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The Calendrical ritual of Ramadan is important for Muslims because it connects Muslims to Allah and is also important as it enriches Australia as a plural society by demonstrating dedication to Islam through fasting and highlighting values and attributes important in our everyday lives. Despite calendrical rituals playing a large role in Australian lives, Ramadan showcases culture and religion in a secular society. Australia is a society largely composed of different ethnic groups or cultural traditions, which focuses on the right to believe and practice religion without discrimination.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar and believed to be the holy month where Muslims around the world fast. Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, which is a system on which Muslims live. The other pillars include charity, prayer, faith also includes making the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca a time to practice spiritual reflection, prayer, doing good deeds and spending time with family and friends, special efforts are made to connect with their own and other communities as well to reach out to those in need . It begins and ends with the appearance of the new moon. Interpreted as the obligation to refrain between dawn and dusk from food, drink, sexual activity, and all forms of immoral behaviour, including impure or unkind thoughts. Thus, false words or bad deeds or intentions are as destructive of a fast as is eating or drinking. The reason why Ramadan is important to Muslim revolves mostly on Islamic tradition states that it was during Ramadan, on the “Night of Power” on one of the last 10 nights of Ramadan, usually the 27th night that God revealed to the Prophet Muhammad the Quran. The Qur’an promotes Healthy behaviour when fasting from dawn until dusk this includes avoiding drinking, eating and immoral acts. Other forms of dedication towards the ritual can be shows such as reciting a prayer, reading the Quran and acts of charity are also common during the month of Ramadan. The Qur’an states that fasting was prescribed for believers so that they may be conscious of God. By avoiding certain things we use in our everyday lives we don’t realise we take for granted, it is believed, The ritual can demonstrate for believers a purpose and shows how we should be living as a society which is known to bring one closer to their religion and Allah.
Using lovat’s analysis the process of the ritual Ramadan can be explained in several different ways, these steps are entry, preparation, the climax, the celebration and the return leading to the end of the ritual. The entry of Ramadan starts with Muslims waking up early for a pre-dawn meal called suhoor, and they break their fast with a meal referred to as iftar. The ritual than reaches the preparation stage where after the sunset prayer, Muslims gather in their homes or mosques for a meal for a break from their fasting called iftar that is often shared with friends and family members. The climax of the month is Laylat Al-Qadr (the night of power), which commemorates the moment the angel Gabriel first appeared to Mohammed and began revealing the Qur’an, during this night Muslims are often expected to take a break from their daily life for Allah and recite the Qur’an in which you have the option to recite any surahs from the Qur’an on this night Muslims believe this is an opportunity to clean their sins in which on the authority of Abu Huraira, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him reported that the prophet said: Whoever stands (in prayer) in Laylatul Qadr while nourishing his faith with self-evaluation, expecting a reward from Allah, will have all of his previous sins forgiven. And finally, to sum up the climax for many Muslims is to have Iftar with the family. There are many different ways to celebrate the ritual often Muslims will participate in volunteering, performing righteous works, or feeding the poor can be substituted for fasting if necessary. For the return the end of the Ramadan fast is celebrated as Eid al-Fitr, the “Feast of Fast-Breaking,” which is one of the two major religious holidays of the Muslim calendar. In some communities Eid al-Fitr is quite elaborate: children wear new clothes, women dress in white, special pastries are baked, gifts are exchanged, the graves of relatives are visited, and people gather for family meals and to pray in mosques.
Ramadan is celebrated differently around the world, in the Middle East every 14th night of the month, children clad in festival robes and bags and do the rounds in their neighbourhood, singing songs and knocking on doors asking for sweets. It’s usually referred to as Garangao. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have fired a canon as their tradition which the cannon is used as a sign that it has reached the breaking of the fast each day. The importance of this is to show how diverse the ritual is and its religious and cultural impact around the world bringing Muslims together. Therefore, the cultural impact shown around the world from the ritual demonstrates how it contributes to Australia in a positive way allowing people to express themselves and also practice important values.
In an interview with two Australian Muslims it was explained how their culture fits in the society. Are people understanding of extra commitments that Muslims have during the holy month? No, I don’t expect people to be. We live secular society and I have chosen extra commitments; though I enjoy having the dialogue about Ramadan’s meaning and significance with the punters on public transport. The second Muslim answered with You can surprise people a lot – people often aren’t aware that you don’t have water or even chewing gum although I understand when someone mistakenly offers I personally haven’t had anyone not understand Ramadan after I explain my commitments to them, I don’t take offensive if someone forgets or asks about it. The key for me is to listen to my body and be smart about my choices and talk to others about it – there’s certainly more to it than simply not eating and drinking for 30 days. Is it hard to work while fasting? if so, how? Not only are we required to avoid food and water from but need to follow certain values and directions as a part of the ritual. For a performer, I can tell you the latter is galaxy-folds more difficult than not eating.” Farah: “To be honest, it isn’t hard working whilst fasting, but it can be so relative to where you work. I worked several years in hospitality, and there were times you were surrounded by food, which was a little more difficult, because you’d simply have a momentary lapse. But once I’m in the swing of the fasting period then it becomes mind over matter. This interview shows the ritual is relevant in Australian society although some lack understanding of the ritual and its process. The prayer is arguably one of the most important parts for religious belief especially for Islam. Often workers will take breaks from work for praying and other obligations/commitments. Muslims may be provided a room for the purposes of prayer and in a quiet section of the workplace which can assist them with achieving their religious duties, with little to no disruption regarding their work life.
Referring back to the hypothesis that the Calendrical ritual of Ramadan is important for Muslims because it connects Muslims to Allah and is also important as it enriches Australia as a plural society by demonstrating dedication to Islam through fasting and highlighting values and attributes important in our everyday lives. This can be supported through my research showing the process, culture and positives shown through the ritual. The main reason for fasting is to develop self-discipline and piety. That’s why Muslims are to abstain from gossip, lies, obscenity, vulgarity and physical, mental and spiritual sins. The ritual also helps detoxify, brings culture from around 70 diverse cultural backgrounds and traditions. Therefore, the calendrical ritual shows importance for Muslims in Australia and also enriches Australia as a society.
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