Sunday, 5 September 2010
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
Because Islam uses a lunar calendar, Ramadan begins and ends at a different time each year.
The way the lunar calendar works is that the beginning of each month begins with the sighting of the new moon.
The lunar calendar is about 11 days shorter than the solar calendar used in much of the Western world.
For Muslims, Ramadan is a month of blessing that includes prayer, fasting and charity.
This time of the year is a time for reflection, devotion to God, and self-control.
Many religions encourage some kind of fasting for religious purposes. For instance, Catholics give up meat for Lent and Jews fast during the holiday of Yom Kippur. For Muslims, fasting is a very important component of Islam.
Ramadan is an important time for Muslims, not simply because it helps develop a closer relationship with God, but also because Ramadan is a time to think about those who are less fortunate. Another goal of fasting for Ramadan is to experience hunger in sympathy for those without food. It is a way that many Muslims learn thankfulness and appreciation for what they have.
The practice of fasting during Ramadan means that Muslims may not eat or drink anything including water while the sun is shining.
More than 100 Muslim leaders from around the world joined President Obama at Friday's White House iftar, including ISNA President Dr. Ingrid Mattson and ISNA Vice President Imam Mohamed Magid. Muslim diplomats from around the world, political, religious, and community leaders were also in attendance at the dinner.
"Let us always remember who we are fighting against, and what we are fighting for. Our enemies respect no freedom of religion. Al Qaeda's cause is not Islam - it is a gross distortion of Islam. These are not religious leaders - these are terrorists," said the President.
The President spoke highly of the diversity that is the United States, stating, "Our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth...today our nation is strengthened by millions of Muslim Americans."