I was in 1st grade when I was lucky enough to participate in the monthlong holiday of Ramadan for the first time, being able to live out a powerful tradition that I cherish with my family and friends. Since then, I have joyfully and gratefully been able to fast every year. I have so many countless beautiful memories, as this month is the most significant month of the year for me and many others around the world. A couple of my favorite memories include cooking with my mother, praying salah with my dad and talking about what we want to eat with my brothers and sisters. It never got old hearing one of my siblings ask, “is it time to eat yet,” “what are you cooking/eating tonight” or “how much longer.”
There are roughly 1.8 billion Muslims around the world. These Muslims will come together on April 13 (this date may change depending on the crescent of the moon) and begin to fast for the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, which begins on the 9th month in the Islamic calendar. Ramadan is the holiest month because Allah (SWT), in that specific month, sent his Messenger Jabreil (alayheee salaam) to Prophet Sayedina Mohammad (peace be upon him) to teach him to recite the Quran. The prophet was not educated so he could not read or write, but instead memorize the Holy Quran; and later, Prophet Sayedina Mohammad (peace be upon him) went to some of “the Sahabaa” or companions to recite the Quran to them for them to write.
There are countless reasons and benefits to why Muslims dedicate so much during this month. For some, Ramadan acts as a tool for us to get attuned with our religion. We take this month to try and build a deeper relationship with Allah (God) and become better Muslims. Therefore, during this month we do our best to make our prayers, (five times daily), we repent and ask for forgiveness for our sins, and we give more charity where we can. This month is truly a time where we do not only cleanse our mind, body, and soul, but we also feel a sense of healing happening.
To prepare for their fasting, Muslims eat “suhur,” which is a pre-dawn meal to help them get through the day; that is then followed by the fajr prayer, the first prayer of the day. Traditionally, a Muslim would break their fast by drinking some water and having an odd number of tumar “dates.” Muslims then pray the magrihb, their sunset prayer, which is then followed by “iftar,” a large feast. Iftar is usually spent celebrating and socializing with friends and family members.
In the Virgin Islands, that means we take our last sip of water or bite of food around 5 a.m. and take our first sip of water and bite of food around 6:40 p.m. As the days pass the time changes by a few minutes. There are also additional prayers called “tawarih,” which are usually done at the Masjid/Mosque in a congregation. On St. Thomas, we would all go to Masjid Nur located on 8th street. On St. Croix, Masjid Abu Bakir Assidique is located at no. 84, Rte. 85.
Despite what many may think, Muslims cherish the month of Ramadan and the challenges it comes with. For many of us, Ramadan is the most humble and rewarding month. Though it may have its challenges, those challenges are what make it more rewarding.
This month is filled with so many blessings, so many chances to get closer to Allah (God), a month where we get to spend more time with family and friends, a month where we are encouraged more to do our prayers and give charity. It provides a chance for us to be a better Muslim. Some of us, including myself, may feel a sense of sadness when the month comes closer to an end.
To all those Muslims in the U.S Virgin Islands fasting for this blessed month, “Inshallah,” God’s willing, it will be a month filled with purity and good health. Remember to forgive one another, show love and respect to each other, help the poor and needy, practice any other good deeds daily, etc. May Allah shower you, your families and your friends with blessings.
May all your prayers be answered. To the non-Muslims, feel free to send a message to your Muslim friends saying “Cul sana wa entee salama” for a female friend or “Cul sana wa enta salam” for a male friend. This is a phrase we say to each other right before Ramadan, wishing the other person a happy and peaceful holiday.
Editor’s Note: Nour Z. Suid, was born and raised in the Virgin Islands. She has doctorates in clinical psychology and naturopathic medicine.