A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

For Muslims, holy month of Ramadan is time to forgive, show compassion, help others

By Najah Allouch
Contributing writer

 

There is one month during the year that I truly love. During this month I observe the patience of people and love and compassion towards others. To me and many like me, it is a treasure. The month I am talking about is Ramadan.

 

My name is Najah Allouch, and I am an Arab-American Muslim. Many people feel that we are violent people, that all we have in our hearts is hate and anger because of some fanatics who have represented Islam in a very negative way. Most Muslims, just like most Christians or people from any other faith, are good people. We love, we adore family, and we appreciate friendship. We have good morals and good values, just like most good people all over the world.

 

I would love to share with you the experiences of this great month. Ramadan is a month that is known for its time of forgiveness, of compassion towards others, of mercy from God. It is said that in this month the gates of hell are closed. It is said to be better than a thousand months. For every good deed you do it counts as if you had done 10 good deeds.

 

Ramadan is a very hard month to endure. It involves fasting from dawn until sunset every day for the entire month, and that can be very difficult at times. Fasting means to refrain from any food or drink.

 

Fasting cleanses your soul and makes you appreciate all your blessings. Fasting humbles you; it makes you feel compassion for the poor who experience that type of hunger every day. At the end of the day, however, we have a big dinner; the poor don’t have that luxury. That is why Muslims are required to give zakat (pronounced as “zakaat”), which is a portion of money (2.5 percent) that every Muslim must give to the poor on an annual basis. Many choose to do this during Ramadan. This money is either given personally or through a charity. The main thing is that it must be paid.

 

We are taught to not only fast from food and drink but to try to refrain from conflict, anger and mean words. Our prophet (peace be upon him — this is what we say when we mention any of the prophets) says, “Saying a nice word is like giving to charity.” And he also said, “To smile in the face of your brother (implying any human being) is like giving to charity.” We are to be kind and loving to each other. We are to be forgiving, not only in this month but in every month. But for some reason, this month brings out the best in everyone. I love the way family and friends always gather to break the fast, have wonderful meals together and thanking God for all they have and are blessed with. There is just so much peace and love in the air.

 

We spend a lot of time reading our holy book, the Quran (pronounced “Koran”). We spend a lot of time praying, trying to help those who are less fortunate and performing good deeds, which in turn cleanses our hearts and souls. For one month, we truly do become less selfish, less self-centered and more focused on what really matters in the world.

 

That is why I love this month so much. When I know that this month is over, I always shed a tear. It is sad because this month, called “the month of good,” is gone for another year. Despite its hardships and struggles, I always can’t wait until this month comes back around.

 

Najah Allouch is a 2011 graduate of the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications. The New Jersey native spent most of her life in Kentucky but also spent four years in Syria, where she became fluent in the Arabic language.

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