submitted by Rich Leffler
Fellow Rotarian and board member Nasra Wehelie spoke to us virtually via YouTube this week. Her subject was the traditions of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which are both rewarding and challenging. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar, said to be when the Koran was revealed to Muhammad. Because it is based on the lunar calendar, it varies according to the Roman calendar.
One of the more well known traditions of Ramadan is fasting from sunrise to sunset. This fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, and it offers several benefits: self-discipline, empathy, closeness to God and health. All adult Muslims are required to fast, except the ill, travelers or pregnant women.
Important elements of the holiday are the fellowship and community that take place at Iftar, the evening meal at the end of the daily fast. The current Covid-19 pandemic has made this difficult. But Zoom is being used in lieu of personal engagement.
Muslims who are celebrating Ramadan need some support at work or at school. It is best to avoid activities in the evenings, when the end of the fast is celebrated. And the scheduling of school activities should be sensitive to the demands of Ramadan.
The end of Ramadan is traditionally a time of celebration and community. But not this year, because of Covid-19. This will be a hard time for everyone, even if there is Zoom.
After the YouTube session, there was a question-and-answer session via Zoom. Nasra mentioned some of the benefits of this year of the pandemic and quarantine: Being home provides an opportunity for contemplation and self-reflection, and it helps eliminate temptations during the fast.
If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.