Ramadan: The Month of Fasting and Giving
What is Ramadan?
“Ramadan is by definition a time of sacrifice, where Muslims fast during the daylight hours all month, abstaining from all food and drink and other such practices. It’s a time to purify the soul, refocus attention on what’s important, and practice self-discipline. Unlike many other holidays, where people indulge, Ramadan is a time to show restraint” (Western Union Global).
Although “Muslims can fast at any time. Ramadan though is the only time of year when fasting is obligatory. Fasting improves self-control and discipline, also abstaining from bad habits such as backbiting, cursing, and fighting. And while those are forbidden all year long, in Ramadan, abstaining from them is absolutely crucial.
Muslims also fast to show solidarity with and compassion for the poor. Fasting allows them to experience hunger and thirst – even if just for a few hours a day – and motivates them to be more charitable and helpful to those in need” (Shawky, 2017). Muslims usually wake before dawn to take a small meal called “suhoor” and exert more effort in worship, praying, contemplating, helping others, giving charity, reciting the Quran (the holy book of the Muslims). The fast starts during sunrise where Muslims begin their day by eating healthy to have the stamina for the long day. Muslims are encouraged to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, especially during hotter months. “At sunset, Muslims break their fast, usually with a big meal with family and friends. Many Muslims also attend the mosque at night, to engage in special night prayers called “Taraweeh”” (Why Islam).
What is the significance of charity (Zakat) in Ramadan?
Charity (Zakat) is an integral part of the Muslim faith and, like fasting, is one of the five pillars of Islam. Muslims are reminded to be generous and increase their charitable activities/donations during this month. “One type of charitable giving, which is known as Zakat, is obligatory for those who are financially able. There are two types of Zakat: Zakat al-Mal, which requires Muslims to give at least 2.5% of their assets to the poor and hungry, and another type, smaller in amount but for the same purpose, known as Zakat-al-Fitr which Muslims are required to pay before the commencement of Eid al-Fitr” (Charity Navigator).
Can I donate my required zakat to Sonia Shah Organization (SSO)?
Absolutely! SSO is zakat compliant and accepts payments in multiple forms. You can donate online at: https://soniashahorganization.com/donate/
Where does my charity go?
Your contributions help us do two things:
- Run the Sonia Shah Memorial School in Kangra, Pakistan and educate girls who would not otherwise get the chance to change their lives, and
At the Sonia Shah Memorial School, it costs $300 to educate a girl for a year. It can cost $5000 to $20,000 per college student here in the U.S. Please consider one of these meaningful amounts as your contribution this year for Ramadan!
- Provide college scholarships to underprivileged women in the US.
In addition, SSO also provides college scholarships to underprivileged women in the US. Almost half of the donations we receive go towards helping women empower themselves through education.
How do underprivileged Muslims around the world survive Ramadan?
Unfortunately, Ramadan can be a time of hardship for many Muslims, especially younger children who need more nutrition. Many Muslims also face dizziness and other health concerns due to weather, long work hours and lack of proper dinner. Ramadan can be especially hard for younger girls who may be in the age of menstruation, young motherhood, etc. In addition, many underdeveloped countries also have a hard time providing basic necessities such as clean water, electricity, and shelter to many of their citizens. SSO also strives to overcome some of these issues. If you are interested in helping, please donate here: https://soniashahorganization.com/donate/
Why does Ramadan begin on a different day each year?
“Because Ramadan is a lunar month, it begins about eleven days earlier each year. Throughout a Muslim’s lifetime, Ramadan 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 way, the difficulty of the fast is evenly distributed between Muslims living in the northern and southern hemispheres” (Why Islam).
How can non-Muslim co-workers and friends help someone who is fasting?
“Employers, co-workers, and teachers can help by understanding the significance of Ramadan 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 Ramadan. 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 are 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 might break the fast. Patients should be given the opportunity to decide whether or not their condition exempts them from fasting” (Why Islam).