Life in the ‘fast’ lane

A day-to-day journey on the road of Ramadan

FELICIA C. HANEY | 7/17/2013, 2:23 p.m.
So what exactly is Ramadan?

Living in a culture known for its overindulgence, most can’t fathom the thought of voluntarily giving up sustenance from the breaking of dawn to the setting of the sun each day – abstaining from food, drink, contact with the opposite sex and all deeds considered unlawful – during fasting hours for an entire month. Wednesday, July 10 is the first of the holy month of Ramadan. Throughout this month, billions of Muslims worldwide will uphold this religious duty.

So what exactly is Ramadan? Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar lasting 29 or 30 days – depending on the sighting of the new moon. It is believed to be the month the Holy Qu’ran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) by the angel Gabriel. In honor of this historical and divine event, the month of Ramadan is set aside for not only fasting but also reading, reciting and memorizing the Qu’ran. During Ramadan, Muslims divert their attention from daily living to focusing on their faith. Muslims observe strict rules, especially during the daylight hours, which are meant to instill discipline, teach patience and humility. Ramadan is a month of remembrance – remembrance of God and the deeds one should be performing year round to come closer to Him as well as remembrance of those less fortunate who don’t have the convenience of indulging in food at any given time of the day.

Sounds like a daunting task. But for a billion Muslims this is the time of year they look forward to most. For Mukhtar Shaheed, assistant Imam at Masjid Al-Mumin, it is a time he wishes to chronicle and share with the rest of the world. As a result, he will blog a daily posting on everything about his Ramadan experience from what he ate for breakfast, the obstacles of keeping his cool, what he’s reading and what he hopes to eat for dinner called “30 days of Ramadan.” All posts can be found on the Call and Post’s Facebook page (Facebook.com/callandpost) as well as his personal page (Facebook.com/mukhtar.shaheed). So be sure to embark on this journey with him by reading along.

What Shaheed hopes to show is that by cutting oneself off from worldly comforts, even for a short time, a fasting person gains true sympathy with those who go hungry as well as growth in one’s spiritual life. It is also a time of reflection of past deeds as well as a time to seek guidance and assistance to become a better Muslim through intensive worship, alms giving and self-control. “Last year I took [my Facebook family] on a journey with me about the holy month of Ramadan, fasting and basic principles about my religion of Islam practiced by over one billion people on the earth. I will be doing it again and welcoming any questions that people may have. Islam is the fastest growing religion (20,000 + a year) and some people are trying their best to demonize it,” said Shaheed referring to the post 9-11 emergence of Islamophobia.

Muslims think of Ramadan as a means to enter paradise based on words and practices of Prophet Muhammad called Hadiths as well as verses stated in the Qu’ran. The Qu’ran states in reference to fasting that “Ramadan is the month in which was sent down The Qu’ran as a guide to mankind, also clear signs for guidance and judgment between right and wrong. So every one of you who is present at his home during that month should