Tag archive for ‘ramadan’

How to worship in Laylat-ul-Qadr

Mecca mosque in Hyderabad India, on the first day of Ramadan

A view of Mecca Masjid, or mosque, during the evening prayers on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in Hyderabad, India, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2008. AP / Mahesh Kumar A

Date: October 25, 2005Name of Mufti: IslamOnline Shari`ah Researchers

Topic: Recommended Acts of Worship in Laylat-ul-Qadr

Name of Questioner: Omar from United States

Question: As-Salam `Alaykum Warahmatullah Wabarakatuh ! Dear Sheikhs, given that the blessed night Laylatul-Qadr is approaching, we would like you to tell us what should we do in this night. Kindly inform us of the acts of worship that are recommended in this night?

Answer:

Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear brother in Islam, thank you very much for having confidence in us. We ask Allah to guide the whole Muslim Ummah to make the best use of the blessed days of Ramadan, and to seek the great blessings Allah grants His sincere servants during these days.

Laylatul-Qadr is the most blessed night. A person who misses it has indeed missed a great amount of good. If a believing person is keen to obey his Lord and increase the good deeds in his record, he should strive to encounter this night and to pass it in worship and obedience. If this is facilitated for him, all of his previous sins will be forgiven.

Praying Qiyam:

It is recommended to make a long Qiyam prayer during the nights on which Laylatul-Qadr could fall. This is indicated in many Hadiths, such as the following:

Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) relates: “We fasted with Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) in Ramadan. He did not lead us in Qiyam (Night Vigil Prayer) at all until there were seven nights of Ramadan left. Then he stood with us (that night, in Prayer) until one third of the night had passed. He did not pray with us on the sixth. On the fifth night, he prayed with us until half of the night had passed. So we said, ‘Allah’s Messenger! Wouldn’t you pray with us the whole night?’ He replied: ‘Whoever stands in Prayer with Imam until he (the Imam) concludes the Prayer, it will be recorded for him that he prayed the whole night…” (Reported by Ibn Abi Shaybah, Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi)

Point of benefit: Abu Dawud mentioned: “I heard Ahmad being asked, ‘Do you like for a man to pray with the people or by himself during Ramadan?’ He replied, ‘Pray with the people’ I also heard him say, ‘I would prefer for one to pray Qiyam with Imam and to pray Witr with him as well, for the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “When a man prays with the Imam until he concludes, he’ll earn the reward of praying the rest of that night.”

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Whoever stands (in Qiyam) in Laylatul-Qadr (and it is facilitated for him) out of faith and expectation of Allah’s reward, will have all of his previous sins forgiven.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim). The phrase “and it is facilitated for him”, according to the version narrated by Ahmad, on the authority of `Ubadah Ibn As-Samit, means that a person is permitted to be among the sincere worshippers during that blessed night.

Making Supplications:

It is also recommended to make extensive supplication on this night. `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) reported that she asked the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) “O Messenger of Allah! If I knew which night is Laylatul-Qadr, what should I say during it?” And he instructed her to say: “Allahumma innaka `afuwwun tuhibbul `afwa fa`fu `annee (O Allah! You are Oft-Forgiving, and you love forgiveness. So forgive me).” (Reported by Ahmad, Ibn Majah and At-Tirmithi)

Abandoning Worldly Pleasures for the Sake of Worship:

It is further recommended to spend more time in worship during the nights on which Laylatul-Qadr is likely to be. This calls for abandoning many worldly pleasures in order to secure the time and thoughts solely for worshipping Allah. This is based on the following Hadith narrated by `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her): “Upon entering into the last ten (of Ramadan), the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would tighten his Izar (i.e. he stayed away from his wives in order to have more time for worship), spend the whole night awake (in Prayer), and wake up his family.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim) She also said: “Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) used to exert more efforts (in worship) on the last ten than on other nights.” (Reported by Muslim)

- IslamOnline.net, reprinted with some modifications from Islam.com

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Ramadan fasting has a healing effect on peptic ulcers

