Ramadan 2012: A HuffPost Community Observation Of The Islamic Month Of Fasting (LIVEBLOG)

07/20/2012 03:05 pm ET | Updated Aug 18, 2012

Ramadan is a month of fasting observed by Muslims, and is considered to be one of the holiest times of the year. It was established as a Holy Month for Muslims after the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in 610 CE on the occasion known as Laylat al-Qadr, frequently translated as "the Night of Power. The sacred time of year is upon us, and starting today HuffPost Religion will update this page daily with prayers, reflections, verses from the Qur'an, poetry, songs and blogs, to help you growth spiritually during this time, and highlight the diversity of the Muslim community.

HuffPost Religion invites you to share your reflections and experience during Ramadan with us. Did you have a spiritual revelation during Ramadan? Are you a Muslim who is fasting for the first time? Are you a non-Muslim who is fasting Ramadan? Were you tempted to steal a bite or drink some water during your fast? These, and more, we would love to highlight on this blog.

If you are interested in contributing, please send an email to religion@huffingtonpost.com, or tweet us @huffpostrelig. We look forward to hearing from you, and Ramadan Mubarak to all!

UPDATE: Submissions should ideally be personal stories about observing Ramadan and between 150-300 words in length.

UPDATE 2: Thank you for sharing your honest, introspective Ramadan stories and reflections with us. We are accepting your personal stories and reflections on Eid al-Fitr. Submissions should be between 150-300 words in length, and will be accepted till Tuesday, the 21st of Aug, 2012.

08/22/2012 5:37 AM EDT

Ramadan, God and a Hookah Lounge

Ramadan has ended. When the sun rises, I will awkwardly look upon the spread of baked goods covering every flat surface in my kitchen and sneak a bite. For a moment I’ll feel guilty, as a matter of fact…I’ll probably feel guilty eating in the daylight hours for these few days of Eid celebration before those remnants of my Ramadan rhythm have passed.

This Ramadan was different for me in a lot of ways, as opposed to spending as many iftars as I could with my friends and keeping busy through the day with trips to different cities and hard hikes…I spent most (if not all) of my time obsessively job-hunting to no avail and trying to be as productive as possible. I started that well before Ramadan. Daunted by the responses I received, my house became a tense place to be.A few nights before Ramadan, just to get away… I took to the local hookah lounge, Wicked Mirage. My venture there wasn’t for the questionably permissible tobacco, but for what Hemmingway described as “a clean, well-lighted place.”

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-- Abdul Rehaman-Bassa (@ARBassa)

08/21/2012 6:17 PM EDT

Eid al-Fitr in India

eid

Afghan vendors living in India play a traditional game with coloured boiled eggs to celebrate Eid al-Fitr in Kolkata on August 21, 2012.

Credit: AFP PHOTO by Dibyangshu Sarkar

08/21/2012 5:54 PM EDT

A Ramadan Lesson

@ miss_habibti :

If you stopped something in Ramadan because you believe it’s haraam, why would you continue it once Ramadan is over?

08/21/2012 4:14 PM EDT

I Don't Believe In God But I Believe In Ramadan

I grew up surrounded by Muslim culture. It was subtle –- the red carpets on which my mother prayed, the early mornings to the mosque only on Eid, my childhood memories of my mother reciting the Quran when she was in the shower -– but it was enough to influence me as a person.

Despite my Muslim influence, fasting during Ramadan was never a requirement for me. My mother was diabetic, my father irreligious; neither of them fasted. When I did participate in Ramadan, it had little to do with religion and much more to do with being a person. I came to know Ramadan as a simple act of empathy -– familiarizing myself with what it felt like when I didn’t have everything I ever wanted.

No, I have never experienced a spiritual awakening during fasting, and no, I have never heard the word of God. But as an atheist, I can still recognize the power of patience, humility and empathy. I return to a primitive state, when all I can think about is food, food, food. And my greatest achievement during those days is when I learn to live my life not without those thoughts –- despite them. Through that achievement, I felt calmer and, ultimately, more confident. I believe not in God, but the power of the mind. My greatest accomplishments have always been mental. If I could go through high-school soccer conditioning without water, then hell, I could do anything.

I continue to strive to be a better person, and through Ramadan, I have always found both strength and compassion. I am a woman who doesn’t believe in God but still believes in Ramadan, a small and temporary sacrifice that I participate in just to feel just a little more human, when I forget what it’s like to be good.

