“Indeed, God commands justice, doing good to others, as well as courtesy to close relatives. He forbids indecency, wickedness, and aggression. He instructs you so perhaps you will be mindful.” (16:90 )            “For every day on which the sun rises, there is a (reward from God) for the one who establishes justice among people.” (al-Bukhari)            “And thus have We willed you to be a community of the middle way, so that [with your lives] you may bear witness to the truth before all humankind. . .” (2:143)            “Dispensers of justice will be seated on pulpits of light beside God.” (Muslim)            “Do not spread corruption in the land after it has been set in order. And call upon Him with hope and fear. Indeed, Allah’s mercy is always close to the good-doers.” (7:56)           “Even an ant in its hole and fish (in the depth of water) invoke blessings on someone who teaches people goodness.” (al-Tirmidhi)            “O believers! Remain conscious of God, and be with those who are truthful in word and deed.” (9:119)           “God does not judge you according to your bodies and appearances, but He looks into your hearts and observes your deeds.” (Muslim)            “The parable of those who spend their possessions for the sake of God is that of a grain out of which grow seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains: for God grants manifold increase unto whom He wills; and God is infinite, all-knowing.” (2:261)           “Charity does not diminish wealth.” (Riyadh al-Salihin)            “Let there be a group among you who call ˹others˺ to goodness, encourage what is good, and forbid what is evil-it is they who will be successful.” (3:104)           “Avoid cruelty and injustice...and guard yourselves against miserliness, for this has ruined nations who lived before you.” (Riyadh al-Salihin)            “Do not forget to show kindness to each other. Surely God observes your actions.” (2:237)           “(Allah) has revealed to me that you should adopt humility so that no one oppresses another.” (Riyadh al-Salihin)            “It is We who sent down this Reminder (al-Quran) and it is We who shall preserve it.” (15:9)           “The best among you are those who learn the Quran and teach it (to others).” (al-Bukhari)            “So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me.” (2:152)           “There are two blessings that many people lose -- health and free time for doing good.” (al-Bukhari)            “Say: 'O My servants who have transgressed against your own souls, do not despair of God's mercy, for God forgives all sins. It is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.'“(39:53)           “Happy is the man who avoids dissension, but how fine is the man who is afflicted and shows endurance.” (Abu Dawud)            “And you love wealth with immense love.” (89:20)           “Being rich does not mean having a great amount of property, but (it) is being content (with what one has).” (al-Bukhari)            “Every soul is held in pledge for its deeds.” (74:38)           “Make things easy and convenient and don't make them harsh and difficult. Give cheer and glad tidings and do not create hatred.” (al-Bukhari & Muslim)           

Ramadan Brings Monthlong Fasting And Charitable Acts As Form Of Worship (April 11, 2021)

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Imam Steve Mustafa Elturk of Troy greets community members during Eid in 2020. Photo courtesy Steve Mustafa Elturk
Islamic belief balances on five pillars; faith, prayer, alms, fasting and pilgrimage. These pillars hold up the holiday month of Ramadan.
Following the Hijri — the Islamic calendar, based on the lunar cycle — Ramadan stretches this year from April 12 to May 12. The monthlong observation ends with Eid al-Fitr, the “Festival of Breaking the Fast.”
During these 30 days, Muslims around the world abstain from all food and drink from dawn to dusk. Exceptions to this rule are pregnant or nursing women, the elderly and the sick.
Fasting is an important tradition because it allows Muslims to devote themselves to their faith through self-reflection and growing closer to Allah (God).

For Troy resident Steve Mustafa Elturk, it is important for Muslims to self-reflect in the days leading up to Ramadan.
“It’s important for people to assess themselves and see where they need improvement to strengthen their relationship with God,” he says. “See how you are with people, the community and the environment and come up with a list of things that you would like to change. Ramadan then becomes a month of training, and once the month is over, you would be purified.”
Elturk serves as president and Imam, the religious leader, for the Islamic Organization of North America in Warren.
Earlier this year, Elturk was presented with The Robert A. Bruttell Interfaith Leader Award from the InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit for his role in strengthening interfaith partnerships with local religious organizations.
During this month of fasting, it is custom for worshippers to break their fast during an iftar meal. Iftar is the Arabic word meaning to break one’s fast. The meal is taken just after the Maghrib prayer.

Muslims throughout the world break the fast with water and dates, Elturk says. “Different countries have different foods of their culture, however all Muslims have one thing in common when they break the fast,” he says. “All Muslims break their fast on an odd number of dates, either one, three or five.”
Using an odd number signifies that God is one and confirms the unity of God, he says. Dates also provide certain nutritional value and are helpful for digestion.
“Prophet Mohammad loved sweets, so we break the fast on something sweet, which also gives us energy,” he says.
It is common for mosques to host an iftar after evening prayer service. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Islamic Organization of North America would provide an iftar meal for the entire community every weekend, bringing in upwards of 200 people.
With current pandemic restrictions in place, the IONA board of directors decided against following this tradition. This year iftar meals will be served at home with the hope of a community gathering next year.
Ramadan tradition also focuses on charitable donation and paying one’s zakat. Zakat is an obligatory payment made annually under Islamic law, used for charitable and religious purposes. All Muslims are required to pay zakat at the end of Ramadan as a token of thankfulness to God for having enabled him or her to observe the obligatory fast.
Zakat is calculated based on the total savings of each individual during one Islamic calendar year and should equal 2 1/2 percent of a person’s wealth.
It is common for most people to pay zakat during Ramadan because it is believed that the rewards of charitable acts during this month are multiplied manyfold over giving outside the month of Ramadan.
“People come to me and say they are waiting for Ramadan, but I say why wait?” Elturk says. “Poor people can’t wait for Ramadan to eat and drink. We have to help them every day so I encourage my community to give outside of Ramadan and keep track of it.”
Among others, IONA partners with Mercy-USA, a nonprofit organization in Plymouth, and Islamic relief organizations. Community members can donate zakat to a relief fund set up for those in need of financial help. Anyone in need is welcome to fill out a form and be evaluated by the zakat committee.
“We take care of anything they need such as paying utility bills or providing gift cards to grocery stores,” Elturk says.
Above all, Elturk reminds his community to see the month of Ramadan as a way of worship, and not as ritual.
“A ritual is something that happens from habit,” he says. “A worship is more meaningful when your whole personality is involved and you remember the objective for this month is to be conscious of God the creator.”
For more information visit Islamic Organization of North America at ionamasjid.org.
IONA, 28630 Ryan Rd., Warren, MI 48092 | Tel: 586-558-6900 | E-mail: center@iononline.org