Saturday, August 7, 2010

1.5 BILLION Muslims observing Ramadan

The 1.5 Billion Muslims around the world are preparing and will being their month of fasting over the next 24 hours.

In Jordan, it has been announced that the holy month of Ramadan will begin tomorrow. This means beginning at 4:27 am, Jordanian Muslims will be abstaining from food, drink, sex, and smoke until 7:25pm. The Ramadan fast is set to begin at dawn and be completed at sunset; therefore, the times will vary slightly from one day to another and Muslims around the world will fast during and based dawn to sunset in their area of the world. The actual month of Ramadan (in the Islamic Calender) is determined on a Lunar calender. This means that we have an idea of when Ramadan will begin; however, it is not known until the crescent moon is observed in the area in which you are living. In other words, this means its 1st day varies by 24 hours around the world, dependant on when the crescent moon is observed in each area of the world.

You can feel the excitement in the air. Muslims are excited to fast as we are instructed to do so in the Holy Quran. During this time of abstinance from food, drink, sex, and smoke-we are filling up our mind, body and spirit with Allah (God) and our religion. "O believers! Fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you in order that you become more conscious of God." [Noble Quran 2:183].

During this month, it is not unusual for Muslims to read the Quran from cover to cover, and to spend their days and nights praying, even more than the prescribed 5 daily prayers. In fact, many stay awake the entire night praying, either at home or in the Mosque. Each Mosque offers extended evening prayers, called taraweeh, where long portions of the Quran are recited: in doing so, by the end of the month the entire Quran has been recited. As many people are staying awake throughout the night praying, staying up late reading Quran or spending time with family, and they are getting up before Dawn to eat - the business hours are changed during the Holy Month. The Jordanian Prime Minister announced that all government business will have the working hours from 900am-230pm. Personally, my working hours will be from 1000am-400pm, rather than the usual 830am-500pm.

Ramadan is also a month of giving. Abstaining from food and drink for such a length of time helps us recognise the suffering of those who do not have the means to eat and drink at their leisure. Muslims are encourage in the Quran, hadiths and thru this personal recognition to give to the poor during this month. If one is unable to give money, food, shelter, a simple smile or gesture is also considered giving. During Ramadan, we naturally recognize the blessings God has given us and thank him for these blessing whether they be health, family, food, work, etc.

Muslims are encouraged not to over-indulge in the abstained once it becomes prohibited (such as over eating once the fast for the day is over). We are to eat slowly filling our stomachs with 1/3 food, 1/3 drink and 1/3 empty space.

People decorate the outside of their homes with special lights. Eat special foods and desserts. Vendors set up shop on the sides of streets to sell special juices and desserts. The shops close during the time to break the fast and then reopen after evening prayers. The shops are filled with shopper late into the evening.

Ramadan is a special time for the Muslim world, as well as for those Muslims living in the Christian world. "Ramadan Kareem", "Ramadan Mubarak", "Happy Ramadan" as interchangeably used to wish someone a Blessed Ramadan. If you live in the Christian world and know a Muslim(s), please wish them a Blessed Ramadan. They will be happy to hear this from you and may be excited to share with you what Ramadan means to them!

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