Rumee Ahmed, assistant professor of Islamic studies in the Dept. of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies, discusses Ramadan, which begins July 9.
What is the significance of Ramadan?
Ramadan is a month in which devout Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. The Qur’an mentions that fasting was intended to create a heightened state of God-consciousness, but it has taken on diverse meanings over the years. Muslims might see fasting as a way to develop self-discipline, build communal solidarity, or have compassion for the less fortunate.
Ramadan signals a moment for Muslims around the world to collectively engage in pious practice. Though Ramadan is not the most religiously significant event in the Islamic calendar – that honour belongs to the Hajj and its attendant Eid al-Adha celebration – it is certainly the most practically significant in terms of its impact on daily individual and communal life.
How does the Muslim community reach out to non-Muslims during Ramadan?
Non-Muslims are regularly encouraged to experience some aspects of Ramadan, especially in North America. Most commonly, they are invited to participate in the evening breakfast with local communities, and to raise money for the indigent through fast-a-thons and other fundraising events.