As the month of Ramadan begins this week, a Springfield woman is welcoming area residents to learn more about the Muslim tradition and explain the event’s purpose.
The holy month includes at least 29 days of fasting during the day for followers and is intended to bring people closer to God, said Samina Ahmed. She is a member of the Miami Valley Islamic Association and its Masjid Al-Madina Mosque, 1800 S. Burnett Road in Springfield, who has spent years working to share and explain her Islamic faith to local residents.
One of the key elements of the month is fasting each day.
“We fast from dawn to dust,” she said.
The length of the month can range from about 29 to 31 days and is based on the lunar calendar, she said.
The purpose of fasting, which includes no food or drink, is to improve self-discipline and sacrifice, she said. The month concludes with a celebration breaking the fast.
“The whole purpose is when you can stay away from the things that are allowed for the hours you are fasting, it should be easy for you to leave some bad habits,” Ahmed said. “You should also appreciate the stuff you do have.”
She said fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, which in part informs how Muslims live their lives. Other pillars include faith in God, prayer and charity.
Fasting also helps provide spiritual motivation for followers, she said. The month is also a time for reflection and spending time with family and friends. Children, the elderly and pregnant women aren’t required to fast. Often, families and friends exchange gifts at the celebration at the end of the month, she said.
Ahmed also noted the Springfield mosque is always open to individuals who are curious to learn more about the religion, even if it’s just to watch the celebration or watch religious ceremonies.
“It’s a nice way for our whole community to get together,” Ahmed said.