Muslims emphasize charity during Ramadan

Friday, August 29, 2008 | 2:09 p.m. CDT; updated 2:18 p.m. CDT, Friday, August 29, 2008

COLUMBIA - On Monday evening, many people will see just another crescent moon. To the Muslim community worldwide, it marks the beginning of Ramadan, the most significant month of the year.

According to the Islamic calendar, Ramadan was the month the Qurán was revealed and is now one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith. Common practices during Ramadan include fasting, intensified prayer and communal readings of the Qurán.

An important component of the spiritual reflection during Ramadan is charity, and Muslims in Columbia have joined hands to demonstrate their generosity toward those less fortunate.

"Charity is one of the five pillars of our faith, and in this month you can give in many fold because these are the blessed days of the year," said Rashed Nizam, chairman of the education board for the Islamic School of Columbia. "You donate to the needy people, regardless of their background or religion."

The impact of these donations has been significant, no matter their size. Peggy Kirkpatrick, executive director of the Central Missouri Food Bank, is impressed with the consistency and kindness the members of the Islamic Center of Central Missouri have shown over the years.

"The Islamic Center has done a food and fund drive in years past," Kirkpatrick said. "Some of the MU students in the Muslim Student Organization and members of the center have even come over to help us repack the food we get in bulk."

Being selfless with blessings is not something the Muslim community tries to exemplify only during Ramadan. However, fasting creates an awareness of hunger that otherwise is not as potent during the rest of the year.

"We have always tried to do the food drive during the month of Ramadan because we feel more empathy for the people who are hungry," Nizam said. "We are able to physically understand the hungry."

Muslims observing Ramadan will fast from sunrise to sunset to recognize their need for God and to give thanks for all the blessings that come from him. It is described as a self-purification process in order to teach patience and selflessness, a process that Nazim says transcends religious or cultural differences.

"Regardless of religious or ethnic backgrounds, we are all creations from God," Nazim said. "If you are blessed, then you should share your wealth with others."

The food drive is being held until Sept. 30, and donations can be taken to the Islamic Center, 201 E. Fifth St. Monetary donations are also accepted. To learn more about local events during Ramadan, go to


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