to share the hardships of those less fortunate than us. We believe that fasting leads one to appreciate the bounties of Allah, which are usually taken for granted — until they are missed!
Throughout the day, Muslims are encouraged to go out of their way to help those in need, both financially and emotionally. Some believe that a reward earned during this month is multiplied 70 times and more.
For this reason, Ramadan is also known as the month of generosity and charity.
Fasting not only means abstaining from eating, but also refraining from all vices and evils committed consciously or unconsciously.
It is believed that if one voluntarily refrains from the simple pleasurable things of life during Ramadan, that their characters are made stronger and perhaps they will be in a better position to avoid unlawful things and acts during the rest of the year.
“Oh you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you many learn piety and righteousness” (Q 2:183).
So let us fast, for the pleasure of Allah and the reward of success. Ramadan Mubarak!