Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

For Muslims, Ramadan is more than fasting: it's introspection and renewal

  • Print

The month of July is special for Canadians. It's the month of Canada Day celebrations and festivities. For Canadian Muslims, however, July of this year means something more.

The month of Ramadan begins on July 8. Ramadan has a profound religious importance: It is the month of fasting -- one of the five main pillars of Islam. Fasting, simply stated, is an act of devotion, where Muslims abstain from food and drink from dawn to sunset. Fasting is only required of those who are physically fit. Exemptions are in place for those who can't fast, though they are required to compensate the fasting with charity. A person who can't fast permanently is required to instead feed a poor person for every day missed.

The significance of Ramadan is mostly spiritual, but its impact is felt across every aspect of the Muslim social life. Culturally speaking, Ramadan has its own colourful and intriguing features. Every Muslim culture across the globe has an established cultural norms uniquely associated with Ramadan. Included in this are special dishes, costumes, rhymes, traditions and rituals. Grocery stores pack their stores with food items uniquely demanded in Ramadan. A typical food item common across the globe during Ramadan is tamr dates. It was the tradition of Prophet Muhammad to break fasting with dates; Muslims have kept this tradition for generations. Another food item common in Ramadan is shurba, a homemade soup of a variety of ingredients and flavours.

The daily routine life of Muslims is altered in Ramadan. Eating hours change from noon lunch and evening supper, to a main meal after sunset and a light meal before dawn. The fast-breaking hour (around 9:30 p.m.) becomes the most precious hour, not just because it is a moment of quenching thirst and eating, but also because of its social significance. This is the hour where family members, friends, relatives and community members come together to share their meal and enjoy the company. One of the virtues recommended in the tradition of Prophet Muhammad is to share food with others who are fasting. Accordingly, invitations to community potluck gathering are in great abundance.

Ramadan brings the best in humanity; generosity peaks during this time. The largest collection of funds for charity and relief work takes place in Ramadan. People reach out to others, mend broken relationships and establish more positive relationships. Mosque attendance increases in Ramadan and peaks in the last 10 days. Following the breaking of fasting, Muslims gather every night in the mosque for a nightly prayer known as Taraweeh.

In a saying of Prophet Muhammad, the first 10 days of Ramadan are described as days of mercy, the second 10 days as days of forgiveness and the last 10 days as days of emancipation. Many Muslims take advantage of Ramadan to reconnect with their inner self through meditation, introspection and pondering. Ramadan for many is an opportunity to break bad habits, strengthen family bonds and begin a new more positive chapter in life.

Ismael Mukhtar is the president of the Manitoba Islamic Association.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 6, 2013 D15

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Winnipeg Cheapskate: Cheap summer weekends

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young gosling flaps his wings after taking a bath in the duck pond at St Vital Park Tuesday morning- - Day 21– June 12, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- WINTER FILE. Snowboarder at Stony Mountain Ski Hill. November 14, 2006.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you like Gord Steeves’ idea to sell four city-owned golf courses to fund road renewal?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google