During Ramadan, especially during these final ten days of the month, Muslims strive to increase our good deeds and worship. This includes sharing resources and donations very generously with each other. Almost every time you turn around someone is donating to the masjid (mosque), giving Sadaqah (charity) to anyone in need, paying Zakat (almsgiving that is one of Islam's Five Pillars), volunteering their time to help others, or sharing food to feed those who have been fasting. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said that 'Charity is the proof of our iman (faith)." If someone starts to make us angry, we are taught to say "I am fasting, I am fasting" as a reminder to stay focused on spiritual discipline, and that Ramadan is no time for disputes.
I am struck, سبحان الله (subhanAllah - Glory be to Allah) by how Allah has blessed our masjid with wonderful food for Iftar. Especially in the past few days, we've felt the increase in the community's generosity. I am deeply saddened whenever I hear a select few of the community complaining about the food, as if there is not enough. It is haram (prohibited) to be ungrateful, and is shameful behaviour during Ramdan. This month is an incredibly important time to remember the needs and hunger of the global Muslim community, and to respond with generous donations to organisations such as Human Appeal International, Islamic Relief USA, and Muslim Aid.
|The men's table of food for Iftar (breaking the fast).|
|Women's table of food for Iftar.|
|Our food for Iftar depends largely on what people bring to donate. Last night was 1/2 banana, some walnuts, watermelon, 3 dates, and donuts or bread. Another shot of the women's table.|
|White and sweet milk juice and water.|
|More dates and bananas that we prepared for Iftar.|
A number of Muslims along the way have expressed that they find the requirement to abstain from food and water for such long periods to be cruel and unreasonable. Non-Muslims are usually particularly disturbed by Muslims abstaining from water for the majority of day, and during the hot summer at that. But the reality is that the Muslims feels inexplicable joy in obedience, despite thirst and hunger pains throughout the day, if we even feel them. I said before that I'm teaching and working throughout the day, and yet at sundown, my mouth is still moist. This is a gift from Allah. If the fast of Ramadan were too extreme a request, Allah would not require it.
Narrated Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him): The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion, will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by offering the Salat (prayers) in the mornings, afternoons and during the last hours of the nights." [Sahih Al-Bukhari, 1/39 (O.P.38)]
Our prayer during these final days is a plea for forgiveness from Allah:
We learn that the names encapsulating Allah's profound willingness to forgive us imply that Allah is fully aware of our sins, and yet chooses to overlook them out of mercy. Not only that, but Allah's name Al-'Afuww (the Pardoner) when paired with Al-Ghafoor (the Forgiver), emphasises that Allah forgives no matter how great our sin. See Al-’Afuww: Who Forgives In the Last 10 Nights? on Allah's forgiveness during Ramadan and The Night of Power (Laylat’l-Qadr): Step by Step Guide. Our prayers for forgiveness our not merely words - we increase our generosity and good works and we increase our prayers to strive for forgiveness. We recite specific dua's (prayers) in remembrance of Allah, as a sign of our desperation and need for Allah's mercy (see Step by Step Guide above). Such guidelines for worship and prayers for forgiveness remind me of Saint Maybe, a book that I read back in college, in the sense that forgiveness is a profound relationship with the actions we take to earn forgiveness, and the mercy of God which makes forgiveness possible.
This recitation is that of a 22 year old Bangladeshi Imam who is reciting Quran during Tarawih prayers these last ten days of Ramadan at 96th St.
سبحان الله (subhanAllah - Glory be to Allah) I love listening to the recitation of Al-Quran. The best moments are when I hear portions of Quran that I have memorized and studied myself, and can appreciate the depth of meaning. But even when I listen to the Arabic recitation, I'm overcome by a strong sense of the miracle and gift that is the Quran. I lady I met recently commented that when she reads the Bible she feels too distracted by the number of writers and their humanity involved in the text. This is a major difference to me between 'reading' (or listening to) the Quran and reading the Bible. The Quranic text has not changed since its revelation to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) 1400 years ago. The Quran is the same across all borders and sects of Islam. And Islamic scholars readily highlight the clear distinction between the language of Al-Quran, which comes from Allah, and the language of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in Hadith (that which is attributed to the Prophet (SAW) as regards words, actions or approvals, physical features and characteristics). This distinction emphasizes that the language of Quran is not that of a human being, but that of Allah.