I can’t believe Ramadan is so close! It is expected to begin on July 20, 2012. Now I know what you’re thinking: “That’s great, but so what?” Well I wish I had something magical to tell you, but getting reminders and tips never hurt anyone. I have shied away from making this a religious blog as there are so many much more qualified than anything I could put out here, but I love this time of year and want to share the little knowledge that I have and share a few tips.
Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic Lunar, and it is a month in which Muslims all over the world fast from a period of pre-dawn to sunset. They do so for many reasons: to better appreciate what they have, to understand what the needy go through, but mainly because in the Quran, they are commanded to do so by God. An authenticated saying of the Prophet, peace be upon him, states:
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven.”
Sahih Bukhari, Book 2, Hadith 37
Here are a few nuggets about Ramadan:
- Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Also, the first word revealed was “Read/Recite”
- Ramadan is like a recharge for Muslims. They should increase their prayers and acts of charity in order to strengthen their level of faith, or Iman. This should roll-over into their lives once Ramadan is over and ideally they should become better Muslims every year.
- Since the Islamic calendar is lunar and the lunar calendar is 10/11 days shorter than the solar calendar, Ramadan moves ‘forward’ every year. For instance, when I was younger, Ramadan was in March and sunset was at 5 (which was fabulous). Now Ramadan is in July and sunset is around 9. But this means that everyone all over the world will fast at all points during the year throughout their lives. It’s pretty awesome as no one area gets an advantage or disadvantage over the other.
- It’s more than just a physical fast; it is also a spiritual one. A Muslim should keep their actions and intentions pure and stay away from bad things. A physical fast is really nothing without the spiritual fast.
- Try to go through the entire Quran during the month. The Prophet used to recite the entire Quran with the angel Jibreel (Gabriel) every year, and twice in the Ramadan before his death.
- Ramadan is split up into 3 ten days periods. Muslims consider the first 10 days to be days of mercy, the second to be days of forgiveness, and the third to be protection from hell.
So now some things to know about etiquette this Ramadan.. I really wish this could go without saying (and I say this to myself before anyone else), but a reminder can’t hurt anyone.
- Sit down and make du’a after Maghrib (the post sunset prayer). It is such a wonderful time for reflection and asking for forgiveness, yet so few take advantage of it.
- Don’t rush for food after Maghrib. You will get what you are meant to have, and it is better for you to want others to eat as well as you do. Remember that you are not the only one who has been fasting; everyone else is just as hungry as you are.
- Stop filling your plates before others have a chance to get any food. Pace yourselves.. let everyone have a chance to get food before you help yourself to seconds.
- Please do not waste any food!! It is really terrible to not have enough at dinner and then find plates full of food in the trashcan.
- If you will be eating dinner at the masjid (place of worship for Muslims) you better make sure to leave your area cleaner than when you arrived. Pretending that there are imaginary maids makes you a jerk, as you are really leaving your mess for the already overworked sisters and brothers at the masjid. Your parents raised you better than that, so clean up your messes.
- Be kind to any and all volunteers at the masjid you encounter. It is NOT easy preparing every night for the people who come, just as it is not easy to coordinate food and cleanup.
- Just eat what you would normally eat at dinner. So often people gain weight during Ramadan because they don’t stop eating at night! Is it really necessary to eat dinner after Maghrib, during Taraweeh, after Taraweeh, when you get home, and then a huge breakfast during suhoor? Stop making it a month of feasting instead of fasting!
- Don’t forget to talk with the family and eat together. Get up for suhoor (the pre-dawn meal) as it is a sunnah (something the Prophet used to do) and there are so many blessing in following the sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him.
- It is not a month to take off and do nothing. You must still work and you still have obligations to fulfill. Don’t try to get out of doing things by blaming your fast.. own it and do what you need to do regardless (keep it kosher, of course 😉 )
- If you bring a child for the Taraweeh prayers (special night prayers during Ramadan) be sure to keep an eye on that child. Dumping said child in the back and complaining about the ladies not keeping the kids quiet is silly. Your child = your responsibility.
- Please don’t eat any odorific foods before coming to prayer! Also, please remember to wear deodorant.. we’re going to be in close proximity for the night, and it’d be best if we couldn’t smell each other.
- Do come to the masjid wearing proper attire. Regardless of your normal dress, have respect for the house of God. And try to keep unnecessary interactions to a minimum.
- If you will not be praying during any of the prayers, please don’t use this as chatting time. If you’d like to talk, go to an area where your voices cannot be heard or speak as softly as possible. People are truly trying to concentrate on their prayers, and any noises are incredibly distracting.
- Give in charity as often as you can!! This can be done in a non-monetary fashion.. Muslims believe that smiling is a charity, so be sure to smile and be pleasant!
- BE PATIENT. I don’t care what you’re doing or how you live your life during the rest of the year. Patience really is a virtue, so own it!
I hope I haven’t offended anyone, and if I have (legitimately), please forgive me. If you see yourself doing any of these things, then hopefully it’ll be an eye opener. If you see anyone doing these things, you do not now have an excuse to jump on them. Always be kind and emulate the manners of the Prophet, peace be upon him, who was the kindest and gentlest of men when dealing with people of all ages and either gender.
Now don’t forget to start and end with the best of intentions. Allahumma balighna Ramadan (Oh our Lord, bring to us Ramadan!). May this month be a time of blessings for you and your family!
Don’t worry; I’d never forget pictures in a post 😉