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Why America Needs Ramadan Lifestyle

Why America Needs Ramadan Lifestyle

I think it is about time that American Muslims  and Muslim minorities in general flip the script and change the narrative about our values, religion, and existence in the western hemisphere.

It’s about time that we stop being apologetic and defensive, but in return highlight why the world cannot function well without us and without our beautiful religion.

Yes, America Needs Ramadan Lifestyle!

America benefits on various levels from the peace, harmony, and tranquility that results from having 3+ million Muslims observing the holy month!

Muslims here can utilize this opportunity and highlight their faith, identity, and contributions to the American fabric.

Here are some talking points to help in such discussions, and PLEASE feel free to comment and add your answer to the question highlighted in this article

Balanced Individuals

The struggle for human mindfulness, work-life balance, and holistic health is at its peak. Our human species is being invaded, literally, not by aliens and extra-terrestrial creatures, but by robots and smart machines that we created and promoted ourselves.

Apps that promote meditation and spiritual well-being are becoming increasingly popular even amongst the non-religious. (You may search for apps such as Buddhify, headspace, Stop breath and think).

What is piety?

The Islamic counterpart for mindfulness in Islamic terminology is TAQWA or piousness which adds God consciousness to the self-awareness component.

Hence, the Ramadan experience is that of minimizing temptations and distractions, restoring mind-body-soul balance, and reclaiming our humanness.

My dear fellow Muslim, the world should stop hearing you complain about not having your morning coffee!

Co-workers need to hear how Ramadan HELPS you become more human!

Furthermore neighbors have to see your smile in the day of Ramadan, despite the thirst and dehydration that you may be facing.

Your teachers, coaches, and students should see in you a living example of the Qur’anic verse where Allah Subhanahu wa ta`ala says:

{And if you fast, it will be better for you, if you only knew} (Al-Baqarah 2:184)

Connected Families

It is becoming increasingly impossible to bring the whole family together for simple and basic activities, including a single meal! The virtual world has sucked our attention from those who deserve our love and care and in effect increased our loneliness and isolation.

The Ramadan lifestyle brings the whole family together at the dinner table.

The entire family breaks its fast at the same time on dates, prays Maghreb (sunset prayer) together and then continues its meal with some Ramadan specials.

It later heads off  together for Taraweeh and other spiritual activities.

They also wake up early before the dawn for Suhur! These simple moments of quality family time that we take for granted are what many families are craving.

The Iftar invitations for friends and extended family members may cause some trouble to our already busy schedules and tight finances. Nevertheless they create an unmatchable chemistry and bonding between relatives and cousins.

They bring the family to Allah and worshiping Him. Regardless of their level of religiousness, family members are brought together.

A Garment in the Night of Fasting

On a different note, it never ceases to amaze me how Allah Subhanahu wa ta`ala mentions marital relations amongst the five Ayahs about Ramadan and fasting:

{It is made lawful for you to go unto your wives on the night of the fast. They are raiment for you and ye are raiment for them} (Al-Baqara 2:187)

Think about it for a second: out of all the verses of the Quran, ONLY 5 verses talk about Ramadan and fasting! That may seem too little for an important pillar of the Muslim faith.

Not only that, even within those five verses, there are some discussions, which may seem to the superficial reader of the Qur’an as “irrelevant” to the theme of Qur’an and fasting.

In the above mentioned verse, Allah talks about how intimacy is permissible between a man and his wife during the nights of Ramadan, and goes beyond that to mention the beautiful analogy of how a wife and a husband are garments to each other.

The ideal family according to Qur’anic principles is the one that joins love and friendship to worship and spirituality. It is not EITHER-OR, it is BOTH-AND relation!

The Ramadan product is a healthy and connected family, and once again these concepts and many others need to be communicated to our fellow citizens!

Merciful Community

On a larger scale, the Ramadan experience is that of donation, community service, and charitable projects.

In the UK, A poll of 4,000 participants was conducted in 2013 by the JustGiving website revealing that nearly four in 10 atheists did not donate compared to three in ten Muslims.

While “religious charities” such as Muslim Aid and Islamic Relief benefited most, many donations also went to the likes of Cancer Research, Macmillan and the British Heart Foundation.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was  the most generous man and he reached the peak of his giving and generosity during Ramadan.  In this blessed month, when he studied the Qur’an with angel Gabriel, the Prophet used to be “more generous and faster in giving than the blowing wind [that brings rain].”

I understand that the title of this article may seem provocative to some; Muslims have their own challenges and issues to work on and are in no way an ideal community.

However, we firmly believe that ISLAM is IDEAL. Islam is the way for humanity to end war, poverty, racism, oppression, and extremism.

In times when Muslims are demonized by the media and Islamophobic tendencies, the month of Ramadan comes as another opportunity for Muslims to present a true image of Islam and to show some of the great aspects of Islam and Muslims.

What are your thoughts, personal stories, or suggestions on how to seize the opportunity of Ramadan to reach out to non-Muslim neighbors and colleagues?

How can the effect of Ramadan on individuals, families, and communities be highlighted and communicated? Please share views in the comments section below.


About Dr. Mohannad Hakeem

Mohannad Hakeem, Ph.D. Research Engineer - Engine Controls Research and Innovation Center Ford Motor Company

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