Ramadan Explained by Community Liaison Jinan - SHIM

Something is always happening at SHIM

Ramadan Explained by Community Liaison Jinan

Cropped Jinanby Jinan Hassan, SHIM Community Liaison

Ramadan is beginning and the Muslim community will observe fasting every day for thirty days. As this is an important time for our community, I would like to share more about the holiday.

In Islam, we believe five main things. We believe in God. We pray five times per day. We fast. We visit the house of God. And we give charity.

The purpose of the holiday is to feel what our less fortunate neighbors may feel. By fasting, we gain a deeper understanding about what it feels like to be hungry. We don’t eat any food or drink (including water) from sunup to sundown. Fasting makes our bodies feel clean. It makes me think of the new health trend of fasting!

When we fast, we may feel tired and dizzy. Sometimes we feel angry easily. We try to rest, since we have less energy for activities. I support my children by cooking a big early breakfast for them before letting them go back to sleep until school starts. I also encourage them to nap when they get home from school before waking them up to eat after sundown. If you have Muslim friends or colleagues celebrating Ramadan, try to be encouraging and understanding. Ask them “How do you feel?” or smile at them even if they seem less animated. That is a good way to let them know you support their choice to celebrate the holiday. Feel free to wish them “Happy Ramadan”.

Ramadan follows the Islamic calendar which is based on the cycles of the moon. For this reason, it can be in different seasons. Since we fast from sunup to sundown, the time of year can increase or decrease this period by hours. This year, we are a bit unlucky as the time change will occur right before the holiday begins, extending the daylight by an hour. This means we will have to wait until later in the evening to eat or drink. Wish us strength!

Along with fasting, we think about giving to others. It is important that our charitable spirit is done with dignity. We avoid providing items in a manner that highlights disparities between what we possess and what others lack. We share. If I have something to give to a neighbor, I will tell her, “I want to share this with you.” She may share something with me in return. Even if I give her an expensive gift, she understands that she can give me something within her means. It is how we help to address inequalities.

In our religion, we count all our good deeds and bad deeds in this life. Each bad deed will bring one bad thing in the next life, but each good deed brings ten good things in the next life. We live our lives working to do good deeds so that we will be rewarded in the next life.

Because we fast during the day, we like to celebrate at mealtime after the sun sets. My family goes to the mosque almost every Saturday to eat with other families in our community. Sometimes, we gather with other families in our homes. Everyone brings food and we sometimes gather the women and men in separate houses, so the women can remove their headscarves and relax together.

At the end of Ramadan, we celebrate with gifts. Three days after Ramadan ends, we give our children gifts of clothing, toys, and money. They look forward to this part of the holiday!

I am thankful for the welcoming atmosphere at SHIM, where I work. With deep interfaith roots, SHIM is accepting of all religions and cultures. SHIM embraces people of all faiths and encourages others to be as open-minded. This allows me to feel free to practice my religion without fearing judgment.

When I am fasting, my colleagues understand and are respectful. I am not alone in my fasting either, as many of the families who come to SHIM programs are Muslim. Together we share our experience and support one another. Even SHIM’s food pantry supports our celebrations by bolstering the supplies they share with Muslim families for the holiday. Much like Thanksgiving and Christmas pantry distributions, families celebrating Ramadan are allowed a few extra items, as they will be hosting friends and family.

It is important to understand one another’s cultures and holidays. We learn so much from each other and often realize our shared practices of helping others and building community. If you are interested in learning more about Ramadan, check out this PBS article.

Translate »