Many people travel far and wide as they choose to take the pilgrimage to Mecca as is required and a custom within the religion of Islam. But there is also a special time of reflection and fasting which is Ramadan. There are some people who may not practice their religion as closely as many believe that they should but they do keep the sacred tradition of Ramadan. The following sample descriptive essay explains this very sacred holiday and what it means to the Islamic religion and culture.
Introduction to Islam and the Muslim faith
Starting out as a religion that is based on the teachings of the prophet Mohammed, Islam has become one of the most profound religions in existence today but the sad part is that many have chosen to use the actions of a few to judge the many that remain peaceful. Unfortunately, there are many foolish extremists who have made everyone look bad and cause hatred where there should not be any. Stories of bigotry and abuse of Muslims in America is more prevalent in 2016 than it ever has been.
Foundation for Islam: The Five Pillars
There are five major pillars of this religion.
The first pillar is Shahadah which is the profession of one’s faith. Muslims state that “There is no God but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” (“Five Pillars Of Islam”).
Salah, or prayer, is the second pillar. This pillar represents the very deep belief that we all have a direct connection or relationship with God. They are to turn to Mecca five times a day to pray to God. The Islamic faith is based on the belief that individuals have a direct relationship with God.
The third pillar is that of Zakat which represents the social responsibility that all people have to God and each other. This process occurs by assigning payments to a set amount of a person’s wealth for the well-being of the entire community but it specifically designed to help those that need it the most. The amount that is taken is a percentage of an individual’s total net worth that does not count their obligations or family bills (“Five Pillars Of Islam”).
Sawm is the fourth pillar and represents fasting: an act that Muslims believe brings them closer to God and with a clearer vision. The fast and the month of Ramadan is concluded by three days of celebration called Eid Al-Fitr (“Five Pillars Of Islam”).
The fifth and final pillar that is important for this religion is that of Hajj, is the long and faithful pilgrimage to Makkah the most holy city in all of Islamic culture. Only those that are able to physically and financially make the journey are able to achieve this and it is only a once in a lifetime requirement because it is considered to be the highlight of one’s religious journey.
The pilgrim is able to follow the order of ritual that the prophet Muhammad himself went through during his final pilgrimage (“Five Pillars Of Islam”). It is a potentially chaotic event and once even resulted in a stampede of worshipers.
The month of Ramadan
This is the holiest month in Islam and is normally a time for great reflection and also for self-control. It is also when many people fast as a way to show deep personal worship with God so that they can have a richer perception and understanding of him. Muslims are to refrain from eating and drinking from dawn until sunset. It is also a time of great celebration and joy as well.
At sunset, the fast is broken with a special meal and there is additional worship and evening prayer but it is also a time when families come together and celebrate giving each other gifts. Muslims break their fast at sunset with a special meal, referred to as an iftar; they take part in a nocturnal worship service that is called a tarawih.
The ending of Ramadan is shown by a three-day celebration called the Eid Al-Fitr: the feast of the breaking of the fast. Customarily, it is a time for family reunion and the favored holiday for children who receive new clothing and gifts (History).
Ramadan connect Muslims with God
The significance of this holiday is to take an opportunity to reflect on one’s relationship with God but also to think about the interaction that they have with other people as well. It is all about choosing to show the dedication and commitment that one has to God on a deeper and more mature level since fasting and prayer are a strong component of the holiday itself. Family ties are also important as well since they are celebrated each night when the fast is broken at sunset.
We have to remember that we are all a part of this world it is up to us to come together not only as a community but also as human beings to help each other on this journey that we call life. During the holiday of Ramadan, many presidents and first ladies have held the very important ending feast, or the Eid Al-Fitr, at the White House itself with various foreign dignitaries who happen to be Muslim (History.com).
This is not only done to show our respect for their culture but also for their religion and the worldview of Islam overall. It is possible for Muslims, Christians, Jews and many other people regardless of their nationalities and ethnicities to come together in spite of their religious beliefs and have dinner and celebrate each other. Ramadan was designed to be a celebratory occasion of love and peace and hope and it is also meant to teach us to reach inside ourselves to connect with anyone that is in need does it say that anyone has to be Muslim?
Understanding the components of Ramadan fasting
Fasting does not have to be just refraining from taking in food and drink it is also about refraining from committing acts of wrongdoing. It is also about not doing things that are selfish or harmful to one’s self or one’s fellow man. As a nation and the society we are too busy focused on the normal definition of fasting which is not to eat or drink but if we take it to a deeper place we will find that fasting can be shown in defined in all types of different areas of our daily lives.
For instance, when is the last time that we refrain from using our smartphones to check our text messages or Facebook, and other well-known platforms of social media that we seem to be attached to on a constant basis so much so that many of us do not get our normal daily chores done because we are too busy being attached to things that we honestly should not be if we were truly honest with ourselves (“Movement”).
How many people if challenged right at this very moment would be able to take a week or even a month would be able to put down their social media? They would be allowed to keep their smartphones but no use whatsoever of social media apps only using apps that were absolutely necessary. Would it truly be possible (Bindley)?
Ramadan and the Quran
According to the Quran, Ramadan is known as the month that the Quran itself was sent down to mankind so that it could be used for direction and healing for all Muslim people. It was also to provide and judgment for that they would be able to distinguish right from wrong which like most people on earth was something that we truly needed (Quranic Verses and Hadith on the Month of Ramadan and Fasting).