A peptic ulcer is a hole in the gut lining of the stomach, duodenum, or esophagus. A peptic ulcer of the stomach is called a gastric ulcer; of the duodenum, a duodenal ulcer; and of the esophagus, an esophageal ulcer. An ulcer occurs when the lining of these organs is corroded by the acidic digestive juices which are secreted by the stomach cells. Peptic ulcer disease is common, affecting millions of people yearly.
A peptic ulcer is a hole in the gut lining of the stomach, duodenum, or esophagus. A peptic ulcer of the stomach is called a gastric ulcer; of the duodenum, a duodenal ulcer; and of the esophagus, an esophageal ulcer. An ulcer occurs when the lining of these organs is corroded by the acidic digestive juices which are secreted by the stomach cells. Peptic ulcer disease is common, affecting millions of people yearly.
By Dr Muhammad Karim Islamabadi
September 4, 2007

Ramadan fasting has a healing effect on peptic ulcers as it curbs smoking which is recognised as a precipitating factor for the peptic ulcer. The whole gastro-intestinal system takes good rest for the first time in the whole year.

I feel pity for the stomach. I really feel pity for the stomach, intestines and infact the whole gastro-intestinal system. And this is so because the whole year, we never let this system take rest.

Apart from the three main meals, every few minutes, we pour something in our stomach, be it snacks, drinks, fruits or other eatables. None of us ever thinks that the food which we had already sent in before is being digested by the stomach and right when it has reached halfway, we dump some more into it only to disrupt the digestive work previously completed. This of course makes the food stay a longer time in the stomach which may result in dyspepsia, gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome etc.

In contrast, Ramadan is the only period in which our gastro-intestinal system takes good rest as the Muslims observe fasting for the whole month. Digestion is not just the name of churning movements of the stomach and the absorption by the intestines, but it is a huge integrated system involving the nervous system (eg. vagus nerve) as well as hormone secreting glands.

So the whole gastro-intestinal system takes good rest for the first time in the whole year. As digestion begins in the mouth where the salivary glands secrete excessive saliva which carries hormones to act upon the food, the burden on the salivary glands and teeth is reduced in the month of Ramadan. The oesophagus takes rest during fasting as there is no food to require its propelling movements which push the food to the stomach. Similarly, the stomach and the intestines also take good rest as after completing the digestion and absorption of food consumed at Sehri time, they have nothing to do till Iftar time. Even glands like pancreas and gall bladder which secrete hormones also reduce their secretions as there is no food to demand their hormones.

Hence, there is substantial reduction in the gastrointestinal hormones like gastric juice, gastrain, gastric inhibitory peptide (GIP), motilin, vascoactive intestinal peptide (VIP),neurotension, enteroglucagon, neuropeptide Y, gallium etc. Lastly, the colon and the liver are also at ease during fasting.

In short, Ramadan lifts the heavy burden and strain which we have put on our gastrointestinal system and gives it what can said to be a refreshing annual vacation of 30 days. Now coming to the diagnostic possibilities of Ramadan fasting, a good number of patients who consult physicians with abdominal pain, suffer from peptic ulcers. The peptic ulcer can be gastric or the duodenal type. The occurence of abdominal pain in both gastric and duodenal ulcers is different in relation to the food intake. Duodenal ulcer pain, though variable usually occurs when the stomach is empty and the gastric ulcer creates pain after the food intake.

In normal days, the differentiation of the two entities is difficult to make as people eat frequently, but in Ramadan, an individual undergoes two stages. One during the fasting when his stomach is empty and the other after evening meal when the stomach is full. If the patient complains of abdominal pain while fasting, it will point to the possibility of duodenal ulcer and if the pain occurs after Iftar, then gastric ulcer will be the suspected diagnosis.

The peptic ulcer pain is variable and it may not occur in some patients. Similarly, in most of the duodenal ulcer cases, as soon as mild pain starts, the patient eats something due to which the pain disappears and the disease remains undiagnosed. This undiagnosed ulcer may later surface with perforation of the ulcer and haematemesis (vomiting of blood) which has a high mortality.

Bangladeshi orphan girls offer prayers before a Ramadan Iftar, or evening meal to break fast, organized for less privileged children by the Sonargaon hotel in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008.  (AP Photo/Pavel Rahman)

Bangladeshi orphan girls offer prayers before a Ramadan Iftar, or evening meal to break fast, organized for less privileged children by the Sonargaon hotel in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008. (AP Photo/Pavel Rahman)

In Ramadan, while fasting, the duodenal ulcer pain is more likely to surface and as there is no provision to relieve the pain with food, the patient may be forced to consult a physician who with the help of endoscopy can easily clinch the diagnosis. While examining the abdomen of a patient who is already fasting, a physician can easily palpate the tenderness as well as feel the oedema around the peptic ulcer region.