-- Hayat Norimine

08/21/2012 4:01 PM EDT

Going To Eid Prayers After A Pub Crawl The Night Before

I woke up with what felt like a pile of rocks over my head. My mom abruptly came into my room, asking for the hair dryer. My eyes were still closed as she went on and on about me needing to get up for Eid prayer.

I had done a pub-crawl the day before with a group of friends and was feeling extremely hung over. Of course she didn’t and won’t ever need to know this.

I dragged myself out of bed and stared at myself shamefully in the mirror. I didn’t fast a single day. I couldn’t even keep up with my own version of Ramadan, which consisted of not drinking for the whole month.

I greeted my father at breakfast with a hug and an Eid Mubarak. He was happy to see I was going to prayer. I’m surprised he didn’t say anything patronizing since I didn’t fast. He’s a devout Muslim and heart patient. And he fasted at least twice a week.

We piled into his car. My dad was repeating a prayer in Arabic every 30 seconds. I tried to drown his voice by chugging three bottles of water. Finally, we arrived at the convention center in downtown Dallas, and I was feeling a little clear headed.

This is probably one of the best experiences of people watching. You’ll see the Algerian family with six little boys, all wearing the same outfit and hats. Or the Pakistani family with their lavish outfits.

My mom and I parted from my brother and father and made our way to the prayer hall. We shuffled around and found a nice corner next to two elderly Turkish women.

Within 30 minutes, the prayer hall fell silent as the Imam started the prayer. Standing shoulder to shoulder with my “sisters,” I clasped my hands to my chest and closed my eyes. I felt safe. I opened my eyes. It was incredible to see 15,000 people standing together, in the name of God. A wonderful sensation came about me, and I hope to reconnect with Islam.

-- Sahar Mehdi

08/21/2012 12:04 AM EDT

Eid al-Fitr in the West Bank

eid

Palestinians enjoy a ride in an amusement park during the second day of Eid al-Fitr in the West Bank city of Jenin, Monday, Aug. 20, 2012.

Credit: AP Photo by Bernat Armangue

08/20/2012 10:08 PM EDT

During Ramadan, A Race For Heaven

My heart is racing. I can hear it beat, fast, strong, and I can almost feel the rush of blood roaring past my ears. My mind goes blank, and I forget my surroundings. I can’t remember what I had for iftar. The sound of a baby’s wails fades out as the imam’s voice replaces it, filling every inch of my mind, each ayah echoing in the silence of the masjid.

The shuffles, the snuffles, my neighbor’s perfume, the masjid’s whitewashed walls, I no longer hear, or smell, or see. My senses are busy. After all, I am in the race of my life, a race for which the prize is beyond any worldly pleasure, as is worth more than my soul. I am in the race for jannah, for heaven.

The rules of this race are quite simple, and everybody is allowed to join. You do not need special skills, or physical strength, or mental intelligence, only belief in One God, Allah, and his messenger, the Prophet (peace be upon him). There are many winners, and there are losers. And once a year, we are blessed with Ramadan, the holy month given us to help in this race.

Allahu Akbar

I bow in submission to my Creator. A feeling of euphoria fills my chest.

Subhan Rabi Ala’lah, subhan rabi ala’la, subhan rabi ala’la, I silently chant.

Ya rab (Oh God), give me al-jannah. Ya rab put me in the highest levels of heaven. Ya rab, cure the sickness in the world!

Allahu Akbar

It was in Ramadan, that beautiful month, that taraweeh took place. There were 11 successive rak’at in all, with the final one ending in dua’ah. And it was in taraweeh that I found myself lost in a strong feeling of faith. Taraweeh is an important step in the race toward jannah, and I would not miss those 45 minutes.

Allahu Akbar

I raised my hands toward the sky.

Allahuma ishfee mardhana. Allahuma, heal our sick, and help them in their difficult times, grant them patience and strength, grant their loved ones patience.

Aameen! There were other voices now, that I could hear, other voices; male and female, young and old, praying along with the imam, answering with a resounding aameen that filled the mosque with unity, and togetherness. We were one in that moment, sharing pains, sharing joys, and molding together to form one voice that shook the windows with its power. Oh the beauty of Islam! What mattered whether I was rich or poor, white, black, brown, red, yellow, or any other color? I was a Muslim, and that is what mattered.

Allahuma qawee ilmuslemeena fe kul makan. Allah protect Muslims everywhere, give them strength in their faith. Allahuma qina min ‘athab ilnar, Allahuma qina min ‘athab ilnar, Allahuma save us from the flames of Hell. Allahuma dakhilna iljannah, Allahuma give us Heaven, we ask no higher!

