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October 2006:

1. DEAR ABE: Are there religious celebrations connected to Ramadan and the Muslim fasting?  I have heard of Eid because they sell Eid stamps at the post office, isn’t it a part of Ramadan? -- KIM, PITTSBURGH

DEAR KIM: There is an important occasion connected to Ramadan, which is the Night of Destiny.  There is a Sura (Chapter in the Quran) about this event titled Destiny [1]; which is the 27th night of Ramadan, the night that the Quran was revealed.  We are told that the Night of Destiny is better than a thousand months and that it is peaceful until dawn.  Another important occasion connected to Ramadan is retreating to the masjid in the last ten days.  This is mentioned in the Quran, and so it is beneficial for those who are able to do the retreat [2].  Eid is more of a cultural event in which the participants celebrate the Support they received in successfully observing the month of Ramadan.  Eid is not mentioned in the Quran.

Relevant Quran Verses: [1] 97:0-5; [2] 2:187.


 2. DEAR ABE:  This year, the start of Ramadan has been determined using a Calculation method, but in the past Ramadan began with the sighting of the new moon.  I am worried that we are moving away from our blessed religion – it will start with changing the way we determine the beginning of this holy month, and then more changes –what will be next?  What do you think about this change?   --JAMEEL, U.S.

DEAR JAMEEL:  The North American Fiqh Counsel has changed how they determine the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, but the calculation method has always been available and is described in the Quran [1].  We can determine the starting date of any month, including Ramadan, by comparing the time of the New Moon with the Sunset. If the new moon is born before sunset, the new month will begin the next day. It was claimed that the moon sighting was required for the start of Ramadan, when in fact it never was the sole required method, since God allows us to calculate.  Also, more evidence lies in the fact that we have always determined the start of the other months through calculation; this is why calendars are possible.  As a matter of fact, Centuries before the Quran, Meton of Athens in the 5th century BC calculated the 19-year "Metonic cycle." Meton calculated that 19 solar years corresponded to a lunar cycle. Thus, the calculation of the birth of a new moon has been available to humans at least since that time.  God, in His Mercy, has given us the knowledge of scientific calculation based on two, large visible objects (the sun and moon), to determine the start of each day and each month, as well as to determine the timing of our 5 daily prayers.[2].

Relavant Quran Verses:  [1] 17:12, 6:96, 55:5, 10:5, 2:187, 2:183-185, 36:37-40; [2] 10:5, 17:78, 21:33.


3. DEAR ABE:  I do not believe I am required to cover my hair.  I am a modest woman; I dress modest and carry myself in a modest behavior.  I cover my body and I believe that is what "hijab" means.  I often get lectured by my husband's family about not wearing "hijab". How do I explain to them how I feel about hijab without causing uproar and having my faith questioned? --SISTER R.

DEAR SISTER R.:  Congratulations on deciphering the “hijab” issue.  Indeed, God does tell us that the best garment is the garment of righteousness, and also that religious beliefs are not to be forced on others [1].  You will have to decide which angle is the best to take with your family, since you know your situation the best.  It does not sound like they are oppressing you, forcing you, or fighting you – and hence God recommends in the Quran that, unless they are fighting you, kind enlightenment is the best approach[2].  In deciding an approach, we are advised to make a decision and put our trust in God [3], and we are informed that God answers our prayers.  Prayer for support is one of the prayers given in the Quran [4]. In conclusion, God does not require us to wear head covers or hijab, the command is to dress modestly and it is your prerogative to decide what this requires.

Relevant Quran Verses:  [1] 7:26, 2:256; [2]2:190, 16:125; [3] 3:159, 3:122, 3:160, 5:11, 7:89, 8:61; [4] 2:186, 17:80, 2:250-251, 7:89.

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writers, and should not be taken as the only acceptable approach. The reader is encouraged to research the topics further using the Quran.

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