Ramadan fasting has a healing effect on peptic ulcers as it curbs smoking which is recognised as a precipitating factor for the peptic ulcer. It also has beneficial effects on inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, dyspepsia and gastritis.

Last, but not the least, imagine a person who has fasted for more or less 14-15 hours and is now ready to break his fast. His taste buds have taken good rest, so at Iftar, the food is going to taste more pleasant and enjoyable than ever before. This is yet another bounty of Ramadan. Allah’s Messenger Prophet Muhammad (saws) says: “There are two pleasures for the fasting person, one at the time of breaking his fast and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord, then he will be pleased because of his fasting.”

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Before the Month of Ramadan: a Personal Reflection

Ugandan Muslims waiting to break their Ramadan fast

Ugandan Muslims waiting to break their Ramadan fast

Brother Hassan Abdulmalik, author of this article

Brother Hassan Abdulmalik, author of this article

By Hasan Abdulmalik on July 26, 2009

Reprinted from Ummah1.com Islamic Community

أشهد أن لا إله إلاَّ الله و أشهد أن محمد رسول الله - I bear witness that there is no god, but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His messenger. All praises are due to Allah, who gave us the blessed month of Ramadan and I am truly a grateful servant of Allah for His mercy and blessing.

Over the last few weeks, I have been doing some personal introspection, thinking and pondering about the upcoming month of Ramadan. Like many other Muslims from around the world, I am going through a self-assessment process and critique of my life over the past year. I am contemplating about the fate of my future based on my actions and Allah’s mercy. In this process I recounted how many Ramadan’s that I have fasted in my life (over 30, Alhumduillah) and I quickly realized that as you get older the month of Ramadan has so much more significance.

With this reality in mind, I am looking forward to hearing the upcoming news that the crescent moon has been sighted to begin fasting, or that we have one more day of the month of Sha’ban, and then Ramadan with definitely begin. By then, I am in a spiritual zone and even the annual Ramadan fitna doesn’t bother me. Such as, the repeated confusion of whose sighting of the moon we are going to abide by (local or oversees), or is there going to be a unified Eid prayer this year (or Eid’s on two separate days), or who will lead the Taraweeh prayer, (I sincerely pray that one day our leadership will get their act together).

At this stage of my life it really doesn’t matter, I just go with the flow and avoid the self-inflicted fitna. I just want to enjoy the spirit of Ramadan with the brotherhood because everyone comes to the Masjid during Ramadan. Gosh why couldn’t everyday be like Ramadan, when the Masjid is packed and we are pleasantly uncomfortable because there no room to pray, I can live with that.

For me Ramadan, it is like being acquainted with your best friend again, (or BFF in text language), the one that you have not seen in a long time, and you miss the friendship and camaraderie. Your friend is coming to town and you are going to be able to hang out like old times and pick up the friendship from where you left off. In the process you reminisce and think of the old times, and if you are one of those Muslims that has moved from your home town you can identify with this feeling.

In some metaphorical ways Ramadan is like your best friend that lived next door, the one that you grew up with and then moved away. You clearly remember every day of how you could not wait to go outside and play with your friend. You would spend every waking hour with your best friend and never grow tired of each other. Now that friend has come to visits you and will be in town for a while. Your excited because it is going to like old times again.

In thinking about the our beloved UMMAH, what is our the friendship with Ramadan?

Ramadan is that good friend that positively says to “hang in there fasting is difficult but it is good for you” and then you feel better and can endure the struggle of a long day of fasting.

Ramadan is that good friend that encourages you to do good and reminds you to “don’t say such and such, because backbiting does not please Allah.”

Ramadan is that good friend that tells you the truth especially when you don’t want to hear it. A friend that says to you “get your priorities in order before it’s too late.”

Ramadan is that good friend that cheers you up when you are down, by always reflecting on a positive alternative to any situation. The friend that has the right words to say even in the most troubling of times.

