Pillars of Islam 8 – Siyam Fasting

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Jamal Badawi

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In the Name of God, the beneficence, the Merciful, the creator and the Sustainer of the universe, peace and blessings upon his servant and messenger Muhammad forever. I mean, I bear witness that there was no god but the one God. And I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger and slave servant of God, I greet you with the greetings of all the profits from Abraham to Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him the universal greetings of peace, assalamu Aleikum, which means peace beyond to you. In today's program, we have our eighth program in the series, dealing with the Pillars of Islam. Today we will be talking about the fourth pillar of Islam, which is CME or

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fasting. Today's program will be a repeat of a program that was taped. Earlier in our series of programs on Islam and focus. we taped this program last year during the month of Ramadan or fasting, and this program will be repeated today is part of our current series on the Pillars of Islam.

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In today's program, we'll talk about fasting and Ramadan, and its significance for Muslims. My guest on today's program is Dr. Jamal betawi of St. Mary's University. Welcome to Islamic focus on Jamal. Perhaps it might be helpful to the viewers of Islam and focus if we start with some explanation of the month of Ramadan and its significance for Muslims. Okay, one can perhaps refer to the Quran for a gentle answer to that question, then I make a comment on the verses in chapters two, verses 185 and 186.

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It says, translation of meaning. Ramadan, is the month in which was sent down the Quran as guide to mankind. Also clear sign for guidance and judgment between right and wrong. So every one of you who is present during this during that month, should spend it in fasting. But if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period should be made up by days later. God intends every facility for you. He does not want to put you to difficulties. He wants you to complete the prescribed period, that spirit of fasting is and glorify and to glorify Him, and that that he has guided you. And perchance you shall be grateful.

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When my servants ask you that has asked you all Mohammed concerning me, I am indeed close to them. I listen to the prayers of every suppliant when he calls on me, let them also with a will listen to my call and believe in me that they may walk in the right way.

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And it is apparent from from these two verses in the Quran that at least there are two basic elements and the significance of the month of fasting. One is basically historical. The other is mainly spiritual moral. Yes, on the historical aspect, the month of Ramadan, which is the ninth month and the Islamic calendar which follows the lunar year

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is the month in which it was revealed the Quran, the Islamic scripture, to Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him when he was contemplating or meditating in the cave of Hara outside of Mecca, that took place about 1400 years ago. So this is the year 1400 roughly.

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Now, the importance of the month of fasting is not only limited to Muslims, but it is very essential event and very important event in the history of the world at large, especially the history of prophethood.

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For the first time in history, God Allah chose to send a prophet, not to a particular

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tribe, not to a particular

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Our ethnic group, and not a particular even time, but rather a universal profit for all mankind everywhere, and for all times to come. It is also significant in a sense that through that last prophet, Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. The God chose also to reveal his complete well, his complete guidance or way of life to mankind through a final scriptures, not any more to be changed and mixed with the philosophies and ideas of people, but rather an authentic scripture that until today, is still available exactly in the same way it was revealed to Prophet Mohammed in the very original language in which it was revealed, as the Quran itself indicates that the revelation of the

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Quran was very important in the history of mankind because, in a way, it culminates, the essential message that was preached by all prophets from Adam to Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and finally Muhammad in one final and complete scripture.

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It also corrects any misinterpretations or any mixing of the original scriptures given to previous prophets with ideas and philosophies that were alien to the face and bringing everything into complete form. In that sense, then, the revelation of the Quran represents a an event for which not only Muslims, but the entire world really should be thankful to God because of it. And that's why you find that the first verse I cited ends with the statement that you may glorify God that he has guided you. And I don't think that there's anything in this world that is worthy of being grateful for that is worth he of getting Thanksgiving, or getting thanks for that guidance, then being

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brought from the state of

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African and theological riddles to the simple, straightforward path of truth, the original choice of Revelation, nothing is better than getting from the darkness into light as the Quran calls it. The other aspect of Ramadan, as has been shown in the second verse I cited is mainly spiritual in nature.

