Ramadan (Arabic:; رمضان) or Ramadhan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and the month in which the Quran was revealed. Fasting during the daylight hours of the month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Ramadan will either last 29 or 30 days, based on the lunar cycle. It moves 11 days each year, and is the equivalent, in terms of religious festivals, to Christmas. There’s even presents and a feast at the end!
Talking yesterday to a friend of mine (who’s currently fasting), I hadn’t realised how little I knew about this festival, celebrated by over 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. In my ignorance, I thought Ramadan was something to do with sacrifice for Allah (God), an a test.
Far from the truth. Ashamed, I absorbed a welcomed lesson in social studies and RE.
In this age, more than ever, I believe that understanding cultures and religion - even just a little bit - goes a long way towards world building (at home, work, your town/country and globally). So, I am pleased to say I am, today, during Ramadan 2015, blogging the four most interesting things I discovered chatting about this relatively unknown (to me) religious event.
Ramadan is based on remembering the world of people who are worse off than you. It is common for Muslims to give more money to charity – one of the Five Pillars of Islam – during Ramadan than in any other month of the year. Fasting is about learning self-discipline and generosity, and remembering those who live daily with hunger is a large part of this tradition.
It's an exercise in self-control, to set up the mind and body for any challenges the following year may bring. I'm all for some well-being and mental wellness.
People who are mentally handicapped or insane are fully exempted from the obligation of fasting. And pregnant women. Careful planning there, ladies!
If you know anything about Ramadan, it might be that Muslims shouldn’t be eating between dawn and sunset. However, Muslims must also refrain from drinking liquids, smoking and having sex. A serious challenge, especially when Ramadan falls in the hot summer.
So Ramadan is not about starving yourself for the hell of it. Or for Allah. It's about an inner journey, a spiritual connection, a wider world perspective. That, I can believe in.
Good luck to all those fasting this month, and may you see the benefits personally and within your world.
Want to know more? I liked this article from The Independent (another news bod) who wrote a piece titled "Six things you shouldn't say to someone fasting for Ramadan". It's a little humorous, but the point is made. Ramadan is a spiritual cleansing exercise, in a way, and the world possibly might be better off if more people knew the meaning behind it.
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