Count Your Blessings
Cont’d from page 1
No Hardship in Religion
Not only has God given us this great blessing of fasting in Ramadan, He is also compassionate in accommodating every kind of situation. For example, “if one is ill or traveling, an equal number of other days may be substituted. Those who can fast, but with great difficulty, may substitute feeding one poor person for each day of breaking the fast…” (2:184). Of course, if one volunteers to do more righteous works, it is better. GOD wishes for us convenience, not hardship, that we may fulfill our obligations, and to glorify GOD for guiding us, and to express our appreciation (2:185).
God knows us better than we know ourselves. He is the One who created us. Even though He gives us alternatives to perform our responsibility when we are unable to fast, He emphasizes that if we can fast, it is best for us (2:184). We know that “God never burdens any soul beyond its means....” (2:286) and that “The remembrance of God is the most important objective….” (29:45).
Physical Benefits of Fasting
Besides nourishing our soul, the real self, fasting also has numerous, scientifically proven benefits for our physical health and the mental well-being of our body. The time, length and nature of the fast all contribute to its overall positive effect. Fasting gives our digestive system a rest and improves our physical health. In his book “Fasting and Eating for Health,” Joel Fuhrman, M.D. notes that “The fast does not merely detoxify; it also breaks down superfluous tissue—fat, abnormal cells, atheromatous plaque, and tumors—and releases diseased tissues and their cellular products into the circulation for elimination. Toxic or unwanted materials circulate in our bloodstream and lymphatic tissues, and are deposited in and released
from our fat stores and other tissues. An important element of fasting detoxification is mobilizing the toxins from their storage areas.”
Lunar Islamic Calendar
A lunar calendar is a calendar that is based on phases of the moon. The only widely used purely lunar calendar is the Islamic calendar or Hijri calendar, whose year always consists of 12 lunar months (9:36). A lunar month is approximately 29.5 days, which is the time it takes for the moon to orbit the earth. Because a lunar month is, on the average, one day shorter than a solar month, a lunar year is 10-12 days shorter than a solar year. Therefore, the Month of Ramadan comes 10-12 days earlier each year. This way we get to fast when the days are very warm and long in summer as well as when they are cool and short in winter. This beautiful design by God is also a test for us to see if we will fast regardless of the length or temperature of the days of Ramadan.
When is Ramadan?
The Muslims during the time of Prophet Muhammad did not have the technological advantage we have today. They needed to see the crescent moon before they started fasting. God tells us that He rendered the sun and the moon as calculation devices (6:96, 10:5, 17:12, 55:5). We have the technology to determine precisely when the different phases of the moon will appear for any given month, now or in the future, according to the design of God. So we don’t need physical sighting of the moon to decide when the month of Ramadan will start or end. We can easily verify it for ourselves using the resources available for us. God has given us the hearing, the eyesight, and the brain, and we are responsible for using them (17:36).
What is an Islamic Day?
The Islamic day is the same as the Hebrew day. It begins at sunset and ends at the next sunset.
In this system, the night comes before the day. Therefore, in some traditional Islamic countries, when they talk about, for instance, Friday night, they are in fact referring to Thursday night because that night actually belongs to Friday according to their definition of a day.
The new moon times to be used for determining the beginning and ending of Ramadan are given below for UT (Universal time) or also known as GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).
10:02 a.m. on August 20 (UT)
6:44 p.m .on September 18 (UT)
The actual time for each time zone is relative to UT. In order to calculate the Ramadan start date, compare the time of the New Moon with the Sunset in your location. If the new moon is before sunset, you should fast the next day, God willing.
Similarly, to determine the last day of fasting, compare the time of the next New Moon with the sunset in your location. If the new moon is before sunset, the month of Ramadan is complete on that day. Otherwise one needs to fast the next day.
Therefore, God willing the first day of Ramadan is August 21, 2009, and the last day of Ramadan is September 18, 2009 for North and South America. For other parts of the world, Ramadan ends one day later on September 19, 2009. However, it is a good idea to check your local sunset times to verify these dates, especially if you are in Western Europe or Western Africa.
The Night of Destiny (Night of Power) will be, God willing, on September 15, 2009, starting at sunset.
Happy, peaceful and blessed Ramadan to all, God willing.