Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar. It is the holiest month for the Muslims, because the greatest miracle, the Holy Quran, was revealed in this month to Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, (pbuh) by Archangel Jibrail (Gabriel). As a mark of gratitude, the Muslims fast during this month to get closer to Almighty God, the Creator, the Supreme. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. In this month, the Muslims devote a considerable amount of time in prayers and performing righteous deeds such as charity, feeding and helping the needy and trying to follow the guidelines provided by the Prophet (pbuh). Hence the theme of this year`s Interfaith Dinner, “Working together for the common good.” The Divine rewards are multiplied several times for the righteous deeds done in this holy month.

The concept of charity in Islam is more than just financial help. The Prophet had said smiling on the face of a believer is charity; removing a thorn (source of discomfort to others) from a path is charity; giving a good advice is a charity; saying words of comfort to the bereaved is a charity. Therefore, we are advised to be good, kind and compassionate to others. Prophet Jesus pbuh, faithful Servant of the Lord was commanded, “and Allah has enjoined on me prayer and charity as long as I live” (Quran: 19:31).

The spiritual benefits of fasting are many. It is an excellent spiritual exercise, it inculcates self-discipline, it brings man closer to God. It teaches Furqan, the ability to differentiate right from wrong, good from bad. It protects the believer from committing sin. The Prophet had said,” fasting is a shield from committing sin. If one of you is fasting, he should avoid obscenity and quarrelling, and if somebody should fight or quarrel with him, he should say, ‘I am fasting.’

On the eve of the holy month, the Prophet said, “A great month, a blessed month. It is the month of endurance, and the reward of endurance is Paradise. It is the month of sharing with others, and a month in which the believers’ provision is increased. It is a month whose beginning is mercy, whose middle is forgiveness and whose end is freedom from hell-fire.”

We hope and pray that this month brings people of all faiths closer and we “work together for the common good.”