Ramadan is expected to begin at sundown on Friday, April 2. To our Muslim friends, we say, “Ramadan Murbarak.” And we bring to you, with our gratitude, this blog post written by Zaiba Hasan of the McLean Islamic Center:
It is almost the holy month of Ramadan, and I have a confession to make to you all – I am not the best fasting person. I really feel like I am Zombie Zaiba all day. Someone permanently hangry, if you will. I am not proud of this title but in an effort to be authentic I try to share the good, the bad, the ugly.
Ramadan for me has always been a mixed bag. I feel excitement along with trepidation mixed with anxiety for weeks before the holy month begins. My children start talking in hushed whispers –fasting mama is coming, with slight fear in their eyes. However, in an attempt to fix my attitude I want to focus on five lessons I have learned during this holy month, and that I hope to carry lessons with me for the remainder of the year. I pray – especially if fasting (and all that goes with it) isn’t easy for you either – that these lessons help you stay the course during the Ramadan and beyond.
Family: Nothing brings a family together faster than saying, “It’s almost Maghreb.” My house sounds like a herd of elephants stampeding through the jungle before I can even get that last word out. As we sit around the table, in our dazed, hungered state, we share stories about the day, laugh at silly jokes my second grader loves to tell, and talk about some of the issues going on in the world today. I realize in our crazy schedule of work, school, practices, homework – we don’t do enough family dinners. My hope for when Ramadan ends is that we can continue to take a break from our hectic lives and make a point to connect as a family around the dinner table and in other ways.
Gratitude: Nothing gives you the most sense of gratitude then that first drink of ice cold water at sunset after you’ve been sitting outside in 90 degree weather at your son’s baseball game for three hours. After a long day of fasting I have the luxury of being able to break my fast with a delicious meal, a beautiful roof over my head, surrounded by the people I love most in this world.
The fact that two percent of the world’s population are homeless and close to 20 percent lack adequate housing isn’t lost to me and as I take that first sip of water. I am forever grateful that I am able to break that fast when others don’t know where their next meal is coming from. We all, those of us privileged to be able to break our fast with adequate food and drink and enjoy shelter, cannot be grateful enough.
Charity: The definition of fasting really means to abstain or to do without. Nothing heightens your sense of giving than to feel physically what it is like to do without. During the month of Ramadan more people are apt to donate their zakat  or give sadaqa  since this is the month of fasting, prayer and charity. However, why only give in Ramadan, or only give as generously as you do during this holy month? The act of charity should continue into the rest of the year. Whether you are donating your dollars or time, it never hurts to give to others. (Here are nine charities you can support in Ramadan and beyond through your volunteer hours, with monetary donations or both. Still looking for a good charity? Here are eight more!)
Prayer: I have another admission to make. I am not the best at prayer. I do them quickly or sometimes forget to do them at all. (I know. This is terrible). However, Ramadan brings a new sense of spirituality and connection to something bigger than myself. When you feel the pangs of hunger and thirst, it is a physical reminder of your devotion to something bigger than yourself. To take the time out of our crazy days to stop and take a break for salah, means to take a breather, have a conversation with God and readjust our attitudes to the world around us. If I can continue to do this with regularity and focus, I feel like I can only benefit from this the rest of the year.
(Here are four ways to get better about your five daily prayers and other simple spiritual goals to center in Ramadan and beyond.)
Patience: Part of my personal mission this year was to maintain my patience when my patience was at its thinnest. When your head is pounding from lack of caffeine and your children (or hubby) are grating on your nerves, it’s easy to yell out in frustration. My goal this Ramadan was to limit those outbursts as much as I could. To not let my hangry self lash out at the others around me. Like my daughter loves to tell me, “You are a grumpy fasting person.” Ouch, but it’s true. I will instead focus on gratitude, charity, prayer, and patience for the rest of the year and if God allows me to see another Ramadan, my hope is to be a better person than I am today. Until next time….
This blog post is the expressed opinion of its writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Tysons Interfaith or its members.
 The evening prayer that marks the end of the fasting day
 za·kat /zəˈkät/ noun obligatory payment made annually under Islamic law on certain kinds of property and used for charitable and religious purpose.
 Sadaqah or Sadaka (Arabic: صدقة ,IPA: [sˤɑdæqɐ], “charity”, “benevolence”, plural ṣadaqāt صدقات( in the modern context has come to signify “voluntary charity”. According to the Quran, the word means voluntary offering, whose amount is at the will of the “benefactor”.