Ramadan is the good friend that encourages you to fast (sincerely) because it brings Allah’s mercy ten-fold, and reminds you that fasting can save you from the fire of hell.

Ramadan is the good friend that is strict and punctual about religious obligations. The friend that reminds you of Allah and keeps you in check, The benefit is that out of respect you are mindful of your words and actions in their presence.

Ramadan is that good friend that gets you into shape and helps you exercise. Spiritual shape that is and the exercise is to pray Taraweeh at night and endure the minor in convince of standing for a long period of time, because traditions says that standing long in pray brings light to your grave.

Ramadan is a good friend that is a spiritual guide and comforts your soul through pray and the recitation of Allah’s words.

Ramadan is that good friend that gives you hope, because you have been disobedient to Allah and Ramadan reminds us of the unlimited opportunity to receive Allah’s forgiveness and mercy.

Ramadan is that good friend that says I am here to help you, but you have to be willing to help yourself, so turn off the TV, video game, stop gossiping and remember Allah much if you are to prosper.

Ramadan is the good friend that we all need. It is my sincere pray that all of us on UMMAH and our family and friends have a blessed Ramadan. May Allah grant us all the highest level of paradise.

Brother Hasan

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Ramadan and Eid ul-Fitr Announcement for North America

Ramadan Mubarak to our readers and all Muslims around the world

Ramadan Mubarak to our readers and all Muslims around the world

First day of Ramadan will be Saturday, August 22, 2009
and Eid ul-Fitr on Sunday, September 20, 2009, inshaAllah.

“O you who believe, fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may (learn) self-restraint.” Qur’an 2: 183

The Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) recognizes astronomical calculation as an acceptable Shar’ia method for determining the beginning of lunar months including the months of Ramadan and Shawwal. FCNA uses Makkah al-Mukarram as a conventional point and takes the position that the conjunction must take place before sunset in Makkah and the moon must set after sunset in Makkah.

On the basis of this method the dates of Ramadan and Eid ul-Fitr for the year 1430 AH are established as follows:

1st of Ramadan will be on Saturday, August 22, 2009
1st of Shawwal will be on Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ramadan 1430 AH:
The astronomical New Moon is on Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 10:01 Universal Time (1:01 pm Makkah time). Sunset at Makkah on August 20 is at 6:47 pm local time, while moonset at Makkah is at 6:46 pm local time (1 minute before sunset). Therefore the following day Friday, August 21, 2009 is not the 1st day of Ramadan. First day of Ramadan is Saturday, August 22, insha’Allah. First Tarawih prayer will be on Friday night.

Eid ul-Fitr 1430 AH:
The astronomical New Moon is on Friday, September 18, 2009, at 18:44 Universal Time (9:44 pm Makkah time). On Saturday, September 19, 2009, sunset at Makkah is 6:20 pm local time, while moonset is at 6:36 pm local time. Therefore, first day of Shawwal, i.e., Eid ul-Fitr is Sunday, September 20, insha’Allah.

May Allah (swt) keep us on the right path, and accept our fasting and prayers. Ameen. For more detailed information, please visit: www.fiqhcouncil.org or www.moonsighting.com

Sincerely,
Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi
Chairman, Fiqh Council of North America

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On Ramadan, students hold fast together

Mattar Iman prays before the breaking of fast for Ramadan in Michigan.

Mattar Iman prays before the breaking of fast for Ramadan in Michigan.

On Ramadan, students hold fast together

During holiday, Muslim students build ties at dinner table

Reprinted from the Michigan Daily
BY CHARLES GREGG-GEIST
DAILY STAFF REPORTER ON SEPTEMBER 4TH, 2008

LSA freshman Seher Chowhan wakes up at 5 each morning, while most of campus sleeps, to eat a large breakfast and pray.

It’s an unconventional schedule for most college students, but for Chowhan it’s a key part of the observance of Ramadan, a 30-day-long holiday during which observant Muslims do not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. It began Sept. 1, the day before classes started.

“It’s tough for me,” Chowhan said. “Living in the dorms, you have to explain to your roommate why you’re waking up at five in the morning to eat and pray.”

Fasting Muslims usually eat a meal before sunrise and then gather for a large meal to break their fast and pray when the sun sets, but those traditions can be lost amid the bustle of college campuses.

