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Monday, August 23, 2010

Holy month of Ramadan

Fasting for Ramadan enhances spiritual growth



For the majority of Muslims worldwide a confirmed new-moon sighting next Tuesday will usher in the holy month of Ramadan. This 1,400-year-old ritual is a reminder to practice self-restraint, increase one's spirituality and appreciate God's countless blessings.

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For the majority of Muslims worldwide, the confirmed sighting of a new crescent moon next Tuesday will usher in the holy month of Ramadan. This 1,400-year-old ritual is a reminder to practice self-restraint, increase one's spirituality and appreciate God's countless blessings.

Throughout time, all of the Abrahamic faiths have been instructed by God to fast as an act of devotion.

God says:
"O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you as it has been prescribed to those before you in order that you may attain taqwa (God-consciousness)."
Quran 2:183

Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam observed on the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar when Muslims are required to fast. It is the month during which the Quran was sent down from God as a guide to mankind.

Abstaining from food, drink and sexual relations from sunrise to sunset protects Muslims from sin and purifies our hearts and minds.



This year, the lunar calendar has pushed Ramadan deeper into August, something that occurs only once about every 33 years, so this year, local Muslims will be fasting for 16 hours every day.

I have never taken fasting as a hardship. It's a powerful spiritual discipline meant for God alone. For me, it is quite private in some respects as I work each year to heighten my own spirituality.

Giving up comforts such as that midmorning cappuccino or midday granola snack might be challenging to a non-Muslim, but the discipline and confidence that come with fasting make it more and more enjoyable with each passing day.

I've fasted since I was a child, and the practice has continually strengthened my self-control and improved my ability to make better choices and avoid things that are not good for me. It promotes the acute God consciousness called taqwa, which reminds me to more caring, sharing and compassionate throughout the day.

But what I appreciate most during Ramadan is that sense of gratefulness I feel. Each Ramadan makes me an ever more thoughtful human. Fasting makes me more conscious of the world's countless poor and helps me see more clearly our society's waste and extravagance. Sometimes it makes me sad.

When we are grateful for our sustenance and earnings, it is easier to simplify our lives. Fasting helps improve moral and spiritual character because it teaches patience and unselfishness.

Ramadan strengthens Muslim society because we are reminded to put others first, be kinder to family members, be good neighbors and better citizens — values we can all appreciate as Americans.

Muslims are encouraged to remember and appreciate the love and mercy of God, because we are fasting for him alone. If a person fasts during Ramadan in complete devotion to God, Muslims believe, that person's past sins will be forgiven.



This Ramadan, I am especially thankful to God for my spiritual growth over the past year, and I will work this month to be more tolerant and appreciative. My goal will be to make those changes a permanent part of my life.

Solawat!!

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