The Meaning of Ramadan **
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is a month in the Islamic calendar that has been specifically designated for greater religious adherence and reflection. People are most familiar with the fasting that takes place during the month. And that is certainly an important aspect of it. Just as important is greater religious adherence and greater goodwill towards other men and women.
Why do you fast?
It is an example set by prophet Muhammad and an obligation commuted upon by all observant Muslims. The meaning behind it is to strengthen one's self-discipline as well as remind people of the experience of those less fortunate than themselves.
Before sunrise you have a meal called "Sahoor." From dawn to sunset one is to abstain from eating food and drinking water.
At sunset you break your fast traditionally with a date and water. You pray and then you have a full meal, called "Iftaar," and it starts all over again the next morning.
When did Ramadan start this year?
The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar and so in a geographic area Ramadan does not start until the new moon is officially sighted. Different places have different visibility so it could vary a day or so.
Tell me about Iftaar?
The Iftaar is the evening meal that breaks the fast. It is usually a time of congregating with friends and family - inviting folks to your house or going over to someone else's house. It is a time of increased friendship and brotherhood.
The meals vary - anything goes.
We stop and remember our friends. You receive a lot of invitations from people you haven't seen in a long time. It revives the feeling of spirit in the Muslim community. It brings people together.
What is the mood in Iraq during this Ramadan?
Well, people are spending more time with their families. You can walk right outside now and hear all the voices of the imams coming from the mosques. You can hear the call to prayer and the verses of the Koran coming from all around Baghdad - it is very beautiful.
There are many Muslims that work here at the CPA. Ambassador Bremer has circulated information for those people who aren't Muslim that helps enlighten them about its specific meaning and be sensitive to those Muslims who will be fasting during this month.
Tell me about your experience in Iraq?
It is difficult to meet somebody and talk to them and not feel very warmly toward them.
It is humbling because they immediately refer to you as brother and consider you part of the family. There is an immediate bonding. The people that I've talked to are very warm, loving and receptive. It doesn't matter if you are talking to a government official, the young guy who cuts my hair, or the old man who operates the coffee shop I went to the other day - they are saying the same thing - words of great welcome, great affection and brotherhood, gratitude and a hope for a future relationship.
Just the other day I went into a restaurant I'd been in only once before, three months ago - and they greeted me by name. I've made some great friends here over the last five months - friends I hope I will stay in touch with over time.
The Meaning of Ramadan
Ramadan is a special month of the year for over one billion Muslims throughout the world. It is a time for inner reflection, devotion to God, and self-control.
November 24, 2003 Greetings From the President to Muslims Celebrating Eid Al-Fitr
Ask the White House
November 24, 2003
Ali Tulbah - Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad