Mr Ameerali Abdeali, President of MKAC and Honorary Secretary of the IRO (see below) offering dates to Sister Geraldine Tan, FDCC, at the interreligious gathering to participate in ‘iftar’. Photo by Joyce Gan
RAMADAN COMMEMORATES THE revelation of the Quran to Prophet Mohammed. It takes place in the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar and this is determined by astronomical calculations. An Islamic calendar is produced by Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS) in Singapore. This year, Ramadan will run from Aug 22 to Sep 19.
During Ramadan, Muslims are obligated to abstain from food, drink, sex, cigarettes and impure thoughts from sunrise to sunset. Hence, a Muslim usually awakes before the sun rises for a light meal before his morning prayers; the rest of the day is spent without food and water.
At the end of the day, Muslims break fast (Iftar) by eating a date, as the Prophet Mohammed is believed to have done. But this is not a religious practice. Rather, there is a practical reason for breaking fast with a date – the body needs sugar after being without food for some time.
Breaking of fast can be done at home, at mosques or at void decks of apartments.
Muslims consider the practice of fasting a spiritual exercise. By fasting, they are able to experience the struggle, misery and suffering of the poor, and to form a solidarity with them. Still, it is not meant to be an occasion for unhappiness, but to be celebrated with joy.
Muslims are also encouraged to use this time of fasting to purify themselves and to concentrate on the Islamic teachings. The Ramadan experience would also encourage Muslims to appreciate God’s gifts of food and water more.
All Muslims from the age of 12 are expected to fast. Exceptions are made for those whose health may be at risk from fasting, for the very old, and pregnant women. Travellers and women who are menstruating are allowed to fast at a later date.
Ramadan ends with Iid Al-Fitri (Hari Raya Puasa), when Muslims celebrate by praying in mosques in the morning, before visiting their elders, relatives and friends.
By Joyce Gan