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What is Ramadan about? Forgiveness

October 17, 2006|by SANA SIDDIQUI

Ever since Sept. 11, 2001, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan has been seen as a dangerous month for the world's events.

Some see it as a month for potentially more terrorist attacks. But non-Muslims should know that all these acts are completely against what Ramadan teaches us.

I am a Muslim. As a sophomore attending Saint James School, I have always practiced my religion openly and explained it to my peers, either in school or in public. As months and seasons go by, there is always something new to teach them about my religion, such as why I wear modest clothing, and why I cannot eat certain foods.

Now it is time for me to explain my experience during the holy month of Ramadan.

Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims, in which the "intense modification of our habits is designed to help us avoid sins." It is holy for many reasons. One of them being that this month is believed to be the month in which all three holy revelations were brought down by angel Gabriel from God. These three revelations were the Torah to Moses, the Bible to Jesus and the Quran to Muhammad.

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The night that the Quran was first revealed to Muhammad is remembered during the month of Ramadan, and is called Laila-tul-Qadr - Night of Power. On this night, my family and I usually stay up and pray the whole night, because the Quran regards praying during the Night of Power as better than praying for a thousand months.

Ramadan is the month for forgiveness. During this month, Muslims are forgiven all their sins if they abide by the rules. These restrictions are to refrain from eating or drinking from dawn to dusk, and, yes, this includes water. One wakes up before the sun rises to eat, and that meal is called suhur; then one breaks his or her fast at the call of the sunset prayer, and this is called iftar.

Muslims are also forbidden from lying, cheating, acrimony or sexual relations during Ramadan. Of course deceit and fighting are always forbidden, but they are stressed even more during this holy month, which shows that fasting is not the most vital part of Ramadan. The prophet Muhammad said, "Whoever doesn't give up lying and acting on lies during fasting, (God) has no need of them giving up food or drink."

This being my second year at Saint James, most of the students know that I'm fasting and that I have to go and pray at a certain time. My school is very cooperative with my needs, such as excusing me from formal lunches or giving me a special room for afternoon prayers.

Students often talk to me about Ramadan. "Aren't you hungry?" they ask, or "I could never give up eating for a month!" But fasting is really not difficult at all. If one has the intention of fasting for God then it becomes easy.

Other questions I get in school range from "What if you feel sick?" to "What if you're dying and there is no other way in the world to save yourself unless you eat something?" Well, of course there are logical answers to these questions. Islam requires people above the age of puberty to fast only if they are sane and healthy enough to do so. People who are exempted right away are the permanently sick, the elderly who are too weak, the mentally challenged, or pregnant and breast-feeding women. If there is any other excusable reason, then the person must make up the fasts he or she misses afterwards.

Another major question is "What if you eat something by accident, will you be sent to hell?" This is probably the question I am asked the most as a student. If eating truly was an accident, then most definitely the person will not be sent to hell. In this case, one just continues with their fast and seeks forgiveness from God.

Besides all the prayer and hard work which goes into being devout at this time of the year, Ramadan is also very festive. Every night during Ramadan, Muslims go to their mosque to share iftar and hear passages of the Quran recited. I go to the Islamic Society of Western Maryland. I see my Muslim friends much more frequently. The food is much more multifarious.

At the end of Ramadan, there is the huge celebration called Eid al-Fitr. There are tons of parties and a lot of food and presents.

Ramadan is clearly the opposite of all the terrorism and fear spread around the world today. It teaches equality and honesty, and forbids fighting or arguing. As a student and teenager, I want fellow students to understand what Ramadan means and what it's really about.




If you go ...



WHAT: Open house

WHERE: Islamic Society of Western Maryland, 2036 Day Road; behind Four Points Sheraton; east of Hagerstown

WHEN: 6 p.m. Thursday,Oct. 19

CALL: 301-797-0922

MORE: The open house is free and the public is invited.

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