For Muslims all over the world, Ramadan is one of the holiest months of the year. While in school and in college, I was one of the few Muslims in the class and hence was the person to whom any queries about the religion and the holy month was directed to. It was not too rare to hear surprised gasps as my Christian and Hindu friends could not imagine going without food and water an entire day for a month. It isn’t too hard especially once you get used to it. Mostly one meal is had just before sunrise and another directly after sunset. In fact, it is also the time in the year when you make the best of the traditional cuisine. The feast during the month of Ramadan is such a huge affair that one has to experience it to truly understand it. Ramadan is a time to be spend with family and friends and the fast is most often broken by an Ifthar party with many a different families coming together to share an evening meal.
The entire philosophy behind fasting is also quite noble. It is a month of sacrifice where in you not only understand the plight of the destitute, but are also supposed to help them. It is said that the food that you give up should be given to a poor regardless of his religious affiliations. Fasting is intended to teach the believer self discipline self restraint and generosity.
Being the fifth pillar of Islam, Muslims across the world fast during the hours of daylight. The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is considered the holiest as the Quran was first revealed to Prophet Mohammed (SAW) during this month. The night that the Quran was revealed is known as Lailat-ul-Qadr or the night of power and is a day of prayers as all sins are said to be forgiven and all prayers fulfilled on this day.
The end of Ramadan is marked by the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr. It is not only a celebration of the end of fasting, but also a gesture of thanking Allah for the strength that he gave to help them practice self control. Eid is also a time of forgiveness and making amends. The first sight of the new moon in the sky marks the beginning of the festival. When I was a small kid, it was the festival I used to wait eagerly for as we would all go shopping for new clothes, receive gifts from elders and eat the grandest of all feasts. After the special prayers in the morning, we would all head out to meet relatives and friends and demand gifts from them too. On Eid it is also obligatory to set aside money for charity so that they too can celebrate. Diwali may be the festival of lights, but the fire crackers on the night of Eid are perhaps the most radiant spelling fun and joy.
Contributed by Izra Nawas