The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle. That’s why Ramadan falls roughly 11 days earlier every year compared to the previous year.
This year, Ramadan begins Monday evening and ends the evening of Aug. 7. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, when Muslims fast during daylight hours.
Why do you fast?
Rashad Sharif, imam, teacher
God instructed Adam to not eat from a certain tree. He blew it. Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was sent down, and it instructs us to not eat during certain times. Wanting to “get it right” this time, we put God’s instructions uppermost, and we just obey.
Yasir Qadhi, scholar, professor
I fast Ramadan for one simple reason: because I believe that my Creator has asked me to abstain from food and drink during the days of this month to demonstrate my obedience to Him, and in return, He has promised me His everlasting Grace. Every other reason — and yes, there are plenty more — is merely an addendum to this one.
Sehrish Siddiqui, attorney
Muslims must fast in Ramadan, but I along with many others also fast outside the month. Refraining from food and drink and making a more conscious effort to refrain from vain talk, anger and greed remind me of a higher purpose in life. That reminder comes when I fast a day here and there. Take that spiritual rejuvenation and multiply it by 29, throw in special nightly congregational prayers, giving more charity and spending more time studying the faith, and there you have why I get excited about Ramadan, even during a Memphis summer. It provides a spiritual development with a goal of becoming a better Samaritan after the month is over.
Arshad Ameen, structural engineer
I fast during Ramadan simply because I am commanded to do so by my Lord. Through fasting, I am able to show the highest level of obedience to my Creator by abstaining from what would otherwise be permissible. By fasting, I feel the plight of those less fortunate than I am. This would instill a sense of social awareness in me. By fasting, one learns not to take even the basic things for granted. For example, abstaining from drinking even a drop of water from sunrise to sunset would make one feel for those elsewhere in the world who do not even have the basic necessities to survive while we take these things for granted.
Abdul Alim Khandekar, physician
I fast in Ramadan in obedience to bring myself closer to my Creator and Sustainer. Sacrificing a few worldly comforts makes me aware of the sufferings of the less fortunate among humanity. It is like a collective training camp to make myself a better person to be able to share and care for others around me.
Mohammed Moinuddin, physician
Because it is the commandment of God. It does not matter what the season is or what the temperatures are. In fact, tougher the conditions, higher the divine rewards. Hence, looking forward to the coming years when days are hotter and longer to gain more rewards. Love, respect and sacrifice for the Lord are the bottom lines.
Nadeem Zafar, physician
I fast because God mandated us to do so. Fasting is about self-control, empathy and a real sense of what food insecurity feels like. Fasting is about seeking divine mercy and forgiveness. The entire month of Blessing is a great time to put the physical needs on the back-burner and focus on spiritual enlightenment. It is the time to be most generous to others. It is the time to be thankful and to earn salvation.
Bashar Shala, physician
I fast Ramadan, first and foremost, because I am commanded by God to do so. Islam in its core belief is a peaceful submission to the will of God. We hear and we obey! We do so not because we want to follow the faith blindly, we do so because we know who we are following and whose commands we are responding to.
As we fast, we discover the great benefits of the practice. For a whole month we recharge the batteries of faith in our hearts and retrain our souls in the boot camp of controlling desires. It is not about abstaining from food and water, it is about achieving righteousness that will result in each fasting Muslim becoming a better neighbor, better parent, better spouse, and a better person. If this did not happen at the end of Ramadan, then the fasting person gained only thirst and hunger!
Interfaith Ramadan Dinner Iftar
Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, self-examination and increased religious devotion, begins Monday evening and ends the evening of Aug. 7. The 7th Annual Interfaith Ramadan Dinner Iftar will be held 7-9 p.m. Sunday at Esplanade Memphis, 901 Cordova Station Road. To register, visit memphisinterfaith.org.