Southeast Michigan is home to about 300,000 Muslims. Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic and lunar calendar, begins tonight. Many will begin fasting tomorrow.
Imam Suleiman Hani is a community leader, lecturer and author hailing from Dearborn. He says fasting is one of the most important acts of worship for Muslims.
“We practice self-discipline, we forgive others, we seek forgiveness, so it has both the spiritual benefits and the physical benefits as well in terms of centering our lives around our Creator,” he says.
Hani says Muslims perform other acts of worship too — such as prayers, supplicating to God, forgiving and seeking forgiveness, and reading Quran, which was revealed during Ramadan.
“We pray a lot in Ramadan. Aside from the five obligatory prayers that Muslims pray throughout the year, there are additional prayers Muslims pray during Ramadan. Sometimes they’re prayed in the mosques. If you have an Islamic center in your community, you will see a lot of the parking lots filled up during the nights of Ramadan.”
Hani says Muslims give a lot of charity.
“According some statistics, one of the most generous communities in the world is the Muslim community and especially during the month of Ramadan, so a lot of charity ends up coming out during this month.”
He says people can be mindful of students or coworkers fasting, by wishing them “Ramadan Mubarak” or a Blessed Ramadan, saving them food to take home if there are parties during the day, and encouraging and inquiring people about their fasting experiences.
“One of the most important things is to emphasize that we’re not expecting everyone to change everything for us or walk on eggshells around us. Absolutely not. I mean, we’re used to seeing food while we’re fasting. We’re used to seeing food and not eating and drinking during that time.”
He says people can join Islamic centers to break fasts to experience fasting with Muslims.
“Many Islamic centers in major cities will have the community eating together so the meals are accessible for everyone who’s in need. We also welcome everyone to just ask and inquire,” he says.
Hani says people may be tired during Ramadan.
“If you notice that in a student and a coworker, it may be because they’re praying a lot during the night it may be because there’s a lack of energy management and maybe they missed a pre Dawn meal. So just keep that in mind. But it doesn’t mean that we we slack off in any way in terms of work or efforts, if anything, oftentimes we’re doing more during Ramadan.”