Illinois Muslims Prepare for Ramadan

ROCKFORD – Ramadan is around the corner and Muslim families in Rockford, Illinois, are getting ready to welcome the holy month with fasting, prayer and charity.

“It’s something that draws people of faith closer to God, and there’s a greater, deeper spiritual reflection,” Arshad Shaikh, past president of the Muslim Association of Greater Rockford, told RRStar.com on Wednesday, June 1.

“It’s a very festive time of year.

“At sunset, there is a very warm atmosphere where everybody gets together.”

Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, kicks-off on June 6.

In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.

Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to become closer to Allah through prayer, self-restraint and good deeds.

It is customary for Muslims to spend part of the days during Ramadan studying the Noble Qur’an.

Many men perform i`tikaf (spiritual retreat), spending the last 10 days of the month exclusively in the mosque.

Welcoming the holy month in the Rockford area, Muslim families are preparing for a month of fasting from dawn to dusk, spiritual reflection and prayer.

During Ramadan, the number of attendance at the five daily prayer at the Muslim Community Center and Mosque could reach 300 compared with an average 200.

Shaikh added that Muslims tend to recite from the Quran, Islam’s holy book, during the holy month.

“It’s a very remarkable time throughout the world,” Shaikh said.

According to Shaikh’s wife, Aisha, they train their children’s “hearts” so they “choose to be kind (and) they choose to give to those who are less fortunate.”

Remembering her first fast, around the age of 10, which lasted just a few hours, she recalls the joy she felt when she broke the fast with her family.

“It was an accomplishment for me,” the 37-year-old Rock River Valley resident said.

“I felt very secure and very happy. It’s just really beautiful.”