51: AnthroTerm: Ramadan

28 09 2008

Christina Knapp
Fall is a time everyone associates with harvesting, the changing leaves, and the start of school. However, there is another thing that many Muslims associate fall with, and that is Ramadan. During the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, everyone fasts during the daylight hours. This means that from sunrise to sunset, Muslims do not allow themselves any food, water, or any other physical needs. Of course, this is only for those who are in peak physical health. No one wants to end up in the hospital due to malnutrition.

You may be wondering why Muslims are willing to due something like this. Well, for one thing, it is supposed to help cleanse and purify the body. I don’t just mean cleansed of toxins that might build up from the breakdown of food in the digestive track, but of evil thoughts and deeds such as adultery or swearing. These kinds of things can draw focus away from God, which is another reason for the fast. It helps to bring that focus back. The most important reason, however, is that it teaches self – sacrifice. Muslims know as well as anyone that not all people are fortunate enough to have food and water everyday. By fasting, they get a better sense of what it’s like to actually go without the things that you need. This helps them to be kinder, more generous people. It also keeps the kids from getting spoiled, something we Americans might need to work on.
This is all well and good, but how are people supposed to know when it is. The way most Muslims figure it out is by looking at the moon. Around August or September, the Muslims will look up into the night sky to check the phase of the moon. If the moon is a very slight crescent, so slight that you almost can’t see it, then Ramadan will begin the next day. This year, Ramadan starts on September 1st. It looks like we missed the start of it. Don’t worry, though, Ramadan lasts until the next time the slight crescent moon is seen. That won’t be until of the end of the month. Hope all of you have a happy Ramadan.

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