Dr. Mozammel Haque
Ramadan Mubarak and Ramadan Greetings to all of you, especially to all the readers of The Straight Path and the Eurobangla: May this holy month bring barakah, and Allah’s boundless mercy upon the believers and harmony and tolerance for the world. May this blessed month of Ramadan bring you the utmost in peace and prosperity.
This year, Muslims almost everywhere welcome the coming of the month of Ramadan on the same day, on Wednesday, the 10th of July, 2013. Saudi Arabia, the heartland of Islam, the country of the Two Holy Mosques, the birthplace of Prophet Peace be upon him, is welcoming Ramadan on Wednesday. The Supreme Judicial Council of Saudi Arabia called on all Muslims in the Kingdom to sight the crescent of the lunar month of Ramadan on July 8 (Monday) evening. But the lunar moon was not sighted at sunset Monday evening. So the holy month of Ramadan begins on Wednesday, 10th of July, 2013. The UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Egypt, Malaysia, Australia and Singapore also begin on Wednesday.
Ramadan in Canada started on Wednesday, 10th of July, 2013. On behalf of the Muslim community of Ottawa-Gatineau, the Council of Imams of Ottawa-Gatineau (CIOG) extended its best wishes to all Canadians and the Muslims upon the arrival of the blessed month of Ramadan. As instructed by our beloved Rasool (SAW) to begin and end the fasting of the month of Ramadaan based on the actual sighting of the new moon, we are pleased to inform our community that there were no confirmed moon sighting reports on the eve of Monday July 8 (29 Sha’ban). Therefore we will complete 30 days of Sha’ban and 1st day of Ramadan will be Wednesday July 10, 2013 insha-Allah.
British Muslims welcome Ramadan: the month of discipline, compassion and solidarity on Wednesday, 10th of July 2013. British Muslims will join over a billion Muslims all over the world in a month of fasting, charity and solidarity. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the umbrella organisation of the Muslim community of Britain, extended its warmest wishes to all for a blessed, spiritual and peaceful Ramadan, the MCB’s press release said. The governments of many countries issued Ramadan Message to Muslims in their countries and around the world (see below).
Ramadan Mubarak to you All
I welcome Ramadan, the month of Mercy and Repentance, the month of the Qur’an, of Laylatul Qadr (the Night of Power) and of repentance and forgiveness. Fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the Pillars of the Islamic faith. It was declared an obligatory duty (Fard) in the second year of the Hijrah upon each and every mukallaf (one capable of carrying out religious duties, i.e. a sane adult).
Allah the Almighty made Ramadan fasting compulsory for Muslims. Allah said, “O those who believe, the fasts have been enjoined upon you as were enjoined upon those before so that you be God-fearing.’ [Surah Baqarah, 183]. Literally, Sawm means ‘to abstain’. In the terminology of Islamic law, Sawm means ‘to abstain from eating, drinking and sexual intercourse: with the conditions that one abstains continuously from dawn to sunset, and that there is an intention to fast.’ Therefore, should one eat or drink anything even a minute before sunset, the fast will not be valid. Similarly, if one abstained from all these things throughout the day but made no intention to fast, there will be no fast here too.
Allah the Almighty said in the Qur’an “…And eat and drink, until the white thread of dawn appears to you distinct from its black thread…” (Al-Qur’an, 2:187) Literally defined, fasting means to abstain “completely” from foods, drinks, intimate intercourse and smoking, before the break of the dawn till sunset, during the entire month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic year.
Fasting in Islam is based on the lunar calendar and is tied to the sightings of hilal, the crescent, or new moon. Allah the Almighty stated: “They ask you concerning the new moons. Say: They are but signs to mark fixed periods of time… (Al-Qur’an, 2:189). And the Traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Eat until you see the crescent and break not until you see the crescent. If it is cloudy calculate the period of the month.” (Muslim and others).
Fasting in Ramadan is compulsory upon every Muslim, male or female, who has these qualifications, e.g. mentally and physically fit, adult full of age which is normally fourteen and fairly certain that fasting is unlikely to cause any harm, physical or mental, other than the normal reactions to hunger, thirst etc.
The said qualifications exclude the following categories: children under the age of puberty and discretion; men and women who are too old and feeble to undertake the obligation of fast and bear its hardships; sick people whose health is likely to be severely affected by the observance of fast; travellers may break the fast temporarily during their travel; pregnant women and women breast-feeding their children may also break their fast and women in the period of menstruation (of a maximum of ten days or of confinement (of a maximum of forty days. They must postpone the fast till recovery and then make up for it.
