Ramadan is upon us once again! For some, it’s just a strange word heard in passing but for me, and nearly a quarter of the world’s population, Ramadan represents a holy month of fasting, prayer, inward reflection, strengthened community, gratitude and immense blessings. For those of us at Trinity Cafe, who work to nourish those in need, there are a plethora of lessons to be gained by learning to go without life’s essentials.
Ramadan is the 9th month of the year in the lunar calendar, used historically in Islam, and the time during which the Quran was revealed over 1,400 years ago.
Fasting is among the Five Pillars of Islam – alongside the proclamation of faith, prayer, charity, and the pilgrimage to Mecca. There are also five obligatory daily prayers in Islam, to which Muslims adhere. Fasting for the day begins at dawn, the time of the first prayer, and ends with the 4th prayer at dusk. In Islam, fasting means abstaining from food and drink (yes…including water) but also extends to abstaining from bad language and worldly temptations with immoral or irresponsible implications. During Ramadan, Muslims are encouraged to spend extra time reading the Quran and expanding our knowledge. Ramadan is sort of like a self-control boot camp. The purpose is to strengthen consciousness of God, reinforce our self-discipline, remind us about the importance of moderation, help us develop our good character, teach us to forgive, and instill a sense of piety.
The crescent moon marks the first night of Ramadan. It’s projected to be sighted either the 15th or 16th of this month. Muslim adults, young and old, will fast until the end of that lunar cycle. Those unable to fast, including young children and those experiencing a health issue, will feed the poor.
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.” Quran 2:183 “[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] – then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess – it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.” Quran 2:184
Fasting every day for a month provides a window into the experience of chronic hunger that helps build compassion and understanding for others and a sincere appreciation for how blessed I am to have reliable nourishment. Providing food to the hungry opens a door to that as well. I’ve been fortunate enough to do exactly that at Trinity Cafe for the past few months alongside phenomenal individuals. I look forward to adding another element to the equation this Ramadan. It’ll be a challenge but I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again, God willing. May we all be granted increased blessings, strength, patience, health, positivity, guidance, and time to dedicate to our communities these coming days.