بسم لله الرحمان الرحيم
Salaam Aleikum, peace and blessings be upon you. This week, we in the Muslim community, welcome our holy month of Ramadan. It is a holy, and blessed month in which we as Muslims devote ourselves to continuous worship and reflection of Almighty God. One of the most recognized and primary elements of Ramadan is fasting. Muslims abstain from all food and drink during the daylight hours throughout the month. In the Holy Qur'an, God says, "O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may increase in your consciousness of the Almighty". (Surah Baqarah vs. 183). The Qur'an makes it clear that fasting is not just for Muslims, but also for the "people of the book", Jews and Christians. In Judaism, Jews are given the command by God to fast or "afflict" themselves, on their most holy day of "Yom Kippur". In Leviticus 23:26, it says, "Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord". Fasting is also a fundamental part of Christian tradition, as in the story in Jesus' fasting for 40 days in the wilderness. Jesus Christ, peace and blessings be upon him, is quoted in Mathew 6:16 as saying, "And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Lord who is in secret. And your Lord who sees in secret will reward you." It is important that people who fast whether they be Muslim, Christian or Jewish fast for the sake of God, and not to be seen as "righteous" by others, and this is a fundamental part of what it means to be "truly" a person of faith. It means praying and worshipping God whether anyone is there or not. It means standing up for what is right and just because it is right and just, not because it may or may not be popular. A true person of faith, any faith, lives there life in what I call a "constant state of God consciousness". This is the result of fasting. Every time you feel a hunger pain, you remember God. Every time you see someone drinking that ice cold soda, or eating your favorite dish, you remember your devotion to the Almighty. Fasting isn't just about starving yourself, it is about focusing on your relationship with God. The prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him said, "He who does not give up uttering falsehood and evil behavior, Allah has no need of his giving up his food and his drink." So, for us it is also important that we strive to fundamentally be better people, and in the spirit of that we offer our prayers for all the Ashland community, and would like to commend the efforts by local churches to revive the spiritual nature of our community including mass worship services at Community Stadium, and tent revivals. Our hope is that we as Muslims, Jews, and Christians in the community can learn from each other, and share with each other our common belief in the Almighty God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, and Muhammad, peace be upon them all, and that we can combine our strengths to combat the evils of our society, and promote peace and brotherhood amongst all humanity. Peace, and God Bless.