Ramadan Chronicles                       




Ramadan Chronicles




A Kenyan Muslim man pray inside Nairobi's Jamia mosque November 11, 2004

during the holy month of Ramadan.


Kenyan Muslims men read the Koran inside Nairobi's Jamia mosque

 in this picture taken on November 5, 2004 during the holy month of Ramadan.


Kenyan Muslims pray outside Nairobi's Jamia mosque

during the holy month of Ramadan in this November 5, 2004.









17 November 2001

Greensboro News & Record


A good Muslim fasts all day through the holy month of Ramadan. A Muslim excused from religious fasting instead feeds one hungry person for each day he or she does not fast during the month.


Ramadan, local Muslims say, is a month for feeling the hunger and pain of one's neighbors. For remembering others who are less fortunate and in trouble. For remembering that people's differences are less important than what makes us all alike.


In the aftermath of Sept. 11, members of the Islamic Center of Greensboro say they feel a tremendous responsibility to educate others about Islam. Lul Abdulcadir, a UNCG student and native of Somalia, says she's getting more and more questions about Islam now than she did in the days immediately following the terrorist attacks in New York.


"I think in every tragedy, some good does come out of it," she says. The good now is that Muslims have an opportunity to teach the world what their faith really stands for. That it's a part of the religious tradition of Abraham, David and Jesus.


"I really believe that all human beings have more similarities than differences," Abdulcadir says. "It's kind of natural for us to look for our differences. We've been lost in looking at our differences and making them bigger, when they're really not.


"I guess it's sort of like Christmas, that sense of brotherhood and sisterhood is just so much greater (during Ramadan)," Abdulcadir said. "The giving in Ramadan is just amazing. I wish people were like that the whole year."


The Islamic holy month of Ramadan began Friday, marking the first of 30 days of fasting from food, drink, smoking, sex, arguing, fighting and speaking ill of others.


"Your mouth fasts. Your hands fast. Your feet fast," says Imam Said Atif of the Islamic Center of Greensboro. "Your entire body's fasting with you. What good is it to simply not eat? Then you're just a hungry person walking around."


Should another person try to initiate an argument or disagreement, "you do not argue, do not dispute," Atif says. "You have to tell him that you are fasting."


For the 1,200 members of the Islamic Center of Greensboro, the fasting began Friday morning, after friends and family members in the Middle East reported to Atif's mosque that the crescent moon had been officially sighted in their countries.


Because the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, each new month falls about 10 days earlier than the year before. And each new month begins with the first sighting of the crescent moon, which Muslims call the new moon.


Beginning at sunrise and ending at sunset - until the sighting of the next new moon - Muslims fast. Fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, and a requirement for all Muslims who have reached puberty. Only the sick, the elderly, pregnant or menstruating women and travelers are excused.


Those who are excused from fasting can make up an equal number of days fasting later in the year, and those who are permanently physically unable to fast must feed a needy person for each day of fasting missed.


Ramadan is recognized as the month that God related the words of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, to the prophet Muhammad, founder of the Islamic religion. Along with the regular five daily prayers, during Ramadan, Muslims pray an extra voluntary prayer daily, in which a portion of the Quran is repeated from memory. Over the course of the month, the entire Quran will be recited.


At sunset, Abdulcadir says, the fast is broken each day with dates and water, the evening prayers are said and "everybody just pigs out after."


Weekend nights are special fast-breaking nights at the mosque, Atif says. Because the mosque is the religious home of hundreds of Muslims from some 46 countries, traditional foods vary from family to family. Members of the mosque set up a schedule for groups of families from the same countries - Pakistan, Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria - to cook the fast-breaking meal on weekend nights. On those nights, members of the mosque gather their to break their fasts with a feast.


"That way, you get to enjoy all of the food of the people we have here," Atif says.


Abdulcadir says her family breaks the fast each night with a feast that covers the entire floor of a room in her home. Everyone sits on the floor, she says, and "everyone knows what Lul eats."


Her favorites are dates, a Somali special bread called malawah, and a cooked oatmeal or porridge made with milk, butter and coconut.


But for Abdulcadir, while breaking the fast is cause for joy, the most important part of Ramadan is the time she spends thinking about God, about others.


"It's really spiritual," she says. "When I'm hungry, I think, 'Oh, God, is this what people go through?'


"I feel like a good Muslim during this time more than any other time in my life. Some people say it must be a good time to lose weight, but I think almost everyone, for the spirituality of it, gains weight. I think everybody glows."


(Copyright 2001)  







A tired muslim devotee yawns during prayers on the last day of Ramadan

 in a mosque south of Nairobi January 30.


Kenyan Muslims women read the Koran inside Nairobi's Jamia mosque

November 11, 2004 during the holy month of Ramadan.


Kenyan Muslims pray at the Jamia Mosque in Nairobi on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, where Muslims across the world fast from dawn to dusk, November 21, 2003. 


The point of a minaret of the old Jamia mosque is seen in Nairobi

 in this picture taken on November 5, 2004 during the holy month of Ramadan.





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