Today starts the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. It is during this month that Muslims observe the Fast of Ramadan. As we all are bounded by the same desire to celebrate and respect our cultures, let’s take the opportunity to honor the most sacred month of the Islamic calendar by remembering a few things about this ceremony and its significance. A ceremony that some of us and a significant part of our customers will start celebrating today.
In many places around the world Muslims will be looking to the heavens this evening. They will be interested in knowing if they will be able to see the crescent moon. If it is visible this will be the signal for the beginning of the month of Ramadan.
Ramadan Prayer Times
Called Ramadan (or Ramazan), Muslims fast during this holy month from the moment when it first starts to get light until sunset.
The name Ramadan is derived from the Arabic word ramida or ar-ramad, denoting intense scorching heat and dryness, especially the ground. From the same word there is ramdaa, meaning ‘sunbaked sand’ and the famous proverb “Kal Mustajeer minar ramadaa binnar” – to jump out of the frying pan into the fire. Some say it is so called because Ramadan scorches out the sins with good deeds, as the sun burns the ground.
Ramadan brings out a special feeling of emotional excitement and religious zeal among Muslims of all ages. Though fasting is mandatory only for adults, children as young as eight willingly observe fasting with their elders. Children look forward to the excitement of sighting the moon and eating special meals with their families. Adults appreciate the opportunity to double their rewards from God and seek forgiveness for past sins. As Ramadan emphasizes Muslim brotherhood and community all feel a particular closeness.
Muslims have to change their whole physical and emotional selves during this 30 long days of fasting. A typical day of fasting begins with getting up early, around 4:30a.m. and sharing a meal called Sahur together before the fast begins at dawn, about 5:10a.m. As dawn breaks, the first of five daily prayers, Fajr, is offered. Throughout the day Muslims are encouraged to go out of their way to help the needy, both financially and emotionally. Some believe that a reward earned during this month is multiplied 70 times and more. For this reason, Ramadan is also known as the month of charity and generosity.
The last ten days of Ramadan are considered highly blessed, especially the 27th night which is also called the ‘Night of Power’, or the ‘Night of Destiny’. It is believed that on this night the prophet Muhammad received the first revelation of the Qur’an. For many Muslims, this period is marked by a heightened spiritual intensity and they may spend these nights praying and reciting the Qur’an.
After 30 days of fasting, the end of the month of Ramadan is observed with a day of celebration, called Eid-ul-Fitr. On this day, Muslims gather in one place to offer a prayer of thanks. It is traditional to wear new clothes, visit friends and relatives, exchange gifts, eat delicious dishes prepared for this occasion, and wait patiently for the next year.
As we all have to learn from our different cultural experiences, it is a good way to pay tribute to our many colleagues and clients who are of the Islamic faith and wish them luck in this period of trial. Knowing that they will come refreshed from this experience we must now give them the patience and understanding they require so that they can honor the values of their Islamic roots.
Also, it is an opportunity for us to show our appreciation and respect by knowing and searching for the things that we have in common in all our cultures: kindness, truth, community, generosity and self knowledge.
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