REPORT: Reut/Sadaqa/Friendship group on October 20
- The Reut/Sadaqa/Friendship group met October 20, and discussed the
upcoming month of Ramadan. We also heard a recording of a famous
Egyptian reader chanting thanks to God for God's gifts and pleas that
God accept people's prayers, even if the people are stingy. At the
break, we enjoyed treats of baklava, cookies, and drinks. Presenters
were Rafiqa Othman, Mufida Abdel-Rahman, and Suheer Siam. The
presentation was excellent and participants asked many questions and
engaged in discussion enthusiastically.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar for more than
one billion Muslims worldwide. One of five pillars of Islam, Ramadan is
a time for inner reflection, soul cleansing, devotion to God,
self-control, and strengthening for the coming year.
The Islamic calendar migrates throughout the seasons. For example, if
Ramadan begins January 20 one year, next year it will begin January 9.
This way, over the years the length of the day and fasting period vary
from place to place. If a Muslim remains in one place, over the years,
he or she will observe Ramadan during a different month and season over
The Qur'an (Muslims' holy book) doesn't require the physical sighting
of the moon to determine the exact starting day of Ramadan. When the
full moon appears in Arab nations (such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and
Egypt), Muslims begin a thirty-day fast from dawn until sunset. Besides
fasting, Muslims spend time in intensive worship, reading the Qur'an,
giving charity, purifying one's behavior, and doing good deeds.
During the month, Muslims might spend part of their day listening to
the recitation of the Qur'an in a mosque or meet for Quranic studies or
for congregation prayers. Some spend the last ten days of Ramadan in a
mosque devoting the whole ten days to worshiping God. These last ten
days are a time of special spiritual power as everyone tries to come
closer to God through devotions and good deeds.
The night on which the Qur'an was revealed to the Prophet, is taken to
be the 27th night of the month. The Qur'an states that this night is
better than a thousand months. Therefore, many Muslims spend the entire
night in prayer.
During daylight, Muslims totally abstain from food, drink, smoking, and
sex. The usual practice is to have a pre-fast meal before dawn and a
post-fast meal after sunset. Ramadan emphasizes community aspects and
because everyone eats dinner at the same time, Muslims often invite one
another to share in the evening meal, often enjoying specially prepared
foods. Its traditional to start the meals with energy-rich dates and
to follow with cooked lamb and goat.
Fasting is a way of experiencing hunger and developing sympathy for the
less fortunate, and learning thankfulness and appreciation for God's
bounties. Fasting is beneficial to health and provides a break in the
cycle of rigid habits or overindulgence. A most important benefit of
fasting is that its a means of learning self-control. Due to lack of
preoccupation with the satisfaction of bodily appetites during fasting,
a measure of ascendancy is given to one's spiritual nature, and this
becomes a means of coming closer to God.
Fasting is obligatory. Sick people and some travelers in certain
conditions are exempted but must make it up, as they are able. If
someone cannot fast, she or he has to replace each day for another day
of fasting after Ramadan and if that is not possible she or he has to
contribute a sum of money determined by the religious authorities, who
take into account the general and person's economic realities, and give
this money to poor people who can then better celebrate the ending of
We agreed not to meet during November, which coincides with Ramadan. We
scheduled our next meeting for Monday, Dec. 8. Please stay tuned for
details on the meeting topic.
The group coordinators welcome your questions and input.
Carmen/Karmela Farrugia 563-1534
Rafiqa Othman 052-384824
Tamar Orvell 053-387904
The Interfaith Encounter Association
P.O.Box 3814, Jerusalem 91037, Israel
Sheikh Muhammad Kiwan, Chair
Sr. Karmela Farrugia, Vice-chair
Mr. Shlomo Alon, Vice-chair
Sheikh Ali Birani
Rabbi Dov Maimon
Ms. Ibtisam Mahamid
Sheikh Tawfiq Salama
Yehuda Stolov, Director
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