He deserves Paradise who makes his companions laugh - Quran
As you may or may not know, I live in a multi-cultural home. My husband is a devout Sunni Muslim from Egypt. Tonight begins the season of Ramadan for believers of the Islamic Faith. I may be a Christian (Catholic), but I see the absolute beauty in this time of year for my muslim family members. This is a time of purification of spirit, becoming mindful of God's (Allah's) message, and showing love to the less fortunate. To me, it feels like a mix of Christmas and Lent all rolled into one!
I wanted to share with you a little about Ramadan, and how we can all apply some of the aspects to our lives. For one, Ramadan basically consists of thirty days of prayer and deep reflection (similar to the Christian Lenten Season.) These special prayers are called Taraweeh. These prayers are recited at night, as well as portions of the Quran (the sacred book of Islam.) Muslims will also enter a period of strict religious observance and fasting.
One of the best parts of Ramadan is when the community comes together for the night prayer (Taraweeh.) The word taraweeh comes from an Arabic word which means to rest and relax. The prayer can be very long (well over an hour), during which one stands upright to read from the Qur'an and performs many cycles of movement (standing, bowing, prostrating, sitting). After each four cycles, one sits for a brief period of rest before continuing -- this is where the name taraweeh ("rest prayer") comes from.
During the standing portions of the prayer, long sections of the Qur'an are read. The Qur'an is divided into equal parts (called juz) for the purpose of reading sections of equal length during each of the Ramadan nights. Thus, 1/30 of the Qur'an is read on successive evenings, so that by the end of the month the entire Qur'an has been completed.
It is recommended that Muslims attend the taraweeh prayers in the mosque (after 'Isha, the last evening prayer), to pray in congregation. However, you do have a choice to pray at home. The prayers are voluntary, but are strongly recommended and widely practiced.
I remember sitting outside the mosque last year, just listening to the sound of the call to prayer. It was really quite beautiful and calming.
Another signifigant item to know about Ramadan is the most people decorate with lights. Beautiful lamps can be found hanging on trees and from houses in the middle east.
Here is a video of a kid's song for Ramadan, it actually explains a little bit about the season:
For my friends of the Christian Faith, please know that ALLAH is the same as our GOD or even Yahweh. Jews, Christians and Muslims all worship the same God. What is different for Christians - we believe that God had a Son - the Christ. Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet, not the son of God. That is the difference.
What can I learn, as a Christian, from the Muslim's this season of Ramadan? I can be reflective about my own faith and my own habits. I can attempt to fast for a spiritual as well as physical cleansing. I can contribute more to the poor and less fortunate. I can spend more time with family. I can pay tribute to God - Allah- Yahweh.
So, for my family and friends - Ramadan Karim! Peace to each of you. May we all pray to find understanding and concentrate on our similarities, versus our differences.