Why do Muslims consider a month-long fast “beautiful”?
Giving up all food and drink every day for a month sounds a lot more like a painful sacrifice than a spiritual window bestowing gifts and insights on faithful men and women.
So, we turned to nationally known Muslim educator Najah Bazzy, the author of “The Beauty of Ramadan,” to explain some of the wonders of this tradition that goes back to the foundation of this billion-member faith more than 1,000 years ago.
We’ve also asked her to explain what will happen over the next day or so—as Muslim communities around the world try to discern when to begin the fast. (You can buy a copy of her book about Ramadan by
clicking on the Amazon link at right.)
AND—visit our special section, Sharing Ramadan, showcasing inspiring Muslim stories.
WHEN DOES THE FAST BEGIN?
By Najah Bazzy
The fast of Ramadan follows the lunar calendar, so it begins and ends with the sighting of the moon. The moon has served humankind since creation by setting the calendar for fixed seasons long before the advancement of time-telling devices. The moon is reliable, authentic and universal and is a symbol shared by people throughout the world.
A lunar month can never be less than 29 days or more than 30 days.
According to Islamic jurisprudence, the moon must be seen by two people who are “just and trustworthy.” Their testimony would suffice to begin the month of fast. These days it is customary to entrust your fast to your local Masjid (mosque) or religious leader to help guide you or the congregation.
It is possible but difficult for the moon to be sighted on the actual first day. If it were visible to the naked eye, it would be for a very short time only at the time of dusk until nightfall under the clearest skies. Often people will fast the day of the new moon as a precaution, though it may not be visible, and call this a “day of doubt.” If the new moon were sighted the following day, then that would mark the first day of Ramadan.
Islam is a religion often associated with early scientific discoveries. And, with the advancement of science, many Muslims depend on scientific findings such as that of NASA to determine the start of Ramadan.
THE BEAUTY OF RAMADAN
(A Brief Introduction to Its Spiritual Gifts)
By Najah Bazzy
In this holy and sacred month, the doors of Heaven are open. Let us take time to find a quiet and private place—lower our heads in humility and raise our hearts in praise.
God says that humanity is God’s crowning creation for we have the gift of intellect and intelligence. God has granted humanity this intellect with a free will to choose God or not. If we wish to communicate our deepest needs, cleanse our conscience, or ask for forgiveness, then we should know that Ramadan is the best of months. Consider where you are in your
spiritual life and measure that journey by how you feel when the month of Ramadan ends.
We can all choose to develop spiritual awareness and enlightenment by tuning in to listen quietly to the voice of our soul. When our soul or inner being whispers we must try to block the outside signals that clog and clutter the spiritual inner voice. We must train ourselves so we can hear what that voice is saying loud and clear, rather than the muffled version the majority of us live with.
During Ramadan, Muslims often find an inspirational story or figure on which to focus. There are many books about the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his progeny that can serve as inspiration—in addition to the beautiful Holy Quran, which embraces the words and advice of God Almighty. The language of the Holy Quran renews itself every time you read it. Let us use the legacy of the Messengers of God to help create our own life force. Let us ask God to purify our hearts, expand our minds, and enlighten our spirits with piety and humility.
Islam focuses on promoting the unity of the mind, body and
soul so that spiritual balance exists. During this month, the reward for giving
charity to the poor and orphaned is among the best of deeds, and our deeds are
multiplied during this blessed month. Give generously to charity so that in
return we receive God’s mercy, forgiveness and eternal reward.
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(Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)