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In other words, in this verse, God talks about how close he is to mankind, how close is he to those who are earnest and seeking His guidance or earnest and praying to Him and trying to move their lives in accordance with his wind? In that sense, then you can say that these are the two major elements I should say. And the month of Ramadan? I think perhaps the next logical question that would come into most people's minds is

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how fasting in the Muslim context is observed. What is it that observed whether what is it that Muslims are supposed to do during Ramadan are not supposed to do as a general rule,

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the month of fasting is observed by abstaining from all kinds of food, drink,

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smoking, and sex from dawn, which is approximately 75 to 90 minutes

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before sunrise, all the way up to sunset, which of course varies from season to season.

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And when we talk here about abstinence, we're talking about total and complete abstinence. Some of my Christian friends, for example, asked me, aren't you allowed to take water even during the day, snack, something just live in or give up certain types of food? They said, No, this is not the type of fasting where you only give up some kind of food or that it's total absence, nothing really, that gets into your stomach,

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for the whole period between dawn and sunset,

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in addition, or in return, I should say for this total abstinence, there is no restriction However, on any type of food or drink, so long as it's permissible, for example, does not include alcoholics or other things which are forbidden in Ramadan, and other than Ramadan to

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every kind of food and drink that slowfall are permitted.

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Between dope between sunset and Dawn, in other words, for the whole night until the very break of the day.

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If there's any restriction however, it is only the restriction of common sense and avoidance of indulgence so that people would not just make up for the hunger during the day by over eating after sunset, because this is certainly is contrary to the Islamic teaching about even the question of protecting food and contrary to the whole wisdom and benefit that one derive

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Testing and that's to learn some sort of self control.

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Some people in this country particularly are confused by the fact that Ramadan comes in different months in different seasons, according to the common calendar here.

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Can you explain the reason for this? Why Ramadan moves from one

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month to another month? Okay. The reason for that is that, as it was indicated before the month of Ramadan is an Islamic month, so it follows the Islamic calendar. Yes. The Islamic calendar follows the lunar year.

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And as you know, in the Union here every month is about 29 and a half days. Yes, I think 29.

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Two, point 29.5 or three, something like that. That's around that offer 30 to 30 days.

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Today, yes, yes. But when you total it up the lunar years,

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comes to about 10 or 11 days shorter than the solar year. Yes. This means then that every year's the month of fasting the month of Ramadan comes about 10 or 11 days earlier than the previous year. Right. So for example, this year if Ramadan started on July 13, next year, it would start for example, around July 3, for example, the following year would be in late June, and so on. And this way, Ramadan keeps rotating in different seasons and different months, the months as defined in the western, or common calendar the solar year.

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In a way, you could say that it is advantageous if all fasting occurs in December, for example, please then that every time you're fasting only for about 11 hours between dawn to sunset, if it all occurs in July, it means that you're fasting perhaps between 16 to 18 hours. But by rotating the month of Ramadan through different seasons and different months, the Muslim experienced

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discipline of fasting under all kinds of conditions, and all kinds of seasons. Right? Well, we just told us that during the month of fasting is not permissible to eat from dawn to sunset, right? What about the case of people living in places like Scandinavia, or near the poles where we have sometimes months of continuous sunshine? Or on the other hand, months of continuous darkness? What about how would they observe the fast the Islamic law, by its very nature has endless

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adaptability and flexibility in application to particular situations like this one. And that question has been addressed by Muslim jurists. Of course, you could not say to those people, you could not fast, or you could not break your fast and the times when it's all day, because then it never comes for quite a few weeks, sometimes four months. And it means also that in the 30s of the year where it's all dark, that they will not be able to Festival, which is called both of them are unreasonable. And both of them are contradictory to another aspect of Islamic law. And that is you should not fast continuously. In other words, you have to break your fast sometimes every day, you

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can just keep for three or four days without food or drink. So the solution for those people is that either they could fast a number of hours which is equivalent to the number of hours fasted by people who are close to them in the nearest moderate area. Or the code fest the number of hours similar, for example, to the hours passed in Mecca,

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being the the place where the Quran first was revealed. So there's no problem in solving that problem, because even those people are living in this area, they have some mis system of adjusting their working hours and sleeping hours. So you can still make some kind of approximation and their fasting would be acceptable.

