Wow it is already time to start fasting again for the month or Ramadan!
Part of my duty as a Muslim is to explain certain aspects of my religion in the hopes that it bridges gaps of misunderstanding.
As was passed down from Abraham peace be upon him, we fast for the sake of God as a purification for our hearts and to learn the consciousness of Him. No one comes and arrests us if we don't fast, no one writes a ticket or any nonesense like that if we don't do it. The fasting from food, drink, and marrital relations for the daylight hours til sunset is something that only God sees best.
Fasting is the highest form of worship since no one can really tell if you are fasting or not. You can fool other people, or cheat on your fast, and maybe people wont find out, but He will know. Therefore it is the most sincere act if it is for His sake, and that's why we are told that God rewards fasting immensly.
Fasting has numerous health benefits as well, such as losing excess weight, the control of desire, and cleansing of the body. The goal of this month is not just to stay up at night gorging yourself and starve during the day, it is to put aside your consumption of good things for a period of time for God's pleasure so that He can clean us of filth in our actions, minds and hearts, and reward us tremendously in this life and the hereafter.
It obviously makes you appreciate your own food, drink, and spouse among other things, as well as create an understanding and compassion for people who do not have these thing we take for granted.
Prayer is heavily encouraged and for some reason it is much easier in this month since everyone is doing it moreso. Usually the Mosques are filled every night as people choose prayer over sleep for part of the night. This month is also the best to give charity in.
Things like lying, gossiping, cheating, etc, while bad in any month, are even more odious in this month. Reciting and memorizing Quran (Our Holy Book) is also encouraged. many people read through the Quran at least once during this month, some people do it many times more. All these things are to gain Allah's favour and hopefully His forgiveness. It's a month of purification.
We do this for about 29 days, one lunar month, after which we have a large community Prayer followed by a festival called Eid. Normally, we buy new clothes for the occassion, slaughter meat to distribute to the poor, and give our yearly Zakat or charity. Of course there is all types of sweets and visiting of relatives and giving of gifts as well!
Very old people, menstrating women, sick or ill people, and small children and people who are travelling long distances are exempt from fasting. But in the case of temporarily sick people, menstruating women, and travelling people, when the condition changes to one where they can fast, they should make up the days soon, and definitely before the next Ramadan.
To all my hundreds of millions of Muslim brothers and sisters I wish you all a successful and happy Ramadan! Remember you are the examples of Islam in the world today, and be nice to everyone, they are the creation of Allah afterall.
On a different note, I would like to wish all of you the best of luck on your school year coming up, and hope you do well. Education is a gift, don't look on it as a burden because knowledge is power.
Also people in the Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi Coastal areas, maybe Pennsicola as well better be careful, "Gustav" is coming. Supposedly this storm will strengthen to a Category 5 Hurricane, thats sustained winds of 250km/h or 155mph! They are saying landfall will be about a Cat. 4, but I hope you will all be safe.
Asalaamalaikum = Peace be upon you!
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