A Malaysian Islamic officer searches for the moon370.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Muslim clerics unsuccessfully searched the skies for the crescent moon on Monday night, in the ceremony that determines the beginning of Ramadan. Because no moon was sighted, the first day of fasting will begin on Wednesday.
According to Islamic tradition, Allah revealed the Koran to the prophet Muhammad during the 9th month – Ramadan – a time for introspection. During Ramadan, Muslims refrain from food, drink and sexual activity from dawn until dusk, Fasting – or sawm – is one of the five pillars of Islam, and also means “to refrain,” not only from food or drink but also from evil actions, thoughts and words. The daily fasts are broken in the evening with prayer and festive meals called iftars.
Tamer Nama, from Deir el- Asad in the Galilee, told The Jerusalem Post
on Monday that it is forbidden – or haram – to say you are not fasting if you are not exempt for certain reasons including travel, pregnancy, or sickness. Asked what percentage of Israel’s Muslims fast, he said there was no way to know since people who do not fast do not usually publicize this fact, which would constitute an additional sin.
Nama, who studied medicine, noted that fasting is good for your health.
Many mark the holiday by spending time with family and friends, reading the Koran and giving charity.
Once one eats, the fast day is lost, but a missed day can be made up later, or by paying compensation.
The end of Ramadan is marked by a feast called Id al-Fitr, one of Islam’s major holidays.
Nama described to the Post
how as sundown approaches during Ramadan, many people can be found in the streets buying food and preparing for their iftar.
Once the sun goes down the streets are empty and “you can hear the forks hitting the plates,” he said.
Even those that did not fast for whatever reason will participate in the evening meal.
After the meal is the evening prayer, followed by time for visiting friends and other communal activities, Nama said. People are often in the streets late into the evening during Ramadan.
Good deeds done during Ramadan are many times more valuable than those done during the rest of the year, she said.
Nama argued that the spirit of Ramadan is being ruined by too many TV shows and fireworks events, which are not representative of the real meaning of the holiday.
“People should be reading the Koran and not watching TV all day,” he told the Post