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Now, this fasting is it compulsory on all Muslims their respective of age and so on. Is it a requirement that all Muslims must participate in the in the faster for example your children young children required to know the degenerative rules and fasting as a religious obligation is that it is prescribed on every Muslim, male or female who have already reached the age of Adonis adolescence that is when the person is reaching the age of puberty.

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Since fasting is an act that requires a fair amount of discipline, and sacrifice, if you wouldn't, it is desirable

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that even though for small children who are not required to fast to start training them gradually to get used to fasting. For example, in many Muslim countries, and even in places like in Canada and us those who have children. They this children

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usually start, let's say by fasting from dawn to noon.

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Or let's say or from breakfast to lunch,

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at least to make sure that they not take snacks in the middle that gets them somewhat used to it. As the child grows up and becomes stronger and gets more interested in investing, he might try for example, fasting, a full day, maybe a few days. And then the following year, he can increase the number of days he has, that's how most Muslims in Muslim countries get to learn, or practice the fasting.

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But this should, should be done, however, with motivation and encouragement rather than pressure. My personal experience as a father

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is that sometimes my children are the ones who are asking for that, would you wake up, wake up early in the morning, they get so excited, like we were talking about Mohammed before we began today's program, and I think he's telling me that he's fasted eight days. Exactly. He's nine years old. Yes. And some people people even start before that there are other children in the community where fasted more than Muhammad did even

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about perhaps half or more than half of the days during this month, they get so excited about it, and they really feel a challenge and are proud of, but one should not pressure small children too, too fast for the whole month. By the time they reach the age of adolescence, it becomes just normal for them to to fast, right, other than small children, other other exemptions other individuals that are exempted from or other conditions, which will exempt people from participating in the past? Yes, yes, there are. In fact, there are some exemptions which are temporary in nature, others that are permanent, and exemption of the temporary exemptions are people for example, who are ill, or sick,

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where they fasting might either aggravate the illness, or delay the cure, because it is not one of the objectives of Islamic law to put people into greater difficulty, like the verse I cited, that God does not wish to place us in great difficulty. Yes, discipline, yes, but not a difficulty in such a way that it endangers the life or the health of the of the individual. So the sick person may not fast until he is cured, and then he can make up for the missed days and littered time. Obviously, another aspect of the compassionate teaching also of the Quran is that for women, for example, who are during their monthly cycle, or they probably feel a little weaker, tired. Also

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women who are pregnant women, immediately after childbirth during the postnatal rest, and also mothers who are breastfeeding their children for the infant. For these categories, they are also not required to fast again, provided that they can make up for the days they have missed an allotted time when the reason for the exemption has been removed.

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As far as the permanent exemptions, this applies to people who would not be able in the future even to make up for the mistakes of fasting. An example of this would be a very old person

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where you don't expect him to become younger again. So just keep getting older and weaker.

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If there's a such case, a person may make a substitute or fasting if he's able to financially by providing two meals for a poor person for every day that he missed. And during the month of fasting, so I thought that let's say of 60 meals, 60 average meals for every year that he misses the month of fasting, a similar situation applies to a person who who's chronically ill, who's not expected to get over that illness, even if his young word fasting could be harmful to his health, he can also make the same kind of substitution.

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Since he's has no way of doing it.

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Even for those people who are reasonably healthy.

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Seems that fasting is, is quite a challenge. I know. Many of my non Muslim friends have find it quite difficult to imagine how a person could go without any food or any drink from from dawn to sunset.

