It is with great anticipation that Muslims in Bermuda and around the world greet the holy month of Ramadan: this year it arrived June 28.
Part of the excitement is looking for the new moon. Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar calendar.
The tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was to look for the new moon to determine if a new lunar month had begun.
Therefore Muslims living in Bermuda, like Muslims living everywhere else, follow the tradition by looking for the new moon.
Here, you will find Muslim men, women and children searching the western horizon in the direction of dockyard to be the first one to sight the new crescent.
It was during this month that the Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) a little over 14 centuries ago.
In the Quran Allah says, “Oh you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may learn self restraint” (Quran 2:183).
The fast is observed by Muslims throughout the world for 29-30 days based on a lunar calendar, in other words from new moon to new moon.
During this time all adult, sane and healthy Muslims are obligated to fast from dawn to sunset. There are exceptions to this rule such as pregnant and lactating mothers, small non-pubescent children, those on medication, and the elderly.
A small meal is consumed before dawn. There is no food or drink consumed during daylight hours. However, we may resume eating and drinking again in moderation after sunset.
For some of us that’s the easy part, while it may be very challenging for others, especially during the summer months.
I pray Allah will grant a special blessing to those that work outdoors or have occupations that require physical strength and endurance.
I experienced my first Ramadan around 1977. It was physically demanding because I had never voluntarily abstained from eating before. However, I found it spiritually stimulating because during the month of fasting Muslims attempt to read the entire Quran, all 114 surahs (chapters) in addition to trying to do extra prayers and good deeds.
I also found while fasting I am more able to focus and concentrate on the tasks at hand. This might be because I’m not wondering what I’m going to have for lunch.
There’s much more to fasting than merely abstaining from food and drink. The Quran indicates the purpose of fasting is to learn self-restraint.
Consequently, Muslims are encouraged to use self-control by first controlling our natural physical appetites and passions like anger, jealously, envy, and engaging in vain talk amongst other things.
Sometimes restraining ourselves from these vices can be more challenging than abstaining from food.
One of the most joyful occasions of the fast is to have iftar, breaking of the fast at the end of the day, with family and friends either at their homes or with the believers at the masjid.
The biggest occasion of the fast is at the end of the fast when we observe Eidulfitr. Eidulfitr can be observed for up to three days. Here in Bermuda we dress in our finest attire, then assemble at the masjid for an early morning prayer and sermon.
Ramadan is a month of hardship, challenges, self-denial, spiritual growth, reflection, and blessings, but I wouldn’t give it up for all the tea in China. Ramadan Mubarak!