Friday, June 3, 2016
According to most astronomical sources, a new moon will appear in the night sky this Sunday, June 5th. This is particularly significant to those of the Islamic faith because it marks the beginning of the month of Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic Calendar, and the month during which the Holy Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Mohammad, known to Muslims as God’s Messenger. The month of Ramadan, the most holy month of the Islamic year, is a time of spiritual reflection and contemplation.
Moon, Moon, come out soon
We’re out to see the Ramadan Moon
Clouds shift; fog lift! City put out your lights
We want to see the Ramadan Moon – tonight!
Lyrics from Ramadan Moon, a song by Yusuf Islam, Friends, & Children
The Islamic, or Hirji, Calendar is a lunar calendar based on twelve months, where the beginning of each month is marked by the sighting of the new moon. The month of Ramadan is the most holy month of the Islamic year. It is a time for giving thanks to Allah (God), and a time for a renewed focus on the umma, which in Arabic, means community. Working together in harmony for the sake of the community is a central responsibility in Islam.
Muslims observe the month of Ramadan by abstaining from any food or drink from sunrise to sunset each day.
Fasting is intended to teach self-discipline, restraint, and serve as a reminder of the poor and of those for whom food is scarce. Young children, pregnant women, women who are nursing, the elderly, and infirm are not expected to fast. Ramadan is a time for increased charitable giving and good works. It is also a time for connecting with family and friends.
During Ramadan, the morning meal (suhoor) is eaten before sunrise and the evening meal (iftar) is served after sunset when people come together to break their fast. The end of the month of Ramadan culminates in Eid al-Fitr, the celebration of breaking the fast, a joyous and festive time where families and friends come together and celebrate their closeness to God.
For Muslims, Ramadan is, indeed, a sacred time and the anticipation of the new moon sighting carries its own special significance. I was reminded of this when I recently heard the song, Ramadan Moon, by Yusuf Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens). The lyric video version of the song opens with children barely able to contain their excitement over the new moon:
“Hey where are you off to, what’s the rush?”
“I’m going up the hill to see the Ramadan Moon!”
Listening to this lively tune, I am easily caught up in the image of happy breathless children, racing uphill in joyful anticipation, hoping to be the first to witness the shining sliver of moon in the night sky.
I’ll be keeping this image in mind, as I look heavenward on Sunday evening.
Amelia El-Hindi Trail
Ramadan Moon by Yusuf Islam, Friends & Children; from the Album, I Look I See 2
Released: November 1, 2008, Jamal Records FZ LLC