On Sunday, June 25, millions of muslims around the world gathered en masse to celebrate the day of Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. During the sacred month, muslims refrain from eating and drinking from dawn until dusk for the entire 30 day period. One droplet of water or a morsel of food is enough to invalidate one’s fast. However, unlike what most individuals think, fasting goes beyond just refraining from food or drink. In essence, muslim individuals fast from all “material evils”. In addition to food or drink, individuals fasting during Ramadan abstain from cursing, fighting, gossiping, backbiting and other deeds which we all unfortunately perform on a daily basis throughout the rest of the year. Moreover, on top of refraining from certain actions, the Muslim community increases their reading of the holy text of Islam, the Quran, as well as diligently reads their five daily prayers as well as extra prayers read for Ramadan called Tarawih throughout the night. Fasting goes beyond being hungry. It is a time of total removal from worldly desires and malices and a time of intense spiritual connection with the almighty.
By way of this special restraint from actions and items often taken for granted, those fasting are able to experience first-hand the plight of the disadvantaged. This, consequently, is able to evoke a strong sense of social consciousness within fasting individuals and subsequently is able to create a truly devoted and spiritually connected population of muslims.
However, this more holistic nature of Islamic fasting often goes unnoticed within the media, as individuals more often associate Ramadan with notions of hunger and thirst. This constitutes just a single example of the skewed way Islam is portrayed in the modern media network. Although not always false in nature, the general public has yet to see the true virtues and blessing being a Muslim has with the social, spiritual and emotional benefits of fasting being just one example. Therefore, it is imperative to give our support for organizations working to bridge the gap between local communities and neighboring muslim groups who are often seen as outsiders and even aliens in some populations.