Ramadan 2015 begins in the evening of Wednesday, June 17. Our neighbors at Maryam Islamic Center in Sugar Land will be observing this fasting season just like we do Lent. Maybe they are even more serious about it. As Protestant Christians we have for the most part forgotten how powerful the spiritual practice of fasting actually can be. Imam Tauqer H. Shah is the Religious Advisor in Sugar Land and has written the following piece as a reminder of our shared heritage and practice.
Rev. Daniel Haas
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It is the month in which God revealed the Holy Quran to Mankind. In this month, Muslims fast throughout the day and offer special prayers at night. Ramadan is a month for increasing and achieving spiritual, physical and social health. Ramadan comes to erase bad habits/attitudes to replace them with those beneficial for mankind, through context-dependent repetition and obedience to God.
Fasting during the month of Ramadan is obligatory for every Muslim, man and woman, who is sane and mature. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam and an important act of worship and obedience to Allah (God). Fasting in Islam means abstaining from eating, drinking, and conjugal relations from dawn until sunset with an intent of observing the fast.
Fasting has been part of the universal religious tradition of mankind. It would be difficult to name any religion system of any description in which it is wholly unrecognized. The Quran affirm this continuity of tradition of fasting when it says:
“Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you”. (Quran, 2:183).
The act of fasting allows us to strengthen the idea of God’s sovereignty in the consciousness of man and its outward expression to such an extent that man submits his will and independence to the will of God, in all he feels and does. Exercising control over all parts of the body and mind and employing them with the knowledge and insight given by God for such ends that may produce the qualities of patience, steadfastness, endurance, and trust in God. One who fast begins to absorb these characteristics, and when he repeats this practice for a continuous thirty days, they become stabilized and become deeply rooted in his/her nature. Fasting is more than abstaining from food and drink. It includes abstaining from any falsehood in speech and action, ignorant and indecent speech and lustful thoughts. Therefore, fasting strengthens control of impulses and helps develop good behavior. This purification of body and soul harmonizes the inner and outer spheres of an individual.
Fasting is primarily an individual action but just as prayer is performed in congregation, fasting is turned into collective practice with all its advantages. The process of sharing meals, joining the congregation for the nightly prayers, increased reward for charity produces a society of righteous and God fearing individuals. This act of fasting is considered the pillar of Islam, for it is through fasting that each individual of the Muslim community gets the opportunity of his moral, spiritual, and social training.
At Maryam Islamic Center, we will start the festivities of Ramadan from Thursday, June 18, 2015. We will have regular nightly prayers and Iftar (Sunset meal) offered on the weekends and many more activities for the community. Every year, we also host the annual Interfaith Iftaar for our friends and neighbors. Details will follow soon. For further information, Please visit our website at www.MaryamMasjid.org