(Taking a break from my hiatus to bring you this…I will not return to blogging until August 28)
I never talk about my religion because I don’t believe in advertising my faith. The biggest cornerstone of my faith is that it’s between me and God. I may not look it but I’m a proud, practicing Muslim. I know that there are misconceptions about Islam because of the news, images in media, etc. I’ve been pretty quiet about it all, except when someone asks me a question. I don’t talk about it in my blogs but I’m very passionate about my religion.
Today is one of the days I look forward to the most every year. The first day of Ramadan!!
Ramadan is the holiest month of Islam and the third pillar of the 5 pillars if Islam. Because the Islamic calendar is based on the moon cycle, it isn’t like Christmas where it’s the same day every year. This doesn’t really matter a whole lot but it will be a little different for me this year because it is my first year fasting during summer time. Islam is a religion based on purity of the heart, mind and body. During the month of Ramadan, the fast is aimed to help Muslims keep their focus off the superficial things and grow spiritually as a person.
For me, Ramadan has always been one of the most exciting times of the year. As a Muslim, I may not be perfect but I know where my faith lies. I look forward to Ramadan and to fasting. I may get a little spoiled and selfish at times but when Ramadan rolls around, all my superficial needs take a seat back. For the month of Ramadan, I try to steer my thoughts in the direction of purity. This isn’t to say that I’m not grateful for all that I have on the days outside of Ramadan…but fasting is an incredible experience for me. It’s only become a little different in the past few years as I became sexually active. I’ve been fasting since I was 10 and I look forward to it every year!
The actual fast itself may be taxing for some people but for me, it doesn’t get that difficult. Basically, I’m not allowed to eat or drink ANYTHING from sunrise to sunset. The fast also includes smoking, sex, etc but the only things that really apply to me is the eating and drinking. Yes, that also includes water. I also will not be drinking alcohol during the month of Ramadan.
Since I’m supposed to be completely pure, I am not allowed to fast while on my period. Women who are pregnant and anyone who is taking medication isn’t allowed to fast. There are a couple of reasons for this. The obvious is that women who are pregnant or anyone who is sick/taking medication needs their food and water to keep them strong. The reason I can’t fast while on my period goes hand in hand with the purity of the body. In the Islam religion, being pure is incredibly important. After sex (both men and women), or in a woman’s case, after her period, a person must take a special bath that is supposed to purify the body. A person can’t touch the Quran, or a prayer book without being pure in that sense and that also applies to fasting. Until my period is finished, I can’t fast because I have to take that special bath. After sex, both men and women have to do this.
Coming back to the fasting… One misconception that people have about fasting is that after sunset, you can binge as much as you want so you aren’t hungry the next day. That’s just stupid because your metabolism slows down and binging is almost a sin. When your body is full, you shouldn’t force any more food just because you won’t be eating the next day. The hardest part about fasting is not being able to drink water but after a couple of days, my body adjusts to it. I love fasting…don’t ask me why. It’s just always come so easy to me and I’m the only one in my immediate family that lasts for the entire month of Ramadan.
Some facts about Ramadan:
— The word “Ramadan” is derived from an Arabic word for intense heat, scorched ground, and shortness of rations. It is considered the most venerated, blessed and spiritually-beneficial month of the Islamic year. Prayers, sawm (fasting), charity, and self-accountability are especially stressed at this time; religious observances associated with Ramadan are kept throughout the month.
— The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, and months begin when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year, Ramadan migrates through the seasons.
–The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm. Properly observing the fast is supposed to induce a comfortable feeling of peace and calm. It also allows Muslims to practice self-discipline, sacrifice, as well as sympathy for those who are less fortunate, intending to make Muslims more generous and charitable.
— One of the most important aspects of the Ramadan fast is called niyyah. Niyyah literally means “intention.” Muslims must not simply or accidentally abstain from food; they must achieve the requirement of niyyah. To achieve this requirement, a Muslim must “intend in [his] heart that [the fast] is meant to be a worship for Allah alone.” So, if someone fasts for political or dietary reasons, he would not achieve niyyah. In fact, according to scripture, “Whoever does not make niyyah before dawn, would not have fasted.” The determination to fast is equal in importance to the fast itself.
I won’t ramble on anymore. From this point, I’ll take any questions about Ramadan or Islam in general. It’s just easier to see what questions you guys have rather than writing a long-winded blog about it…because I can go on for hours.
On a funny note…Whenever I say Ramadan, my roommates break into this: