Why Ramadan is More Important Now Than Ever
By: Jordyn Imhoff/Arab America Contributing Writer
An overview of Islam and Ramadan
As Ramadan approaches this Sunday, it’s important to understand the special significance of Ramadan during a difficult time in American history, it’s important to first know what Ramadan is and what it means to Muslims, the followers of Islam. Islam follows behind Christianity as the largest religion in the world, with more than one billion followers. The holy month of Ramadan is a chance for introspection, prayer, and time with family and friends. It’s celebrated as the month in which Muhammad received the initial revelations of what later became the Quran.
The Five Pillars of Islam are fundamental to the lives of those that are Muslims, and fasting specifically is one of the five principles. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims will not eat or drink from sunrise to sundown. They later will share a celebratory meal with a three-day festival known as Eid al-Fitr to commemorate the end of Ramadan. Gifts are often exchanged. The other pillars include shahada (a declaration of faith), prayer, zakat (charitable giving), and pilgrimage. This pilgrimage is in reference to the trip, or “hajj”, to Mecca, Saudi Arabia that the able-bodied are expected to make once in their lifetime.
While fasting is what most Americans may think of when they hear the word Ramadan, it’s more than just avoiding food and drink while the sun is out. Abstaining from impure thoughts and action also promotes internal and external peace. Ramadan places a strong emphasis on taking the time to help those less fortunate, and it’s shown in the idea that only those that are in good health are required to fast. These values tied to religion are vital in how a lot of Muslim Americans live their lives. Religion can help give someone direction and purpose.
Ramadan in America
Just like the average American, a Muslim is still going to go to work or school and take care of their usual daily tasks, they just may read the Quran, say special prayers and attend mosques more often than usual during Ramadan. When Muslims can restrain themselves from the blessings so readily available to all of us, they’re able to develop deeper empathy for those who aren’t as fortunate. After spending 11 months feeding your body, you’re able to spend one month feeding your soul by connecting to a higher power.
There are an estimated seven million Muslims in the United States. There are mosques in all 50 states. The presence of Islam in the United States is undeniable, and the backlash has shown to be brutal sometimes. During Ramadan, the disconnect between Muslims and others is evident.
Kids at school might harass your child because he’s not eating at lunch like everyone else. You might have to awkwardly, briefly leave a meeting at work because it’s time to pray. Feeling like an outsider can be damaging to self-image so now, during Ramadan, please take a minute to remember how much your commitment to God means to you to participate in something as substantial as Ramadan. That’s something truly special. If you’re not a Muslim, tell a Muslim friend Ramadan Mubarak.
A Cigna study shows that loneliness has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, with about half of Americans feeling alone or finding that they lack meaningful daily social interactions, such as extended conversations with family or friends, as reported by CNN.
It’s human nature to crave a sense of belonging and being of value to others, and it could be why so many Muslims practice the fundamentals of Islam in the United States as their counterparts do overseas. Tough times are facing Islamic communities as Islamophobia becomes more rampant and American culture grows to become less tolerant of those of different races and religions. Although not everyone that lives in the United States is of the Islamic faith, it doesn’t mean we can’t all practice saying and doing good, always.