Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Ramadan will begin in a few days, and I thought this was a very good press release from an organization I am involved with.

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
The Muslim community in America and around the world will begin the month-long fast of Ramadhan (rom-a-don) very soon. Ramadhan will either start on Friday August 21st or Saturday August 22nd depending on moon sighting. Ramadhan is the month on the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims abstain from food, drink and other sensual pleasures from break of dawn to sunset. The fast is performed to learn discipline, self-restraint and generosity, while obeying God's commandments. Fasting (along with the declaration of faith, daily prayers, charity, and pilgrimage to Mecca) is one of the "five pillars" of Islam. Because Ramadhan is a lunar month, it begins about eleven days earlier each year.


Fasting is compulsory for those who are mentally and physically fit, past the age of puberty, in a settled situation (not traveling), and are sure fasting is unlikely to cause real physical or mental injury.

EXEMPTIONS FROM FASTING (some exemptions are optional):
Children under the age of puberty (Young children are encouraged to fast as much as they are able.)
People who are mentally incapacitated or not responsible for their actions
Those who are too old to fast
The sick
Travelers who are on journeys of more than about fifty miles
Pregnant women and nursing mothers
Women who are menstruating
Those who are temporarily unable to fast must make up the missed days at another time.

Special prayers, called taraweeh, are performed after the daily nighttime prayer.
Lailat ul-Qadr ("Night of Power" or "Night of Destiny")marks the anniversary of the night on which the Prophet Muhammad first began receiving revelations from God, through the angel Gabriel. Muslims believe Lailat ul-Qadr is one of the last odd-numbered nights of Ramadhan.

Breaking the daily fast with a drink of water and dates
Reading the entire Quran during Ramadhan (For this purpose, the Quran is divided into 30 units.)
Social visits are encouraged.

EID UL-FITR ("Festival of Fast-Breaking") Prayers at the End of Ramadhan
Eid begins with special morning prayers on the first day of Shawwal, the month following Ramadhan on the Islamic lunar calendar, and lasts for three days.
It is forbidden to perform an optional fast during Eid because it is a time for relaxation.
During Eid Muslims greet each other with the phrase "Eid Mubarak" (eed-moo-bar-ak), meaning "blessed Eid" and "taqabballah ta'atakum," or "may God accept your deeds."
There are an estimated 10-15 thousand Muslims in Oregon and SW Washington and about 7-10 million Muslims in America and some 1.5 billion worldwide.


Q: How did the fast during Ramadhan become obligatory for Muslims?
A: The revelations from God to the Prophet Muhammad that would eventually be compiled as the Quran began during Ramadhan in the year 610, but the fast of Ramadhan did not become a religious obligation for Muslims until the year 624. The obligation to fast is explained in the second chapter of the Quran: "O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint...Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Quran, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting..." (Chapter 2, verses 183 and 185)

Q: What do Muslims believe they gain from fasting?
A: The main benefits of Ramadhan are an increased compassion for those in need of the necessities of life, a sense of self-purification and reflection and a renewed focus on spirituality. Muslims also appreciate the feeling of togetherness shared by family and friends throughout the month. Perhaps the greatest practical benefit is the yearly lesson in self-restraint and discipline that can carry forward to other aspects of a Muslim's life such as work and education.

Q: Do people normally lose weight during Ramadhan?
A: Some people do lose weight, but others may not. It is recommended that meals eaten during Ramadhan be light, but most people can't resist sampling special sweets and foods associated with Ramadhan.

Q: Why does Ramadhan begin on a different day each year?
A: Because Ramadhan is a lunar month, it begins about eleven days earlier each year. Throughout a Muslim's lifetime, Ramadhan will fall both during winter months, when the days are short, and summer months, when the days are long and the fast is more difficult. In this w ay, the difficulty of the fast is evenly distributed between Muslims living in the northern and southern hemispheres.

Q: What is Lailat ul-Qadr?
A: Lailat ul-Qadr ("Night of Power") marks the anniversary of the night on which the Prophet Muhammad first began receiving revelations from God, through the angel Gabriel. An entire chapter in the Quran deals with this night: "We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power: and what will explain to thee what the Night of Power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by God's permission, on every errand. Peace!...This until the rise of morn." (Chapter 97) Muslims believe Lailat ul-Qadr is one of the last odd-numbered nights of Ramadhan.

Q: Isn't it difficult to perform the fast in America?
A: In many ways, fasting in American society is easier than fasting in areas where the climate is extremely hot. This year at least, the number of daylight hours will be less than when Ramadhan occurs during the spring or summer. In Muslim countries, most people are observing the fast, so there are fewer temptations such as luncheon meetings, daytime celebrations and offers of food from friends. Many American M uslims would prefer a daytime work shift during Ramadhan so that they may break the fast with their families and attend evening prayers.

Q: How can non-Muslim co-workers and friends help someone who is fasting?
A: Employers, co-workers and teachers can help by understanding the significance of Ramadhan and by showing a willingness to make minor allowances for its physical demands. Special consideration can be given to such things as requests for vacation time, the need for flexible early morning or evening work schedules and lighter homework assignments. It is also very important that Muslim workers and students be given time to attend Eid prayers at the end of Ramadhan. Eid is as important to Muslims as Christmas and Yom Kippur are to Christians and Jews. A small token such as a card (there are Eid cards available from Muslim bookstores) or baked goods given to a Muslim co-worker during Eid ul-Fitr would also be greatly appreciated.

Hospital workers should be aware that injections and oral medications may break the fast. Patients should be given the opportunity to decide whether or not their condition exempts them from fasting.

Islam in Oregon and SW Washington --- The Facts

There are an estimated 10-15 thousand Muslims in Oregon and SW Washington. The Muslim community in Oregon and SW Washington is made up of people from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds and national origins.

The US population of Muslims is 7-10 Million.

Muslims are active in all walks of life.

There are close to 15 Centers (Masajid and Organizations), and Islamic schools in Oregon.

There are over 2,000 mosques, Islamic schools and Islamic centers in America.


ALLAH - Allah is the Arabic word for "God." It is the same word Arabic-speaking Christians use when referring to God. Allah is not the20"Muslim God," but is the same God worshipped by Christians and Jews.

FUNDAMENTALIST - Muslims view the label "fundamentalist" as stereotypical and ill defined. Muslims also object to the use of terms such as "radical" and "extremist." These terms lack definition and are seen as pejorative. More neutral and objective terms include "Islamist" or "Islamic activist." If
the person in question is involved in a criminal act, name that act, not the faith of the person who commits the crime.

JIHAD - "Jihad" does not mean "holy war." Literally, jihad means to strive, struggle and exert effort. It is a central and broad Islamic concept that includes struggle against evil inclinations within oneself, struggle to improve the quality of life in society, struggle in the battlefield for self-defense (e.g., - having a standing army for national defense), or fighting against tyranny or oppression. The equivalent of the term "holy war" in Arabic is "harb muqaddasah," a term that cannot be found in the Quran or the Prophet's sayings (hadith). There is no such thing as "holy war" in Islam, as some careless translators may imply. It is rather a loaded medieval concept that did not arise from within the Muslim community. Because of this myth's frequent repetition, most people in the West accept it as if it were a fact.

WOMEN'S RIGHTS - Under Islamic law, women have always had the right to own p roperty, receive an education and otherwise take part in community life. The Islamic rules for modest dress apply to women and men equally. (Men cannot expose certain parts of their bodies, wear gold or silk, etc.) If a particular society oppresses women, it does so in spite of Islam, not because of it.

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