With the lunar calendar entering its ninth month, marked by the crescent moon, Muslims around the world begin fasting rituals in reverence of the holy month of Ramadan. For an entire month—this year Monday July 8th through Wednesday August 7th—the Muslim world spend the daylight hours abstaining from food, water, smoking, swearing, and sex. As part of the Islamic tradition, and one of the five pillars of Islam, the month is reserved as a time for spiritual introspection, self-improvement, and greater devotion to the teachings of Mohammad. Notably, the holiday urges the believer into pursuing the Zakat, or, providing alms for the poor.

A principal tenet of the Ramadan fasting practice, or Sawm, is to inspire empathy for the poor. The ascetic practice of not eating food allows the faster to be able to internalize the plight of those who do not have access to basic foodstuffs.

In the Islamic tradition, the tenet of the Zakat requires all Muslims that are able to give alms to the poor and do their part in eliminating poverty. Simply put, the practice of fasting compels the Muslim world to become philanthropists. The Qu’ran at [17:26-29] instructs, “You shall give the due alms to the relatives, the needy, the poor, and the traveling alien, but do not be excessive, extravagant.”

Hamzi Wanis, an Egyptian Businessman addressed the philanthropic properties of the holiday saying, “the concept of abstaining from eating from sunrise to sunset makes us feel the daily suffering of poor people who really cannot afford food to eat every day as they are poor. It’s the time when we should stand hand-in-hand with poor people and make them smile by offering them food and donating money to them,” The Gulf Times reported.

Despite intense heat and even hotter political turmoil in parts of the Muslim world, the Islamic tradition continues undisturbed.

– Thomas van der List

Sources: Global Times, Gulf Today, Progressive Muslim, Just Zakat
Photo: Denver Post