In most of the Islamic world Ramadan the ninth month of the Muslim Calendar, began Thursday at sun down. The date is calculated by the first sighting of the crescent after the New Moon. Since this can vary in different parts of the world, so can the marked beginning of the month. In the United States the western calendar date was April 23.
Ramadan was the month in which the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to the Prophet Mohammad.
The month of cleansing as the faithful rededicate themselves to Allah by emphasizing patience, humility, and spirituality by an absolute fast observed by all Muslims over the age of puberty each day between dawn and dusk. The observant are also called to be more reverent and fervent in prayer. During Ramadan the entire Qur’an is often read in mosques in 30 installments.
Customs connected to the Ramadan observance vary somewhat culturally and between Sunni and Shi’a traditions. In more secular Islamic countries evenings after the fast are often filled with feasting and entertainment, while attendance to evening services following a modest breaking of the fast is customary in more traditional societies. Acts of charity to the poor are encouraged
The holiday of Eid-al-Fitr marks the end of the fasting period of Ramadan and the first day of the following month, after another new moon has been sighted, 29 or 30 days after the onset of Ramadan. This is the most festive of Islamic holidays and is marked by the donning of new clothes, feasting, and family gatherings.
There a rich traditions of poetry in both Arabic speaking societies and in Iran, formerly Persia which is the spiritual center of Shi’a Islam. Poets have been considered to have a special duty to speak to social and moral conditions and to hold rulers to the high standards of Allah. While they are often revered by the masses they are often harassed, imprisoned, or even killed by unamused religious and state authorities.
Kazim Ali is a British born Muslim of Indian descent. Educated in the United States with a B.A. from University of Albany-SUNY, and an MFA from New York University. Ali’s poetry collections include The Far Mosque (2005), The Fortieth Day (2008), Sky Ward (2013), and Inquisition (2018). Today’s selection, Ramadan, comes from The Fortieth Day.
You wanted to be so hungry, you would break into branches,
and have to choose between the starving month’s
nineteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-third evenings.
The liturgy begins to echo itself and why does it matter?
If the ground-water is too scarce one can stretch nets
into the air and harvest the fog.
Hunger opens you to illiteracy,
thirst makes clear the starving pattern,
the thick night is so quiet, the spinning spider pauses,
the angel stops whispering for a moment—
The secret night could already be over,
you will have to listen very carefully—
You are never going to know which night’s mouth is sacredly reciting
and which night’s recitation is secretly mere wind—
Ramadan: A Poem was written by Musa Burki and was found on the website Virtual Mosque.
Ramadan: A Poem
A time for our hearts to become unsealed
Reflecting on the divine words revealed
The month which we hope to never end
Unable to count the infinite blessings it sends
Asked by our Lord to give up our worldly pleasures
So that we may receive His divine treasures
It’s a time that comes but once a year
Yet the moments which we hold most dear
The nights spent in prayer and reflection
Prepares the soul for redemption
Praying to our Creator for mercy and wisdom
Pleading to be admitted into His kingdom
We welcome you, O Ramadan, with joy as our guest
Having to subdue our egos as a test
You mend our hearts and give us tranquility
As we engage in battling our iniquity
Solidifying the bonds of kith and kin
Washing away the stain of sin
Fasting not only of body but of speech
It is Your benevolence which we beseech
O Ramadan, you have blessed us with your presence
Teaching us to grow from our spiritual adolescence
Continue to be the month which will always bless
Helping us to alleviate our fears and distress