The month of Ramadan is about to start again this year. A Holy month for Muslim people who lives in Canada and around the world. Muslims use the Lunar calendar every year to determine the beginning of Ramadan. The Lunar year is 355 days, which makes us fast at a different time each year. For example, this year, Ramadan will start around March 23rd, so next year will be around March 13th, and the following year will be around March 3rd, and so. The limited knowledge that non-Muslim people know about this month is that it is fasting from food, from sunrise to sunset for the whole 30 days. The answer is yes and no together. It is yes as we do fast from food, but it is not just for the sake of not having food for certain hours of the day in that month. Ramadan is a rewarding month for Muslims, where each good work a Muslim do in that month, their rewards will be doubles and doubles. It is the month of forgiveness, mercy, donation (Sadaqah) volunteering, fasting from sins, from committing sins, and from thinking about committing sins. But, before you ask yourself, do Muslims do good works in Ramadan only, how about the other 11 months of the year? The answer here is, Ramadan is the month were Muslims set a target for their selves, and keep repeating it for 30 days, in order to become a habit and keep doing it after Ramadan. For example, people use it to help them quit smoking, to stop wasting time on social media and use their time for more beneficial things. Others use it to practice sports to be healthier, etc. Another thing to mention is that while we are fasting, no one watching us, so basically, we can have a sip of water if we felt thirsty, but it is about trust and belief. As we believe that Allah (God) watches us all time and day, so whatever we do in secret, will always be known by Allah. Furthermore, as Muslims, we have five main prayers per day. Starts with the Fajr prayer, which is the time when we start fasting, it is around 5 am, and it varies from one country to another. Dhuhur, the second prayer, is around noon time 1 pm. Thirdly, Asr pray, it is in the afternoon, around 5 pm. The fourth pray is Maghrib, which is the time we break the fasting, which is around 7:30 pm. Fifth and last prayer of the day Isha, around 9 pm. Also, the prayer time varies from month to month, and in winter it is different from summer. During Ramadan, there is one more prayer, it is optional but very recommended during Ramadan, it does start right after the fifth prayer of the day. We call it Taraweeh, and it may take between 30 minutes up to 5 or 6 hours, as it is voluntary prays, so each person decides how much they want to pray for. But the more you pray, the more reward you get. A few words for you to know, when fasting starts every day, we call it (Imsak) which is the moment of stopping eating, and when it is the time to break the fast, we call it (Iftar) breaking the fast. A couple of hours before the Iftar time, the families will start preparing their food for the Iftar time. In Muslim countries, part of the culture there is exchanging food before the Iftar. You may cook one type of dish, but come to Iftar time, you may find 4 or 5 different dishes. Neighbours and relatives will knock on your doors and will hand you a dish, and you will do the same. A few important things to know as well, during Ramadan, ladies on their monthly periods do NOT fast, so do NOT ask them why they are not fasting, as that may embarrass them. Also, anyone travelling, male or female, is NOT required to fast, and if there are medical issues, people may NOT fast as well. If you know a friend, colleague, or relative who is Muslim, it would be nice of you to say to them “Ramadan Mubarak” at the beginning of Ramadan, it is part of congratulation them for receiving this month. Also, when it is the last day of Ramadan month, please say to Muslims “Eid Mubarak”, as we have three days to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr right after Ramadan. It is part of the in-life reward that Allah gives us due to our fasting. From a health perspective, Ramadan has great benefits for health and the body. Yes, it is necessary to feel tired in Ramadan, but really in the end you feel a comfortable and wonderful feeling, and this is what all Muslims will answer because the feeling is the same. You feel like something special during these days and you don’t wish it would go away. But it is one month out of the year. Therefore, when you think carefully, you conclude that it is possible that the Creator made it limited and specially numbered days in order for us to feel this comfortable feeling, so it touches your soul. Lastly, this point I always like to bring up whenever a conversation about Islam and Muslims starts. If someone you know is Muslim, and commits a mistake, or did something inappropriate, it is NOT ISLAM, it is that person you know. There is no such thing when one person can represent the whole religion. Human makes mistakes, so do not ever blame religion for a mistake that a person made. Especially if you want to know the roots of Islam word. Islam is an Arabic word that means peace. So, there is no way that Islam will encourage people to hate others, to commit a mistake, to invite for wars, to kill people, or whatever the social media say about it.
Ramadan Mubarak to all Muslims at UNBC, and everywhere else.