JNN 21 July 2012 Najaf : Grand Ayatollah Sistani announced that Saturday is the first day of Ramadan in Iraq and neighbouring countries, Arabic countries, Australia, New Zealand, African Countries, America, South American countries and Countries in Central AmericaThe Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee in Pakistan announced on Friday that the moon of the holy month of Ramazan has been sighted in the country.
The announcement was made by Chairman of the Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee, Mufti Munib ur Rehman, after chairing the meeting of the committee held at Meteorological (Met) Office.
He announced that Ramazan 1, 1433 Hijri, will fall on Saturday , July 21, 2012.
Ramadan will begin in Iran on Saturday and Friday is the last day of the lunar month of Sha’ban.
The month of Ramazan began in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen on July 20, as well as for Lebanon’s Muslims.
According to the report, the first day of the holy month of Ramadan in the UK, France, Germany, and Italy and neighbouring countries, and most of Canada starts on Sunday.
Tomorrow is the beginning of Ramadan, the holiest month for Muslims. Ramadan is the ninth lunar month of Islamic calendar. This may last for 29 or 30 days depending upon the moon sighting. This is the month of fasting and remembrance of revelation of Quran, our scripture. Muslims greet each other with “Ramadan Mubarak”( Blessed Ramadan).
Fasting is practiced by many faiths, especially Judaism and Christianity. In Quran it is stated, “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may (learn) self-restraint, 2:183.
Fasting is obligatory for all adult healthy Muslims; children usually start fasting at early teen ages. Most of the younger children have fasted once in a while with the family to “experience the spirituality”. . During Ramadan Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and sexual relations from dawn to dusk. We eat before dawn and at sunset break the fast, Iftar usually with dates. Fasting besides teaching us self-restraint also makes us experience the hunger of poor all over the world and motivates to help. “The month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Quran; a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, a number of other days. Allah desires for you ease; He desires not hardship for you; and that you should complete the period, and that you should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that perhaps you may be thankful.” Quran; 2:185
Any adult who cannot fast due to medical condition can make it up later, but if he/she cannot make it up due to the medical condition, it is recommended that a poor person should be fed for each missed day of fasting. If the person cannot afford to feed the poor people they are released from this religious responsibility.
As we follow lunar calendar for our religious duties, each year the month of Ramadan moves 10-11 days earlier. In 34 years the whole circle is complete in regards to Gregorian calendar. Also in different parts of the world the timings are different; in 4 years we will have the longest days of fasting in the countries above equator and the shortest days below the equator.
There are many benefits of fasting from health perspective too. Caloric restraint leads to decreased risk for diabetes mellitus, immune disorders, cancer, and better control of blood pressure and probably slowing of aging process. Most of the pregnant women refrain from fasting and make it up later on. Studies on pregnant women fasting in few Muslim countries have shown no deleterious effect on the mother or fetus.
Muslims are highly encouraged to pray more during this month. We have extra prayers at night “Taraweeh”, which are mostly performed in the mosque as congregational prayers. The Imam recites Quran during Taraweeh and finishes all 30 sections over one month. Most of the Muslims finish Quran reciting at home too. We are highly encouraged to spend as much as time to pray, ask for forgiveness and introspection. During the last ten days we are commanded to pray as much as possible especially on odd nights. One of these blessed nights is “layla-tul-Qadr (night of decision); “Behold we sent it down in the night of decision (Quran), The night of decision is better than a thousand months” Quran 97:1&3
Ramadan is not only for letting go of food and water; it is a time for us to be a model human being. All the vices, which we are commanded to refrain from throughout our life, become more imperative to abstain from during this month. Anger, backbiting, slandering, hurting fellow being’s feelings are considered to render our fasting less acceptable by God.
This is the month for giving charity as much as we can. Most of the Muslims pay Zakat (charity) in this month, at least 2.5% of all the savings, gold, silver and estates excluding primary residential property.
This month is also for the unity of community; families and friends get together to break fast with festive meals and perform collective prayers. For most of the Muslims it is time to pray, connect and introspect.
In countries with Muslim majority the work/school schedules are adjusted and the work day is shortened to give time to people to go home, pray and also prepare for Iftar. In our country USA, Muslim students will not be in lunch halls, will be cutting short sports practices, workers will not be taking lunch break and you will not see them walking with coffee mugs in their hands. There will be many interfaith Iftars including one tonight at Capitol Hill hosted by Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA), cohosted by Congressman Andre Carson and Congressman Keith Ellison to celebrate the occasion with American Muslim community members, government officials, interfaith leaders, and executives from leading humanitarian aid NGOs
After one month of fasting we will have celebration “Eid-ul-Fitr”; when we will have festivities, wear nicest clothes and give charity. Tonight I wish to all Muslims, Ramadan Mubarak. May this month bring peace, prosperity, and contemplation leading us to become a better person