The full Ramadan experience is back — we hope | Sun Sentinel

by Samir Kakli

(Originally published in Sun Sentinel on April 9, 2022 and can be accessed here)

Muslims are directed to perform devotional acts throughout the year, but fasting is given a particular importance. The concept of fasting isn’t new, as it has forms in other revelations. The Quran says, “Fasting has been prescribed for you, as it was prescribed to those before you (e.g., Christians and Jews) so that you attain piety” (2:183). In the Islamic method, fasting entails the cessation of all food and drink from dawn to sunset for the entire month of Ramadan.

Since you can’t eat, fasting is difficult in the beginning. But after a few days hardship and adjustment, something happens. It becomes easier to withdraw from worldly matters. You learn to suppress your ego and allow your soul to rise. Other acts like regular prayers and charity then become easier during fasting. It’s like getting in the zone. Ramadan is a yearly boot camp enabling us to stop our bad habits and rack up as many good deeds as possible. These include removing a piece of broken glass from the sidewalk, feeding the hungry, caring for the orphan and even simply smiling at our neighbors. This boot camp becomes like an annual course correction — as we drift away from God throughout the year, Ramadan is the phone app that is rerouting us back to our life purpose.

So far, this may all sound a little boring. But Ramadan is anything but! There’s a second aspect of Ramadan, which is the community spirit that comes alive. Mosques are filled every night with a sense of celebration and joy. We see friends and loved ones throughout the month, eating and praying together. And of course, the Eid festival at the end of the month is the largest gathering of the Muslim community throughout the year, wearing our best clothes and exchanging gifts, like a Muslim version of Christmas. The day of Eid serves as our graduation from the course of Ramadan.

Community interaction is the part of Ramadan that was dearly missed during COVID. Instead of praying at the mosques with friends, we were isolated in our homes. But finally, many mosques throughout South Florida are not only resuming nightly prayers, but some are starting back the nightly ‘iftar’ meals held at the mosque, which is the meal to break the fast at sunset. There are even open houses at mosques around South Florida that welcome anyone to come and visit — a schedule of these can be seen on the South Florida Muslim Federation’s website, soflomuslims.com.

This year, the South Florida Muslim community just held its first regional conference, in part to prepare for Ramadan — both by words of inspiration from scholars and shopping at the bazaar to get ready early for Eid. The conference, attended by nearly a thousand people, made clear that people are prepared to get out again. Let us hope that COVID stays away for good, so we all can be part of our respective communities and be there for each other.

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Samir Kakli is president of the South Florida Muslim Federation.

samirkakli
Author: samirkakli

South Florida Muslim Federation President

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