Ever wonder why Muslims fast during Ramadan? An effort to earn points with God? A way to get amped up to kill infidels? True devotion? Because it’s really easy to apply really wrong motives to people, I asked my friend Safwan about the “why’s” behind Ramadan. Safwan is a Fulbright scholar, an academic working in Indiana, and a native of Mosul, Iraq. He’s also the nice Iraqi I’ve ever met. You’d love to have coffee with him.
The following are Safwan’s words, edited for brevity.
I love how family and friends get together during Ramadan, inviting each other to their homes, celebrating together at the end of the month. People also get overly generous: Charity work is doubled, if not tripled, during Ramadan.
I enjoy the special midnight prayer when, despite all engagements and commitments, Muslims go to the mosque and pray together, standing in one line, shoulder to shoulder before Allah.
Ramadan is my yearly boot camp. I enjoy exploring my inner strength. Can I survive sixteen hours without food or water, while helping my family, friends and community, attending to work and daily responsibilities, all while doing my best to keep my temper in check? Ramadan teaches me to give food when I’m hungry, do good when I’m exhausted. Further, if I can survive a month refraining from pleasures that Allah has told us not to approach, maybe I can abstain from the worldly gains throughout my short life on earth.
Righteousness is the key here, we are sent down to earth to do good. One of the most striking lessons that I have from fasting is remembering the hungry and the poor and doing something to end it.
If you’d like to pray for Safwan and other Muslims during Ramadan, shoot me an email for a free, super-brief prayer outline.