By Saeed Kargar
During the blessed month of Ramadan, Muslims all over the world abstain from all food, drink, and other physical needs during the daylight hours (such as smoking or sex). Ramadan is much more than just not eating and drinking; it is a time to purify the soul, refocus attention on God, and practice self-discipline and sacrifice.
Fasting during the month of Ramadan is considered one of the 5 Pillars of Islam-- five activities that shape a Muslim's life. Prayer occurs on a daily basis; pilgrimage is done once in a lifetime; charity and professing one's faith are both ongoing. Fasting the month of Ramadan is an annual observance; every year, Muslims take an entire month out of their lives to observe this strict fast and rededicate themselves to worship and faith.
Muslims are called upon to use this month to re-evaluate their lives in light of Islamic guidance.
And how Ramandan is related to peace?
We are to make peace with those who have wronged us, strengthen ties with family and friends, do away with bad habits -- essentially to clean up our lives, our thoughts, and our feelings. The Arabic word for "fasting" (sawm literally means "to refrain" - and it means not only refraining from food and drink, but from evil actions, thoughts, and words.
The physical effects of the fast are felt by Muslims as a reminder of those who suffer throughout the year -- those who are poor, homeless, refugees -- and who cannot meet their basic needs. It reminds Muslims not to be wasteful and to feel empathy for those who face hunger on a daily basis. We should feel gratitude for the bounties of Allah: clean water, sufficient healthy food, comfort of a home, health of our family members. There are so many in the world who must survive without these basic needs, and Ramadan is a time for us to give thanks and reaffirm our commitment to helping those in need.