Ahmad: Acts of charity take place during Ramadan

Syed Sajid Ahmad is involved with a sect of Islam, Ahmadiyya. He runs publications for the movement, which has been persecuted throughout the world for its unorthodoxy. David Samson / The Forum

A good portion of the fasting Muslims all over the world have gone into seclusion, preferably in a mosque, during the last 10 days of Ramadan to pray and worship 24/7 to seek the mercy and pleasure of God. They and their fellow Muslims will celebrate the end of Ramadan the day after the new moon is sighted. A lunar month is 29 or 30 days long.

The month of Ramadan is based on lunar calendar so the month comes about eleven days early every year. A Muslim therefore gets to fast in every part of the year during his adult lifetime.

Muslim fasting is not limited to abstention from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk, but also some allowed activities such as conjugal relations.

Charity and helping the needy is a hallmark of fasting. Prophet Muhammad’s charity took the form of a blowing wind during this month. As Muslims are directed to abstain from taking or giving loans on interest, living a simple life, and saving themselves from extravagance, they generally have extra cash available to help their relatives, friends and the needy.

Many will attend daily reading of the Quran at the local mosque, covering the whole Quran during the month. The whole Quran will be recited in special Ramadan prayers after the nightly prayer. Many will finish a reading of the whole Quran by themselves. Thus, many will end up listening or reading the whole Quran more than once. Ramadan makes the Quran by far the most read book in the world in this month every year.

Children, pregnant women and the sick are not allowed to fast. An adult who is not able to fast feeds the poor instead. Missed fasts can be made up during the rest of the year.

Muslims have two main celebrations during the year, one at the end of Ramadan and the other two months and ten days later at the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. The celebration at the end of Ramadan includes helping the needy and exchanging gifts among family and friends.

For daily prayers, Muslims go to the neighborhood mosque and acquaint and socialize with people in their neighborhood. For weekly services on the Friday afternoon, they go to large mosque and have a chance of seeing people from other neighborhoods. For the annual celebrations, they all gather in an open space outside the city or in the largest mosque in town and see people from the whole city. After prayers and a sermon by the Imam, they facilitate each other with the blessings of the month and return home, taking a route different than the one taken going there thus pass through the parts of the city they may not have occasioned to visit during the year.

Islamic worship seeks to bring people together socially while they endeavor to attain pleasure of God. It is not possible to neglect the needs of the fellow beings and attain commendation of the higher being through any kind of strenuous spiritual exercise.

Ahmad is a regular contributor to The Forum’s opinion pages. He has translated, compiled and co-authored “A Gift for the Queen,” “Points to Ponder,” “Why Islam is my choice” and “Words of Wisdom.” He lives in Fargo and can be reached at syedsajidahmad@yahoo.com



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