ID : N-1895 Date : 2018/06/03 - 13:24
(Persia Digest) - If you visit a Muslim country anywhere in the world during the fasting month of Ramadan, you will encounter a different mood and experience that will linger in your memory forever. The flavor of Ramadan is easily palpable, and the social rules change. Few people will be seen smoking in public, as a set of unwritten laws begins to take over society. In Ramadan, people tend to sacrifice their desires for the sake of obeying God’s orders, a period also referred to as the month of the “divine feast.”
It is not too much to say that its most pleasing moments come around dusk ahead of the evening call to prayer. That is when fasting Muslims experience a different mood as the result of spending the long hours of the day refraining from eating, drinking, or any other deed that could break the fast, combined with prayers to the Lord and a sense of closeness to the kind Creator as they purge their bodies and souls of all the evil dust.
Yes, that is what Ramadan is all about, the ninth month on the Islamic lunar calendar, which has a uniquely significant revered status. It is incumbent upon anyone considered able-bodied and mentally healthy to refrain from any deed that could break the fast any time from dawn to dusk. However, the elderly, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, as well as children and sick people are exempt.
During Ramadan, Muslims enhance the spirit of sacrifice and solidarity with the needy through a variety of activities, such as glorious celebrations to donate material and moral aid to those in need.
Wonders of the Special Month
During God’s holy month, the doors of hell are shut and the gates of heaven are opened wide. This is when evil forces remain in captivity, as the compassionate prophet of Islam promised. For fasting individuals, every single breath taken, and even sleeping, are to be counted as worship, rewarded by closeness to the Almighty God.
Workplaces and offices reduce working hours so that employees can enjoy a longer time resting, staying with their families, and focusing on their worship.
Around the evening prayer call, the excitement rapidly grows, and the mood transforms into one of inexplicable vibrancy. Indeed, following the long hours of austere self-denial from eating and drinking as well as all the helpful kindness they have delivered to the needy, observers of the fast are now replete with lightness and salvation and are ready for the uniquely precious moment of iftar (the breaking of the fast) to express their humble gratitude to the Lord.
The popular “Rabbana” (O’ Our Lord) prayer sung by the well-known Iranian traditional music master Mohammad Reza Shajarian has for nearly four decades been an essential component of the Iranian iftar table, giving fasting people a sense of special calm and serenity. The heavenly reverberations captivate every listener, and the profound impact fills the air, elevating every soul to the seventh heaven of worship. It is, indeed, a prayer that makes every fasting Muslim praise their God in the pure moments of their closeness to Him. The incredibly blissful song has been registered as a piece of national Iranian cultural heritage. You can log in to our website and listen to it online.
After the popular song, the time comes for the prayer call with the fascinating voice of the late Moazzenzadeh Ardebili, an exceptional masterpiece that was recorded more than 60 years ago and still remains one of the most timeless and everlasting religious works of art with an extraordinary air of spirituality and enchanting impact, which encourages everyone into worship and servitude to God. The recorded prayer call has been named a non-material legacy in the artist’s hometown, Ardebil. It is one of the most popular prayer call versions in Iran and is also widely popular in such countries as Turkey, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, where it is aired through mosque loudspeakers.
► Ramadan in Iran (photos)
Whether uptown or downtown, the entire city is overwhelmed with the blissful tables of iftar, on which everyone celebrates a thanksgiving moment, as fasting Muslims take the time to offer gratitude to their Lord after a long day in which they overcome not only the lust for eating and drinking, but also such sins as lying and backbiting, while at the same time donating to the poor as much as they can afford. The magnificent feast kicks off with the superb call of “Allah O Akbar” (God is Great). The celebration remains lively until hours after midnight and is stretched into the early morning of the next day.
The humble iftar tables are reminders to anyone setting their eyes on them of the color and flavor of kindness. One of the most pleasing aspects of the month is inviting people for iftar or being invited by others. In fact, it is a tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who asserted that the value of giving iftar to a fasting fellow Muslim equals that of liberating a slave and that indeed God will forgive all the past sins of the donor.
