Ramadan is more than fasting; it is time to reflect

By Katrina Moses

Pentagram Staff Writer

Chaplain (Col.) Dawud Agbere, currently at Fort Benning, Georgia, will be the speaker at the Muslim Iftar event at the Pentagon Tuesday.

Iftar — in Arabic means “break fast”— the evening meal in which those of Islamic faith end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset.

Agbere, who is no stranger to the Pentagon, worked there until the beginning of this year. He explained that Ramadan is one of the fiver pillars of Islam. The five pillars consist of faith, prayer, charity, pilgrimage and fasting.

Agbere said Muslims of able physical and mental sound, start a relationship with God through the five pillars. They must perform the five daily prayers; give a percentage of their wealth to the less fortunate (if they have the funds to do so), the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia (if they have the funds to do so) and fasting.

Ramadan is the month Muslims are required to fast. It is also the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Individuals may not drink or eat, including water, abstain from sexual relations with spouses two hours before sunrise until after sunset.

After sunset, one can indulge in food or drink and have sexual relations with spouses.

He even said when fasting, one should not be insulting or cursing at others. He said Ramadan is the time for one to reflect and clear one’s conscious.

“(You) don’t go through Ramadan without it impacting your life,” Agbere said. “It’s not just about the routine or the abstinence,” Agbere said. “The spirituality of it is important.”

His speech next week will discuss how individuals conduct themselves during Ramadan. They go through the motions of fasting and sometimes forget that it is an opportunity to get closer to God and reflect on their conscience.

“In essence it is to bring you closer to God,” Agbere said. “It doesn’t have to be painful because what benefit does your pain give to God — nothing.”

He said after Ramadan one should see what he or she accomplished, learned or gained. He or she should come back a new person.

He explained that fasting could start later as well for those who are sick. He explained to Soldiers who practice Islam and participating in physical training, it is OK to start fasting when they are done with training.

Agbere said as a Muslim chaplain, he is supposed to represent humanity, regardless of religion.

“If you were on the ground right now in pain, my first question should not be what is your religion or what your race is,” Agbere said. “I should be coming to aid you in your pain. Your religion or your race should not be the first thing (that) comes to mind.”

Pentagram Staff Writer Katrina Moses can be reached at kmoses@dcmilitary.com.