The Holy month of Ramadan is an entire month of prayer and fasting for Muslims. Most Muslim communities across the world, about 1.6 billion of them, are observing this time of the year. Here in Belize, in a community of about three thousand Muslims, most adult men and women will take part. Here, they began their fasting this past Saturday and will conclude on June 27. Naveed Mangla, President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at in Belize City, says they are fasting from dawn to sunset. Their routine starts at three in the morning when they wake up to pray and prepare breakfast. By four in the morning they start their fasting for the rest of the day where they can’t eat or drink anything. Their next meal is at 6:30 in the evening and they continue with more prayers. Mangla says it is a time of spiritual discipline where Muslims get closer to God.
“Islam basically says the purpose of this fasting is that you may become righteous and that is what the holy Prophet Muhammad also said, that the purpose of fasting through fasting you are able to have communication with the God all mighty. When you’re not eating or drinking anything which is about 14 hours per day in Belize you decrease your physical food and you increase your spiritual food because this is a famous saying of the holy saints that you do three things less; you eat less, you sleep less and you talk less. If you get to go through it you come out of this holy month as a new born baby meaning that all your previous sins have been removed. This fasting is basically a great way to get closer to God almighty and remove all those weaknesses and sins that have piled up in our lives. So the last day we get to celebrate and thank God for giving us this opportunity to go through this.”
During the Holy month of Ramadan, Muslims also do a more intense study of the Quran and spend extra time on prayers. The observation of the Ramadan is mandatory for those who are physically fit to do it. Adults who are ill are not required to take part, neither are pregnant or lactating women. A gathering of about thirty people at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at meet daily for prayers. One of them is Eloisa Khadija Hassan who has been observing the holy month of Ramadan for over ten years, first in the USA and now in Belize.
“Personally I was fearful that I wouldn’t be able to do this commandment of Allah but the time came and I was able to do it. Its more of a mind thing, fasting has been great for me that I myself had this ability to not eat for this length of time, to do away with these things. To not eat for this length of time it taught me that I had a little bit of will to do it and I appreciated that, God taught me that I had the will because I did it so that was a benefit to me. You have to take care of your soul, you can’t just live life carefree and not think about the creator I can’t imagine that. So this month allows me to focus more, to read the Qur’an more, to focus more on reforming myself to be a better person.”
Voice 2: In a situation with worship when you are already doing something for God almighty then it increases the chances for your prayers to be accepted and that is what I feel throughout the day you get nearer to God and you are doing something good so there is always this pleasure and peace that you have inside of you.
At the end of Ramadan there is a big three-day celebration called Eid al-Fitr, or “the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast.” It is a religious holiday for Mulsims during which they hold large celebrations with family and friends with food and even presents. Mulsims believe that it was during this time the God made His first revelation of first verses of the Quran to the Prophet Mohammed and is also regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam.