Ramadan Kareem! / Blessed Ramadan!
Ramadan will start here in Toronto on either Wednesday August 11th or Thursday 12th depending on moon sighting. Moon sighting committee for the Toronto area: www.hilalcommittee.com/
So what's Ramadan?
A quick explanation for those who have never heard of it, this is the month in which all the eligible Muslims are encouraged to fast from food drink and if they are married sexual relations from sun up till sun down for 29 or 30 days of the lunar calendar. Eligible means men and women who are over the age of about 7, are not sick, or traveling, or in women's instance have their menstrual cycle, pregnant, or in some cases breast feeding.
We do so primarily to gain an awareness of Allah, but among the other benefits is that we can understand the hardships of poor people, we shed extra weight, and clean out the system of pollutants. Its also a time of solidarity and sharing food when we do break fast. We visit each other more often and go to the mosque to pray for many hours in which the whole community is there. For us it is a very happy time focused on community.
Of course it is difficult at first, but the blessings are huge and many great things always seem to happen each year to me and others. The lunar calendar moves around the solar year by shifting back 13 days a year. Next year Ramadan will begin in late July 2011.
We are told that fasting is the highest form of worship since only God really knows if you are being true to it or not. You can fool other people or cheat, but then you are only starving yourself. Its only if you're honest and really try that you reap the tremendous rewards. When you see so many people; old , young , rich , poor, all of them fasting worldwide, you can't help but feel a brotherhood as we're all doing it together.
I don't really know of too many other things out there nowadays that are telling you to avoid your desires and to abstain for about a month and on a yearly basis. If you can control food and sexual desires, the most base and universal, the rest are a lot easier.
The prayer of a fasting person is always answered if God wills, so pray for the sick, poor, and oppressed people world wide as well as for your families and your deceased relatives as well. Make as best use of this month as you can as good deeds are multiplied many fold! People misunderstand Ramadan as a hardship, but its actually a huge gift for us to gain Allah's favour which is better than anything we miss out on during Ramadan.
So to one and all i wish you a Blessed Ramadan, and even encourage non Muslims to try fasting and see how it's like, its a great was to break addictions and bad habits. If you're not Muslim, but have a Muslim friend, try going to their house for Iftar (when we break fast after sunset), they would be happy to have you and you will leave with a full stomach and a new understanding on something 1/6th of the world's population celebrates!
I really do thank you guys and I hope I have been of some use to you.
Asalaamu Alaikum = Peace be upon you!