The Islamic observance of Ramadan started Tuesday night.
Dr. Wali Kharif is the President of the Upper Cumberland Islamic Society.
“The significance of Ramadan is Muslims believe it was on the first day of Ramadan, or at least in the month of Ramadan the first revelations of the Quran are revealed to our prophet Mohammad back in the seventh century,” Kharif said. “The Quran is the book that we consider being God’s word. So what we do, because it is required in the Quran, we fast the whole month during the daytime.”
Ramadan marks the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. The Islamic calendar follows the lunar cycle.
Ramadan starts on a full moon and ends on the next full moon. Khalif said Ramadan never last more than thirty days and never ends before twenty-nine days.
Kharif said Ramadan serves as a time to reflect.
“More importantly, it is a time where each individual can have an opportunity to reflect. The whole point of Ramadan is to reflect on where you are at this point in time. Assess what your strengths are and what your weaknesses are.” Kharif said, “And try to bring yourself closer to God in the sense of trying to be good to other people, trying to be charitable, trying to make the world a better place.”
Kharif said he recommends people to eat something small before they start fasting to recognize they will be fasting.
Kharif said fasting contains more than just not eating.
“In the Quran, there are a few things that we are ordered to do. One of those is fasting. Fasting is more than not eating. The easiest thing about fasting is not eating or drinking liquids,” Kharif said. “Fasting also includes watching what you say and being of the best conduct that you possibly can. And studying the word of God and trying to understand it, and trying to apply it to make the world a better place.”
Muslims partake in Iftar. Iftar happens when a group of people comes together to eat and break the fast each night.
“Here in the US families will sponsor a dinner and invite people over. We encourage gift exchanges. If there are people you haven’t seen in a while if you can possibly contact them by phone or otherwise, contact them,” Kharif said. “Like I said, it’s very similar to the spirit you find here in the United States between Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
At the end of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr takes place. Eid al-Fitr is a large celebration to mark the end of fasting. Kharif said the Upper Cumberland Islamic Society will start preparations for the Eid al-Fitr in the coming weeks.