Saturday, August 22, 2009

RAMAZAN/RAMADAN: Month of Fasting, Remembrance and Reflection

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

Also a month of loving-Kindness and purification

Lebanese man wakes up observant Muslims for their overnight "suhur" meal before the day's fast in Sidon's Old City in south Lebanon just before dawn

Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh,

May the peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be with you


This man praying near Swat Pakistan reminds me of the first Muslim man I saw years ago praying in likewise devout manner in a small rural village of Northeast State Nigeria. This memory has has a lifelong effect on me of an individual's unknown yet perhaps most genuine prayer life - whatever that particular religion and certainly opened my eyes to Muslim prayer as equal to any other.

May the light celebrated at Ramadan lead all together on the path of peace and social harmony.

Rabi'a asked someone to buy a blanket for her, giving the person four coins. The person asked: 'Do you want a black blanket, or a white one?' Rabi'a took back the coins, threw them in the Tigris river, and exclaimed: "Must we divide even blankets into distinct groups?"
Attar's Rabi'a

"I can fulfill the need of all of you, with one and the same piece of money. If you honestly give me your trust, your one coin will become as four; and four at odds will become as one united."
Mevlana Rumi

About what do they ask one another?
About the awesome tiding
On which they disagree.
Nay, but in time they will come to understand.
And once again: Nay, but in time they will come to undestand!
The Quran
Chapter 78, 'The Tiding', Lines 1-5

Indonesian women coming together for prayer during Ramadan.
(Photos above were taken by MAHMOUD ZAYAT/AFP/Getty Images for September 2008)

During Ramadan/Ramzan/Ramazan (and several other names for this religious month), Muslims all over the world observe a dawn-to-dusk fast and refrain from anything considered an indulgence...They aim to show patience, modesty and spirituality...this culminates in Eid al-Fitr. This month is also a time - as I understand the case from my Muslim friends - for religious and spiritual reading - in private as well as community. This time is conducive to more than usual reflection with resulting prayer for inner transformation as well as for family, neighbors and the world at large. (A worthy challenge for us all)

Abraham [Ibrahim (A.S.)] received scriptures on the first or third of Ramadan, David [Dawood (A.S.)] on the twelfth or the eighteenth, Moses [Musa (A.S.)] on the sixth, and Jesus [Esa (A.S.)] on the twelfth or the thirteenth of Ramadan.

It was in the very month of Ramadan that the Holy Quran, the last revealed Book, started descending upon Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW). It testifies: (Ramadan is the month in which was sent down the Quran as a guide to mankind ...) (2:185)

* 1st Ramadan day of fasting began at dawn on August 22, 2009
* Lailatul-Qadr (Night of Power) September 16, 2009
* Eid-al-Fitr (End of Ramadan) September 20, 2009
* Eid-Al-Adha: November 27, 2009
* Al-Hijra - 1st Muharramn (Islamic New Year) December 18, 2009

Suggested ritual - a prayer for the world's citizens to petition Allah that our world leaders will be most wise and love peace (found in a Sufi's blog for Ramadan and modified)

1. Enter your place of prayer
2. Hold an image of a world leader in your mind
3. Place that person in the region which is closest to your heart
4. Send him/her thoughts of peace along with a symbol such as the scale of balance



And may we pray from the deepest heart of us all for the displaced and the terrorized from many kinds of terrorism - among them the Pakistan's war-displaced in camps during this time:

ICHRIAN, Pakistan, Aug 22 (Reuters) - As the Muslim month of Ramadan begins, tens of thousands of Pakistanis forced to flee their homes by the confusion of battle. Many have no choice but to languish in camps or host families over the religious period.

About 2.3 million people were forced from their homes by fighting in the northwest...creating one of the largest internal displacements in recent times...

"Ramadan is the holiest period of the year for Muslims and it is a period of fasting, prayer and blessings," said Mubashir Fida, communications officer for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC),"It's a tough time for the internally displaced people as they have endured so much over the last few months and had hoped to be back home for Eid as that is the time for family celebrations."

For example, 300 or so live in a poultry farm in the village of Ichrian, 120 km (75 miles) northwest of Islamabad where people live in sheds that once housed fowl.

The IFRC together with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society have built latrines here, provided clean water and are now holding psychosocial sessions for those traumatized by their experiences. (Above report from Reuters - found at a number of news sources August 22-23, 2009)

According to both Pakistani and international visitors at the sites where the displaced persons and families are being helped to survive. There has been a warm generous outpouring of service, hospitality, resources and concern common among many Pakistani people who've volunteered and housed mamy people over these long agonizing months.


Girls from Swat sing Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s famous poem 'bol ke lub azaad hai tere':
Speak, your lips are free ) at the interactive session in Islamabad. — File Photo Dawn dot com. May we each and all be part of the solace for girls like these. NOTE: Comment #2 below this post beginning: "The awakening, the praying and the life resonating singing of Swat girls, and what a poem they are reciting..." See English translation of the poem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz - BOOL KE LUB AZAD HEI TERAY - in full by Azfer Hussain. Also find the touching article that "matches" the photo above about the girls from Swat in a Dawn online column August 22nd by Nosheen's 'Under the Shade of Unity' here

Some lines from Maulana Rumi on fasting (several different poems and translators in a collage) There's hidden sweetness in the stomach's emptiness...Fasting is as our sacrifice, it is the life of our soul; let us sacrifice all our body, since the soul has arrived as guest...let a new song come out of the fire...fortitude is as a sweet cloud, wisdom rains from it...When the carnal soul is in need, the spirit goes into ascension; when the gate of the prison is broken, the soul reaches the Beloved...seek that speech and that morsel which has come to the silent ones...Be emptier and cry like reed instruments cry...write secrets with the reed pen...A table descends to your tents, the Lord's table. Expect to see it when you fast, this table spread with other food - better than the broth of cabbages.


And once again let us all listen to the message which is even now coming from the East and to the bells announcing that the Infinite Love is being offered for everyone, everywhere...

4 comments:

Khurram Ali Shafique said...

Beautiful :). Thanks.

Akhtar Wasim Dar said...

This is most beautiful gift of Ramadan. The picture selection is absolutely lovely. The awakening, the praying and the life resonating singing of Swat girls, and what a poem they are reciting. BOOL KE LUB AZAD HEI TERAY( speak, your lips are free)
A poem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz translated by Azfer Hussain:

Speak

Speak, your lips are free.
Speak, it is your own tongue.
Speak, it is your own body.
Speak, your life is still yours.

See how in the blacksmith's shop
The flame burns wild,
the iron glows red;
The locks open their jaws,
And every chain begins to break.

Speak, this brief hour is long enough
Before the death of body and tongue:
Speak, 'cause the truth is not dead yet,
Speak, speak, whatever you must speak.

Connie L. Nash said...

Although for the poorest and most voiceless among us, this is probably not appropriate...for manhy of us who have suffered, will suffer and have to do with much less, this may be a helpful reminder...especially in the time of fasting and reflection...

Why should I grieve because of a thorn? Once it had made laughter known to me. Whatever you lost through the stroke of destiny, know it was to save you from adversity. One small affliction keeps off greater afflictions; one small loss prevents greater losses.

- Rumi, "Mathnawi"

Connie L. Nash said...

For a beautiful-looking collection of Ramadan/Ramzan Celebrations, you may want to go to Speaking of Faith dot org "Revealing Ramadan"