Ramadan is a time for reflection, piety, and self enhancement. Some take this time for granted, but for many, Ramadan recharges the soul for the entire year.
In the United States, it is very easy for one to lose touch with Islam and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) not just in the holy month of Ramadan, but in everyday life. It is a real challenge.
So the question arises, how do Muslims living in America make it through Ramadan successfully?
As an American Muslim who was born and raised in the United States, I have experienced many challenges when fasting in Ramadan. Ever since I started fasting as a child, my classmates would ask me, why must I fast for this specific month, and till today, my non-Muslim friends and colleagues do the same.
I did not know how to answer this question until I got a bit older until heard this hadith of Prophet Muhammad:
“When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.” ( Al-Bukhari)
I realized then that fasting is not just about refraining from food and drink from dawn till sunset, but for a higher cause, it’s a chance to purify and cleanse our hearts.
It is a great feeling to be doing something for a higher calling and people around you don’t know about it, it creates a sense of humility, and that’s the essence of fasting as it’s totally between you and God.
Muslims in the U.S. have a great chance in Ramadan that is two-fold, because if people around them don’t know they are fasting, that is an excellent practice of self control and patience which strengthens faith.
Ramadan in the U.S. is a wonderful, special time as communities across the U.S. come together to rejuvenate their faith. Aside from its individual, spiritual benefits, it brings people together. This is an arduous task to achieve in a busy, materialistic society as the U.S.
In Muslim societies, everyday life differs completely in Ramadan, but in the U.S, life remains the same. This is the great challenge that one must overcome.
Rather than getting the privilege of starting work later or leaving work earlier, Muslims must continue on as if it was a regular day, unlike what happens in most Muslim countries.
This requires more strength and perseverance from the individual. Although the task is tough, God makes it easy. There are some days that one does not feel like fasting, but must put his/her faith in God and obey His orders.
In my opinion, the outcome of fasting is a stronger person who can overcome challenges and tribulations of life.
To conclude, Muslims in America have a great opportunity during the holy month of Ramadan to improve and renew their faith in God.
Fasting the holy month of Ramadan leads to the purification of the soul which brings us closer to God. Muslims should let the life of Prophet Muhammad be their guide.
Every challenge one overcomes gives more strength for the next challenge that must be overcome.
Fasting in America is certainly a test of faith and the greater the challenge is, the greater the reward from God.
I am blessed to witness and live Ramadan in the United States.