The holy month of Ramadan is the month of mercy, forgiveness, and seeking release from the Hell-fire. It is the month of repentance and acceptance of prayers. It is the month when the devils are chained, the gates of Hell are looked and the gates of Paradise are opened. That’s why; Muslims welcome Ramadan each year with energy and happiness, and are saddened only when the month departs. Fasting is for the living, not for mourning.
Ramadan is a month of worship. Muslims should welcome the month with repentance and seeking Allah’s pardon. We should keep away from committing sins; worship Allah sincerely and spending the night and day in prayer, supplication and recitation of the Holy Qur’an.
Fasting is a shield which helps prevent many sins and with which Muslim protects himself from Hell-fire. Fasting is more than abstaining from food and drink. It also means to abstain from any falsehood in speech and action, from any ignorant and indecent speech, and from arguing and quarrelling. Therefore, fasting helps to develop good behaviour.
Fasting inculcates a sense of brotherhood and solidarity, as a Muslim feels and experiences what his needy and hungry brothers feel. This gives Muslim a new sense of togetherness and association.
Allah the Almighty said in the Qur’an: The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the criterion (between right and wrong). (Surah Al-Baqarah 2: 185) As Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an, every Muslim should prepare himself to welcome the blessed month of Ramadan by strengthening his relationship with the Qur’an. A Muslim is encouraged to complete one recitation of the Holy Qur’an during Ramadan.
We should engage more and more in the recitation of the Qur’an, in dhikr (remembrance of Allah), perform extra Salah (ritual prayers) at night and renew identity with one another in our obedience to Allah.
RAMADAN MESSAGES FROM GOVERNMENTS
King Abdullah’s Ramadan Message
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense, greeted the people of Saudi Arabia and Muslims around the world on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan.
In their Ramadan greetings, read out by Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Abdulaziz Khoja, the King and Crown Prince reiterated that the Kingdom would follow its moderate policy with full conscience about its responsibility and message toward the Muslim world and the entire humanity as well.
“As such, the Kingdom would never allow extremists as well as mischievous people to misuse religion as a garb to hide behind it in order to serve their own interests. These people are doing harm to the sublime image of Islam through their overt practices and wrong interpretations,” the statement said.
The King and the Crown Prince emphasized that Islam rejects division in the name of one ideology or the other.
British Prime Minister David Cameron’s Message for Ramadan
The British Prime Minister has marked the start of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, sending his warm wishes to Muslims in the UK and overseas. Prime Minister Cameron said, “As the holy month of Ramadan begins, I want to take this opportunity to send my warmest wishes to Muslims in Britain and across the world. During this hugely important time of prayer and fasting, we are reminded of the importance of charity and compassion. These are values and traditions at the heart of Islam but shared by those of all faiths in Britain.”
“So let me wish everyone peace, happiness and unity during this special time and say Ramadan Mubarak,” said Prime Minister David Cameron.
British deputy Prime Minister Nick
Clegg’s Ramadan Message
British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg sent Ramadan Message to Muslims. He said, “Salaam alaykum. As Muslims during Ramadan around the world fast for self-discipline and improvement, Spend time in prayer and contemplation, and come together, united in a spirit of sacrifice, generosity and hope, I know the thoughts of many will turn, again to the suffering of the Syrian people.”
Deputy Prime Minister Clegg said, “The values of peace, empathy and charity are an essential part of this holy month of Ramadan. And evident within the invaluable contributions made by British Muslims to support and strengthen local communities across the UK. And this year I want to praise our Muslim communities for leading in a show of unity and support following the horrors of Woolwich.”
“Their committed voice for peace helps to make Britain the tolerant, open and wonderfully diverse country it is today. Ramadan Mubarak,” said deputy Prime Minister Clegg.
President Obama’s Ramadan Message to Muslims
American President Barack Obama issued Ramadan Message on 8 July 2013, extending best wishes to Muslim communities in the United States and around the world. President Obama said, “With the start of the sacred month of Ramadan, Michelle and I extend our best wishes to Muslim communities here in the United States and around the world. For the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, Ramadan is a time for thoughtful reflection, fasting and devotion. It is also an opportunity for family and friends to come together and celebrate the principles that bind people of different faiths – a commitment to peace, justice, equality and compassion towards our fellow human beings. These bonds are far stronger than the differences that too often drive us apart.”
President Obama said, “In the United States, Ramadan is a reminder that millions of Muslim Americans enrich our nation each day – serving in our government, leading scientific breakthroughs, generating jobs and caring for our neighbors in need. I have been honoured to host an iftar dinner at the White House each of the past four years, and this year I look forward to welcoming Muslim Americans who are contributing to our country as entrepreneurs, activists and artists.”
President Obama also said, “I wish Muslims across America and around the world a month blessed with the joys of family, peace and understanding. Ramadan Kareem.”
Dr. Mozammel Haque