SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - We've officially entered the last ten days of Ramadan, which means many things.
It is believed in our religion that the Quran (our holy book) was sent down to us within these last 10 days (of the moth-long holiday).
So it is encouraged that we spend as much time at the mosque at night performing prayers and supplication (Duaa) as we can, because it could be any of these nights.
Which one, we don't know for sure.
That night is called Laylut al Qadr (the night of Power), and praying on this day is considered more beneficial than the combined prayers of 1,000 months.
This is why people go to the mosque every night in the last 10 days, in case that night is the Night of Power.
An itikaf is when we spend the whole night at the mosque with very minimal or no sleep at all and spend time reading the Quran, praying, repenting, and performing (acts of) supplication.
The entire month is considered holy but these last 10 days are considered the holiest of them all. We stay there until sunrise and we eat together before the sun comes up so we could fast the next day.
If you've read my previous Ramadan Diaries, you'd know that there's a lot of things that go into this holy month.
Fasting teaches you patience and restraint and encourages us to be generous and forgiving.
An awesome organization called Muslims Against Hunger collaborated with our local mosque this week in South Brunswick to prepare 800 meals for the hungry to distribute with the Hunger Van.
It was amazing to see how many Muslims came to the event to prepare food although they themselves were fasting.
Again, that's the nature of Ramadan.
Giving in charity, gaining in rewards, and strengthening your faith.
Forgiveness is a topic I haven't touched on before, but it’s an important one.
Before the month begins, we should seek forgiveness from those whom we have wronged.
If we know we have done something to hurt someone’s feelings, we should ask and pray that they forgive us.
And as the month goes on, we should continue to seek forgiveness from those we may have wronged as our fasting may be considered meaningless if we don't make an effort to fix the relationships around us.
Besides all of the different aspects of this blessed month, I think my favorite would be getting together with family and friends and encouraging each other to do good and giving each other tips and ideas on how to benefit more from Ramadan.
For example, one of my best friends told me that there was a woman in our community who has been struggling financially and told me, and a few of our other friends, the idea she had to help her: to donate a dollar every single day in the month of Ramadan so that we could collectively raise enough money to help her for the time being.
We are definitely blessed to be given the opportunity to strengthen our faith and better our character through this holy month.
I hope that everyone, including myself, is able to use this month to create good habits to use for the rest of the year and even the rest of our lives.
It takes 21 days to create a habit, Ramadan gives us 30.
Ramadan is only one percent abstaining from food and drink.
The other 99 percent is focusing on becoming closer to God.
So in these last few days, we should try to make the very most of it and focus on strengthening our faith, patience, and character as much as we can.
Editor's Note: Mona Mostafa is a South Brunswick resident writing a four-part series of her personal journey through the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.