What’s this “Ramadan” thing again?

I have been asked that question and many others about Ramadan over the years. While I’m sure most have heard of Ramadan, which begins this year on Thursday, not many know the details of this month long tradition for Muslims. “Is it like a month long Christmas?” some have asked me. (Quick answer: No, unless people celebrate Christmas by fasting for 30 days from sunrise to sunset.) But at the end of Ramadan, there’s a festive holiday known as the Eid, which is akin to a big Christmas diner.

In fact, there are two Eids each year, the one at the end of Ramadan known as “Eid al-Fitr” and a second one known as “Eid al-Adha,” which commemorates Abraham’s willingness to follow God’s command to sacrifice his son. And yes, that’s the same Abraham and story from the Bible, again showing that Islam, Christianity and Judaism are all interrelated as Abrahamic faiths.

But back to Ramadan. If only we had a “Ramadan Song” like “The Hanukkah Song” made famous by Adam Sandler to explain this holiday in a funny and entertaining way. I can hear it now, “Here comes Ramadan, time to go to the hair salon.” Okay, now you get why I don’t write songs.

Since we don’t have such a song (at least not yet!), I invited Kameelah Rashad to my show last Saturday. She serves as the Muslim chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania. Rashad, in less then five minutes, explained the why and what of this month long Muslim tradition. From why Muslims fast to the importance for Muslims during Ramadan to help those less fortunate, such as by feeding the poor and contributing to charities.

So with Ramadan beginning this week, here’s a less than five-minute cliff notes version of all you need to know about Ramadan, courtesy of my friend Kameelah Rashad:

My show airs live every Saturday at 10am to noon ET on SiriusXM Insight (Ch 121) and repeats several times over the weekend. It is also available On Demand. Hope you check it out and better yet give us a call during the show to “Ask a Muslim” a question, discuss issues of the week or even be contestant on our weekly segment “Name That Religion.” And as always, I want to be your Muslim friend – so if you don’t have one follow me on Twitter at @deanofcomedy and I’ll follow you back or ask me questions at facebook.com/deanofradio.

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