Happy Ramadan

Ramadan 2011As Ramadan starts this year I am in Equatorial Guinea with HE Former President Rawlings raising both awareness and continuing with an appeal for funds and assistance to alleviate the pain and suffering of those still alive and experiencing one of the worst famines in the Horn of Africa. The epicenter of this famine disaster is Somalia and whilst the global world reacts Africa also has to react and quickly too.

The Equatorial Guinea is the current Head of the AU and the enthusiasm and readiness with which President Rawlings was received gave additional hope that structures were being put in place to ensure that funds could be raised sooner rather than later.Today as Ramadan begins I would hope that all denominations and faiths would say a prayer and those who can to fast for those who cannot. We must will ourselves together and help bring about some relief for those who are trapped either by the famine alone or by the war which they cannot escape from and therefore not get to safety.As my friend Yusif Mustapha passed on the following quotation to mark the commencement of Ramadan I could not help but think of those sacrificing and those working with others to get through life’s difficult moments – “O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may develop God-consciousness.” (Quran 2:183). As such for me  I personally dedicate my thoughts this year to an old friend and mentor recently departed, the Regional Chief Imam of Ashanti.Last year I remembered that at this time at the beginning of Ramadan is time of such poignant significance that I always share the emotion of the occasion with those I know and those I don’t. The moment and occasion of fasting is something, which is observed by all religions but today is Islam’s.Our faith is constantly tested and when I look at the suffering of the people of Somalia my heart weakens with sadness. The people especially the women and children who have passed away and those who continue to suffer. I also look around me and pray that many of our value systems are restored and that the base respect, which we need to keep in check, is restored.

We as people are destroying one another, many of our value systems appear to have disappeared along with respect for our elders and gratitude for those have assisted in our development. We appear to believe our humanity transcends the very religion we claim to believe in and somehow out of our self-destructiveness believe we can transcend our very mortality

At the beginning of this Ramadan I have asked two special friends of mine, I’zac Hassan a Christian religious intellect and Yusif Mustapha to prepare two pieces I could publish in celebration of this moment in time.

I’zac Hassan
Say ye: “We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to Allah (in Islam).” (Meaning of Quran 136 by Ali ).

It is therefore against this background of a common heritage of faith that I extend my warmest greetings to all Muslims in this month of Ramadan and wish you a Holy and Blessed spiritual endeavour.

Ramadan is the month of great excitement for Muslims. It is the month of revelation of Quran  the month of reading and reciting the whole Quran, the month of Tahajjud and Qiyam al-layl prayers, Sadaqah, Zakah al-Fitr and Zakah al-Mal. Ramadan is also a month of significant demonstration of the love of Allah towards mankind and between Muslims and peoples of all faiths.

This is the blessed month of Allah. A month of blessing, mercy and forgiveness. A month, which, with Allah is the best of months. Its days;  the best of days, its nights, the best of nights, and its hours, the best of hours. It is the month which invites you to be the guests of Allah and invites you to be one of those near to Him. Each breath you take glorifies him; your sleep is worship, your deeds are accepted and your supplications are answered.

I take this opportunity to wish you all a sound body and an enlightened mind and a pure heart so you may be able to fast and recite his revealed thoughts ( in the Quran), for only he is unhappy who is devoid of Allah’s forgiveness during this Holy month.

The holy month of Ramadan has come and Allah makes it a month of blessing to fill us with mercy and forgiveness, to rekindle in ourselves the meanings of kinship of all men and compassion and to renew the supreme values called for by this faith. Allah revealed in this month the Holy Qur’an, making Ramadan, the helm of all months.

As you observe this holy sojourn may it strengthen cohesion and the feelings of compassion, love and the rebuilding of our common national aspiration based on great and high morals.
As we welcome this holy month in expectation and hope, we recall the Prophet’s saying to his companions congratulating them on Ramadan, “O people, a blessed month comes. Allah orders you to fast. A month when the doors of paradise are open; the doors of hell are closed; and demons are chained. “The Ramadan gives us great opportunities and lessons, which we see through sight and insights. We demonstrate how we show mercy to one another, how the privileged feel the suffering of the poor and how Muslims desire to win the consent of Allah through submission, compassion and benevolence..

Islam  is a religion of love, mercy and tolerance. Its message is revealed as mercy .Its philosophy is for dialogue, love and active participation in advancing human civilization.

In this month of Ramadan may you remember the hunger and thirst of the day of Qiyamah (Judgment) with your hunger and thirst; give alms to the needy and poor, honor the old, show kindness to the young , maintain relations with all men; guard your tongues, close your eyes to that which is not permissible for your sight, close your ears to that which is forbidden to hear, and show compassion to orphans.

During this special period as the doors of heaven are open, we pray Allah not to close them to you; As the doors of hell are closed, so we pray Allah to keep them closed to you. During this month Shaytan (Satan) is imprisoned so we ask Allah not to let him have power over you.
Have a blessed and Holy Ramadan.

Yusif Mustapha

Ramadan Mubarak
As the crescent moon appears for the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, it is my honor to congratulate Muslims in Ghana and around the world as they begin the sacred month of Ramadan

Allah decreed fasting in the month of Ramadan in the following verses:

” O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed upon you as it was prescribed on those before you so that you may learn self-restraint” [2:183]

The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Saum (fasts) that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe Saum (fasts) must be made up] from other days. Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must magnify Allah [i.e. to say Takbir (Allahu-Akbar; Allah is the Most Great) on seeing the crescent of the months of Ramadan and Shawwal] for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him.(2:185)

Ramadan, as everyone knows, is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, a time to practice patience and modesty, pray extra and refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from dawn until sunset.

Ramadan is a time of intense devotion and reflection – a time when Muslims fast during the day and perform tarawih prayers at night, reciting and listening to the entire Quran over the course of the month. These rituals remind us of the principles that we hold in common(as servants of Allah), and Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings.

The night of al-Qadr also falls in the month of Ramadan-that night that is better than a thousand months when Allah sends down Angels and Spirits until dawn. The verse that reveals the night of al-Qadar is below:

“Verily, We sent it down in the night of al-Qadr. And what will make you know what the night of al-Qadr is? The night of al-Qadr is better than a thousand months. Therein descend the angels and the Spirit by their Lord’s permission with all Decrees. Peace! Until the appearance of dawn.”(Al-Qadr: 1-5)

The lessons of benefits of Ramadan are bountiful:
The true purpose of fasting is to value the tremendous blessings of Allah and realize that a large percentage of people in the world do not have what we take for granted every day. Hopefully a person will carry this realization throughout his or her life and become a better person and member of the community. The purpose of Ramadan is to develop gratefulness for Allah’s blessings so that man may become humble and righteous.

Fasting as we have learnt from Islamic traditions is not merely abstinence from food and drink, but all the organs of the body must be in a state of fasting. The fast of the eyes is not to look at what is forbidden; the fast of the tongue is not to lie and slander and likewise, every organ must stay away from wrong. A Muslim in Ramadan must be in a state of fasting from head to toe.

The holy prophet called the fast a shield of faith-In the event that someone who is fasting encounters someone quarrelsome or one who would lead them down a bad path, the fasting individual should say the words “I am fasting” three times. This will serve as a shield for safeguarding his faith and the fast will Insha’Allah be regarded as a successful one by Allah.

The rigors undertaken by devout Muslims inspire respect for Islam among people of all faiths. And this can bring hope of greater understanding for good will. It can overflow old boundaries when wholehearted devotion to one’s own faith is matched with a devout respect for the faith of others.

We are united in faith, fasting is a concept shared by many faiths – including my own Christian faith – as a way to bring people closer to God. The call to uphold the universal values of humility, love and empathy for others and thankfulness for the blessings of Allah is a call shared by all of us as Ghanaians and members of the human family.

Let us reflect on and strengthen our relationship with the Almighty Allah, and all men and women of goodwill in Ghana and the world over during the fast.

Let us rededicate ourselves to the service of God, country and the whole of humanity. Beyond abstaining from food and drink, we must resolve to make the greater sacrifice of eschewing vices that slow down the progress as members of the human family.

And today, I want to join with the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world – and your families and friends – in welcoming the beginning of Ramadan, and wishing you a blessed month. May God’s peace be upon you.

Ramadan Mubarak.

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