News

    Muslims Begin Ramadan Observance

    The month of Ramadan, the ninth month in the Muslim calendar and the holiest month of Islam, has begun. Muslims the world over have embarked on a month of abstinence, reflection, and soul searching. VOA's Amin Fekrat reports from Washington.

    Muslims once again started Ramadan under unique circumstances, this time beginning at almost the same time Americans were marking the six year anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks that were carried out in the name of Islam.

    President Bush took the occasion to send greetings to Muslims observing Ramadan, saying the United States is enriched by its Muslim citizens. There are estimated to be about 6 million Muslims in the United States.

    Imam Elahi, of the "House of Wisdom" in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, says he hopes the followers of other religions will listen to what the president said.

    "Islam is a religion of peace, and the president of the United States has said more than once that Islam is a religion of peace," says Elahi. "We have to continue to build bridges, as Islam does, because, if we have to 'talk the talk', we have to 'walk the walk.' This will help establish better communications between the United States and the Islamic world based on peace and justice and respect."

    Elahi says the condemnation of the terrorists and terrorism is absolute and without reservation under the Koran and the sunnah, the deeds of the prophet of Islam as recorded and passed to successive Muslim generations.

    Elahi says there is a spiritual dimension to Ramadan that is common among all the monotheistic religions, one that could become a more powerful source of strength and solidarity among all faiths. The imam says this bond may enable people to weather the storm of terrorism and the scourge of war. He says peace may not come through violence, but through the power of the human will to depend on God alone.

    Elahi speaks of the efforts made by the House of Wisdom, a large Islamic Center, to bring about understanding and commonality among the followers of many different religions.

    "The center makes presentations in different languages, open to all, Muslims and non-Muslims," noted Elahi. "It engages in charity work to help the hungry and the homeless. The center also makes an effort to encourage the non-Muslims to fast for at least a day and break their fasts with us, as an opportunity to experience the spiritual transformation and help develop a discipline in relationship with themselves, with God and their fellow human beings."

    During Ramadan, adult Muslims begin a fast - avoiding food, drink, and sex during daylight hours. They see fasting as a way to cleanse the heart from sin, selfishness, greed, pride, impatience and hypocrisy. They believe fasting brings appreciation for one's life and sympathy for those who suffer. The Koran does not require travelers, nursing mothers, the sick and soldiers on the march to fast - but these people are expected to make up the days missed, as the opportunity arises.

    Muslim leaders say the month is about experiencing a spiritual energy, which provides healing and harmony in the human family and creates a stronger personal discipline, a stronger community, and a stronger country.

    Muslims trace the origin of their religion to the year 610 AD. According to tradition, Mohammad Bin Abdallah, a member of the elitist Quraysh tribe from Mecca, received the first divine injunction on the "Night of Power" in the month of Ramadan.

    Muslims believe that Mohammad was suddenly engulfed by the divine presence commanding him to, according to the Koran, "Recite in the name of thy sustainer, the sustainer who has created humankind from germ cells."

    The holy month of Ramadan starts when the sliver of the new moon is sighted, to the satisfaction of each community or country. This explains the the difference in the first day of fasting among various Islamic countries.

    Like many other Islamic scholars, Imam Elahi believes that introducing certainty into the annual ritual of the sighting of the new moon would require resorting to science and seeking assistance from advances made in astronomy, aided by modern computers.

    Fasting, daily prayers, alms giving, Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca, the acknowledgment of the oneness of God and the mission of Mohammad as God's chosen messenger, make up the five pillars of Islam.

    Muslims believe the Koran emphasizes reason, perpetual search for truth, careful observation, contemplation, and transcendence above worldly pursuits. In the process of religious search, Muslims are to find the "signs" and the "clarifiers" that lead to God, as the eternal truth and the source of all existence.

    The religion-based Islamic quest became a foundation for scientific method. The discoveries made by early Islamic scholars advanced natural sciences, math, medicine and astronomy in the early centuries of the religion's expansion. Early Islamic scholars and scientists are also credited with preserving much of the classical knowledge of the ancient world.

    Since then, ethnic, tribal and cultural differences have superseded the Islamic injunctions for perpetual search. Many modern Muslims are convinced the rise of genuine Islamic revivalism as a positive force may once again place their communities on the right path.

    Many of today's Muslims are dismayed that their religion is tarnished by terrorism and violence. "Islam is a religion that teaches compassion," says Imam Elahi, "during Ramadan and throughout the year."

     

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora