Holy month continues to Aug.7
By Affaf Ahtisham, Special to The News
For many Muslims, there is a time of year which is most beloved and highly anticipated. Some refer to it as a visiting guest, and just as we may prepare for a guest in our homes by getting ready, cleaning the house, and arranging for food, so do many Muslims start preparing for the month of Ramadan.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar (or also known as the Hijri calendar), and has fundamental significance for Muslims. It is the month in which God has commanded Muslims to fast from sunrise till sunset abstaining from food, and drinks. It is part of the five pillars of Islam which are integral parts of the faith, which include belief in one God, daily prayers, fasting (month of Ramadan), giving charity, and pilgrimage to Makkah, Saudi Arabia – at least once for able bodied Muslims.
Besides abstaining from food, and drinks, Muslims also increase their regular worship by increasing their own knowledge of their religion and through remembrance of God. For many it is a time to increase their regular charity to higher amounts, even if in little increments as a way of getting closer to God.
For Muslims in Hamilton, we will begin our day with a breakfast early in the morning, ensuring we finish before sunrise. We will carry on our regular activities including our daily prayers throughout the day. We will break our fast usually with a date, and pray. During dinner time is when many families make special dishes, each ethnicity traditionally has different dishes which are their favourites. For South Asians, for instance, children really look forward to a special juice or ‘sherbet’ called Rooh Afza mixed with milk, amongst various pastries including samosas.
The month provides many of us with opportunities of reflection.
This year we will be beginning our fasts around 4 a.m., and ending around 9 p.m., for most of the day when we are active, we will go through our usual routines without any food or drinks. Personally it gives a unique perspective on how fortunate we are to have food available to us. Food and even water for which we may take for granted so easily is so difficult to obtain for majority of the world, and even locally within Hamilton. Year after year we hear about the increasing demand of food banks and their struggle to meet this demand. We do not have to look far to understand how fortunate we may be.
Ramadan started on Tuesday and ends around Aug. 7.
Many of us are preparing ourselves both physically and spiritually, slowly getting into the expected routines of how we will be once the month has arrived.
Affaf Ahtisham is the assistant secretary of the Muslim Association of Hamilton.