The God Squad: Ramadan Mubarack
– Ramadan celebrates the revelation of the Holy Quran by the angel Gabriel (the same angel from Judaism and Christianity) to the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
– Fasting on Ramadan from dawn to sundown (in Arabic: sawm) is one of the five pillars of Islam. The other four are:
– The profession of faith. This is called in Arabic, shahada. It is, like the Shema in Judaism, a brief and eloquent statement of the central belief of Islam, “There is no god but God (Allah), and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”
– Prayer (salat). Muslims pray facing Mecca and prostrate themselves five times a day (noon, afternoon, evening, and night) and they can be said alone but saying them in a Masjid is preferable particularly on Friday.
– Charity (zakat). Giving alms for the poor and for the maintenance of Masjids is one of the most admirable and impressive practices of Islam. Muslims are taught to give at least 2.5 percent of their income, but the poor with no income can fulfill zakat by doing good deeds for others.
– Pilgrimage (hajj). Muslims who are physically able are commanded to make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca in their lifetime. All pilgrims wear just two simple sheets to eliminate any social or class distinctions. The hajj changes one’s name and one’s life in an mass act of communal purification.
But now back to Ramadan rituals:
To ease the fast from dawn to sundown for an entire month, a predawn meal called suhur is eaten. The fasting includes no drinking but Muslims who are ill or infirm are exempt from the obligation to fast. The meal eaten after sundown is called iftar and it usually begins by eating dates. Large buffet meals and social gatherings are common for the iftar meals. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, the largest mosque in the UAE, feeds up to 30,000 people every night. The holiday meal eaten at the end of the month of Ramadan is massively joyous and is called Eid al-Fitr with sweets and decorations.
Ramadan is a time of purity, joy, and generosity. Such a lesson is a gift to all the world.
(Send ALL QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS to The God Squad via email at email@example.com. Rabbi Gellman is the author of several books, including “Religion for Dummies,” co-written with Fr. Tom Hartman. Also, the new God Squad podcast is now available.)
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