By Dr. Isma H Chaudhry
O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint.” (Al Quran 2:183)
In the Islamic tradition, the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar is considered a month of Blessings, charity, prayer and submission to God. This year Muslims from all over the world will start observing the month of Ramadan on Saturday, May 27.
The fundamental aspect of fasting is to establish our focus back from the extravagance and self-indulgence to the needs of the less fortunate and underprivileged around the world. It is the time for transformation, to reassess and to reprioritize our life, with compassion, morals, ethics, and humanity. God consciousness, charity, spirituality, and prayer are the fulcrums of this month.
The typical day of fasting starts before dusk, Muslims take an early breakfast and make the intention of fasting for the whole day. The aspiration is not just to stay hungry, but to be very conscious of their social and civic responsibilities, making sure that they are mindful of their obligations as an individual and as a member of the society, and being cognizant of their spiritual and religious obligations of remembering God, prayer, and submission to God. They break the fast at sunset do the prayer and have dinner. At night every mosque has a congregational prayer, with Quranic recitations. Typically, Muslims break the fast with dates, which is from the tradition of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)1.
According to the Islamic tradition, the process of revelations, to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was started in the month of Ramadan. Muhammad (pbuh), was born in 510 CE Mecca, Saudi Arabia and at the age of 40, he received his first revelation of the holy scriptures (Al Quran) through angel Gabriel. The process of revelations continued for the next 23 years of his life and he died in 632 AD.
“Say: We believe in God, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them.” (Al Quran 2:136)
Isma H Chaudhry, M.D., M.P.H. is President Islamic Center of Long Island based in Westbury.