What is Ramadan?
Many Americans have never met a Muslim before or know much about the holiest month in Islam. It is a known fact when a non-Muslim American meets an American-Muslim and learns about their religion, the negative perceptions begin to disappear.
WiseUp created this video with the hopes to enlighten the non-Muslim world about the significance of Ramadan to the 1.6 Billion Muslims of the world. One of the best ways to fight bigotry is by showing love to thy neighbor. So this Ramadan please take the time to meet with your co-workers, friends and neighbors so they can learn what Islam really is about. Wishing you and your family a blessed Ramadan!
**Below the video is a more in-depth Ramadan Fact sheet!**
None of the images in the video are the property of WiseUp. Images for the video were taken from the following sources: The Boston Globe, ABC news, Al- Jazeera, Metro UK, Associated Press, Reuters, BBC.
Below is a Ramadan fact sheet I handed to my co-workers with the intention they could attain a basic understanding of what Ramadan is about. I also handed out dates and baklava as a way to entice my co-workers to want to learn about Ramadan. Make sure to read about my experience!
- Initially people had a wary interest to learn about Ramadan.
- But, eventually they really appreciated the baklava I brought especially since many of them had never tried it before.
- Which in turn garnered a more passionate interest to read what Ramadan was about and to ask me questions.
- One co-worker even posted the sheet around the office so the rest of my co-workers would have a chance to learn about Ramadan.
- Several people towards the end of the day were very appreciative of my efforts and told me they learned a lot from my fact sheet. Some of the things they learned were:
- They had no idea Muslims also believed in Jesus, Abraham, Moses, and the Virgin Mary.
- Many were unaware that Muslims broke their fast every night and resumed the fast before sunrise. They thought the fast was for several days without food or water.
- It clarified for many people why the start of Ramadan changes every year since Muslims follow the lunar calendar.
- Someone had never tried a date before and was attempting to peel the skin off the date to eat it. hehe!
- Several people were intrigued with the thought that fasting is also a way for Muslims to understand what the unfortunate and poor go through in their daily lives.
- People were curious as to what the difference between Sunni and Shia's are.
- Others also asked about the differences between the various types of head coverings and why it is so different for many people.
- Many learned that not all Muslims are predominantly Arab.
- Overall, I felt like it was a very positive experience and steps like these will help fight Islamaphobia in America.
- UPDATE: After the Orlando shootings I had at least 2 co-workers come up to me and ask how my family and I are coping and to know that they do not think Muslims are like this. That there are extremists in every religion and they pray that my family and I are always safe. #love
- Ramadan is a special month of the year for over 1.6 billion Muslims throughout the world. It is a time for inner reflection, devotion to God, and self-control. Muslims think of it as a kind of tune-up for their spiritual lives.
- Fasting is also a way of experiencing hunger and developing sympathy for the less fortunate while learning to be thankful for all of God's bounties.
- Ramadan, the ninth month on the Muslim calendar, is celebrated as the month when the first verses of the Quran were said to be revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in 610 CE. Laylat al-Qadr, or Night of Power, is thought to be the actual day when the Quran was given to the Prophet and usually falls within the last 10 days of the holiday. Muslims usually eat a meal before sunrise to sustain themselves for the day. This meal is called suhoor. At the end of the day the fast is broken with prayer and a meal called the iftar. The fast is resumed the next morning.
- Ramadan is important for Muslims because it is believed to be the month in which the first verses of the Holy Qur’an (the divine scripture) were revealed by Allah (God) to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) (570-632 C.E.). From time to time, Muhammad (PBUH) used to go out from Makkah, where he was born and where he worked as a caravan trader, to reflect and meditate in solitude. Like Abraham before him, he had never accepted his people’s worship of many gods, and felt a need to withdraw to a quiet place to reflect on the One God. One night, while contemplating in a cave near Makkah, he heard a voice call out, telling him to "Read!" Muhammad (PBUH) protested that he was unable to read. The voice insisted again, and then a third time, and Muhammad found himself reciting the first verses of the Qur’an:
- "Read, in the name of thy Lord, Who created—Created man, out of a clot (embryo).Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful, He Who taught the use of the pen—Taught man that which he knew not. Nay, but man doth transgress all bounds, In that he looketh upon himself as self-sufficient. Verily, to thy Lord is the return (of all)." (ch.96: 1-8)
- The voice was that of the angel Gabriel, and he confirmed that Muhammad (PBUH) was selected for an important and challenging mission—he was to call people to monotheism and righteousness.
- Muslims consider the Qur’an to be God’s speech recorded in the Arabic language, and transmitted to humanity through Muhammad (PBUH), who is considered the last of the prophets. This tradition of God-chosen prophets or messengers is believed to include such figures as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus.
- Muslims believe that over a period of twenty-three years, various verses and chapters of the Qur’an were revealed to Muhammad (PBUH) through Gabriel. The Qur’an is comprised of 114 chapters of varying length, with titles such as "Abraham," "The Pilgrimage," "Mary," and "Repentance."
- During Ramadan, observers are expected to abstain from food, drink, and other pleasures from dawn to dusk. Removing these comforts from daily routine is intended to focus the mind on prayer, spirituality, and charity and to purify the body and mind. Muslims are also expected to abstain from impurities such as gossip and cursing.
- The traditional greeting during Ramadan is "Ramadan Mubarak" ("May God give you a blessed month") or "Ramadan Karim" ("May God give you a generous month")
- The exact start of Ramadan is often up in the air until just before the holiday begins because it is determined by a sighting of the new moon. As a result, Ramadan’s start can vary from place to place because of weather conditions and other factors that affect how easily the moon is seen. Also, Muslims follow the lunar calendar which is why the date changes every year.
- The end of Ramadan is marked by Eid ul Fitr, a large festival to celebrate the end of the fast. The celebration begins as soon as the new moon is sighted in the sky. During Eid, Muslims celebrate by putting on their best clothing, attending large processions, giving gifts, spending time with their family, and having a large meal during the day. Muslims must also contribute a certain amount to charity so that the poor may also celebrate the breaking of the fast. Eid ul Fitr is also considered a time of reverance. Muslims praise Allah (God) for helping them get through the month, and ask for forgiveness for the sins they’ve committed.