A month to cleanse the spirit

Muslims observe Ramadan holiday.

By: Sharlee Joy DiMenichi
   Introspection is the essence of Ramadan.
   The festival’s disciplines of daytime fasting, sexual abstinence and daily prayers facilitate an examination and purification of Muslims’ inner character, said Imam Hamad Ahmed Chebli of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey.
   The holiday began on Nov. 6 and lasts one month. The festival occurs in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and celebrates the month during which the prophet Mohammed received the Quran, also known as the Koran.
   "Ramadan, I consider, is the month of discovering about yourself," Imam Chebli said.
   Such self-discovery should lead believers to compassion, humility and moral reform, Imam Chebli said.
   "What we advise the people: to love others as they love themselves and to work on yourself before you work on others. If you have a good tongue and good eyes to look for the shortcomings in others, please focus about yourself," Imam Chebli said.
   Daytime physical restrictions should be accompanied by spiritual restraint practiced day and night, Imam Chebli said.
   The faithful should refrain from lying, cheating cursing and backbiting at all times, especially during Ramadan, Imam Chebli said.
   Because Imam Chebli would like worshippers to focus on refining their character during Ramadan, he occasionally advises those struggling morally to forgo fasting until they can conduct themselves properly during the festival, he said.
   "Fasting is not obligatory on everyone. It is obligatory only on the adults who are able to observe and participate and conduct themselves according to the behavior of a good human being," he said.
   Imam Chebli also advises those who curse, are short-tempered, chronically absent from work, are addicted to cigarettes or are have severe marital strife not to fast during a given Ramadan because they will merely use the practice as justification for behaving even worse or damaging their spousal relationship more, he said.
   "There is no need to create an excuse," Imam Chebli said.
   Those who receive the Imam’s approval to skip fasting in a given year due to relational or personal weaknesses must improve their characters or their marriages and eventually make up all the days of fasting they have missed, Imam Chebli said.
   Believers with particular weaknesses as well as those of stronger character should always be striving to improve, Imam Chebli said.