To maintain the community element of the holiday, the Muslim Student Association organizes group meals to break the fast from Monday through Thursday.

On Wednesday night, LSA senior and MSA’s social co-chair Malik Mossa-Basha gathered with about 50 male students in the basement of South Quad to break their fast with 200 tacos and burritos from Taco Bell.

“Back home, it’s like a huge event,” Mossa-Basha said in between bites of a burrito. “When we’re here, we try to make Ann Arbor our community. It’s like a home-away-from-home thing.”

Because Ramadan is determined by the lunar calendar, it starts ten days earlier every year. And as the start date moves further into the summer, the days lengthen and get hotter.

“I remember seven years ago, fasting from 7 to 4:30,” LSA senior and MSA Outreach Chair Salim Al Churbaji said. “Now it’s, what, 13 hours?”
LSA senior and MSA President Yamaan Saadeh said that while the long days make it harder to fast, having Ramadan at the beginning of the school year helps build bonds between Muslim students on campus.

“It’s more of a challenge because it’s harder to manage your time, but it’s also a blessing, too,” he said. “All of the students have a reason to come together as a group and have dinner together and spend time with each other.”

Thursday night, MSA invited incoming freshmen to break their fast with current members. It was again held in South Quad’s basement, but this time, the burritos were replaced by an Egyptian buffet.

“They’re going away from their families, they’re going away from what they’re used to,” Saadeh said about the freshmen. “So it’s kind of an opportunity for them to join our organization, and find a new family here.”

Chowhan said the MSA’s group meals have helped her make the adjustment to college life.

“Of course I miss my family and my mom’s cooking,” she said. “But it’s really great having this community.”

University Housing also offers accommodations for Muslims fasting Ramadan through a meal plan suspension program. Students can elect to forgo their meals for the month, and get the equivalent value in Blue Bucks.

University Housing spokesman Peter Logan said about 70 students suspended their meal plans for the month, while five exchanged their meals for packaged dinners to eat later.

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Ready for Ramadan

A Muslim family breaks their fast in Falluja Iraq

A Muslim family breaks their fast in Falluja Iraq

Ready for Ramadan

Reprinted from the GulfWeekly (Bahrain)
August 31, 2008

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Lunar calendar. It begins with the sighting of the new moon after which all physically mature and healthy Muslims are obliged to abstain from all food, drink, gum chewing, any kind of tobacco use as well as sexual contact between dawn and sunset.

The month of Ramadan is a time for spiritual reflection, prayer, doing good deeds and spending time with family and friends.

The fasting is intended to help teach Muslims self-discipline, self-restraint and generousity.

It also reminds them of the suffering of the poor, who may rarely get to eat well. It is common to have one meal (known as the Suhoor), just before sunrise and another (known as Iftar), directly after sunset.

Because Ramadan is a time to spend with friends and family, the fast will often be broken by different Muslim families coming together to share in an evening meal.

Kenyan worshipers gather at the Sir Ali Muslim mosque for Eid prayer

Kenyan worshipers gather at the Sir Ali Muslim mosque for Eid prayer

Bahraini Wesal Mohammed Al A`amer started fasting at the age of 10. “I began to understand the concept of Ramadan at the age of nine and I was very interested in the whole fasting process, so my parents allowed me to fast everyday but for half-a-day only,” said the 30-year-old shop assistant.

“By the time I was 10, I was able to fast for the whole day, it was tiring at the beginning but when your body gets use to the new system it gets easier by time.”

Fasting Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam.

“I fast because I believe in my religion and have faith in God. Ramadan is a very holy month where Muslims from all over the world get closer to their Creator,” she said.

“My daily routine during the month is waking up in the morning, going to work, coming back home, preparing a meal for the Iftar time, praying, breaking my fast, spending time with my husband and my two girls, Latifa, aged eight and 10-year-old Najla, reading the Holy Quran, watching the television and going to bed.

“I wake up again for Suhoor, prepare a light meal, pray and go back to sleep again.”

Ms Al A`amer said her little girls try to copy their parents by fasting most of the day.

“They are two young to not eat or drink anything during the time of fasting so what they do is drink water if they are really thirsty but restrain themselves from eating as much as possible,” she said.

