Published: Saturday, September 8, 2007
Ramadan teaches self-discipline, righteousness
Muslims in the Valley, as well as everywhere around the world, are preparing for the fasting the month of Ramadan starting Thursday.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar calendar, which is 10 or 11 days shorter than the solar calendar. Ramadan is considered a sacred month in which the glorious Quran, God's word, was revealed to prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him) for the first time more than 1400 years ago.
Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. The other four pillars are:
The testament of faith (to declare that there is no God but Allah and Muhammed is His messenger).
Offering the five daily prayers (dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset and night).
Paying Zakah (alms), which is an obligatory charity that the Muslim must pay once a year (2.5 percent of one's wealth) to the poor and needy.
Hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca once in a lifetime for those who are physically and financially capable to do so.
Fasting means to refrain from eating, drinking and marital obligations before the break of dawn until sunset. It is obligatory for adult Muslims. Exempt from fasting are young children, the elderly, pregnant women and nursing mothers. Travelers and sick adults may break their fast then make up for the missed days later on.
Ramadan is a monthlong school that teaches righteousness, self-discipline and self-control. Ramadan is a month of mercy, tolerance and forgiveness. It is an eye-opener and self-experience of what the less fortunate, the poor and the needy, are enduring and experiencing in their everyday lives.
Fasting in Ramadan is an occasion to show one's commitment and submission to Allah Almighty and a chance to express gratitude for his countless blessings and guidance.
At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate Eid-Ul-Fitr, a holiday that continues for three days. They offer the Eid congregational prayer at the mosque then visit one another and exchange sweets.
Randa Shabayek is a member of the Masjid Al-Khair mosque in Youngstown.