Story by Spc. Britney Bodner
Ramadan is about sacrifice, said Chief Warrant Officer Fatuma Salim-Shirazy, human resources technician, III Corps Special Troops Battalion.
“We give up food and water and sacrifice things we indulge in every day from sunrise to sunset,” said Salim, a Muslim originally from Kenya. “It shows perseverance and is a chance to take that extra time I have to read or pray.”
“This does not mean
Each day, those observing Ramadan are allowed two meals, said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Ira Houck, United States Forces-Iraq world religions chaplain.
The first meal, Iftar, follows a call to prayer after sunset, and the second meal is Suhur, and takes place shortly before sunrise .
“It is not uncommon to take Iftar with company every night where huge amounts of food and drink are consumed,” Houck said.
Though she may not be celebrating with a large amount of food every evening, Salim said she is happy with a meal from the dining facility.
“For me and how I was raised, Ramadan is a chance for us to reflect and relate to those who are less fortunate than we are,” she said.
The holiest days for the month of Ramadan are the last 10, when Muslims take more time, as long as all night, to pray.
Laylat al-Qadr, or the Night of Power, is one of these nights, said Houck. The night is significant because it is believed to be the night that portions of the Qu’ran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Therefore, any prayer offered this night is greater than a thousand prayers any other night of the year.
The exact date is unclear between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. The Shiites observe Laylat al-Qadr on the 23rd day of Ramadan, and the Sunnis on the 27th day.
The month ends with the sighting of a new crescent moon and kicks off the three-day celebration known as Id-al-Fitr.
Houck said that these three days celebrate the breaking of the fast of Ramadan. Many Muslims view it as an opportunity to dress in their finest clothes, visit family and friends, and exchange gifts. This is also another time to give to the poor.
Houck said service members should be considerate during this time. Eating, drinking or smoking in front of Muslims could be taken as a sign of disrespect.
Perception about Mulsims is a very important thing during this time of the month, Salim said.
“This is a time for us to sacrifice our indulgences during the day and spend it praying and showing our faith,” she said. “Ramadan makes me appreciate life more and gives me time to reflect on what I have.”