It’s that time of year again. The time of year where Muslims all around the world are united regardless of their ethnic, cultural and philosophical differences. That’s right—it’s Ramadan.
Ramadan is the month in which the Holy Qur’an, the book of the Muslims, was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). It’s also a month where Muslims don’t eat, drink, argue or engage in sensual activities from sunup to sundown for 30 days.
Ramadan can be quite a challenge for many people, but it’s truly a time for celebration. Here are a couple reasons why.
1. Unity of the Muslim World
It’s not uncommon to hear of turmoil within the Muslim world, whether it’s between countries such as Iraq and Iran, or between sects of Islam such as Sunni and Shiite. However, during the time of Ramadan, many of those issues are brushed aside. See, Ramadan is a time of peace. Muslims of different backgrounds come together during the month to bring in the fast, celebrate it, and to close it out. Even afterwards, we continue to fellowship with one another. Ramadan is a beautiful way to begin the process towards peace. Perhaps some Muslims don’t agree on certain interpretations of the faith, but we all agree on the values of Ramadan.
2. Building Discipline
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said, “We know that we are creatures with desires and basic human needs: Food, shelter, and love. We need to be respected in our community. We have a hunger for love, and for expressing our own being. All of these hungers, all of these needs, must be disciplined and controlled if society is to be successful.”
Because of the nature of the fast, Ramadan can be very difficult. For 30 days during the summer, we abstain from eating or drinking during the day. Imagine that. Doing that for 30 days changes your relationship with food for the better. You stop overeating because, quite frankly, your stomach shrinks during Ramadan. You’re hungry throughout the day, but when it comes time to eat, you can only take in but so much. The point is, if we learn to discipline ourselves from food, something that is a human need, then we can also discipline ourselves against other lesser bad habits that we may have.
3. Revelation of the Holy Qur’an
Everyone has something that they go to for guidance. It could be the Bible, the Torah, words that Buddha spoke or something else. For Muslims, it is the Holy Qur’an. We go to this book for our way of life, inspiration, guidance, encouragement, love, knowledge and so much more. It is the book that got many of us to where we are today—it’s our lifeblood. Most of us don’t go more than a day without reading it. So during Ramadan, we read the Holy Qur’an from cover to cover. It’s separated into 30 parts, so we read one part each day.
4. Getting Closer to Allah
Through everything that we do during Ramadan, and then some, it ultimately draws us closer to the Source of our lives: Allah (God). We strive to break bad habits, purify ourselves of sin, correct character flaws and clean up our minds and actions. Unfortunately, sometimes throughout the year, we get so caught up in our lives that we make the grave mistake of falling away from our prayers, studies and other principles that we have in our faith. Ramadan is a way to bring us back to our faith as Muslims. It could be likened to New Year’s, where people strive to become better versions of themselves and hit the restart button.
What’s your favorite part about Ramadan? If you’ve never participated in it, what’s something you wish to better understand?