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What’s the Point: Ramadan Fasting

It’s been many years now that I reverted to Islam. Muslims believe that all people are born with a natural faith in God and according to Islam, children are born with an innate sense of God, which is called the fitrah. Therefore, conversion to Islam as a “return” back to this original, pure faith. For this reason, many Muslims prefer to say that they have “reverted,” rather than converted to Islam. A common definition of the word “revert” is to “return to a former condition or belief.” Since I reverted I have fasted every year trying my best to follow all the customs, practices and rules of Islam and Ramadan. My people only think that Ramadan means you don’t eat. As I tell my children, that is not the case. In fact, there is a lot more to Ramadan than not eating. It is a time we pray 5 times everyday (if you don’t already), read the Quran and overall become closer to Allah. 

Fasting begins before sunrise and Muslims across the world wake in the wee hours of the night to eat their last meal before sunrise and then pray the Fajr prayer. Often, following Fajr they will read the Quran because it is believe the angels are listening especially at the time and therefore there extra blessing if you read at the time. Following the we return back to our beds for some time. 

The rest of the day we go about our day as usual taking care to offer prayers at Dhur (just after midday) and Asr (afternoon). At the timing of Maghrib (evening prayer) we break our fast with dates (as this is what the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) did) and water or juice. In some families this meal (Iftar) is elaborate with many dishes, but I prefer it to be a simple table. We are not supposed to over eat during Ramadan anyway. Following the meal, we pray the Maghrib prayer. Some families have dinner after this, but our family prefers Iftar to be the evening meal as well. 

After Isha prayer (night prayer) there are special prayers called Taraweeh that are held either at home or at the local mosque.  These are not obligatory prayers, so not everyone does them. This is mainly because they take a long time and many have early office hours. 

Ramadan is the month that the Quran was received by our Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) and is the month we seek forgiveness for our sins, the sins of our near ones and pray for those who are no longer in this world. Muslims celebrate the arrival of Ramadan for many reasons. One is the extra time we get to spend with our family, but a big part of it is the opportunity to seek forgiveness. Ramadan is basically the month of forgiveness and all Muslims celebrate this month and the opportunities to commune with Allah for a clean slate. 
I know a few people who are married to people of the book (Christians) who sometimes fast along with the rest of the family. In some ways to be a part, to make the family members happy and in other ways to experience what the disadvantaged go through everyday. While it’s great for them to feel included in the celebration of the month, they are not really experiencing all the reasons Ramadan is such a great part of Islam and being a Muslim. 
The end of Ramadan culminates in the celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr. This is traditionally a 3 day long holiday, though depending on where you live it may only be a day for you.  Eid Mubarak.

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