“They join us on the table at the time of Iftar and after that we all pray together.”

Ms Al A`amer said Ramadan was a month she looks forward to every year.

“In addition to its religious and spiritual aspects, Ramadan is the month of forgiveness, taking care of the poor and the needy as well as trying to have a closer bond with your family members and friends … simply, Ramadan makes you a better human being.”

Her husband, 38-year-old Bahraini Yasser Mohammed Abdulrahman says he fasts because he chooses to. He said: “Nobody can force anyone to fast, Muslims fast because they choose to.

“We wait the whole year for this one month because it means a lot to us, religiously, socially and spiritually,” said the Bahrain Airport employee.

“I started fasting when I was in elementary school. Once you grow to understand the meaning of this month and practice it in the right way; you will find yourself in a whole different level.

“I believe that Ramdan purifies your heart, soul and mind,” he said.

Mr Abdulrahman said fasting doesn`t affect his job because he works in an indoor environment. “I am sure it would be very difficult for the people working on the streets especially during the summer time,” he said.

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About Ramadan

Dr. Tariq Ramadan

Dr. Tariq Ramadan

Dr. Tariq Ramadan is a well-respected professor of philosophy at the College of Geneva and Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Fribourg. He is a leading Islamic thinker and was Named by Time magazine one of the 100 most important innovators of the 21st century.

Ramadan has written more than twenty books including Western Muslims and the Future of Islam (Oxford University Press, 2003), Islam, the West, and the Challenges of Modernity (The Islamic Foundation, 2000), To Be a European Muslim (The Islamic Foundation, 1998), and Jihad, Violence, War and Peace in Islam (in French only, Tawhid, 2002).

ABOUT RAMADAN:

A Profound Faith Married to a Profound Critical Intelligence

by Tariq Ramadan

An officer of Brunei`s Islamic authority leads a call for prayer or Athaan during the sighting of the new moon for Ramadan over the sky of Bukit Agok outside Bandar Seri Begawan August 31, 2008.

An officer of Brunei`s Islamic authority leads a call for prayer or Athaan during the sighting of the new moon for Ramadan over the sky of Bukit Agok outside Bandar Seri Begawan August 31, 2008.

Most of the classical religious teachings regarding the month of Ramadan insist on the rules being respected as well as the deep spiritual dimension of this month of fast, privations, worship and meditation.

While thinking about it more closely, one realizes that this month marries apparently contradictory requirements which, nevertheless, together constitute the universe of faith. To ponder over these different dimensions is the responsibility of each conscience, each woman, each man and each community of faith, wherever they are.

We can never emphasise enough the importance of this “return to oneself” required during this period of fast. Ramadan is a month of abrupt changes; this is true here more than anywhere else. At the heart of our consumer society, where we are used to easy access to goods and possessions and where we are driven by the marked individualism of our daily lives, this month requires from everyone that we come back to the centre and the meaning of our life.

At the Centre there is God and one’s heart, as the Qur’an reminds us: “…and know that [the knowledge of] God lies between the human being and his heart.” At the Centre, everyone is asked to take up again a dialogue with The Most-High and The Most-Close.. a dialogue of intimacy, of sincerity, of love. To fast is to seek.. with lucidity, patience and confidence.. justice and peace with oneself. The month of Ramadan is the “month of the Meaning”.. why this life? What about God in my life? What about my mother and my father.. still alive or already gone? What about my children? My family? My spiritual community? Why this universe and this humanity? What meaning have I given to my daily life? What meaning am I able to be consistent with?

The Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) had warned “Some people only gain from their fast the fact that they are hungry and thirsty.” He was speaking of those who fast as mechanically as they eat. They deprive themselves from eating with the same unawareness and the same thoughtlessness as they are used to eating and drinking. In fact, they transform it into a cultural tradition, a fashionable celebration, even a month of banquets and “Ramadan nights”. A fast of extreme alienation.. a fast of counter-Meaning.