Spiritual Gatherings of Iranians during Ramadan
Muslims in Iran spend Ramadan reading the Quran and asking God for salvation. They repent from their sins and ask the Almighty to help them resist the temptations of the devil. Giving the iftar evening meal to the poor, helping the needy, and inviting family and friends to share the iftar are other good deeds in this month.
Regardless of their faith, Iranians are enthusiastic about family gatherings and visits, considering the custom is one of their key recreations. This heightens during Ramadan when they invite relatives and friends to iftar gatherings, which may stretch at times into hours after midnight. Among the most popular fast breakers are a combination of fresh bread, cheese, walnuts, dates, vegetables, and hot tea. These foods are also offered and distributed on the streets at dusk by shop owners, organizations, and ordinary people to passersby who are fasting.
Leading up to the breaking of the fast, everywhere across town, one can see large pots of Halim, barley soup, Ash-e-Reshteh (soup with thick noodles), Sholeh Zard (rice pudding with saffron and rosewater), Shir Berenj (rice and milk pudding), Fereni (pudding of sugar and rice flour) and a variety of other mixtures with different delicious delicacies being sold to people standing in long queues, who are there to take the sweet meals home and enjoy them with their family members. These dishes add to the unforgettable memories of the iftar meal.
Mosques, where people gather for worship as well as for social, political, and cultural activities, become ever more crowded during Ramadan. Following the normal collective prayers, the fasting Muslims who congregate in mosques start reciting verses from the Quran. The holy book is divided into 30 sections. Thus, a full reading is done during the entire 30 days. They also hold discussion sessions on the philosophy of the verses and the revelations made to the prophet. This is viewed as one of the most valuable customs pursued with even greater seriousness during the holy month, a special practice through which they try to gain more from the precious teachings of the divine book and implement them in their personal and social lives.
Fasting - a Transition out of Monotonous Life
The ones who enter the Ramadan camp with wholehearted love and spirituality will definitely take pleasure in every single moment of it. Fasting is all about changing one’s routine daily habits and breaking from monotonous, everyday life; it is a unique opportunity for spiritual investment, self-identification, and climbing the mountains of dignity and esteem.
Among the most special customs occurring during Ramadan and seen everywhere are charity events, which are held spontaneously by the public across every town. Several activist groups launch a project of identifying the needy as well as those behind bars for financial problems, that is, who cannot afford release due to their failure to pay fines. This could put a pure smile of happiness on the scarred faces of needy children and their parents, bridging the gap between the poor and the rich, making Ramadan a month for distributing affection by anonymous benefactors.
A Second Birth
Laylat al-Qadr, or Night of Decree, is the night when the first Quranic verses were revealed to the Prophet. Muslims stay up all night, until the morning call to prayers, read the Quran and pray, asking for blessings for themselves and all mankind. The Quran says that Laylat al-Qadr is worth a thousand months.
The final ten days of Ramadan are the period during which the verses of the Quran were revealed to the prophet (PBUH), creating a unique experience of spirituality for fasting Muslims. The nights referred to as Qadr nights or “nights of destiny” are characterized by very special ceremonies, particularly observed by Shia Muslims. One of those nights coincides with the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Ali (PBUH).
During those nights, regardless of their age, all Muslims stay up until the crack of dawn. Hearts are filled with heavenly light, a feeling that anyone praying during those holy moments certainly experiences. As a matter of fact, staying up for worship during those three nights offers a sense of lightness and salvation from everyday life, which overwhelms the servants, a status equal to a second birth.
Ramadan is the time to measure one’s ability to undergo a level of austerity that is not experienced in normal life. Hence, Eid al-Fitr is the celebration of a return to a pure and innocent nature and a break from the dark habits associated with sin.
The Fitr celebrations that follow the 30 days of worship, solidarity, and kindness are held as a collective practice throughout the Muslim world. In most Islamic countries, the festivities may continue up to ten days.
Ramadan serves as an exclusive opportunity to depart from one’s earthly, self-centered, arrogant existence and instead embrace pure humanity, honesty, forgiveness, and sacrifice.
Click here for more social news.