I can tell you a lot of things about Ramadan.
Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic calendar. It is the holiest month of the year, and fasting during Ramadan is a pillar of Islam and an obligation for every able Muslim. Fasting involves abstaining from food, drink, and sexual activity (among a number of other activities that Muslims give up in order to increase their closeness to God) from sunrise to sunset.
However, Ramadan is a lot more than just fasting.
It is the month of first chances. For new Muslims to experience the way that Islam was meant to be experienced. Leaving behind the faults of culture, and embracing the truth.
It is the month of second chances. A month of forgiveness and of mercy, a chance to renew or rekindle your faith in God, your desire to be close to Him and to please Him.
It is the month of third, and fourth, and fifth chances, a month to remind each other and ourselves that Allah’s swt forgiveness is beyond our understanding. And it is always there, if we reach for it.
It is the month of community. All over the world, more than 2 billion Muslims are fasting, some for as many as 20 hours each day. Every Muslim is provided for, through food, through support, through charity. Muslims begin and break their fast together, often with food provided by their local mosque. Everyone is invited to participate - Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
It is the month of remembrance. Dhikr. The remembrance of Allah swt, and His love and compassion, His beautiful 99 names that give humans another step towards the slightest understanding of something that is beyond our comprehension of Greatness.
It is the month of discipline and of empathy. It is not meant to be easy. We are not meant to stay in our houses. Muslims go about their daily lives - school, work, exercise, visiting family and friends, etc. - and are asked, in this month, to go about it with our eyes and our hearts open to the suffering that is occurring all over the world.
It is the month of charity. Becoming fully aware of this suffering is one thing. Aiming to change it is another. This month, charity is expected to be performed more so than every other month, with obligatory donations that go towards various causes, from providing clothing and food to those in need, to building houses and places of worship where previous ones were destroyed.
It is the month of hope. The hope that the kind of faith that is expected of Muslims lasts not only throughout the year, but throughout the rest of our lives. It is the hope that, with this rekindled love for God, love for our ummah, we will continue to exist in the way that Allah swt has set for us - through the words of the Qur’an and following the path of our prophets, peace be upon them. It is the hope that every action, every fast, every single work of charity performed will get us one step closer to achieving what it truly means to be Muslim - to wholly submit, selflessly, without restraint, to Allah swt, and to leave behind the desires and temptations of this world, for the promise of the ultimate peace and beauty of the next.