The Suburbanite
  • Ramadan: A time for Muslims to focus on blessings

  • As the world’s 1.5 billion-plus Muslims celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, American Muslims are expressing more optimism about the future than any other religious group.

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  • As the world’s 1.5 billion-plus Muslims celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, American Muslims are expressing more optimism about the future than any other religious group.
    Ramadan marks the month when Muslims believe that the Quran, their holy book, was given by God to the Prophet Muhammad.
    During Ramadan, able-bodied Muslims, ages 10 and older, are required to fast daily from food and drink, and married couples refrain from sexual activity, from dawn to sundown.
    Muslims are encouraged to engage in more prayer, to read the Quran, spend more time with family and give more to charity.
    The fast is broken each night during a meal known as the “Iftar.” The most holy night of Ramadan is “Laylat al-Qadr,” marking the moment when the Koran was first revealed to Muhammad. The month ends with a joyous family feast known as “Eid ul-fitr.”
    Perry High School senior Eslah Attar, 16, said Ramadan helps her to focus and to appreciate her blessings.
    “We don’t really appreciate what we have as much as we should,” she said. “When this month comes around, not only do you restrict yourself from food, but from all the bad things in the world. You realize you need to be thankful for the good things. People around the world are starving. We know there’s going to be food when our fast ends.”
    Attar admits to being tempted sometimes to break the fast, but she never has.
    “I don’t understand how anybody wouldn’t be tempted,” she said. “You go a long time, without food and water, but you just have to deal with it. You have to look at the bigger picture.”
    Isa Abdul-Zahir, 27, of Canton agrees, saying that Ramadan must be viewed from “a selfless viewpoint.”
    “Ramadan is the month when the greatest miracle that in the history of the world occurred,” he said. “In this month, the creator of the heavens and the earth first sent down verses from his final book to mankind. As God is eternal his word is eternal; so the Quran is a living book.”
    Abdul-Zahir said the Quran confirms the previous scriptures given to such prophets as Abraham, Moses and Jesus.
    “It protects their good names and confirms their teachings,” he said. “It gives life to dead hearts and allows a part of God to lodge in the hearts of men, women and children.”
    Like Muslims around the world, the Attars, who worship at the Islamic Society of Akron & Kent Mosque in Cuyahoga Falls celebrate Eid ul-fitr with a dinner of Middle Eastern cuisine.
    “We’re all excited for it,” Attar said.
    “Ramadan was chosen as the month to fast because it is the month when that living miracle was first sent down, as it was sent down in parts,” Abdul-Zahir said. “Ramadan also means to me a month when even the weakest of Muslims can find shelter from the evil of themselves and their surroundings.
    Page 2 of 2 - “It is a fortress protecting us from our spiritual foes, the biggest being our own selves. Combined with the fast, it is the perfect environment to cultivate God’s consciousness. Perception is clearer, insight is keener, and peacemaking is easier. It is truly the best time of year. The better the Muslim, the more they look forward to its arrival, and the more sorrowful they are at its departure.”
    A new Gallup Poll finds that 60 percent of American Muslims polled have a more positive outlook than members of Christian or Jewish groups, and 93 percent thought their fellow Muslims were loyal to the U.S., a percentage larger than that of non-Muslims.
    There are approximately 2.6 million Muslims in the U.S.
    “I think that’s true,” Attar said of the poll. You always want to represent where you’re from (culturally), but you’re in America. My dad always taught me that you should be thankful to live in America. We have freedoms that people take for granted. Where I’m from in Middle East, it’s not like that at all.”
    Attar is a first-generation American who has family in Syria. She said she’s not surprised American Muslims are so optimistic, despite lingering fears and stereotypes held by non-Muslims.
    “I don’t take it personal because if I wasn’t informed about my religion, I don’t think I could blame them, with what they see in the media,” she said. “It’s not their fault, but they do need to educate themselves.”

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