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And they in some other fasting in Lent, for example. There's certain kinds of food that you don't eat but you are able to eat some food at least but in the Islamic fast there's no food or drink from dawn to sunset. And many people find this very difficult to to accept what would be your response to how would you respond to a person who was puzzled in this? Maybe they should try it. Really Yes. If you try

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It might feel a little difficult and hard at the beginning. But once you get used to it, even those who are keeping the Fest, year after year, usually the first three or four days of the month of Ramadan might be a little difficult, you have to give up some of the bad habits like smoking, for example, and taking too much coffee or something like that. So it gets a little hard at the very beginning. But as the system adjusts to the fast, it's not really that hard. It is this, of course requires lots of discipline, there's no question about that. It's not that easy as other types of fasting, for example, that you mentioned, but it is not really impossible or unreasonable.

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There are a number of reasons why it is not unreasonable. First of all, you're permitted, as I indicated before to eat whatever you like or drink between sunset and Dawn. Yes. So if you wake up as as late as possible, as close as possible to dawn time, which like I said, about 75 minutes roughly before sunrise, and have a meal that could really help you sustain you for the rest of the day. And then you can break your fast, immediately after sunset, you can. You don't have to wait after sunset. And but the key issue really are the key point in getting the training professing is the early training once the person really start gradually, little by little, he gets used to it and

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actually get pleasure out of doing it. Sometimes we're amazed at what our systems can, you know, we tend to spoil our systems predict when it comes to eating sometimes we we are consumed more in the run of the day than nurses really requires to sustain itself. Sometimes you undermine our the how adaptable our system is to all kinds of environmental conditions and fasting or not fasting, we have to have the courage to try it. Right. Let me ask you another question. On a related point. Sometimes we hear in the media that because of Ramadan, particularly in the the countries of the Middle East and other Muslim countries, that everything comes to a standstill in Ramadan, but offices are

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closed, businesses are closed and, you know, life more or less just stops for that month of fasting. How accurate is are these reports? Well,

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I think it's grossly exaggerated, I should say. There is no doubt. To start with that. For a person to observe the past. It may result in some cases to some slight slowdown in the way you know business or other

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functions are performed, especially if the month of Ramadan falls during the hat and long days of the summer. There's no question about that. But like I said, it's grossly exaggerated to say that everything really comes to a standstill. I happen to have been born and brought up

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in my early life in the Middle East. So at least I can speak with some firsthand experience or familiarity. What happens there in fact is that in the government offices, or in companies or other establishments, the employees may be permitted to work, maybe one to two hours, less every day, just especially those who

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wake up late at night in order to observe the prayers and so on. So they may have this kind of concession. During the month of Ramadan, it varies between one to two hour less per day. Sometimes even it's just an adjustment of the working hours, like starting a little early. And going home earlier so that you can have a nap in the afternoon and rest before it gets really too hot and too difficult at work.

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As far as business, it goes on as usual. The main sector that is affected,

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at least superficially look like being affected is the sector of restaurants. In a country where the majority are Muslims and are observing the fest you would not expect too many restaurants.

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Exactly you wouldn't do. Of course the sun might be open for non Muslim visitors in some countries, but it doesn't mean that you have really first one. But even in this case is the business more than pick up after sunset. Right? The restaurants start often shortly before sunset for people who want to buy food or just go there to break the fast. And usually they have extended hours that sometimes goes into the early hours of the morning. So it's simply again the adjustment of the business hours then rather than simply bringing everything to a halt. And many people just keep talking about places where Muslims are in majority numerically. What about the millions of Muslims so are in

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Europe in the United States and Canada. This program has all been prepared during the month of fasting the program is being recorded. While both the guest and the speaker the guest and the host are fasting personally as an individual. I have been

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Through all kinds of experiences while fasting, going to work to prepare for exams and everything, without much difficulty. So life more or less continues, this is normal, accepting that there was this special observances that are required of Muslims during the Ramadan. In the five minutes that we have remaining on the program, I'd like to touch on a couple of other aspects of fasting. We talked a little bit about the

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significance of fasting and our opening questions. But I like to come back to this question of significance again, just to have you perhaps,

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develop this point a little bit more. More specifically, what is the significance of fasting as a religious duty for Muslims? Well as a religious deity fasting, above all, is an act of worship, it's an act of submission and obedience to the will of God.

