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Ramadan, the annual month of fasting and prayer for the Muslim world, started on Friday, the 20th of July and will continue for 30 days until or around Sunday, the 19th of August. Around the world literally billions of people are taking part in the annual spiritual and physical observance.

APDTA! (All Praise is Due To Allah!)

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Ramadan commemorates the revelation of the Holy Qur’an given to Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) of Arabia some 1,400 years ago.
It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, and sexual conduct from sunrise until sunset. Fasting is meant to teach the Muslim patience, modesty and spirituality.

To someone who is observing Ramadan for the first time, it’s easy to get caught up on not eating and drinking. Your stomach seems to be growling every second and your mouth is as dry as the Arabian Desert. Believe me, I know the feeling! I live in Houston, Texas. (smile)

During Ramadan, Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds. In addition to fasting, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Holy Qur’an. Each day an entire section (which is 1/30 of the Qur’an) is read, therefore the entire Qur’an would be completed at the end of the month.

There is so much beauty in Islam, that it’s very unfortunate that many have allowed the media and acts of a few “bad apples” to skew their entire perception of our faith. Some people think Islam is “too strict.” However, I have learned that when properly practiced Islam frees up the human being to be their greatest—men and women.

For example, a very unique Muslim female music producer named Masaniai Muhammad Ali of Watts, California is striving to deconstruct the stereotypes of Muslim women, as well as women in the music industry. She’s had a passion for music since at a young age and growing up in a Muslim household did not suppress her inclination to the genre
of Hip-Hop.

When I listen to her music it reminds me of how the women, during Prophet Muhammad’s (Peace be upon him) time, would sing songs, beat drums, and recite poems as the Muslim soldiers prepared for battle with the opposition. It is written that this musical expression would stir up the hearts of men to go to war and meet struggle head on to become victorious. And we’re taught the greatest Jihad (struggle) is the jihad of Self. Ramadan helps to bring us face to face with that battlefield. 

The Qur’an is a book of harmonious words (lyrics) that if carried into practice, one will get stronger in the Jihad of Self and be in rhythm with Allah’s Beats (Ways). Non-Muslims can benefit as well. There is nothing like owning the best collections of your favorite artist, right? Well, the Qur’an is a collection of the best of that which Allah has revealed through His Prophets and Messengers.

Masaniai was recently inspired to write, produce, and release a beautiful single for Ramadan 2012 titled “APDTA” featuring Los Angeles rapper, Hass (Hassan Diop). It has been added to my Ramadan music rotation. The song is about unity among all religions and cultures as well as anti-terrorism. The song will stir you up to continue to struggle against Self. Masaniai loves to give back to the community so most of the proceeds from the single will go to the national charity “Save The Children Foundation”  to help fight hunger. That’s the spirit of Ramadan!

In part of the song, the lyrics say:
It go from Adam to Eve to the world that we live in,
If its only one God than its only one religion,

so if Jesus was a Muslim that means I am a Christian,

I even follow prophet Moses in the Jewish tradition,
I’m a MC on a mission, all in submission,
From the top of every minaret my call is efficient,
all that glitter ain’t gold this is noor we’re emitting,
when they hand you the world tell’em Allah is sufficient.

Check out the full song here 

To those who are non-Muslims, we invite you to participate in Ramadan with us. I have many family members and friends who fast with us in solidarity. We all have some form of bad habit or urge that we would like to get under control, right? Whether that is food, too much Internet, texting addiction, gossiping, lack of reading, anger or cursing, how about you use the next 30 days to master it? Fasting is powerful and all of the Prophets of God taught us its benefits.

Dead Prez once said “It’s Bigger Than Hip-Hop.”

I have come to realize that Ramadan is so much bigger than the absence of food, drink and sex throughout the daylight hours. It’s about deep reflection and channeling that same sense of joy, unity, love, high spirituality, compassion and self-discipline that we should strive to carry into practice 24/7.

When I converted to Islam, I was taught that it is not a religion, but it is actually a way of life. We have a lot of Islamic rituals but those rituals, just like the rituals in all monotheistic faiths, are signs pointing us to something greater.

Think about this: When you’re on a road trip and you see a sign that reads “Exit 2 miles,” do you stop at the sign or do you keep going to your destination? Rituals are no more than signs seeded with meanings that guide us towards a higher reflection of that which we say we believe in. Ramadan is a ritual. Ramadan is a sign. Ultimately, Ramadan can be seen as a huge iceberg that sits afar; there is more underneath.

My fervent prayer is that I can “bottle up” this Ramadan spirit and develop into a better Muslim and servant of the people. If I can’t be this same “Brother Jesse” beyond this holy month, then what is my motive? Is it all vanity? I am in love with the possibilities of being a better me. I know you are too.

APDTA! (All Praise is Due To Allah!)

Ramadan Mubarak (Blessed Ramadan) to you all!

-BrotherJesse

(Brother Jesse is a staff writer for The Final Call Newspaper and an award-winning blogger based in Houston, Texas. He can be reached at jesse.muhammad@gmail.com)

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