"I think it's so important for all of us to understand each others cultures. This Presentation is a wonderful way to introduce students to Islam. It's a fantastic presentation"
Teacher-Scott Elementary School

"Wonderful information I would like to do this with each group of new students every year."
Teacher-Curie High School

"I thought the presentation was very imformative it was great to have clarification on topics related to Islam. Next time I will have my students prepared with educated questions."
Teacher-Lake Park High School

"The presentations were really interesting . It is nice for the students to hear about the culture/ religion of Islam from someone who closely follows the religion/ way of life. (The speaker) taught my students things that I could not, through sharing her experience."
Teacher-Lake Park High School

"I would have been happy to listen and learn for 2 or 3 hours. You did a lot in a about period of time. Thanks for coming out."
Hinsdale Public Library

"Just terrific. This has been an excellent program for a library. It was not prosyletizing but very imfornative. There were slides and many visual aids as well as audience participation so even our preteens were not bored. I cant say enough good things about this program. "
Glen Ellyn Public Library

"Thank you for taking the time for to enlighten us. Knowledge erases fear."
Faith Lutheran Church

"Thank you so much! Your presentation was excellent. I really learned A lot in 1 hour. Let us know when we can have you back for Islam 102!"
1st Congregational Church



print Print This Page

Beginning October 5th, 2005

Joining 1.5 billion Muslims around the world, American Muslims will begin observance of the month-long fast of Ramadan.

The month of Ramadan commemorates the revelation of the Qur’an (divine scripture & Islam’s holy book). During the month, Muslims fast from pre-dawn until sunset, foregoing eating and drinking and avoiding all wrongdoing. The purpose of the fast is to grow in God-consciousness and moral excellence. In commemoration of the Qur’an’s revelation, many Muslims gather at their masjid to hold special prayers in which the entire Qur'an is recited by month's end.

October 3rd, 2005, begin looking for the new moon.
October 5th, 2005, expected first day of Ramadan.
The month-long fast of Ramadan is set to begin on October 5th (Wednesday). The lunar month of Ramadan - the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar -traditionally begins and ends based on the sighting of the first crescent of the new moon. Starting on October 3rd (Monday), Muslims throughout America and the world will begin to search the sky for the new crescent. Many Muslims on these nights gather with great anticipation at their masjid (mosque), waiting for word on any moon sightings.

American Muslim communities, consisting of nearly 2,000 masajid (mosques) and Islamic Centers.

Type of fast
Muslims fast from pre-dawn (around 6:00 a.m.) to sunset (around 5:30 p.m.) -- a fast of about 10 1/2 hours. The fast of Ramadan entails foregoing food and drink, and if married, abstaining from sex during the daytime, in an effort to train our physical aspect, as well as our spiritual, by the avoidance of wrong-doing, such as gossiping, back-biting, lying, or becoming angry. Muslims welcome Ramadan as a time for self-evaluation, spiritual improvement, and growth. Ramadan is also a highly social time of great joy and happiness as Muslims constantly visit one another to break fast together and meet one another for prayers at the masjid (mosque).

The ultimate goal of fasting is greater God-consciousness. The Qur’anic (Arabic) word is taqwa, which literally means "being on guard" signifying a state of being constantly aware of God and what is right and wrong. From this awareness a person gains discipline, self-restraint and the ability to do good and give freely.

Ramadan is the month in which the first verses* of the Qur’an (divine scripture & Islam’s holy book) were revealed by God to the Prophet Muhammed (570-633 CE).

Ramadan, therefore, is the month in which Muslims re-acquaint themselves with the Qur’an by reading the entire text and contemplating its meaning.

First revealed verses of the Qur’an:
"Recite, in the name of your Lord, who created: Who created humankind from a clot of blood. Recite, for your Lord is most generous, Who taught by the pen, Taught humankind what it did not know."
(Chapter 96:1-5, translation from the Arabic by Thomas Cleary)

Who Fasts
All Muslims who have reached puberty are obliged to fast.

Exempted from the fast is anyone who is sick or traveling, women who are pregnant, nursing, or on their menses, or older people who are too weak. Anyone who is exempted must make up the fast later, except for those who cannot fast due to age or a chronic illness; instead they feed a poor person for every day they missed.

It is customary for children beginning around 7 years of age to perform limited or symbolic fasting -- fasting half a day or fasting on weekends. Masajid (mosques) often give special recognition to children who are fasting their first full day or first Ramadan. They are not required, however, to fast until they reach puberty.

Family Routines
The Muslim family usually rises about 5:00 a.m. before the first of dawn and eats a modest meal called suhur. After the meal, morning prayers are said and depending on the circumstances, the family goes back to bed or starts the day. Often a nap is taken in the late afternoon after work or school. At sunset (around 6:30 p.m.) a few dates and water are eaten to break the fast.

Breaking the fast is called iftar. Sunset prayers are performed and then a complete meal is consumed. Having guests over to break the fast together or going to someone else's house for iftar is very common during Ramadan. The family goes to the masjid (mosque) at about 8:30 p.m. for evening prayers and the special Ramadan prayer called taraaweeh. The family will be home by about 10:30 p.m.

Special Activities
Many masajid (mosques) host daily community dinners where Muslims can break their fast together. This is a great service for students, the poor and mothers who want a break from cooking. Almost all masajid have a community dinner on the weekends.

Special Ramadan prayers called taraaweeh are held after the evening prayer. During taraaweeh the prayer leader recites at least one thirtieth (1/30) of the Qur’an so that by the end of the month the entire Qur’an will have been recited. The Qur’an is about the length of the New Testament.

As fasting helps Muslims feel compassion for the hungry and less fortunate, food drives for the poor and other charities are annual events for some masajid in Ramadan. Muslims are encouraged to be the most charitable during Ramadan. Some masajid welcome non-Muslims to join them for their daily community dinner at the end of the fasting day.

Many masajid give special recognition to new Muslims who are fasting for the first time.

The night of majesty (lailat al-qadr), which falls on the 27th night of Ramadan is the most important night in Ramadan because the Qur’an was first revealed on that night, and the earth is filled with the power of spiritual presence. Masajid are open all night as Muslims hold vigil in prayer, Qur’anic reading and contemplation.

Special Food
The eating of dates to break the fast is the only strictly traditional culinary custom associated with Ramadan. It is interesting to note the suitability of dates for this purpose as they are a concentrated source of energy and easily digestible. Various Muslim countries have special dishes and desserts for Ramadan.

Benefits of Fasting
Doctors agree that fasting is extremely beneficial for lowering cholesterol and fat in the blood. Fasting is a means of purifying the body as well as the spirit.

Eid al-Fitr
At the end of Ramadan, Muslims hold one of their major festivals, called Eid al-Fitr or the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast (November 4th). A special prayer and sermon are held in the morning of the Eid day. Afterwards, a community celebration takes place, which is usually held in a park and that involves food and games for children. Relatives and friends will get together to celebrate, share food and give gifts to the children.

Last updated Monday, January 30, 2006 1:26 PM
Copyright© 2002-2003 OIS Midwest, All rights reserved.