As this month invites us towards the deep horizons of introspection and meaning, it reminds us of the importance of detail, precision and discipline in our practice. The precise starting day of Ramadan that must be rigorously found; the precise hour before dawn on which one must stop eating; the prayers to be performed “at determined moments”; the exact time of the break of fast. At the very time of our profound meditation with God and in our own self, one could have thought that it was possible to immerse oneself into one’s feelings because this quest for meaning is so deep that it should be allowed to bypass the details of rules and schedules. But the actual experience of Ramadan teaches us the opposite: no profound spirituality, no true quest of meaning without discipline and rigor as to the management of rules to be respected and time to be mastered.

The month of Ramadan marries the depth of the meaning and the precision of the form. There exists an “intelligence of the fast” that arises from the very reality of this marriage between the content and the form: to fast with one.s body is a school for the exercise of the mind. The abrupt changes implied by the fast is an invitation to a transformation and a profound reform of oneself and one.s life that can only occur through a rigorous intellectual introspection (muraqaba). To achieve the ultimate goal of the fast our faith requires a demanding, lucid, sincere, and honest mind capable of sane self-criticism. Everyone should be able to do that for oneself, before God, within one.s solitude as well as within one.s commitment among one.s fellow human beings. It is a question of mastering one’s emotions, to face up to oneself and to take the right decisions as to the transformation of one.s life in order to come closer to the Centre and the Meaning.

Muslims of today need more than ever to reconcile themselves with the school of profound spirituality along with the exercise of rigorous and critical intelligence. Particularly in the West. At a time where fear is all around, where suspicion is widespread, where the Muslims are tempted by the obsession to have to defend themselves and to prove constantly their innocence, the month of Ramadan calls them to their dignity as well as to their responsibilities. It is urgent that they learn to master their emotions, to go beyond their fears and doubts and come back to the essential with confidence and assurance. It is imperative too that they make it a rule for themselves to be rigorous and upright in the assessment of their conduct, individually and collectively: self-criticism and collective introspection are of the essence at every step, to achieve a true transformation within Muslim communities and societies.

Instead of blaming “those who dominate”, “the Other”, “the West”, etc. it is necessary to make ours the teaching of the month of Ramadan: you are, indeed, what you do of yourself. What are we doing of ourselves today? What are our contributions within the fields of education, social justice and liberty? What are we doing to promote the dignity of women, children or to protect the rights of the poor and the marginalised people in our societies?

What kind of models of profound, intelligent and active spirituality do we offer today to the people around us? What have we done with our universal message of justice and peace? What have we done with our message of individual responsibility, of human brotherhood and love? All these questions are in our hearts and minds.. and there is only one response inspired by the Qur.an and nurtured by the month of Ramadan: God will change nothing for the good if you change nothing.

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Welcome to This Month of Ramadan

Dr. Tariq Ramadan

Dr. Tariq Ramadan

Dr. Tariq Ramadan is a well-respected professor of philosophy at the College of Geneva and Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Fribourg. He is a leading Islamic thinker and was Named by Time magazine one of the 100 most important innovators of the 21st century.

Ramadan has written more than twenty books including Western Muslims and the Future of Islam (Oxford University Press, 2003), Islam, the West, and the Challenges of Modernity (The Islamic Foundation, 2000), To Be a European Muslim (The Islamic Foundation, 1998), and Jihad, Violence, War and Peace in Islam (in French only, Tawhid, 2002).

Welcome to this Month of Ramadan

by Tariq Ramadan

A Palestinian girl prays during Ramadan 2008

A Palestinian girl prays during Ramadan 2008

Once again we welcome it, once again it welcomes us. This month will be, for each of us, what we shall make of it. A month of return, introspection, meditation, brotherhood and love. The month of the Qur’an. Or a month of mechanical fast, almost unaware, that hurries to turn upside down nights and days ending up living the nights to forget the fast of the day…

This month is a feast… not of noise, but silence; not of banquets but restraint; not of forgetfulness but remembrance. This month is a feast for the faith.

We wish everyone a beautiful month of Ramadan. May it be a month of teaching where gift wins over avarice, generosity over selfishness, love over hatred. Be it a month where everyone tries to master one’s anger: the Prophet advised once to respond to adversity during these days of meditation : “I am fasting”…. and to pass over. Be it a month where everyone of us cares more than usual for the needy people in her/his nearest environment.

Happy Ramadan to all of you! May your fast be accepted and blessed. May the Most-High and His Light go along with you, protect you and love you.

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