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‘In Islam, we believe in sharing and giving our best to the community’

Faithful Muslims around the world have been fasting for the last two weeks as they celebrate the month of Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, when it is said that the Prophet Mohammad first began receiving the words of the Holy Qur’an.

While small in number, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Bermuda has taken the occasion to not only keep the fourth pillar of their faith, but also share with the broader community more about their faith. The group has been sharing in the form of newspaper advertisements, radio broadcasts of portions of the Qur’an read in Arabic and then translated into English, and two television programmes.

“Since it is Ramadan, we wanted people to really understand what the blessed Ramadan is about,” explained Shabnam Jheengoor, a native of Mauritius, who currently lives in Bermuda with her husband and two young children.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has become better known in recent years, with its global attempt to share with others what may seem, to some, a very different view of Islam than that portrayed by Jihadists as seen in the media.

“The meaning of Islam is to achieve peace by submitting your will to God’s will,” Ms Jheengoor shared. “Islam promotes knowledge and encourages knowledge seeking.”

“[The Prophet Mohammed] never forced people to accept Islam. What these people are doing is against the teachings of the Islam ... The Qur’an promotes unity, it promotes peace. We have to live in peace with everyone.”

She shared that the Prophet, while given the task of sharing a special message, never attempted to oppress others, not even in seeking revenge for the many family members he lost due to severe persecution in the first few years of the religion’s existence.

It is in following the Prophet Mohammed’s footsteps that Ms Jheengoor and others from the Community have sought to share about their faith with others.

“In Islam, we believe in sharing and giving our best to the community. The best thing I have in my life is my faith,” she explained.

Central in their campaign are two television programmes, created by Muslim Television Ahmadiyya International (MTA International), an international television channel run by members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. It broadcasts around the clock in several major languages, via satellite and online at www.mta.tv.

The first broadcast was aired on ZBM TV-9 this past Wednesday at 8pm and shared information on Ramadan and Islam’s contributions to science and mathematics, as well as an introduction to the life of the Prophet Mohammed. The second broadcast is set to air on ZBM TV-9 this coming Wednesday, August 17, also at 8pm. It will again hope to develop a greater understanding for viewers on what Ramadan is, as well as the second half of the story of the Prophet Mohammed.

The word, Ramadan, refers, in Arabic, to intense heat, scorched ground and shortness of rations, a concept that easily translates to both physical and spiritual meanings.

Physically speaking, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset throughout the month of Ramadan. Depending on the time of year when Ramadan falls, such as the summer time, and where the adherent lives, this can be very challenging as no morsel or even a drop of water may pass the lips.

“The purpose is to make us realise the plight of others,” Ms Jheengoor shared. “I know that when the sun sets, I’ll have food.”

But her own fasting reminds her that others go without, and that all that she has been provided by God.

“This realisation humbles me,” she added, “and makes us more humane and charitable.”

Spiritually speaking, “the true purpose of fasting is spiritual heat a burning desire for God’s wisdom.”

Mankind was created, she explained, to worship God.

“To worship God, is to achieve an understanding of his attributes, to achieve his pleasures and achieve nearness to God.”

In addition to fasting, Muslims are also encouraged to pray more diligently and to read through the Qur’an as many times as they can, to study the words and internalise them, and then act out upon them in their daily life through the rest of the year.

“If you don’t understand the meaning and then try to apply it in your life, you haven’t gained anything it’s a waste.”

Ms. Jheengoor also feels that the closeness she feels to God, especially during a time of renewed focus on him, like at Ramadan, empowers her as a mother.

“Ramadan is extremely important for Muslim men and women,” she shared. “Muslim men must strive to raise their spiritual status during that month, but as for us women, we have to realise that our spiritual status during this month does not only benefit ourselves, but also our children.”

She stresses the importance women have in Islam, particularly in the moral and spiritual training of their children, particularly when they are still young.

“We as women should realise that by raising our spiritual status, not only do we benefit, but our future generations will be blessed too, as children who are raised by mothers who have attained God’s pleasure and nearness have higher moral and spiritual faculties.”

Likewise, her faith helps her be an encouragement and support to her husband.

“In times of hardships and adversities, we are our husband’s support though our prayers and by exhibiting steadfastness and peace of heart. That peace of heart is present only when a woman has achieved God’s pleasure. That person then has God, himself, as her protector, guide and helper, hence, despite troubles, she still has peace of mind and heart and, hence, is an effective support for her husband.”

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Bermuda are also offering free copies of the Holy Qur’an with English translations and free subscriptions to their monthly magazine of comparative religions, Review of Religions. For more information and to request copies, e-mail –alislam.bermuda[AT]gmail.com.

Radio broadcasts can be heard Monday through Friday at 6.30am and on Sundays at 10.30am on FM 105.1. There is no Saturday broadcast.

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Published August 13, 2011 at 8:59 am (Updated August 13, 2011 at 8:58 am)

‘In Islam, we believe in sharing and giving our best to the community’

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