Latif Ahmed, the public outreach coordinator of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, explains the practices of Ramadan, a month of fasting and spiritual growth.
A group of Muslims at a Chandler mosque on Monday celebrated the end of Ramadan, a month of fasting and spiritual growth.
Ramadan ended on Saturday evening. The Baitul Aman Mosque celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr, which roughly translates to “the end of the day of fasting,” on Monday to celebrate the successful completion of Ramadan and its spiritual exercise.
Latif Ahmed, a spokesman for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, said Ramadan is the month in which Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset as a spiritual exercise. According to Ahmed, Muslims observe Ramadan as a way of bettering themselves spiritually.
“The whole exercise is to overcome all those baser instincts and control ourselves … and also spend time in remembrance of God, trying to learn the ways of improving our spirituality, our knowledge, our understanding of God as well as other human beings’ suffering,” Ahmed said.
A group of about 60 to 70 members attended the celebration to mingle and listen to prayers and a sermon while also recognizing the education achievements of the young children.
Ahmed said two key points Muslims emphasize during Ramadan are understanding human suffering and deepening their relationship with God.
“When you are fasting and not drinking, you really come to understand those who are less fortunate than us, what they feel,” Ahmed said.
There are exceptions allowed to fasting for people who are elderly or have extenuating health issues.
At the conclusion of Ramadan, Ahmed said, Muslims are reminded that what they have learned during Ramadan becomes a new starting point.
“When Ramadan comes, it wants to lift us from a lower level, lower status, to a higher status of spirituality. When Ramadan ends, that higher status becomes our next baseline. The entire year we are supposed to keep practicing those lessons,” Ahmed said.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community differs from other sects of Islam because its followers believe that their Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, established the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in India in 1889 and died in 1908. Since then, he has been followed by his successors, entitled the Khalifa of Islam. The current leader is Khalifa Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.
Latif Ahmed said his sect of Islam is strongly against terrorism in all forms. He said true Islam is a moderate religion, adding the Quran, “tolerates other people’s point of views and it does not condone any of the terrorist acts.”
“You can’t kill somebody in the name of God because they don’t follow the same teachings that you do. That’s how we (the Ahmadiyya Muslims) are different,” he said.
Ahmed said that there were times when force needed to be used to oppose aggression, but the force itself could not be aggressive.
“We are all bound by the bond of humanity, even if you feel that you have different beliefs, but there is no reason why we could not mutually coexist and respect each other,” Ahmed said. “If the teaching itself is violent, then it already is questionable.”
Ann Wilcox, a practicing Ahmadiyya Muslim at the celebration, said that she converted from Catholicism to Islam after finding difficulty in believing the logic behind Catholicism. She said that while fasting is difficult during the heat, it is well worth the growth that comes from it.
“Fasting is very arduous, but it’s also very uplifting .. the purpose of fasting, of course, is to give you empathy for people who starve on a regular basis, to give yourself discipline, but the main purpose is to grow your spirituality. When you give up some physical pleasures, your spirituality grows,” Wilcox said.
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