Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar, is one of the most blessed months for us Muslims. It is the month that the Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon Him).
The Holy Quran, which Muslims consider the absolute word of God, provides Muslims with guidance on how to live their lives in this world. This gives the month of Ramandan massive religious significance.
Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. During this month, every Muslim who is healthy and able-bodied is required to fast, every day from dawn until dusk for 30 days.
Fasting is not just staying away from food or drinks but it’s an opportunity for spiritual cleansing, an opportunity to reflect, and re-discover one’s innermost self and come closer to God.
Along with the internal aspects of one’s spiritual renewal during this month, Ramadan also emphasizes service to others and mending relationships with friends and family. The month is a 30-day boot camp that trains us to be grateful, compassionate, and God-consciousness exercising — self-restraint, self-purification and motivating our spirit of caring and sharing for others
During this month Muslims, while focusing on their own internal spiritual renewal, also intensify their efforts to serve others, especially those in need. Fasting in Ramadan is about being patience, being grateful and giving back to those in need, deprived and hungry, while learning how to endure it patiently. This is a very humbling experience that we can use to empathize with those that are oppressed and needy within our own communities.
This year before the start of the month of Ramadan, the Muslim Community Resource Center (MCRC), which is the social and humanitarian services arm of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS) in Redmond, along with the support of other mosques on the Eastside provided more than 1,000 needy families and individuals with care boxes — each containing food supplies for the whole month. Along with the food boxes, MAPS-MCRC also provided gifts to the kids in these families so that they can also enjoy the spirit of Ramadan. Additionally, several hundred toys and gifts along with scarves and caps — hand knitted by our seniors — were distributed to kids at the Seattle Children’s Hospital. MAPS-MCRC provided more than 300 hot meals to various tent cities and shelters in the Eastside during this month and also sponsored community dinners for several refugee communities in the greater Seattle area. Kids and youth in our community have assembled hundreds of gift goody bags that will be distributed to less fortunate kids on the occasion of Eid, which is a big day of celebration that marks the end of the month of Ramadan.
Fasting makes us realize how dependent our lives are on things that we often take for granted, such as food and water. It makes us realize that nothing is truly ours. This month increases our compassion and renews our spiritual energy. It truly makes us realize the reality of daily life for many who live in our communities.
Nickhath Sheriff is the founder and CEO of the Muslim Community Resource Center with the Muslim Association of Puget Sound.