During the month of Ramadaan, Muslims in Groton and all over the world fast from dawn till sunset and try to renew their remembrance of Allah (God) by praying, reciting the Quran, giving to charity, and pondering and evaluating their past. Contemplating and adjusting to make a better future for their families, communities, and fellow human beings. This year, Ramadaan began on the 9th of July and will end on August 7th, 2013.
In Groton, we observe the holiday and put together a community potluck under the sponsorship of the Groton Interfaith Council. It has quickly become a tradition in our amazing town since the custom started three years ago. Muslims and non-Muslims get together on one of the evenings during the 9th month of the lunar calendar at First Parish Church in Groton and share the tradition with delicious potluck cuisine among our community. This year we will hold the community iftaar on August 4, so save the date! Everyone may join us for deliciously prepared iftaar dishes, and contribute your own dishes. It is an opportunity to learn about each other, our cultures and traditions, and build new friendships.
Sunset on Ausust 4, a Sunday, is at : 8:03 p.m., so we ask that people arrive 15-30 minutes before then — from 7:30-7:45 p.m. The meal will be done by 9:00-9:30 p.m.
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam:
- Shahada (That there is Only One God)
- Fasting (Observing fasting from dawn till dusk)
- Salaat (Praying five times a day)
- Zakat (Alms giving , charity)
- Hajj (Pilgrimage to Makkah (if you can afford it physically and economically)
Fasting has been prescribed previously to all religious traditions. The following are the translations of the verses 183 and 184 from the Quran:
“O believers, prescribed for you is fasting, as it was prescribed for those that were before you that you may safeguard the Divine Laws.â€(2: 183)
“[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] – then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess – it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.â€ (184)
Similarly, in Isiah 58, verses 5 and 6, also mentions fasting in Christian tradition:
New International Version (Â©2011)
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?
New International Version (Â©2011)
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
The Torah also talks about the tradition of fasting in Judaism similar to Islam and Christianity and other faiths.
Ramadaan At My Family’s House
I would like to share with you my family”s Ramadaan observation. This Ramadan, I wake up in the morning around 2:00 a.m., to prepare the Sahoor, the predawn meal. I have been doing this for years and enjoy preparing nourishing Sahoor meals. Most of the preparation is done the night before. After our Sahoor, the Fajr time arrives, which is when we stop eating and perform our first morning prayers. Depending on our schedules, some of us go back to bed; some stay up.
The day is supposed to be spent in performing good deeds and active charity work, reciting and learning the Quranic message, going to work (if one has a job), and spending time with family and friends. Usually Muslim communities work together to raise funds for the poor, donate clothes and food, and hold iftaar dinners for family, friends and the less fortunate. One way that I participate is in Lowell and Wayland Islamic centers by contributing for iftaar dinners. Non-Muslims are welcomed and free to participate in Ramadaan activities. Some non-Muslims fast and even pray with their Muslim friends and their family members and attend iftaar dinners.
There are several goals of Ramadaan. It is an opportunity to realign our misguided priorities that may have become a part of our lifestyle. Therefore, we must ask ourselves, are we doing justice to ourselves? Are we respecting our body? Taking care of ourselves is essential but we must not forget that the goal should be collective, and that through our personal development we should not only benefit ourselves but others as well. We must always take care of others, especially our families, friends, and neighbors.
Fasting inculcates a sense of discipline. It is a chance of being in a higher state of consciousness and to keep a check on our behavior. I must attempt to be aware of my actions and carry these practices throughout the year. This is the month of training so, I also must watch my food consumption and realize the current obesity issue. Hence, it is a time to become aware of our blessings and ourselves. Some of you who have attended our iftaar dinners at the First Parish Church would know that food is an important aspect of this month. We strive to eat healthy and in moderation. So, I will be sharing some traditional recipes with you to try and will bring to our next iftaar dinner soon. I hope to see most of you there.
If you have any questions, please feel free to write to me and I will try my best to answer your questions. Have a healthy, happy, and a fulfilling month.