Ramadan: A Time of Reflection, Prayer, and Fasting

This past Thursday marked the beginning of Ramadan, the holy month for the Muslim religion.

The family of my friend Joel Bhuiyan celebrating Ramadan.

The family of my friend Joel Bhuiyan celebrating Ramadan.

All Muslims take part in the month long dawn-to-sunset fast that is the hallmark of Ramadan. Eating any food or drinking any liquid (including water) is prohibited during daylight hours with the day’s abstinence being offset by a nightly meal known as iftar along with another meal before dawn (suhur). Food is often shared with a poor family during the holiday along with other charitable actions that are either obligatory (zakat) in the form of monetary donations or voluntary (sadaqah) that can also be done by giving to charity or helping the poor in other ways. All Muslims are required to devote time to prayer (salat) and reflection.

image113-150x150 (Medium)At the end of the 30-day fast is Eid al-Fitr (Festival of Breaking the Fast), when there is much feasting and celebration. Common greetings during this holiday can include: “Ramadan Mubarak”, “Ramazanınız mübarek olsun” (or “iyi bayramlar” for short) for those of Turkish origin, or “Ramadan Kareem” are appropriate greetings during this holy period. Even a simple and friendly “Happy Ramadan” would be much appreciated between friends.

It is believed that the Quran was first revealed to Muhammad during the month of Ramadan which has been referred to as the “best of times”. The first revelation was sent down on Laylat al-Qadr (The Night of Power) which is one of the five odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan. According to hadith all holy scriptures were sent down during Ramadan. The tablets of Ibrahim, the Torah, the Psalms, the Gospel, and the Quran were sent down on the 1st, 6th, 12th, 13th, and 24th of Ramadan respectively.

My friend Joel Bhuiyan and his wife Suzie Bhuiyan attend the Mosque Eesa ibn Maryam in Hollis, Queens. The name of the mosque translates to Jesus, son of Mary Mosque. That is where they go for their nightly prayers.

In commenting about the meaning of Ramadan to him. Joel said, “I view Ramadan as a yearly spiritual training program to get closer to God. We abstain from things that are normally permissible just for the sake of God. Through this process we gain an understanding of what hungry people in the world go through involuntarily every day, are reminded of how dependent we actually are on God’s resources, and try to pray as much as we can so we know can reap the Blessings of this month.”

Ramadan 2015Last Sunday I was honored to attend Joel and Suzie’s Walima at the Greenpoint Country Club in New Rochelle. The Walima is an Islamic tradition that is a reception hosted by the groom’s parents. Joel and Suzie were married in November and that is when they signed their contract of marriage (the nikah). This is very similar to the Ketubah which Jewish couples sign.

The Bronx Chronicle wishes all of our Muslim friends a Ramadan Mubarak.

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