Purifying Body and Soul

Purifying Body and Soul

"O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become pious." The Holy Qur'an, 2:183.

These beautiful words, spoken to the Prophet Muhammad by God Almighty through the Angel Gabriel more than 1,400 years ago, reflect the elegant simplicity of the holy month of Ramadan. Fast in order to attain piety. It's a concept most spiritual and religious traditions encourage so that one may attain closeness to the Creator.

Depending on the sighting of the new moon, Muslims all over the world will mark the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan this Wednesday, Oct. 5. Since the Muslim calendar is lunar and not solar, dates on the Muslim lunar calendar move up the solar Gregorian calendar by 10-11 days each year. Months on the calendar, including Ramadan, may be anywhere from 29 to 30 days in length. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the "five pillars" of Islam.

Our fast requires that we not eat or drink anything at all from dawn until sundown. We also abstain from other sensual desires during these hours. While we are fasting we shouldn't complain about being hungry or thirsty and we should avoid becoming angry.

We begin our day during the predawn hours with a light breakfast. It's best not to change your typical routine of school, work, etc. At dawn, we perform the dawn prayers and the fast begins. At sundown, we break our fast with dates and water, recite the sundown prayers and enjoy dinner. After dinner, congregational night prayers and special Ramadan prayers are held at local mosques.

The Prophet Muhammad Ñ last in a line of God's prophets beginning with Adam and including Abraham, Moses, Noah and Jesus Ñ said: "He is not a believer who eats his fill while his neighbor remains hungry by his side."

Ramadan is a time to awaken compassion for and solidarity with the poor. We are urged to be more generous in giving during Ramadan. In this spirit, the ADAMS Girl Scout Brownie Troops will be coordinating its 5th Annual Baby-Bundles Ramadan Project to collect items for babies for families in need.

Most of us are fortunate enough to not experience famine. Experiencing the hunger brought on by fasting is an opportunity to develop qualities of endurance and self-restraint. It offers a time for Muslims to "purify" their bodies as well as their soul, by developing a greater sense of humility, spirituality and community. As a part of living our faith, the ADAMS community will conduct several food drives and various programs throughout Ramadan to benefit local shelters and the homeless.

Muslims look forward to the arrival of Ramadan as a time of abundant blessings and mercy Ñ a great chance to share Islam's values of spirituality, generosity and kindness with others.