Ramadan: The Holy Month Approacheth

As you might have noticed if you are a regular reader of my posts. I often try to introduce you to elements of my faith. I do this in the hopes that with repeated exposure you will come to better understand my faith and what I stand for.

In approximately 9 days the Holy Month of Fasting, Ramadan, will start and I wanted to share with you a little bit about it.

I have chosen an article from a travel blog to illustrate the point of view of a non-muslim that she may bring insight where someone as involved as me in the Islamic culture might not:

5 Ways A Traveler Can Embrace Ramadan

Posted By joyce-hanson On August 11, 2009 @ 8:02 am

Ramadan, a holy month of spiritual fasting, is an opportunity for travelers to experience Islam in a personal way. Here’s how to participate.
When the flight attendant turned down my request for wine with dinner shortly after the Royal Air Maroc jet bound for Casablanca took off last September, I realized my yoga retreat in Morocco would bring some travel surprises.

There was no booze on board—and every Muslim on the flight was observing Ramadan.

If you’re a practicing Muslim traveling in the Islamic world, you already know what to expect during the holy month of Ramadan. But if you have little knowledge of the holiday, like me, you may want to brush up on what this period of devotion and self-sacrifice means.

The appreciation of the holiday will open up some meaningful conversations with your local hosts and create some great travel memories. Follow these five tips, and you’ll enjoy a more spiritually engaged Ramadan travel experience.

1. Know the facts.

Ramadan, which takes place during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is a month-long period of patience, modesty and spirituality. In 2009, the holiday starts on August 21 and continues until September 19.

The Koran forbids food, drink, smoking and sex from sunrise to sunset during those 30 days. I learned this from my taxi driver in Agadir, and we spent my entire cab ride talking about how cleansing self-denial can be.

People who follow Ramadan, also called “submitters,” may eat and drink “until the white thread of light becomes distinguishable from the dark thread of night at dawn,” the Koran says. Then, submitters fast until sunset.

2. Practice self-restraint.

It’s easy to view travel time as free to be more self-indulgent than you would allow yourself at home. You’re on holiday and no one knows you in this foreign place, so why not?

But gorging can blind you to the significance of the event. And isn’t the whole point of travel to keep your senses open and awake to the world?

Fasting in Arabic is called “siyam” or “sawm,” which means, “to be at rest.” Suppressing your appetite is a form of prayer. Your quiet state allows you to come closer to God.

In Morocco, restaurants are open during Ramadan and some of them serve alcohol, so you won’t have any trouble finding food or drink. But be extra kind to your servers, who haven’t taken so much as a sip of water since waking up and are probably waiting to go home before they break their fast.

3. Seek community.

While in Agadir I visited the Kasbah d’Argan oil shop and, once again, found myself immersed in a conversation about the meaning of Ramadan. (Argan oil, pressed from the kernels of the indigenous argan trees that grow only in southwestern Morocco, is prized for its nutritive and medicinal properties.)

I told the shop’s owner about my yoga retreat and our daily sun salutations, and he responded by showing me a Salaah prostration with his forehead, knees, nose and palms touching the ground. The position looked strikingly similar to the Chaturanga Dandasana position of the sun salutation sequence I practiced every morning.

Now, I’m not saying that you have to prostrate yourself on the ground to make friends from foreign countries, but I do recommend seeking a sense of commonality through shared faith.

4. Share your water.
Nothing reflects the spirit of Ramadan better than performing an act of charity.

At the end of a long day of surfing on a beautiful beach with my yoga mates, we noticed a group of local teenage surfers collecting half-drunk water bottles from people as they headed home.

These guys had been observing Ramadan and surfing all day in saltwater—and they were parched. Once we spotted their need, we handed over as many bottles of water as we could gather together.

Nothing reflects the spirit of Ramadan better than performing an act of charity.

5. Breathe.

Because I was on a yoga retreat during Ramadan, I was constantly reminded of the blessing of breath. The yogic breath is even and deep, and paying attention to it reminded me that I was here, now, alive.

