Imam Kamal Saleem with Mobile Masjid of Al-Islam joins us to talk about the annual time of fasting for Muslims. Here’s a look at our conversation:
Chad: Ramadan started last weekend and continues through early June–what is Ramadan?
Guest: Ramadan started on the sighting of the new moon Sunday 05/05/2019 and the first day of fasting was Monday 05/06/2019. Ramadan is the month in which the revelation of the Holy Qur’an began being revealed to Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon him). Ramadan is the holiest month of the Lunar calendar for the Muslims throughout the world. It’s a month in which the Believers fast daily for 29 or 30 days depending on the sighting of the moon to signal its completion. We abstain for a multitude of reasons. Firstly because G-d (Allah) ask us too. The fast cultivates in the fasting person many virtues. When one fast from before sunrise to sunset daily, you feel the pains of hunger on a voluntary basis being very aware that there are people who are fasting not in observance of Ramadan but because they are poor and lack the basic necessities of food and water. So awareness and charity to those less fortunate is a benefit of the fast.
Chad: How is Ramadan traditionally observed?
Guest: It is observed by the individual who is part of a family, and part of a Community. So the synergy of the group makes it easier and gives support and solidarity to the participants. So meals are prepared early morning and the meals and prayer is completed at dawn before sunrise. Some take their meals at home others do it collectively at a Mosque. Togetherness is encouraged. Family time is important. We read the Qur’an daily so by the end of Ramadan we will have completed the entire reading.
Chad: How does this time of prolonged fasting bring Muslims closer to God?
Guest: Ramadan brings us closer to G-d because it serves as a reminder that however we are blessed we are obligated to serve G-d and serve humanity and be a beacon of light and an example to the world that regardless of how chaotic and stressful life is we have to remember that from G-d we came and to G-d we will return. And knowing that we have to be contributors to the world, not just takers.
Chad: How does Ramadan compare to other times of fasting in other major religions like the Christian Lenten period?
Guest: The comparisons are that G-d in His mercy has revealed these scriptures to the Abrahamics faiths. So each faith community has to do there best to follow the fast the way they understand it. Seems that the underlying purpose is to make us better servants by practicing discipline.
Chad: What is the hardest part about Ramadan and what do you like most about it?
Guest: Probably the hardest part is that you know that Ramadan is coming and you relish it. But the habits of eating/overeating and the discipline of not reading/studying as much as you know you need too. What I like most about it is so much. You know that coming out of Ramadan you are going to be more conscious/aware of your duty to G-d and your family and your fellow human beings. The spirit and togetherness of over a Billion and a half people being on this journey with you acknowledging G-d and praying and fasting. Its definitely one of those phenomena that contribute to your spiritual well being.