As we approach the month of Ramadan, starting on Monday, I think of the poor who will indeed fast for the day but will not know if they will have something to break their fast with at sundown.
When I look around me and see so many people fullfilling a commandment from God, I am in awe and humbled.
Egypt is often referred to as "Um al Donyia" or Mother of the World. And she sure feels like it especially during the month of Ramadan. I have talked to many travelers and they all agree that Ramadan in Egypt is something they have never experienced anywhere else.
Try to imagine Cairo just before sunset, usually its a bustling city of close to 18 million people, busy streets, packed taxis and buses, yet in Ramadan, as soon as the sun sets, and the call to Magrib prayer is called, the streets are completely empty and still.
The silence would be eerie if it weren't for the fact that it is indeed beautiful when you stop to think about it.....
I mean imagine all these people going to pray to God at sunset (and five times total throughout the day) to thank Him for their day and other things they are grateful for. Then breaking their days fast whether it be a humble small meal along many of the streets set up for poor people to eat for free or a lavish dinner at a 5 star hotel. The contrast is amazing and yet all of these people are doing the same ritual, fasting for the sake of God, no matter how poor or rich, young or old, it is amazing.
Then about an hour or so after eating iftar, or the fast breaking meal after sunset, the streets get CrAzY! On the one hand you have many folks going to the m.os.que to pray Taraweah prayers, extra night prayers that are only performed in this month of Ramadan and on the other hand you have many folks who go to one of Cairo's THOUSANDS of cafes for a shisha (water pipe) and drinks, sometimes staying out until sunrise the next day. The contrast, yet again, amazing and is what makes Cairo, Cairo.
So, whatever your belief, or not, try to respect those who do believe in something. While we don't always have to agree with each other, and don't for sure, take a minute this week to find out a little bit about those who are different than you. You never know, if a few of us take the time to actually meet someone different and find out about others we just might make a small impact in making our world a better place... or at least our place for now.
The Month of Ramadan
Ramadan is the month of fasting for Muslims the world over. Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse from dawn to dusk for the duration of Ramadan. For some, fasting may appear as a form of deprivation and of bodily exertion. On one level, abstaining from sensual needs and pleasures is indeed a physical experience. But those who stop at the physical aspects of fasting miss the essence of Ramadan and its purpose.
Fasting the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. These are the foundation upon which the entire structure of Islam is built. These consist of the declaration of faith, prayer, fasting Ramadan, paying of Zakah (the annual charity payment), and performing the pilgrimage to Makkah, known as hajj.
Three of the five pilars of Islam are rituals, that is, prescribed religious acts whose rationale is not immediately available for understanding. These are prayer, fasting, and hajj. Muslims are required to do them because they are part of their religious duties, that is, they are part of their covenant with God.
As a ritual, fasting is a symbolic act whose meaning becomes gradually apparent through experience. The meaning embodied in a ritual is always unveiled when one immerses himself or herself in the act itself. This does not mean that fasting is not open to intellectual delineation, but rather any intellectual delineation either presupposes or predicts a meaning that can best become apparent through performing the symbolic act itself.
If you would like to finish reading about Ramadan, the rest of the article is here