The Devine Feast

Islam's holy month of Ramadan is celebrated by Muslims worldwide marked by fasting, abstaining from foods, and some other forbidden activities. Muslims in fact look forward to the arrival of this month and try to cherish every single day of it and this is a common factor between all Islamic sects. The fact is, fasting is not exclusive to the religion of Islam. Devout Jews and Christians also practice their own version of fasting. Ramadan is not merely a month of personal and inner reflection to get closer to the Almighty. In fact, many of the better aspects of this month are manifested in social activities. Charities are abundant and people pray and break their fasts in large gatherings. This way, spiritual bonds of the individual as well as the social bonds are strengthened. In this movie we see Ramdan and fasting from the viewpoints of different religious Scholars.

Narration: God is omnipresent but He has a house in Mecca, as a token of His presence on the Earth. Around 15 centuries ago, the Prophet Abraham built a house in Mecca, on God’s orders. It was to be a place where all believers in God could get together in unity. In the Hajj, Muslims go on pilgrimage to God’s house and in Ramadan God goes to the houses of the fasting Muslims. But in both cases, the host is God and the guests are His believers. Mahabad Seminary: It’s the holy month of Ramadan. During this month, Satan and his army are chained.

Salahoddin Hareth Seidan : My name is Salahoddin Hareth Seidan and I’m 26 years old. I’m a graduate of Badiozzaman Alvat Seminary, Urmia. We study and pray to be good human beings; to be sympathetic to other people; and to solve their problems.

Mahabad Seminary: Heaven’s doors are open in this month. Hell’s doors are closed in this month. It means that Satan and his army cannot lure people into sins. They are chained and cannot do anything. The market is depressed.

-Hello. -Hello. -How are you? I want a tablecloth 5 meters in size and 20 disposable glasses as well.

Salahoddin Hareth Seidan: The holy month of Ramadan is the month of freedom. It’s the month of charity. One must help the poor in this month.

-How much does it cost? -It’s 2,500 tomans. -Here you are.

Salahoddin Hareth Seidan: In the holy month of Ramadan, we must know ourselves; we must find ourselves. Hello. How are you? Have you got dates? -Yes. -Would you give me two packs? -This one? -No, give me the big ones. -Give me 20 cookies.

Mohammad Javad Abolqasemi: The month of Ramadan is an opportunity for us to obey God more and resist corporeal urges so that we can purge our hearts of bad things. My name’s Mohammad Javad Abolqasemi. I have a Ph.D. in Islamic Theology. I’m a lecturer in Tehran University and other universities. But I’m primarily a researcher. Ramadan is an Arabic word for sweltering. It means extremely hot and any place that is very hot is called ramadan. According to the Prophet, Ramadan is called Ramadan because it burns sins. The more sins are burnt the more we are purified.

Narration: Fasting is a way to gain Spiritual Health; and it is prescribed to the followers of all divine religions. The Prophet Moses, the Prophet Jesus and the Prophet Muhammad delivered God’s message that through fasting that people could reach Kindness, Morality and other Human Virtues.

Mashallah Golestannejad: My name is Mashallah Golestannejad, the Iraninan Chief Rabbi. We fast six days in a year. The Hebraic equivalents of fast are “Som” and “Tamit”. According to the Torah, there is one “big fast” in a year. According to our religious scholars, everyone who has committed a sin must be purged of it through fasting. We must fast on each day that God has ordered. There’s no question about it. Every boy who is 12 years and one day or above and every girl who is 13 years and one day or above must fast.

Mohammad Javad Abolqasemi: Jews also fast ,in the past they used to fast on two occasions :first , when they were punished with divine chastisement; second , when they were bestowed with divine grace. So i f you look at the Jewish calendar, you see that they are supposed to fast on these occasions.

Ramzi Davoud: After fasting forty days and forty nights, Jesus was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.” My name is Ramzi, the Chaldean and Assyrian Archbishop of Tehran. For Christians, fasting is a good time for thinking about the meaning and purpose of life more than ever. For Christians, fasting helps us boost our faith. When we fast, we get hungry. At that time, we may remember millions of those starving to death. We must not be selfish. We must not be self-centered and inconsiderate. We must help those who are hungry.

Mohammad Javad Abolqasemi: Fasting in Islam is the final version of fasting in Christianity and Judaism. In addition to abstinence, we must mind our behavior; the way we talk and the things we see. We are not allowed to backbite, slander or perjure etc. So, fasting in Islam is a combination of fasting in Christianity and Judaism. So, as a way to get closer to God, fasting has two dimensions in Islam: spiritual and corporeal.

Salahoddin Hareth Seidan: One thing strongly recommended in Ramadan is to invite the fasting Muslims to iftar, though it may be a date. My friend and I who are religious students decided to throw this humble iftar party. God has called the holy month of Ramadan His own month. Other months are for His believers but Ramdan is God’s month.

Mohammad Javad Abolqasemi: Physical health is also another reason for fasting in Ramadan. Many books have been written on this issue. You know, even today there are many doctors who treat their patients by telling them to fast, that this, not to eat. You know, abstinence is one of the main pillars of medical science; to eat or not to eat certain foods. That part about not eating is fast. Narration: All Muslims share the same rituals during the holy month of Ramadan; an issue that can create unity among them across the globe.

Ghader Sohrabi: Islam is a religion of unity. God says, “The believers are but brethren, therefore make peace between your brethren.” All Muslims across the world fast together during the holy month of Ramadan. We have also been told to pray together. The same is true about the hajj. We must perform the ceremony at a special time together.

