Busy with the worldly demands of our hectic lives, many of us leave the
deepest needs of the human heart unattended. For Muslims, the holy month of
Ramadan, which began this year on Oct. 15, is a time to subjugate the needs
of the body to tend to the needs of the heart. This month, the call of the
heart and its longing for connection with God take precedence.
Every year before Ramadan starts, I am filled with anticipation, hope and
usually some apprehension. I wonder if I will be able to meet the demands
of the fast. Abstinence from all food and drink, even water, is required
every day during daylight hours. Even in a state of hunger and fatigue, a
fasting person must do his or her best to be patient, avoid harshness with
anyone, show compassion and mercy to others, give of time and wealth in
charity, and avoid any falsehood or bad deed.
Every year, I quickly realize that the greatest challenges of this month
lie not in the physical abstinence but in the struggle to improve my
character. Muslims believe God provides tremendous support, love, mercy and
forgiveness for those struggling to attain piety and nearness to him. Islam
teaches that, during Ramadan, God binds the forces of evil so their
negative influences on people are restrained. The gates of God's mercy
being wide open, even the smallest acts of goodness are rewarded
exponentially by him.
What I cherish most about Ramadan are the opportunities for quiet moments
in solitude with God. The stillness of the morning before dawn provides a
perfect setting for communication with God. In a silence far removed from
the frenzied pace of the day, with intimacy, I pour out my soul's thoughts
to God. In those moments of devotion, I deeply sense God's love and
Another part I love about this sacred month are the taraweeh prayers held
at the mosque every evening. During these prayers, held only in Ramadan,
the Quran is usually recited in its entirety over the course of the
(Dr. Asma Mobin-Uddin is vice president of the Ohio chapter of the Council
on American-Islamic Relations.