Muslim faith nearing end of holy month

ocal Muslims - as well as Muslims around the world - are fasting during the day, contributing to charity, and spending extra time reading scripture and praying. It is now Ramadan.

During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, fasting is stated by the Koran to be one of the five essential pillars of Islam.

According to the Koran, Allah said that fasting is "Fardh," meaning an obligatory religious duty. Prayer and acts of charity, two additional pillars of Islam, are practiced traditionally during Ramadan as well.

Ramadan is the holiest time of year for many Muslims, according to Ibrahim Al-Qarni, president of the Muslim Student Association. However, many also feel the month of Hajj is the high holy month.

"It is hard to make a decision as to whether the month of Hajj or the month of Ramadan is the holiest," Al-Qarni said. "For me, it is Ramadan. To many others, it is Hajj."

The month of Hajj, or pilgrimage, is a time when Muslims fulfill their obligation to visit the city of Mecca at least once during their life, according to Richard Fears, a professor of religious studies.

During Ramadan, Muslims are not permitted to eat, drink or engage in sensual pleasure during daylight hours. Kissing that does not lead to sex, however, is permitted. The consumption of any non-prescribed drugs, alcohol or tobacco products are already forbidden by the Koran, regardless of the time of year.

After sundown, those observing Ramadan are permitted to eat, drink and have sex if married, the Koran says.

According to Al-Qarni, a full moon must be seen to mark the beginning and end of Ramadan. The day Ramadan ends, known as Eid al-Fitr, may be either Dec. 15 or 16. However, Ramadan does not exceed 30 days, regardless of overcast weather.

Local Muslims can attend prayer services at the Muslim Student Association House located at 1717 Ball Ave. Regular meetings are held Fridays from noon to 2 p.m.

Although it is not shaped like a traditional mosque, the Muslim Student Association House functions as a regular one. Ramadan events and practices for Muslim BSU students and Muncie residents will be "mostly the same" Al-Qarni said, as compared to Ramadan events and practices elsewhere.

"It does not bother me that the mosque here is not shaped like a larger traditional mosque," said sophomore education technology major and citizen of Oman, Saud Ambusaidi.

On Eid al-Fitr, it is traditional to break one's fast by partaking in the gradual consumption of foods, such as dates, milk and water, that were consumed in the tradition of the prophet Mohammed according to Al-Qarni.

Celebration will usually start at 7:30 a.m. with early morning prayer, followed by two speeches by an Imam or a Sheik. Then, people give congratulations to one another for completing the fast according to Al-Qarni.

"Afterwards, families usually visit the houses of friends for a half an hour or an hour to visit and share treats and have a large meal," said Alqarni.

During Eid al-Fitr, music not present in the manner that Christian families may sing or listen to familiar Christmas songs, according to Alqarni.

"Sometimes kids sing Islamic songs of happiness and blessing for the month without music," said Al-Qarni. "The words are highly-selected."

The Christian tradition of Lent "certainly has parallels to Ramadan in terms of fasting," said Richard Fears, professor of religious studies. According to Fears, Lent is not required of Christians as an obligatory religious duty.

"A very small portion of Christians, including those who are believers of Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic tradition, do not eat meat on Fridays during Lent," said Fears.


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