By Imam Al-Hajj Hakim Abdul-Ali
Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic yearly calendar, is due to begin this Friday evening, May 26, 2017, starting at sunset, signaling the beginning of the world’s largest religion’s annual sacred fasting period. The disciplined fasting experience from dawn to sunset is what the adherents of Islam, called Muslims, are and have been anxiously waiting for.
To describe the impact Ramadan has upon the minds, hearts and souls of the world’s almost two billion Muslims is nearly impossible. This month is an invigorating and restorative opportunity for the true believers in Al-Islam to revitalize themselves with obedience to God alone as he alone has requested of the true believers.
In Islam’s holy book, the Qur’an, Allah says “Oh, you who believe, decreed upon you is fasting (siyaam) as it was decreed upon those before you so that you may become righteous.” This explicit injunction from Allah informs and reminds aware believers in Al-Islam that fasting is prescribed for them, as it was for those before them, so that they may guard against evil.
Fasting (abstaining from food, liquids or sexual relations between husband and wife, etc.) during Ramadan is a committed spiritually disciplined involvement and an orderly resuscitative process for all entrusted fasting souls during this seriously reflective occasion. It’s a wake up call for believers to regroup and reenergize their lives in accordance with the decrees of Allah and his prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Islam’s unique population diversity, spanning the globe from the transcontinental Republic of Indonesia to the myriad burning sands nations in Southwest Asia, engages itself in Ramadan with total devotion, solemn sincerity and heartfelt commitment. “Siyaam” is real for all spiritual souls’ growth advancement.
This sacred fasting month’s observances include extra prayers, especially the additional night prayers called “tarawih,” reading more of the Quran daily and participation in giving extra charity. Ramadan is not about dieting.
It is said that Islam is America’s second largest religion after Christianity and the numbers of Americans excepting Islam’s holy vows keep swelling every month. Through my many discussions with and opportunities to report on Muslims nationwide, I find that “siyaam” in Ramadan is a much anticipated golden, breathtakingly reviving time of the year for all sincere, dedicated and practicing believers in Islam to partake in.
With the Muslim world under scrutiny, there seems to be a stated resurgence in Muslims worldwide reconnecting to their faith with renewed religious vigor and pride. I hear and see the unabashed pride in being Muslim born anew everywhere in the United States of America, not only among the awakened immigrant population but also with this country’s native born Muslim inhabitants of all ethnicities, including its significantly prominent African American contingent.
Nothing joins this diverse demographics of believers together, here and everywhere, like Ramadan. It’s something solidifying to see and to behold just witnessing the different ethnicities of the world embracing and practicing the tenor of Islam’s sacred and universal bonding teachings while believing in and praying to only the Creator alone.
From the noble Motherland of Africa to the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, Ramadan is about submitting to the all-inclusive unity that Al-Islam demands of its true believers. The “siyaam” observance is about being patiently disciplined in prayer and residing in peaceful thought as it relates to remembering God alone’s past mercies and present blessings to all of “hue-manity.”
To that assimilation I offer the traditional Muslim greeting that is spoken during the month which—Ramadan Kareem, may you have a generous Ramadan or Ramadan Mubarak, may you have a blessed Ramadan. Ramadan is a month to spiritually savor and humbly decipher with abundant joy and comradeship towards your fellow Muslim brothers and sisters as well as wishing peace to all others, even to those who may not be believers in Al-Islam.
The response to Ramadan Kareem or Ramadan Mubarak is Allahu Akram or Allah is most generous. That encompasses so much if you know what the Most High alone and no other can do for a sincere fasting soul. To all of the fasting and devoted Muslims scattered throughout the earth I say to you all peace and love and from the bottom of my heart!