Aameen!

Allahuma taqabal siyamana wa qiyamana wa salatina wa dua’ainah! Ya Rab! Accept our fasting and our prayers, and answer our dua’ah, for You are the Most Magnificent, the Most Merciful; there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad, peace be upon him, is the messenger of Allah.

Allahu Akbar.

Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatu Allah. Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatu Allah.

As I finish, my heart slows down. The whitewashed walls come back to focus, and I begin to feel the pain in my legs; I’ve been standing for a while now. My mind begins to sharpen and, wait. I forgot to bring my mobile phone! Oh, no, oh no. What will I do without it? And will someone please give that baby a bottle? It’s been wailing since for ever, where’s its mother?! The woman on my right is sniffling, poor thing, she has a cold. Weird, though. I didn’t hear her during prayer. Or the baby, come to think of it. Probably the dua’ moved both of them.

It does that to people.

As these trivial thoughts race through my mind, my senses dragged cruelly back to earth, I smiled. What wouldn’t I give to have that peace wash over me again, for the imam’s harmonious voice wash over me again!

Well, I suppose there’ll always be tomorrow, and the day after. And next year’s Ramadan, inshAllah. And the Ramadan after that! I love being a Muslim.

Now, where did I put my shoes again?

-- Johara Almogbel

08/20/2012 9:47 PM EDT

Praying All Night At The Rooftop: A Moment Of Ultimate Surrender

I spent the entire night at the masjid -- praying, dhikr, aunties talking about daal (lentils), the whole shebang. The only other sister there had told me about the roof and the spectacular view it came with. For someone who is scared of heights, I love rooftops. The feeling of fear and awe that comes with them is exhilarating.

I've grown accustomed to making dhikr after my salaah while lying on my back and looking up at the ceiling. It allows me to slow down and simply breathe while taking in His mercy. There's something about the ceiling that numbs my senses until I no longer become distracted by them. At that point, it's just me and Him. After returning from the rooftop to the musulla, I prayed for a bit, made dhikr in my usual way, and then I realized that I could take a piece of tarp up to the roof and be with Him there. This was the best decision I've made thus far. Laying on that piece of tarp, looking up at the sky I could see the stars -- a sight I am rarely blessed with in this amazing city. There's something to be said about the sky -- it's beautiful during the day, but it's breathtaking at night. There are many ahadith that speak of the answering of du'as at this time but I never truly understood it until now. Just looking at the sky and realizing how vast it is and how tiny I am but knowing that even then, even then, He knew what was in my heart and had managed to give me everything I had never even asked for. I can't speak to the infiniteness of His glory because "infinite" doesn't even begin to truly justify Him. At that moment in ultimate surrender, a shooting star appeared in the sky and vanished just as quickly. The tears did not stop flowing because they could not. I did not know why but I knew that I had to keep running after Him.

-- Sujana Khan

08/20/2012 9:34 PM EDT

A Ramadan Reflection

@ ammarmali :

If you find yourself feeling freed from the burdens of Ramadan, are you any better than satan who was recently released from his shackles?

08/20/2012 8:03 PM EDT

This Ramadan I Woke Up Expecting Nothing More Than An Update Of Death Toll In Syria

This Eid was like any other day for me. I was born into a Muslim family in Nigeria and I have fasted during Ramadan for as long as I can remember. This year was different because I did not fast. The excitement that usually precedes Ramadan was missing this year and I had no motivation to fast. I felt l was losing my religion. It made me unhappy.

My imam once told me Islam is the religion of peace. Looking back at the last two years proved otherwise. The political unrest in Muslim countries contradict that. Hollywood movies contradict that. News reports contradict that. I watched on Bloomberg TV a Hindu man talk about his community. He made a statement about they [Hindus] were tolerant and lived in peace with Muslims in their community. If Islam is really the religion of peace, why can't everyone claims to find for the cause of Islam put down their guns? Why was it "breaking news" that Bashar al-Assad, Syrian president, attended Eid prayers at a Damascus mosque?

This Ramadan I woke up expecting nothing more than an update of the death toll in Syria. For the same reason, when I woke up on the day of Eid, I look forward to the English Premier League. The Chelsea FC win put a smile on my face. It was the only place I witnessed peace amidst differences. Not among my Muslim brothers, but on the football pitch.

-- Adeshina 'Tunde, Nigeria

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