Ramadan: The holiest month of the year


Photo courtesy of Yaseen Mousa

A Church in Harrisonburg holds a potluck to break their fast after Ramadan.

Hind Mousa, Guest Writer

Are you familiar with the phrase “I’m starving”? Well, more than 1.9 billion Muslims all around the world, during one month each year, very much are. I’m talking about the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is a holy month in the religion of Islam that is celebrated by Muslims worldwide. It is one of the five pillars of the religion and is said to occur when Islam’s holy book, the Quran, was brought down on the last prophet Muhammad. 

Ramadan, in simple terms, is fasting from sunrise to sunset for a total of 30 days in terms of the lunar calendar, as well as cutting off activities such as smoking, drinking, cursing, fighting and sexual contact. Fasting is cutting off all food and sometimes drink for long periods of time. Muslims practice fasting to humble and discipline themselves, get better at self-restraint, remind themselves of all their blessings, put themselves in other people’s shoes and get closer physically and spiritually with their Lord, Allah. At the end of Ramadan, there is a three-day celebration called Eid which is also celebrated by Muslims worldwide. 

Ramadan also includes a variety of traditions and practices, one of which is to gather together with other families for Futur, breaking the fast, along with saying “Ramadan Mubarak” to each other, which literally translates to “Blessed Ramadan.” Another custom in Ramadan is for Muslims to decorate their home and street as some other cultures would during Christmas or New Years’. Most importantly, however, Ramadan is a time to generously give charity to those in need and forgive others. It may be hard to donate some extra cash you’ve been saving up or forgive someone who betrayed your trust, but in the end, Islam believes you’ll always feel better because of what you did and the burden you’ve taken off your shoulders. 

Ramadan is mandatory and a big part of being a Muslim. Nevertheless, there are a few exceptions in which you will have a valid reason not to fast. A few of those are if you are pregnant, nursing, have recently given birth, if you are on your menstrual cycle, if you are sick or have disorders such as diabetes, if you are a young child, if you are very old or if you are traveling far away. 

Besides all the religious and spiritual purposes for fasting, it has been scientifically proven that there are tremendous health benefits to this diet such as healthy weight loss, the reduction of inflammation, clearance of the digestive system and improvement of metabolism and brain function, just to name a few. 

Ramadan is a month in which Muslims are able to properly review themselves, get to know their creator better, give to other people more generously and become a healthier person physically, spiritually and emotionally. You yourself may not be Muslim, but it is important to educate yourself on communities around you to get to know each other and communicate more efficiently as that is what makes a strong, diverse society.