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Best wishes to Muslims celebrating Ramadan June 29
Too many misconceptions about Muslims and Islam in America
By Ray Hanania
Muslims around the world will celebrate Ramadan, the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar, fasting in observance of their faith.
The commemoration of their faith begins with the first sighting of the new Moon and continues for the full cycle of the lunar calendar’s 9th moon, just over 29 days, to the last sighting of the moon.
Muslim religious leaders, Imams, expect the first crescent of the Moon to appear on June 29th and continue through July 28th. Similarly to the calendar of the Jewish religion, which is also based on the cycles of the moon, the commemoration of Ramadan moves each year and changes start dates.
During Ramadan Muslims will fast during the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, abstaining from all food, drink and physical needs during the daylight hours. (In some cases involving health, Muslims may consume water and bread. The elderly, sick, and mentally ill and pregnant women, women during the period of their menstruation, and women nursing their newborns, are exempt from the fasting.)
Muslims are called upon to evaluate their lives and also their adherence to the precepts of Islam. The word “fast” in Arabic, swam, literally means to “refrain” but not only from food and physical desires, but also from evil, anger and enemies. Oftentimes, Muslims will extend their hands in friendship to their enemies.
For Muslims, Ramadan is a spiritual event.
Ramadan is cited in the Islamic Holy Book, the Qur’an (Koran), which might be compared to the Christian Bible or the Jewish Talmud. The Qur’an represents the thoughts and directions of the Prophet Muhammad (Mohammed) as passed on to him by Allah, which is merely the Arabic word for “God.”
Like Christians and Jews, Muslims believe in “one God” and shun idols. Muslims also believe in many of the same Biblical prophets of Judaism and Christianity including Moses, Abraham, and Jesus.
Ramadan also has special religious significance to Muslims. Muslims believe the first revelation to Muhammad occurred during the last 10 days of Ramadan. One night, usually an odd numbered date in the Islamic Calendar in this period is called Laylat al-Qadr (or Night of Power)which represents the holiest night of the Muslim Calendar.
The holiday Eid al Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and the breaking of the fast period. Eid in Arabic means “holiday.” It also marks the beginning of the next month in the Islamic Calendar, the month of Shawwal.
According to the popular website TheEid.com, One meal before the sunrise called suhoor and one after the sunset called Iftar might include delicious food items such as Fig and lemon chicken, Nutritional lentil soup, Moroccan soup, Beef meatballs, Tomato sauce, Fresh fig cake, Rich semolina cookies.
Another holiday celebrated by Muslims is the Eid al Ahda, or the highest holiday which comes later and commemorates the day that the Prophet Abraham submitted to God and prepared to sacrifice his first born son, Ismael, who many believe is the father of the Arab people. Isaac, his younger brother, is viewed as the father is the Jewish people. Eid al-Adha is often called the “Festival of the Sacrifice” and it lasts four days.
Each night during Ramadan, when the sun sets, Muslims break the fast with an Iftar. Muslims usually break the fast by consuming Dates. In the Arab World Mejdool Dates are considered sacred, although Arabs boycott the dates produced by Israeli settlers and are distributed under false names to disguise the theft of the land and property from Palestinians occupied in the West Bank. Online, you can get information on dates made by Palestinians in Palestine by visiting www.PalestineDates.com.
Lamb is the chosen meat of Arabs and during the daily evening Iftar.
There are more than 1.5 billion Muslims in the World including nearly 8 million Muslims in the United States.
If you want to greet a Muslim in a respectful manner, you would say As-Salamu alaikum, which means “Peace be unto you.” A greeting during Ramadan would be “Ramadan Kareem.” There is never any shame in being respectful to other people and doing so in their tradition.
Ramadan is also considered a time to be charitable and Muslims will donate hundreds of millions of dollars, and also food and clothing, to charitable causes in the form of “Zakat.”
In the 1990s, the word “Ramadan” became one of the most popular choices for the name of new born male babies by Muslim couples, next only to the name Mohammed.
Many Muslim businesses will publish advertisements celebrating Ramadan and acknowledging in the mainstream the importance of the holiday to Muslims and to being an American.
To join in celebrating the breaking of the fast at Iftar and at the Eid al Fitr, you can meet after dusk at a local American Arab restaurant, or you can prepare Middle Eastern foods that include, lamb, rice, chick peas, olives, extra virgin olive oils, hummus, falafel, tabouleh salad, and many other great Middle East food recipes.
One source for great recipes is at the website of Ziyad Brothers Importing, one of the largest distributors of Mediterranean and Middle East food items. The website is www.Ziyad.com.
To all the Muslims during this important religious holiday, Ramadan Kareem!
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and columnist. He is the managing editor of The Arab Daily News at www.TheArabDailyNews.com.)
This post has been viewed 6030 times.
Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and for TheArabDailyNews.com, and TheDailyHookah.com.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com
Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com www.arabnews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
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