Monday, August 1, 2011

The Holy Month of Ramadan

Allow me to tell you what is Ramadan and why is it Holy to Muslims. Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic Lunar Calender and the first month in which the first verses of the Quran were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). "Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was sent down to mankind as a guidance and judgement between right and wrong..." (2:185). The word Ramadan derives from the Arabic word "Ramida" which means intense heat and dryness, the feelings a Muslim experiences during fasting.
Ramadan is a holy month observed by more than 1 billion Muslims. It is the Islamic month of fasting in which Muslims restrain themselves in many ways, not only refraining from eating or drinking from the first ray of sunlight till sunset. By experiencing hunger and thirst a Muslim sympathizes with those underprivileged, who have little to eat every day of the year. Ramadan teaches lessons of equality, patience and humility. In this month Muslims are generally more spiritual and submissive to God, whereby they purify their behavior (practice good manners and speech), increase their good deeds, give more charity, intensify prayers and spend more time reading the Quran. Ramadan is also a festive season, where Muslims break their fast and share their meals together with family, friends and neighbors. Streets are decorated and young children go around their neighborhoods holding colored lanterns and chanting songs of Ramadan, this ritual whoever in no longer seen in many modern Islamic cities. Ramadan is an occasion to strengthen the bonds among the family, the community and the world. Hence it is a month of spirituality, mercy and compassion, charity and generosity, solidarity and joy, patience and perseverance and above all peace. 
Muslims celebrate the arrival of the holy month by greeting each other with phrases such as "Ramadan Karim" i.e Ramadan is generous or "Ramadan Mubarak" which means Ramadan is blessed. Many prefer the first phrase especially since the second one reminds them of an era they don't wish to remember! Ramadan is a special time for Muslims where great values are manifested and observed during the month and should also be present during the whole year. 
This year Ramadan will be different and particularly difficult on Arab countries struggling in the Arab Spring. Many people are fighting for their freedoms and the word mercy unfortunately doesn't register with their regimes, nor with the soldiers and mercenaries who do not hesitate to kill any time of year.
May God bless us all during Ramadan and throughout the year with his forgiveness, mercy and peace and bring us closer to Him and to each other. Peace.

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