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Chino, California: Muslims participating in the holy month of Ramadhan, emphasizing empathy for those less fortunate

“This is the reason why we are waiting for this time to come. So we can get closer to God, pray to him to get his forgiveness. That is the lesson of training during the month of fasting.”

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | US Desk
Source/Credit: Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
By Canan Tasci |  Staff Writer | July 26, 2012

CHINO – One would think not eating or drinking for almost 20 hours a day for a month would be torture.

However, for millions of Muslims around the world it is not about eating, it’s about feeling empathy for those less fortunate.

The holy month of Ramadhan started last week at sunset with Muslims devoting themselves to dawn-to-dusk fasting, prayers and good deeds.

Muslims are expected to abstain during daylight hours from food, drink, smoking and sex in order to focus on spirituality, good deeds and charity from July 20 through Aug. 19.

Small children as well as people who are ill or women expecting children are exempt from fasting.

The 29-day Islamic fast culminates with a three-day holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

The month of fasting always begins on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which comes every year 10 days from the previous year.

“The goal of Ramadhan is that it teaches us that as you are feeling hungry to look to the needy and hungry who do not have food,” said Imam Shamshad A. Nasir, of Baitual Hamid Mosque in Chino.

Nasir is also the spiritual leader for the Ahmadiyya community.

“This is just a little effort on our part to remain hungry and thirsty … but the reward is very heavy from God,” he said. “This is the reason why we are waiting for this time to come. So we can get closer to God, pray to him to get his forgiveness. That is the lesson of training during the month of fasting.”

There are two other reasons why Islams look forward to the fast – to lose weight and care for the poor and needy, Nasir said.

“The saying of Profit Mohammed is if you observe the fast your health will be good,” he said.

“Islam teaches humanity that first we should care for other people, not just ourselves … it is not fair that you have a good house, car, business or job and you don’t (recognize) your neighbor is sleeping hungry, and you don’t care, that is totally wrong in Islam.”

The mosque at 11941 Ramona Ave. in Chino draws many for the five daily prayers, but during this holy time of the year, up to 400 people gather at the place of worship for a number of lectures and prayers.

All prayers must be done either by oneself or at the mosque.

A father walks his children into the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s
Baitul Hameed Mosque. (James Carbone/Correspondent – Daily Bulletin)

But because this is a special time of the year, about 45 minutes before the sunset prayer, Nasir will provide the community with a lecture from the Holy Quran and other texts from Islam as well as the writings of the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, and his spiritual successors.

Lectures cover various aspects of Islamic teachings, with an emphasis on the purpose and rewards of observing the fast.

After the sunset prayer, a free dinner is served to attendees at the Baitual Hamid Mosque.

Muslim or non-Muslim visitors are always welcome and can participate in the evening’s events as they wish, Nasir said.

The fifth daily prayer – about 9 p.m. – in Islam, called Ishaa, will be held after the dinner, followed by a short reading and commentary on Hadith – the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad – after which extra prayers, called Taraveeh, will commence, Nasir said.

For veteran fasters, it is still difficult to not eat for hours on end. However, they say it is a sacrifice worth making.

“There are two parts of it – you’re sacrificing the comfort of life, not just the food, but the sleep and the rest,” said Monas Chaudry, 50, of Brea.

“And then you wake up weary in the morning and indulge in prayer and eat a little bit. It’s not that you get used to it, it’s nothing like that. Every year, you have to focus on that and dedicate yourself to that. It gets easier as the month and days go by in the month of Ramadhan, but it’s just an ongoing effort one has to make.”

Rancho Cucamonga resident Imran Jattala said those living in the United States and worshiping are fortunate. There are people observing where it is 115 degrees and where water is practically a luxury, Jattala said.

“We are lucky,” he said. “And here we are in air-conditioning buildings.”

Jattala agrees that while it does get easier not to eat and drink, you do not get used to it.

“And I think that’s the point, to get used to the idea that this is what hunger is like and this is what (being thirsty) is like,” he said.

“Two of the common issues in the world today are scarcity of food and in a large part of the world it’s water.”

Earlier this week at the mosque, after dinner, dozens of men and women gathered in separate rooms for the last prayer.

They would rise and fall simultaneously during prayer.

Both men and women must take their shoes off before entering the prayer house. They must cover their heads, and do this out of respect and to follow the practice of their Profit Mohammad, Nasir said.

The women were covered head to toe in loose-fitting scarves, burqas or hijabs.

All were long sleeved and dressed modestly.

Dressed in a long-sleeved blazer, Chino resident Palwisha Hydari said she likes the idea of men and women in separate rooms.

“I think it is because when I am praying, I am at my most vulnerable state,” she said. “I don’t want to be distracted.”

During the prayer, a cell phone goes off, not loud enough to disturb worship, but loud enough for the 23-year-old Hydari to look over at the purse from which the sound was coming from.

The ring tone wasn’t familiar to many, but Hydari knew it.

“It’s a prayer,” she said. “Many people download applications and set them as alarms.”

This century-old ritual doesn’t seem so ancient now.

Nasir said there are many smart-phone applications that people download to remind themselves of the prayer timings as well as the start and stop time for fasts.

“There is none I’m aware of that is officially endorsed or distributed,” he said. “Most of these are made and distributed by enthusiasts.”

Reach Canan via email, call her at 909-987-6397 ext. 425, or find her on Twitter @ChinoValleyNow.

Read original post here: Muslims participating in the holy month of Ramadhan, emphasizing empathy for those less fortunate

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