Similarly, Muslims perform Salaah , the fixed ritual of Islamic prayer, five times a day. During the prayer, worshipers focus on their breathing with each verse they recite.

In a Muslim country during Ramadan, life moves at a slower pace. Use the time to meditate and follow your own breath.

_______________________________

Just a little bit more information for those interested in knowing more.

1. The month of Ramadan is the month that the Quran (the Holy Book of Muslims) was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. The whole book was not revealed at once but was revealed over a period of 23 years. The first word from The Quran to be revealed was the order to “Read”.

2. Muslims follow a reward and punishment system. That is we believe that if you do a good deed Allah (God in arabic) gives you positive points (Hasanaat) and if you do an evil deed you are given negative points (sayi’at). In Ramadan the positive points are multiplied so it is always best to give more alms, perform more acts of worship and please Allah in as much as you can.

3. Ramadan is a month observed by most all Muslims. The sinners and the devout. So if you meet a Muslim you may wish him a “Ramadaan Kareem”

That’s it for now folks. I hope you enjoyed this little cultural trip and if you have any questions I’m here to answer to the best of my ability.

Incidentally if you are curious as to how Muslims are able to survive not eating from sun up till sun down… try it yourself… Take a day and try to fast (no food, no water, no sex, no profanity) from 4 am till 6 pm. Try it for a day.

We do it for a month 🙂

Mahmoud Taji

www.mahmoudtaji.com
www.arabicvo.com


5 Comments


  1. How wonderful it is Taji to get such insight into such a beautiful and sacred practice as well as a dear friend!

    Many blessings!

  2. There is so little we know about your faith. In college, I studied World Religions for a General Education requirement, and the Islam faith was covered as one of the five major faiths.
    Most people in our part of the world have never studied the Koran.
    It is sad that, because of incredibly tragic, catastrophic events in the past two decades, most associate the Islam faith with terrorism. Anyone with even a limited knowledge of the Islam faith realizes that terrorists represent an extremist faction that has distorted the Koran beyond recognition.
    True Islam believers would never support, promote, or encourage destruction of human life in the name of Allah or anyone else, for that matter.

  3. The misrepresentation of Islam is due to propagation of lies to the public. This is not something new and I you can read about the Demonization of Muslims in the press here and here.

    The fact of the matter is in Islam there is no separation of state and religion. Regardless of the political landscape today. Our laws and regulations have been set in stone for the past 1400 + years. We do not put country before faith… governments come and go, political agendas shift and new flags are designed and discarded on a regular basis. But God is always the constant. When our country goes to war it is our religious obligation to fight… which means that we will destroy human life to protect ourselves. When a police officer in the united states shoots a suspect to who is endangering the common good. His obligation stems from his moral standing and his affiliation to the state’s judiciary system the one that everyone turns to for the establishment of justice.

    Muslims (those that follow the religion of islam… or the islamic faith if you will) believe that all morals and laws originated from God. Was it not him that said thou shalt not kill… else murder would have been a frivolous thing… as they sometimes depict it in the cowboy westerns? Thou shalt not steal, commit adultery… for those that claim that they are “Good” people yet they describe themselves as athiest.. it boggles the mind that they borrow the concept of morality from the Revelations of Prophets then turn around and deny that this revelation is from God.

    I think the absence of someone from my faith who can speak to non-muslims in a language they can understand is part of the problem. But there is a new generation of people, like myself, who are part of both cultures and who have insight where others might not have. And we take it upon ourselves to demystify who we are and what we stand for.

    So for those of you who have questions … go ahead and ask me. If you would rather ask me privately you can do so by leaving me a message in the voiceover-casting.com mail system or go to the about section and send me an email

  4. I enjoy these teachings as much as the VO things. Maybe a little more, since spirituality, religion, God, is more important to me.

    Peace be with you. 🙂

    Wendy