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It's a kind of dedication and commitment of one's life to the commandments of God.

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This helped translate the divine love or the love of God, to take it beyond a slogan into an actual practice in an actual sacrifice by giving up the lawful things even during the month of Ramadan in obedience to God. If there is nothing interesting, but this it would suffice. But in addition, we find that there's also a very important moral lesson that's learned from fasting. During the month of fasting, we give up lawful things, even the food and drink and things that are permitted. We voluntarily limit or restrain ourselves during the day from doing these things. If one get that training, he is more likely to overcome the temptations to commit unlawful acts outside of Ramadan

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or during Ramadan itself.

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That's why one verse in the Quran into 183 it says that fasting has been prescribed on you, as it has been prescribed on those before you in order that you may learn to be God conscious to be mindful of God or to learn self restraint.

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In addition to this, we find that fasting teaches other moral virtues. As the prophet of Islam, Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, was quoted in one Hadith which, prophetic saying, as narrated in Bukhari, he says that whoever does not refrain or abstain from falsehood, in words and deeds, God has no need for him, to give up his food and drink, which means fasting is not just to stop eating and thinking you have to stop or to teach yourself also, to be also virtuous, in other respects, also in life. In addition, Ramadan also are the months of fasting is a chance for the person to read, dedicate his life to atone or ask forgiveness from God for His previous sins and mistakes.

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That's why the prophet of Islam says, in one of his saying, as narrated and

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whoever fasts, Ramadan,

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with faith or out of faith and in the pursuit of God's pleasure, his previous sense will all be forgiven. So in a sense, then fasting is a form of jihad or struggle as we had in a previous program struggle against the domination of our law desires. And there's hold on us in a way, you could say that testing is an annual spiritual overhaul, if you will. Yes. In the two minutes that we have remaining, brother Jamal,

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wonder if you could tell us what happens after the month of fasting is over? Is there any celebration? And if so, are there any local activities that take place here in the Muslim community? Okay, one important aspect of fasting that relates to the answer to that question, is the social aspect because in Islam, again, fasting is not only just an individual or spiritual act, it also have social ramifications. Because the stem does not make a distinction between secular and and religious, they're all intermingled. And that is when you fast you practice the actual feeling of hunger, so you feel more compassion towards the poor and needy. I could tell you talk as long as

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they want on how does it feel to be hungry, but when you are hungry, then it feels differently. Yes. So that's why you're in both during the month of Ramadan, and immediately after it ends. One of the greatest celebrations really is this compassion to the poor. That's why the charity immediately after Ramadan is required to be given to the poor. The regular charity other than the Ramadan charity is encouraged also to be paid during the month of fasting.

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It is also desirable in the morning immediately after the end of the month of fasting, which is the first day of the following months after Ramadan.

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A Muslim is encouraged to wake up in the morning early in the morning.

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Take a shower, put his best clauses usually new clause especially for the children have the new clauses on that day. Yes, go to the mosque for the congregational prayers, chanting glorification and thank thanksgiving to God, followed by prayers and then short speech to be given on the occasion. And then after that people can go home and visit their friends and relatives exchange gifts and try to celebrate and give thanks for being able to observe the month. Thank you, brother Jamal for appearing on our program today on we've exhausted our time. For viewers who may want to have more information on fasting. free booklet on fasting is available from the Islamic focus

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program. You can get this booklet by writing to Islam and focus care Post Office Box 116. That's our program for the day. Thank you for watching Islam and focus