Month of Ramadan
I am sitting here wondering where the time went. We began fasting on June 5/2016 and tomorrow (July 6/2016) is Eid! Ramadan is a month of fasting for Muslims world wide.
It begins on the first day of Shawwal in the Islamic calendar and it starts with the sighting of the new moon. Ramadan goes according to the lunar calendar so every year, the date changes. Growing up, as a child, I can remember waking up early mornings; often times when it was still dark out. Glorious smells of delicious foods like chicken curry and mutton accompanied by roti (flat bread) would be made early morning by mom and we would gather around the table to eat.
The proper name for this “waking up early to eat” is called Suhur. Growing up our parents always taught us strategies of eating foods that would slowly release into our digestive systems to try and keep us full and drinking lots of water and gatorade to keep us hydrated. During winter months, the days are shorter so the breaking of the fast (aftaar) is quicker, sometimes as early as 5 p.m. This past month, being that it’s been summer, the days were 17 hour long in terms of going without food. We would be breaking our fast around 9:08 pm! Breaking of the fast is traditionally done with eating of the date first.
Everything in Between
During fasting, once we had eaten in the early mornings, we “end” our fasts and this generally occurred at approximately 4:50 a.m. From this time until the time we would break our fast (sunrise to sunset) we pray 5 times a day with prayer at different times throughout the day.
The goal of Ramadan is to not only abstain from food, but it is to be aware, very conscience of what we say, our actions. We are supposed to try to be at our very best in terms of behaviour and mannerisms. I will admit, Because days are so long, it is very easy to feel hungry and of course, thirsty. When we feel the pangs of hunger however, we are reminded that at the end of the day, we will be breaking our fast with an abundance of food. Often times, feasts of food. We are reminded that there are hungry people in the world that fast every day because they have no other choice. They do not have food they way we do. My parents taught us the meaning of Ramadan is to give charity to the poor, and to fast so that we may also know what it feels like to be hungry and be thankful for what we have. I always tell my friends I feel like Ramadan is king of like Western Thanksgiving Day (a day to be thankful) except we have 30-31 days of self reflection, being thankful, giving to charity and fasting.
Eid al-Fitr is the proper name for the festival of breaking the fast. This occurs after the month of Ramadan is complete. I can remember very fondly looking forward to Eid. After all, our parents would buy us all new clothes and shoes, we would get lots of presents and money and chocolate and candy. We would look forward to getting our hands decorated with lovely henna tattoos. It was wonderful! On Eid day we would have a lovely light breakfast and all go the Mosque for early Eid prayer. Following the prayer, we would hug family and friends, enjoy some food and then come home. Traditionally, our parents always had family and friends come over to our house later in the day for a huge feast of food and fun.
I have preserved this tradition and taught my kids all about fasting and Ramdan too. The important thing I learned and have taught my children is that it is not about the food. It is the lesson that we should be so thankful for our friends, family, health and of course for the fact that we have an abundance of food every day. There is never a day that goes by that we stay starving. What a blessing! So that being said, I have a check list for everything that needs to be done for Eid. I am almost done shopping, cooking etc. Most items on my list are checked. I can’t wait for tomorrow and spending time with my family. Life is good!
I began working at Trusted Clothes in early June and it is has been quite a journey. Majority of my time here so far has been during the month of Ramadan and I have not only been observing fasting, but also learning about amazing issues like sustainability, eco-friendly choices for shoes, clothes, underwear, bug spray etc! My eyes have been opened up to issues around the world like slave labour and working for a living wage. My journey here so far has been such a wonderful one because all of these issues hit close to home for me. Looking at it from the perspective of a consumer, I do not want to be buying things like t shirts for instance by children as young as 6 and 7 years old. I could not imaging my children doing this and I cannot ethically buy garments or other things knowing this now. Many of these innocent, exploited children do not get an education or even the very basic things in life like clean water and food. Most often, they are starving and get paid next to nothing for their very gruelling work in slave conditions. I am so happy and proud to be a part of this very amazing organization. It has opened my eyes and mind to many things. I have already began to teach my kids about a lot of these issues and my hope is we can continue to raise awareness and try and make our world a better place to live.