Every year, we welcome June with dreams of beaches, warm sunshine and a well-deserved vacation. This year, for over 1 billion Muslims across the globe, June represents something more spiritual as it marks the holy month of Ramadan.
I think by now most people have heard of Ramadan and how those who observe it spend all day without any water or food. But what exactly is Ramadan and what does it represent?
Ramadan is the ninth month in the 12 month Islamic calendar. As this calendar is based on the lunar cycle, Ramadan occurs during different seasons every few years. For us Muslims, Ramadan is not simply a month where we fast from dawn to dusk; it holds a much deeper significance. This month represents an opportunity for Muslims to stop and connect with their inner souls, strengthen belief in Allah and fully live by the values of Islam.
Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and Ramadan is the month where this came to be. In this month the first verses of the Qur’an were recited to Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) by the angel Jibril and it was also when the Qur’an came to its completion.
With the coming of Ramadan in Qatar, something changes in the air and you can feel the beginning of a wonderful and special month. The atmosphere becomes one where people put aside their differences, reach out to their families, join in charitable acts and try hard to be the best they can be. School and work hours are reduced and restaurants close during the day to open with Iftar (breaking the fast) and stay open to Suhoor (just before the dawn prayer). The whole community feels the spirit of Ramadan including non-Muslims who respect this holy ritual. Some even fast with their Muslim peers!
As a national and public institution, the Qatar National Library (QNL), a member of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), works year round, to preserve the history and heritage of the Arabic and Islamic world through many initiatives. This includes launching the Qatar Digital Library, a world-class online portal that provides users worldwide with free access to an extensive collection of historical archival items and manuscripts related to Qatar, the Gulf region and the wider Middle East. This online portal is the result of an ongoing partnership between QF, QNL and the British Library. Alongside QDL, Qatar National Library also contributes a collection of books and documents pertaining to Islamic and Arab history to the World Digital Library.
QNL also holds and continuously develops a Heritage Collection that provides unparalleled contribution of historical sources about Qatar and the region and includes precious Arabic manuscripts illuminating centuries of Arab and Islamic influence on world civilisation. These efforts are driven by QNL’s vision of developing knowledge of Qatar’s and the Arab and Islamic world’s heritage and future.
During the month of Ramadan, QNL will join the Qatar Foundation in its celebration of Garangao, a GCC tradition that occurs every year on the eve of Ramadan, where children wear traditional outfits and go from door to door to collect treats. The library will also host a Suhoor event for its employees to share the joy of this month, and will also conduct a weekly competition for teens and children to submit themed photos such as performing good deeds, celebrating Garangao, eating traditional foods and celebrating the Eid festivities.
Through these activities and more, QNL is devoted to creating a versatile and dynamic public library that will serve as an educational and enjoyable community center for all members of the public.
Qatar National Library wishes everyone a very blessed month of Ramadan.
Featured image: “Prière de Tarawih dans la Grande Mosquée de Kairouan. Ramadan 2012” by Zied Nsir. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.