By Musa Odeh
Muslims from all over the world are preparing to host an annual guest. Ramadan, which is the holiest month in a Muslimâ€™s life, has arrived. The holy month will begin on August 11th. These 29 or 30 days depending on the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar are used to better the lives of all Muslims and allow them to reconnect with Allah.
Fasting these 30 days is not only holy, but an obligation to a Muslim, as it is one of the 5 pillars of Islam. Allah states in The Holy Koran, â€œO You who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, even as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain God-consciousness.â€ Baqarah:183.
â€œYour day can be pretty difficult without food and water but you feel mentally refreshed. This is a beautiful month for a Muslim and I hope Allah will be pleased with my efforts this year,â€ said Mariam Abdelaziz, a Dearborn resident of 15 years.
During the course of the month, Muslims will abstain from eating, drinking, and sexual activity from sunrise to sunset.
Eating and drinking, not prohibited in Islam normally, are sacrificed during this month for the sake of Allah (God). Self-discipline is a key trait during Ramadan, because the lack of food and drink when you are hungry and thirsty can become very difficult when trying to accomplish your daily goals.
â€œThe month of Ramadan is a true blessing and I feel I can never do enough good during this month. Ramadan is a spiritual awakening for me each and every year,â€ said Khalid Othman, a 25-year-old business major at Henry Ford Community College.
During this month, Muslims are expected to clean up their acts and bring themselves closer to Allah. Muslims believe this spiritual month has been given to them as a gift from God to erase sins committed throughout the year. Sheikh Musa Jibril, a prominent figure in the Dearborn community as well as a knowledgeable scholar, summarized Ramadan by reciting Prophet Muhammadâ€™s (s) famous hadith, â€œThe beginning of Ramadan is mercy, the middle of it is forgiveness and the end of it is emancipation from hellfire.â€
The month of Ramadan brings multiplied blessings for those who do good. Most deeds are multiplied by 700 during this holy month, as opposed to the factor of 10 that usually applies. On the flip side, it brings multiplied sins for those who choose to do bad. Muslims believe the devils are shackled during this Holy month, which frees us from their influence to do other than what is good. Giving to the poor during this month is obligatoryâ€“Zakatul fitr.
Although alms-giving is a must, (another of the 5 pillars of Islam) Muslims get extra good deeds for helping the poor throughout the course of this month.
Another verse in the Qur`an states:
â€œIn the month of Ramadan the Koran was revealed, a book of guidance with proofs of guidance distinguishing right from wrong. Therefore whoever of you is present in that month let him fast.
But who is ill or on a journey shall fast a similar number of days later on. Allah desires your well-being, not your discomfort. He desires you to fast the whole month so that you may magnify Him and render thanks to Him for giving you His guidance.â€ (Baqarah:185).
Those who are exempt from fasting the month of Ramadan but make up the days later include pregnant women, those on a journey and the physically ill.
Sheikh Musa Jibril recalls another quote from Prophet Muhammad (s) that best signifies Ramadan to him.
The Prophet (s) told Muath Bin Jabal (one of his companions), â€œI love you Muath. Can I show you the gate of goodness?â€ Muath answered, â€œYes.â€ The Prophet then said, â€œThe first category is fasting, which is a shield from hellfire. The second category is giving charity for the sake of Allah, which extinguishes sins as water extinguishes fire. The third category is standing in prayer throughout the last part of the night.â€ Then the Prophet recited the following verse from the Holy Quran: â€œThey forsake their beds supplicating their lord in fear of Allah and hope for what they want.â€ (32:16).