Being able to distinguish right and wrong is something that not just Muslims need but Christians needed as well. Christians have the Bible and still cannot manage to stop hating each other all it takes is to walk down the street and notice how they are talking about each other and putting down what someone else has the clothes they wear or what “horrible sin” they are committing today.
“Fasting is prescribed for you because it was prescribed for those before you that you may be able to obtain taqwaa” (Quranic Verses and Hadith on the Month of Ramadan and Fasting).
This particular verse refers to fasting itself talking about how the active fasting is about more than just refraining from food but it is about achieving the overall greatness of a very strong relationship and a very strong bond with God himself. Everything that we do everything that is done in a spiritual relationship is supposed to be about having in wanting that deeper spiritual connection with our Creator. The problem many people have is that they are too busy wanting self-gratification. This means looking into what is in it for themselves and not the deeper spiritual connection that the whole process is designed for.
Everything that we do everything that is done in a spiritual relationship is supposed to be about having in wanting that deeper spiritual connection with our Creator. The problem many people have is that they are too busy wanting self-gratification. This means looking into what is in it for themselves and not the deeper spiritual connection that the whole process is designed for.
Living in a place where the sun does not set
In a very curious city of Tromso, Norway during the time of Ramadan the sun does not set because it is the summer months of the year and, for Norway, that means having sunshine year-round only during these particular months. Unfortunately, it brought a serious problem for the Muslims who live there because according to the normal traditions, fasting is to be done from sunrise to sunset. The question became, however, what are we to do if the sun does not set? How do night we observe the normal tradition because it is not physically healthy to go all day and all without food for the entire period of Ramadan?
The question became, however, what are we to do if the sun does not set? How do night we observe the normal tradition because it is not physically healthy to go all day and all without food for the entire period of Ramadan?
The Iman’s interpretation
This meant that the local Iman (the equivalent of a religious specialist in Islam) had to pose the question to the leading authority at Mecca because the answer was desperately needed for these very faithful who were trying to figure out what they should do because they did not want to violate custom and tradition. There were three specific choices that they were given the first of course was to possibly come up with their own tradition just for their area. They were also given a choice to follow the schedule of Mecca itself in the final option that they were given was to adopt the fasting schedule of the nearest city closest to them with the sun actually did set (Betzholz).
There were three specific choices that they were given the first of course was to possibly come up with their own tradition just for their area. They were also given a choice to follow the schedule of Mecca itself in the final option that they were given was to adopt the fasting schedule of the nearest city closest to them with the sun actually did set (Betzholz).
No solution to a Ramadan without nightfall
A practice since the early beginnings of Islam, the difficult issue ended up being that they were unable to come up with a solution that could work for everyone involved because of everyone being traditionalists going against the grain was almost impossible. There were those who felt that the northern part of the country gets a better break than they do since are able to get five shorter hours which means that they have it better with only having to fast for fifteen hours instead of their normal twenty hours a day (Betzholz).
This can lead to some dissension between communities but so far everyone has been very fortunate to not have this happen too often. The hope is that there can be a decision that will come from the holy city itself that will be able to find the right solution that will help these faithful believers in the country of Norway.
Conclusion to Ramadan
While there are key differences between world religions, all agree to set aside time to honor their god(s) or goddess(es). We are told to worship the Lord our God and it is him alone that we will serve (The Bible). This is the purpose of the holiday of Ramadan which requires Muslims to come together and fast not just food and water but also to let go of selfish decisions as well.
It is also about attempting to focus more on self-control and trying to focus on right and wrong to be able to have a deeper connection with God and worship him more. How often have we as people regardless of religion said that we want to be closer to our God only to fall short time after time because we are not willing to put in the work that is required?
Ramadan is the one time when Muslims come together as a community and a family to celebrate what they believe in. It is also a time that family reunions can be held and people are able to catch up with each other as well. Children are able to receive gifts so it is almost like a Christmas in July which is a special time for them and that can be very special.
The significance of this holiday is that it brings many people together that may have strayed away from their religion in the normal hustle and bustle of everyday life but for one space and time a year they are able to set aside to take a breather and also reflect on how things have been and re-evaluate what it is that they want out of life. How beautiful it is to be able to do that?
Betzholz, Dennis. “The Muslims of Tromsø: Ramadan in the Land of the Midnight Sun.” 24 July 2014. Spiegel Online International. Web. 18 June 2016. Retrieved from http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/challenges-of-celebrating-ramadan-in-places-where-sun-never-sets-a-982101.html.
Bindley, Katherine. “Should You Social Media Fast During Ramadan?” 12 July 2013. The Huffington Post. Web. 18 June 2016. Retrieved From http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/12/social-media-ramadan_n_3580175.html.
“Five Pillars Of Islam.”About Saudi Arabia. Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, 16 June 2016. Web. 16 June 2016. Retrieved Fromhttps://www.saudiembassy.net/about/country-information/Islam/five_pillars_of_Islam.aspx
The Bible. King James Version, Amplified Bible side-by-side large private. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan , 1987. Print.
“Movement, The Lahore Ahmadiyya. Ramadan and its significance.” August 1996. Web. 16 June 2016. Retrieved From http://www.muslim.org/islam/ramadan.htm.
“Quranic Verses and Hadith on the Month of Ramadan and Fasting.” 20 December 2007. Minhaj-Ul-Quran International. Web. 18 June 2016. Retrieved From http://www.minhaj.org/english/tid/2954/Quranic-Verses-and-Hadith-on-the-Month-of-Ramadan-and-Fasting.html.
“Ramadan.” History.com. A+E Networks, 2010. Web. 16 June 2016. Retrieved From http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/ramadan.