Archive for September, 2009

The Significance of Ramadan

Remarks Delivered at the City Hall Eid Celebration

Sarah Sayeed, Program Associate & Board Member, Women In Islam, Inc.

In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.  It’s good to see so many of you here, and I welcome you this evening with the Muslim greeting of peace, Assalamu’alaikum.  I want to also thank members of City Council for continuing this important tradition of hosting a celebration of Eid at City Hall.  And thank you also to members of City Council for passing Resolution 1281 in support of the Eid holidays for New York City’s Muslim children.  

For many reasons, it is fitting that we should be here celebrating the blessing of Ramadan.  Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him counseled us by saying:

 “Ramadan is a month of blessing, mercy and forgiveness. A month which God has deemed 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 God 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…

So, repent to God for your sins and raise your hands in supplication during these times, for they are the best of times and God looks towards His creatures with kindness, replying to them during the hours and granting their needs if He is asked.” 

This is the month that we are celebrating today- it is a month that uplifts our souls and strengthens our character. It is a month of both inward and outward renewal.  It is also the month in which we are grateful for the guidance found in the Holy Quran, a book whose revelation began in Ramadan, a book that moves our hearts ever closer to compassion, good will, and justice. 

Muslims observe this special month with fasting- one of the 5 pillars of Islam. 

The world famous 13th century mystic, jurist, and poet, Jelaludin Rumi, may God have Mercy on His soul, invited us into fasting with these words:

There’s hidden sweetness in the stomach’s emptiness.

We are lutes, no more, no less. If the soundbox is stuffed full of anything, no music.

If the brain and belly are burning clean with fasting, every moment a new song comes out of the fire.

The fog clears, and new energy makes you run up the steps in front of you…” 

He goes on to say: 

A table descends to your tents, Jesus’ table. Expect to see it, when you fast, this table spread with other food, better than the broth of cabbages.”

The better food that Rumi refers to is the food of the soul.   God willing, in Ramadan, we have fed and filled our spirits.  This is the food that is better than the broth of cabbages, the kebabs, the bakhlava and the biryani.  It is the spirit of happiness and gratitude that fills us as we purify our bodies and turn longingly to our Creator.  I pray that this happiness and gratitude, and the guidance and strength we have received this month continue to nourish us in the days ahead.   Thank you again, may God keep you near to him, and Eid Mubarak.

Update, Kirpans in the US

Following up from the difficulties that Ravinder Kaur Nijjar from Glasgow faced with carrying her kirpan through security at various locations in NYC, we learned today that several schools of the National Heritage Academy are now permitting students to wear the kirpan, with certain restrictions.  Read United Sikh’s press release to learn more: 

http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-24-09-2009-00.htm