Muslims worldwide are currently in the midst of observing Ramadan. But just what, exactly, is Ramadan? Beliefnet’s columnist Reed Hall explains.
BY: Reed Hall
On July 20, President Barack Obama issued the following statement:
“On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I extend our warmest wishes to Muslim Americans, and Muslims around the world, at the start of Ramadan. For Muslims, Ramadan is a time of fasting, prayer, and reflection — a time of joy and celebration. It’s a time to cherish family, friends, and neighbors, and to help those in need."
“This year, Ramadan holds special meaning for those citizens in the Middle East and North Africa who are courageously achieving democracy and self-determination, and for those who are still struggling to achieve their universal rights. The United States continues to stand with those who seek the chance to decide their own destiny, to live free from fear and violence, and to practice their faith freely. Here in the United States, Ramadan reminds us that Islam is part of the fabric of our Nation, and that from public service to business, from healthcare and science to the arts, Muslim Americans help strengthen our country and enrich our lives.
“Even as Ramadan holds profound meaning for the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, it is also a reminder to people of all faiths of our common humanity and the commitment to justice, equality, and compassion shared by all great faiths. In that spirit, I wish Muslims across America and around the world a blessed month, and I look forward to again hosting an iftar dinner [the daily fast-breaking meal observed each evening during Ramadan] here at the White House. Ramadan Kareem.”
Ramadan Kareem means something like “Ramadan is generous.” This traditional expression reflects a sentiment of thanksgiving for the generous blessings that one has received, while also serving as a reminder that one should be generous in return.
Read more from Reed Hall on his "Religion 101" blog.