Monday, July 23, 2012

Ramadan for Intelligent People

Noor Janan's  Ramadan 2012 post begins with Preparation for Ramadan

I don't really like the title of those "for Dummies" books, yes I may be lacking in the sense of humor department. But I don't think being inquisitive is being dumb. So I have decided to name this post, Ramadan for Intelligent People because if you are here, reading my blog, you have to be intelligent :-)

Ramadan is only one month out of 12 that follows the lunar cycle. That is why Ramadan is not at the same time every year. When I became Muslim in 1998, Ramadan was around Christmas which meant great after Christmas sales for my children's Eid gifts. This year Ramadan started around July 20 and will end around August 18, usually 10 days less than the previous year. If the sky is clear, my Beloveds will try to sight a sliver of the moon.
Moon Phase Activity, Cards are free to Download

During Ramadan we wake up before dawn and eat a light meal and drink plenty of water. The light meal is called Suhur, one day my suhur was a few Grapes, Granola, scrambled Eggs, leftover Blueberry pie and a Mango smoothie. Tons of fruit in all forms. We usually keep a bowl full of fruit, however, eating becomes a challenge in Ramadan as our stomach shrink and food can go to waste very easily. There are so many things we take for granted and eating at all times of day is definitely one of them for me.

Although, many people of many Religions and walks of life are required to fast, Ramadan is unique because it requires the faster to not eat food and not to drink anything, including water during the daylight hours. I get asked often, I know you are fasting but can I get you a cup of water? Although, I always answer politely "no thank you" it does surprise people that Muslims go without water for so long, especially in places like the desert of Saudi Arabia. 

We read our holy book, the Quran, and we pray or make du'a throughout the day to remember God. This is the reason I love Ramadan, for many Muslims, we only continue doing the important things during Ramadan. We stop those things that are not advantageous towards us entering Paradise. Although, Lil A and Z Man did not fast from food, they did fast from video games and movies. We do not take unnecessary trips or listen to foul music or talk. My life slows down and I am able to rejuvenate.

Going to the Masjid is the best part of Ramadan for my Beloveds. The Masjid is the focal point of community life within Islam. Men are encouraged to make all 5 obligatory prayers in the Masjid with other men. Women are encouraged to come to the Masjid and connect with other women and their God. And Children who grow up in the Masjid, even if they stray for a short period will usually return to the Masjid. Many people have their Aqiqah or baby shower, their Marriage, and their Janaza or funeral prayer in the Masjid. A well functioning Masjid incorporates all generations and all stages of life, it welcomes all people of all nationalities and social statuses. Many Masjids in the US, also provide social services such as a food pantry, health care, and Zakat & Sadaqa funds or charity. Our Beloveds love our local Masjid because it has an indoor Basketball gymnasium, a park, a creek that runs through it and because it contains their friends. I love the architecture and the flowers. During Ramadan, our local Masjid provided free Iftar every night of Ramadan. Iftar is the meal  we eat to end our fast when the sun goes down. After Iftar, we would stay for our last obligatory prayer of the night, Isha and a supplementary prayer that many pray during Ramadan called Taraweeh where the whole Quran is completed during the month.

~ Such a wonderful place to roam, develop, and grow as a Muslim child for the imagination~

Although, we spend the most time at our local Masjid, we do venture to other Masjids during Ramadan. Driving as far as a couple hours when we lived in Tennessee and drove to Atlanta. It's great to see all different kinds of Muslim and experience different cultures. This Ramadan, we visited this Turkish Masjid below, it had wonderful history lessons on the wall and the greatest cuisine!

Our family likes to decorate our house for Ramadan. Some years we are more extravagant than other years, this year we kept it simple. Decorating the home, streets, and Masjids are practiced everywhere there are Muslims from Egypt to Malaysia to right here in the US. San Diego is one place where they put Ramadan Mubarak signs along the highway. 

If you don't have time to make Ramadan crafts, they can also be purchased. My previous post Ramadan Interior Decoration talks more about this.

I made the first two calendars, Big A & S Man's 8 years ago, then Z Man's calendar came
and Lil A's came a little after she was born. It is just felt and fabric paint. I hand stiched
the numbers on. I put different things inside, candy, du'as, hadith, Quran verses, etc

Although, Ramadan is a spiritual occasion is does not have to be void of festivities. Making Ramadan festive for the children especially, makes it more memorable and something they look forward to. When you fill Ramadan with things that incorporates all the senses, it will have a lasting effect. Focusing on the visual beauty of ones home, the smell and tastes of iftar, making crafts that your children can touch and feel, listening to Quran and other Islamic speeches, playing games that involve one or more sense provides the perfect unforgettable Ramadan experience.

One Ramadan Craft that involves the 5 senses and is a tradition in our home that we do every year is making Gingerbread Masjids. To get the free printable and how to, please visit our Gingerbread Masjid post.

Another Ramadan Craft we made this year was I'm Fasting t shirts. Read more about it on our I'm Fasting post.

We also read Ramadan books, did worksheets and activities to especially keep our preschooler/ kindergartner Lil A occupied, please read  here Ramadan for Children.

This year I was fortunate to participate in a Ramadan Retreat for women, 3 days away solo sans children or husband to just focus on God. Read more about this at A Retreat with a View.

It is a requirement of Muslims to perform the Eid prayer on the day that Ramadan ends. Eid al Fitr, the end of Ramadan celebration is celebrated in many different ways among many different communities. Some people take Eid as a family time and spend Eid visiting family members. Others take Eid as Community time, and celebrate Eid big in their communities with Carnival rides, Bounce houses, Petting Zoos, Face Paint and other Carnival activities. Our family usually celebrates Eid for three days. In the past we have done many things such as Six Flags, New Jersey where the Muslims rented the whole amusement park for the day. We've gone bowling, roller skating, Eid breakfast at Ihop, Eid Breakfast at a friends house, barbques in the park and much more. Eid is also a day to wear your very best clothing, it doesn't have to be new, just nice.

Our new Eid al Fitr 2012 post is here.

More Ramadan 2012 posts:
Preparation for Ramadan
* Ramadhan Interior Decoration
Ramadan for Intelligent People
Gingerbread Masjid
I'm Fasting
Ramadan for Children
A Retreat with a View
The Post of Eid Past (yes, this title was influenced by Charles Dickens)
Eid al Fitr 2012

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