-Hello everybody. -Sit down, please.

Rahman Ahmadi : My name is Rahman Ahmadi. I was born in 1949. I’ve been the principal of Shahrekandi Seminary for four years. Ramadan begins with mercy, continues with the remission of sins and ends in salvation. Ramadan is the month of freedom. It’s the month of charity and donation. It’s the month of strengthening the ties of kinship. According to Islamic traditions, everyone who welcomes Ramadan, as a distinguished month, by fasting and doing good deeds will be forgiven of sins and become as innocent as a new-born baby. You must fast in the real sense of the word. We must not just refrain from eating but also from other disapproved deeds. All parts of your body must fast if you want to be rewarded by God.

Ghader Sohrabi: The holy month of Ramadan is filled with God’s blessing, mercy and grace. It’s a good time to know God more by thinking about the creation of the world as much as we can. Though it’s impossible to know God fully we can have a better understanding of Him in Ramadan, especially during the Laylat al-Qadr or the Nights of Destiny. God has placed the Nights of Destiny in the holy month of Ramadan. Each of these nights is worth more than one thousand months.

Narration: The climax of the holy month is in the heart of one of the last nights of Ramadan; a night referred to in the Quran as Laylat al-Qadr or the Night of Destiny; a night better than a thousand months. But what’s the secret of this night?

Mohammad Javad Abolqasemi: In this month, since people refrain from doing disapproved deeds and on the other hand, they pray more than they do in other months, the atmosphere becomes spiritual. People: We keep vigil during the Night of Destiny. We pray from the bottom of our hearts for all people especially for those who are sick. I prayed for all those who I know; those in need and those who are sick. I prayed for them. I also asked God to forgive me.

Mohammad Javad Abolqasemi: When in a certain night, one billion people gather together and ask God to help and forgive them, angels come down from the sky. The Night of Destiny is nothing but when people gather together for a sacred purpose. So the Night of Destiny is when human spirituality is at its zenith. This is when prays are answered and problems are solved; when the man knows where he stands in relation to God and the whole world. This is when the Night of Destiny forms. Narration: Helping orphan children is another altruistic deed, strongly recommended in the Holy Quran. It’s very important for Muslims to help orphan children, especially in Ramadan. A man: This is the bank account number and this is the credit card number and this, the ID code for you and the orphan you’re going to look after. What we’re doing now is a plan designed by the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation. The foundation’s main duty is to help the needy, the poor and orphans. We have prepared ID cards for orphans from all over the country. We try to find guardians for these orphans in religious places like mosques. Today’s the seventh, isn’t it?

A woman: I’m going to look after a ten-year-old boy from Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province. He’s an orphan boy. I must wire a sum of money for him every month. I’m going to look after more orphans in the future. Ramadan is a lovely month. In my opinion, everyone who does such a good deed in this month, especially this night will receive a divine reward. I think all people must help these innocent children.

Mohammad Javad Abolqasemi: All prayers must be accompanied by action. I daresay that this prayer is the charter of Ramadan when we ask God to feed those who are hungry and treat those who are sick. This charter contains at least twenty clauses about social issues to remind fasting Muslims of help the needy.

Narration: Ramadan teaches the fasting believers philanthropic lessons, encouraging them to help those in need or trouble. Helping people get out of prison is a case in point. There are some prisoners who have to serve time just for financial problems. Mohammad B .Moghaddasi: -In the name of God, the most compassionate, the most merciful. Hi. We have organized a fundraiser, an event for collecting money to release prisoners. The event is sponsored by people. In fact, the Blood Money HQ is a non-governmental organization. It’s supported totally by people.

-These valuable paintings are the lady’s works. She’s standing here on the stage. She’s come here to sell her paintings. Let’s kick it off.

Narration: Holding fundraisers in Ramadan helps them pay their debt and consequently get out of prison. Mohammad B .Moghaddasi: The fundraiser doesn’t confine itself to the followers of a specific religion. I know some Christians who had to pay blood money and people helped them get out of prison. We help any prisoner who has gone to prison for committing a crime accidentally.

-Lady, let’s start with this painting. Make a base bid. 250,000 tomans. A 250,000 toman bid. Going once, going twice, sold! One million tomans. Sold. Abolghasem Sh. Alavi: Last year, we managed to release more than 240 prisoners. We needed 17 billion tomans to release them. It’s worth mentioning that more than 12 billion tomans were remitted by plaintiffs in this month. The remaining five billon tomans were paid by benevolent individuals and the Blood Money HQ.

Mohammad B .Moghaddasi: By releasing prisoners, in fact we release their families as well. Their families have to face many problems because their householders are in prison. When they are released from prison their families can breathe a sigh of relief. Thought people help prisoners throughout the year, they help more during Ramadan. I think that’s because they obey God’s instructions more in this month so they want to release people from prison voluntarily.

Seyed Mahmoud Anousheh: Take this graph as an example and let’s call this horizontal axis self-confidence. Our hearts and minds have been occupied by lots of things, most of them with western origins. We must be aware enough to abandon them; to get rid of them. The only month that can emancipate us is Ramadan. This month teaches us how to get rid of things that have taken our hearts and minds. We have been entrapped unwittingly. Ramadan gives us insight, which is an analysis from within. Ramadan gives us an insight into the causes that keep us in subjection so that we can extricate ourselves from them only and just only by patience.

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