By Sameer Ali, Campus Ministry Muslim Chaplain
The month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar calendar in the Islamic religion. The word “Ramadan” originates from an image of a “scorching or burning place” and is also regarded as one of the many holy names of God in Islam. This month is a sacred time when the sins, imperfections, doubts and defects of believers are “given up” to God, as His mercy embraces all and delivers us through fasting, prayer, nightly vigils, recitation of the Holy Quran, acts of charity and personal reflection.
Islam does not believe in original sin, but rather invites humans to grow and reach perfection through following the teachings of the Quran and the prophets, including Abraham, Moses, Noah, Jesus and Muhammad.
Personally, the month of Ramadan brings with it an opportunity to connect with my congregation and community. Mosques and congregations hold daily recitations of the Quran each day, and I find myself spending more time reciting and reflecting on the word of God. Although the Quran is universally recited in Arabic, the purpose of recitation is understanding and practicing the verses which call upon humans to worship God, devote their lives to him, live in harmony with their fellow humans, and follow prophetic teachings. The voice and presence of the Quran are amplified throughout this month for me, and even though I recite the Quran daily throughout the year, I have an opportunity to build a stronger bond with this holy book in this month.
Fasting from dawn to sunset and staying hungry and thirsty has a profound impact on my mind. Even though I am blessed with food and drink when I break my fast, I start to wonder about those for whom hunger and thirst is not a daily choice but a reality they cannot control. Fasting builds empathy for the poor, the needy and those who do not have enough to meet their daily needs.
As daily acts of charity are encouraged in the month of Ramadan, a congregation works to eradicate hunger, calls for social justice and builds year-long relationships with charitable organizations.