Ramadan Awareness and Celebration

Ramadan LanternsWhat is Ramadan? Ramadan is an Islamic month-long holiday observance by Muslims. It is also known as Ramadhan or Ramzan.

Muslims consider it the most holy and blessed month of the year. It takes place in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. This year the dates are June 19 through July 17. Ramadan begins at sundown the day before. NOTE: Because of regional customs and where the moon first appears where you live, a slight variation of the exact date and time this holiday begins may occur. The Islamic calendar is lunar, meaning there are 28-day cycles, so dates shift each year.

How is it observed? One fun tradition is to hang Ramadan lanterns, also known as Fawanees, Fanoos, or Fanus. In today’s culture it is often made of recycled tin cans or plastic lanterns that play the latest popular music.

Ramadan is a time for prayer, fasting (except for children, the sick, and the elderly), self-reflection, accountability, and charity. Each day from sunrise to sunset is a time to abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, and participating activities that are ill-natured or excessive. It is when Muslims seek amends for sins, faults, and mistakes. They request forgiveness for sins in the past, pray for direction and assistance in abstaining from everyday troubles, and cleanse themselves through self-control and great acts of faith. They restrain from having arguments or fights.

Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is one of the main types of Islamic worship.Fasting is intended to educate Muslims in spirituality, humility and patience. It is a time to cleanse the soul, focus attention on God, and put selflessness into practice. If you have Muslim friends, acquaintances or work colleagues, be sensitive to the fact that they are unable to eat from sunrise to sunset.

Ramadan is also a month for acts of charity. Some Islamic centers and organizations hold charity events and activities such as giving basic necessities, including food and clothing, to the homeless or donating equipment to schools. Some schools for students of Islamic faith may hold special events to welcome Ramadan. School officials may issue requests on or prior to Ramadan, asking staff to help Muslim students perform their fasting ritual.

Ramadan in the community.  Many Islamic businesses and organizations (especially in the U.S.) may adjust their hours of operations to suit prayer times during this month. Be respectful of how this may affect your ability to do business with Muslim business owners during this period. Muslims mark the conclusion of Ramadan with a major celebration known as Id al-Fitr (or Eid al-Fitr), the Feast of Fast-Breaking. It starts the day after Ramadan and lasts for three days. Id al-Fitr includes special prayers and meals with friends and relatives, and gift are often exchanged.

Three ways to honor and celebrate Ramadan with Muslim friends:

1. Take time this month to learn more about the Islam religion and Ramadan. Did you know Islam is the world’s second largest religion, after Christianity, with more than 1 billion followers throughout the world? The countries with the largest Muslim populations include: Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Turkey. In the U.S., there are an estimated 7 million Muslims, with mosques in all 50 states. Ask yourself: Who do I know who may be from any of the above mentioned countries or who may be Muslim? Showing interest in Ramadan builds stronger friendships with people from different cultures.

2.  Ramadan is not the right time to invite a Muslim friend to lunch. Sharing a meal to end the fast is best. Make every effort not to provoke disagreements, arguments, or controversy during this period. Most of all, for those of us who are not Muslim can use this month to be reflective of our sins, faults, and mistakes, and to make our own amends, especially to our Muslim friends.

3. Show interest in attending or host an Id al-Fitr party: Did you know that since 1996 when Hilary and Bill Clinton (as first lady and president at the time) hosted the first Id al-Fitr dinner at the White House and it has now become a tradition with all subsequent presidents, including President Obama? Have fun learning what it takes to have an Id al-Fitr dinner in your home or be invited to one. It’s an excellent cultural experience, no different than celebrating other holidays from other cultures throughout the year.

Happy Practicing!

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1 Response to "Ramadan Awareness and Celebration"

  • Syndi Seid says: