A guest blog by LSSNCA Job Developer, Risham Tariq
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, and it is considered the holiest month of the year for Muslims because we believe this is the month in which the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) received the first revelation of the Qur’an, i.e., the words of our Creator, Allah. This year in the United States, Ramadan will begin on the eve of April 12 and culminate on the eve of May 12, 2021. Since the Islamic calendar is based on the moon’s cycle, the month starts and ends based on the sighting of the new crescent moon, and as a result, Ramadan falls about 11 to 12 days earlier each year and the month can last from 29 to 30 days. Muslims celebrate their devotion and worship this month with one of the major Islamic holidays known as Eid Al-Fitr.
During this month, Muslims who have reached the age of puberty, and are physically and mentally able to do so, will fast from dawn until dusk. Believers of the faith are required to abstain from food and drink and encouraged to increase their prayers, worship, as well as excel in performing good deeds such as giving charity, helping those in need, displaying excellent manners and character, and spreading positivity through their words and actions. Muslims are required to abstain from sins such as lying, gossiping, arguing, and spreading negativity. This is a month of self-reflection and spirituality, with the goal of purifying the mind, body, and soul, and attaining God-consciousness.
Muslims are encouraged to carry the good habits they established in these 30 days into their daily life, once the month has concluded. In Islam, Muslims believe that God grants a greater reward for good deeds during this month, thereby motivating believers to reap the benefits of this exclusive offer.
Ramadan is truly a month of blessings for Muslims. Oftentimes, you will hear Muslims say on the first day of the month that they can sense the peace and blessings in the air. Children welcome the month with arts and crafts activities, baking sweets, and decorating their home to promote the Ramadan spirit.
Ramadan is often the only time of the year when families and friends gather together for 30 consecutive days to enjoy suhoor, the pre-dawn meal, and iftar, the post-sunset meal together. For many Muslim families, preparing and enjoying suhoor and iftar are a grand event. Every culture has different traditions during Ramadan, whether it is a special food they cook, or eating iftar with the extended family. In Pakistani culture, it is tradition to rise before dawn and prepare the meal from scratch: parathas i.e., a layered flatbread made with flour, salt, ghee & water, chai or milk-based tea, omelets, and homemade yogurt. Iftar is typically a two-course meal in Pakistani households which begins with almond-filled dates, appetizers such as vegetable and chicken fritters, samosas, a triangle shaped pastry which contains meat or vegetable filling, fruit salad, followed by a meal of roti, a round flatbread, or basmati rice with the fresh curry of the day. For drinks, many Pakistani love to make rooh afza, a syrup based lemonade, which quenches your thirst upon taste.
Ramadan is a month of giving and sharing your blessings whether that be through food, money, time, or good words. This is a month of increased charity to help the most vulnerable in society including orphans, single mothers, refugees, asylees, and those in need. Many newly immigrated refugees and asylees are facing challenging times this Ramadan due to an inability to get jobs and earn a reliable and steady income, a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA) is providing funding for food and housing to many families so that they can enjoy this month in peace and ease. Your tax-exempt donations will make a huge difference in the life of a newly arrived immigrant family. Please open your hearts to support those in need during this blessed month. To learn how you can volunteer or donate to the mission of LSSNCA serving refugee and immigrant families, visit our website.