Ramadan in Iran and its significance and role in Muslim Unity
In the holy month of Ramadan, the month of Muslim fasting, spirituality fills the air, people are automatically drawn to the iftar table at sunset when it is time to break their fast.
You don’t have to be a practicing Muslim to want to join in since, fortunately, hospitality is second-nature to Iranians and the people of the region so it wouldn’t be hard to get a taste of the puddings and savories served at iftar, and a sense of the appreciation that comes after a whole day of abstinence from food or drink, abstinence from dawn to dusk which goes on for the whole of the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
Traditional iftar fare is tasty but simple, yet not cheap, presently everything is expensive and many of the fasting populace can only get by with a little help from their friends, which is precisely what Ramadan is all about, doing good deeds.
So it’s a win-win situation for those receiving alms in cash or meals, as well as those giving them out; the faithful, charities and religious organizations, as well as the Government.
Ramadan is a month of revelation, birth and death; cause for celebration and mourning in reverence. Ramadan is the month in which the Holy Quran was revealed; Hassan, the second Shia Imam (leader) a descendent of the Holy Prophet was born; Ali the first Shia Imam was assassinated; a conclusive battle at Badr was won; and Muslims must fast; except in travel or if sick or pregnant.
Now what sets apart an officially Shia Iran from the rest of the Muslim world at large, is that the first Shia Imam Ali is officially mourned, on his day of demise or martyrdom, the 21st of Ramadan. Shia Muslims mourn the dead, unlike Sunni Muslims who say: We are from God and to God we must return.
But the similarity in Sunni and Shia versions of fasting and festivity is far greater than differences and the deeper meaning of every rite and ritual is common to all.
The basic idea of fasting is self-control, empathy for the poor, forgiveness, and appreciation of God’s bounty. Self-control is believed to benefit the individual by elevating his or her spiritual nature or energy.