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U Understanding Islam

Ramadan: 29 days of Thanksgiving

By By Wilfredo Amr Ruiz and Yusuf Nganga | Guest Columnists, For Orlando Sentinel, On 08 May 2019, Read Original

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Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and the month that the Holy Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammed.

It is a time to commemorate our Lord’s gift and mercy that he has bestowed to humanity with his words of revelation following the traditions of the Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospels of Jesus, the Son of Mary. During this month, it is required that Muslims fast by refraining from eating or drinking anything from dawn to sunset; however, it is not mandatory if a person is of ill health. Fasting during this month is one of the five pillars of Islam. One of the pillars stands out during this holy month and that is generosity.

Refraining from the basic need of satisfying our hunger is a humbling feeling and a vivid reminder of how fortunate we are as American Muslims. We are blessed in this great country in that the level of poverty is not as mainstream as in other countries that are celebrating the holy month. Ramadan is a reminder to Muslims not to be boastful to those among God’s creation who were not blessed with plenty by walking in their shoes for 29 to 30 days. It is a time dedicated not only to the rituals of prayer and purification of the soul, but also to the community.

Fasting in the Sunshine State is a blessing that only a few get to experience. The immigrant community in our state is made up of people from all four corners of the globe. It adds a layer of excitement and uniqueness only found in a silk road bazaar. When breaking fast at sunset in most Florida mosques, you will experience a magnificent intercultural exchange seldom seen in other parts of the country.

As for the food, the spicy biriyani rice from the Indian sub-continent, Fattoush salad from the Middle East, Tau Zaafi corn flour and peanut soup stew from West Africa, tacos from Mexico, café con leche from Cuba, and of course pizza, just to mention a few, will have you going back for seconds. That’s tough though after a long day of fasting that naturally shrinks one’s stomach. The sound of different languages emanating from the congregation and the stories they tell will have your mind traveling the world and the bright outfits will give you a newfound respect for colors. Finally, the recitation of the Qur’an with its conviction will soothe your heart with the beauty and truth of poetic mastery.

To Muslims, Ramadan is a time to count our blessings and to reaffirm our steadfast belief in All Mighty God and ask for his mercy. It is a time to reflect on our journey in this world - a time to be magnanimous and to prostrate in prayer. Ramadan is a reminder to humanity of the Prophets and their messages of love and fraternity.

During this holy month, we must all come together to reflect and account for the past month’s deeds before God, to ask for forgiveness, spend time with family and friends, and to give thanks.

Wilfredo Amr Ruiz is CAIR-Florida Communications Director; Yusuf Nganga is CAIR-Florida Outreach and Events Coordinator.

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