The month of generosity
And rightfully so, as Ramadan is a month of good deeds and generosity.
During Ramadan it is customary to help the indigents and the ill, the orphans and the elderly.
Why is it so important to be generous?
The Muslims believe in the One God whose name is Allah. One of Allah names is Al-Kareem, which means The Most Generous. The Muslims believe that everything comes from the Lord and returns to Him. Therefore everything we own is just a loan, something we promise to preserve, protect and share.
Generosity is a desire and readiness to give.
Generosity in Islam is one of five fundamentals – pillars – of this religion.
Zakah, a mandatory donation, is one of five responsibilities of each able Muslim. The word zakah is translated from Arabic as purity, the purification of heart. This donation in certain way redeems and purifies the wealth and well-being of a Muslim.
Zakah is a Quran-established law on paying a certain sum from the spare saved up money to those society members in need. In many Muslim countries the collection and redistribution of funds are held by special zakah foundations.
In the Muslim world apart from the mandatory zakah exists a voluntary donation called sadaqah that can sometimes reach as much as a million dollars! Wealthy people donate huge amounts of money to charity projects and social events.
However being generous does not just mean to give something you have plenty, or give to get rid of something. Truly generous people gladly give away even something dear and precious to heart. For them the phrase "giving means receiving" has a deep sense.
The linguistic meaning of the word sadaqah is honesty, or as defined by some Islamic scientists the honesty of the heart towards the Almighty. Everything that is given gladly and intended to satisfy the God is called sadaqah. And it’s not just money!
A kind smile, help and care provided to a fellow creature, the kindness of heart: everything will count as sadaqah, a righteous act. It means that to do good deeds you do not need to be a wealthy person.
Many social events happen during Ramadan. For instance the prosperous citizens are offered to buy water for people with low income. To the best of their ability, as much as they can afford. Also the UAEWaterAid event is held to collect funds to deliver water to the countries with water deficit. In the same countries the collected money is used to construct the water-purifying facilities. You can send a text message to help this act of kindness. Or you can buy food and water yourself and bring it to one of the mosques in the Deira district or the workers’ settlement at the city outskirts.
But here is an interesting and important moment. The situation with the Muslims being especially generous during Ramadan is abused by swindling beggars who appear on the streets of the city. The religious teachers remind the citizens that the sacred Quran forbids any form of beggary and calls "professional poverty" a sin.
- © Victoria Lazareva, feelingthelife.com
Ramadan is the ninth, the most spiritually elevating month of the Muslim calendar (it does not match the dates of the globally-used Gregorian calendar). All Islamic chronology relies on the lunar calendar, and that is why the start of Ramadan shifts annually.
During the sacred month the borders between rich and poor wash off, everyone fasts: powerful sheiks and simple people. For one month the diverse Muslim society becomes a unified brotherhood. Ramadan is a month of clear thoughts, words and acts. No fights and quarrels.
During Ramadan the believers keep the fast – sawm (one of five pillars of Islam).
Sawm was introduced by prophet Muhammad in 624, however the practice of godly solitude had been known in Arabia long before Islam appeared. From the moment of sunrise and till the dusk, for thirty days the Muslims shall abstain from food, drinks, smoking, various entertainment, tobacco smoke inhaling, use of perfume. During day time the marital intimacy is forbidden.
The ban on food and water is lifted at dark.
“Eat and drink, until you can distinguish the white thread of dawn from the black”.
In one of the last nights of Ramadan the Night of Divine Determination (the Night of Power) is celebrated. This night the first Quran revelations were sent down to prophet Muhammad. The Muslims believe that on this night Allah makes a decision on their fate, and the angels come down from the skies to do good deeds.
To spend this night righteously is better than to live for a thousand months.
At the end of the Fast the Festival of Fast-Breaking – Eid al-Fitr (lesser holiday) or Uraza Bayram starts to last for three days.