On August 21st, with Ramadan beginning in most countries the following day, President Obama issued a Ramadan message to Muslim communities around the world. This is another gesture by the President to work on the relations between the United States and Muslims worldwide. For me, though, this message was unique. Growing up as a Muslim American, Ramadan was never formally recognized by the larger American community, except on a local level. President Obama’s more visible efforts to fully incorporate the Muslim American community have led to more awareness–positive awareness, I should say–of Islam and the commonalities that it shares with other faiths.
Around August 22nd, Ramadan will begin. Ramadan, as I mentioned in an earlier post, is supposed to be a month of fasting, increased reading of the Qur’an, and prayer. In the 20th century, the spirit of Ramadan has taken a different turn in parts of the Muslim world, where commercialism has tapped into the financial potential of the month. This aspect of Ramadan is most obvious in the Middle East where for many Ramadan has become a month of feasting, increased shopping, and parties! In the United States, while there are some companies such as Hallmark which are starting to make greeting cards for Ramadan and Eid ul-Fitr (the holiday marking the end of Ramadan), Ramadan has yet to be as commercialized as Christmas. Continue reading
While many people may know that Ramadan is a month of fasting, they may not realize the social and cultural aspects of the month. Ramadan, as I mentioned in my first post on the topic, is probably the most social time of the year. In addition to more time in the mosque, Muslims spend more time socializing during Ramadan. Ramadan is definitely a time of festivity. Continue reading
The ninth month of the Islamic calendar is the holiest month of the year. In order to begin the discussion on Ramadan in my posts this week, it is important to address first the religious and spiritual aspects of the month. Fasting during this sacred month was ordained in the Qur’an in a verse that says:
Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.(Chapter 2, verse 185) Continue reading
The importance of Ramadan within the Muslim worldview cannot be emphasized enough. Every year in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims all over the world fast from sunrise to sunset each day and many spend the month in increased prayer, reading of the Qur’an, and visiting with family and friends. Ramadan is probably the most social time of the year. Ramadan has religious, social, cultural, and even political and economic significance that should be addressed in any discussion of the month.
This week I will be writing about the different components of Ramadan and would like to hear your ideas for a radio show on the topic that will air during Ramadan. What aspects of Ramadan do you think are most significant? What are the different cultural components of Ramadan? Do any parts of Ramadan confuse you? What is the place of fasting in this day and age? Does fasting always produce spiritual growth? Do you think that women and men experience fasting differently? How does the experience of fasting depend on context? Did you know that in the Middle East television series flourish during Ramadan? Is this part of the social component? Can fasting be a foundation for interfaith initiatives?
These are just a few possible questions. Please share your ideas and questions and help us as we develop the next radio show.
Rather than look at this past week’s celebration of the Muslim holiday Eid from the outside in, I have invited other bloggers to share their personal experiences. Thursday’s guest entry asked readers, “are we losing the spirit of Eid?” Today, a blogger from ProductiveMuslim joins us on Inside Islam to explore this topic further. The entry below tells the story of Abraham and the meaning of his infamous sacrifice from an Islamic perspective.