RAMADAN: The Blessed Month
The goal of fasting is to develop Taqwa
PROF. M. S. KHUROO
Ramadan is the blessed month in the Muslim calendar. It was during this month that Quran was revealed to mankind. “Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur´an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). (Al Qur’an; Al-Baqarah: 2:185) “And indeed We have made the Qur’an easy to understand and to remember. But is there anyone who would receive admonition?” (Al Qur’an; Al-Qamar: 54:18)
Ramadan is the month of fasting; time to purify and train body and soul. It is obligatory on Muslims to fast in this month. Holy Quran states: “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, so that you may develop Taqwa (self-restraint)” (Al Qur’an; Al-Baqarah: 2:184) Reference “to those before you” is highlighted about the Blessed Virgin Maryin the Qur’an: “So eat and drink, and cool thy eye. And if thou sees’ any man, say, ‘I have vowed a fast to the Gracious God; I will therefore not speak this day to any human being” (Al Qur’an; Maryam: 19:27). Fasting means abstinence i.e. to stop eating, drinking and sexual activity from dawn to dusk. Smoking is also prohibited during Ramadan. Several groups of people are exempted from fasting as is highlighted in this Quranic verse: “So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.” (Al Qur’an; Al-Baqarah: 2:185)
The goal of fasting is to develop Taqwa (self-restraint).Taqwa meansstate of heart that motivates virtuous conduct and prevents evil actions. Love of God plus fear of God leads to Taqwa. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) delivered address on the eve of Ramadan and commented: “People, a great-blessed month has come upon you. Allah has made fasting during it an obligation, and steadfastly observing its nights in worship a voluntary act. … It is the month of patience, and the reward for patience is Paradise. It is the month of goodwill, during which provisions are multiplied”.
Ramadan provides an annual training opportunity that is meant to fulfil the character building needs for the rest of the year. Fasting leads to God fearing nature; after life accountability; patience; self control; self discipline; responsibility; obedience; purification of soul. Fasting and sin don’t go together. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) cautioned people and said: “Allah has no need for the hunger and the thirst of the personwho does not restrain from telling lies and acting on them even while observing fast. When one of you is fasting, he should abstain from indecent acts and unnecessary talk, and if someone begins an obscene conversation or tries to pick an argument, he should simply tell him:-I am fasting”.
Days of Ramadan are divided in to 3 segments for every Muslim namely God’s Mercy (days 1-10), God’s forgiveness (days 11-20) and salvation from Hellfire (days 21-30). Accordingly, Let's beg for Allah’s mercy, His forgiveness and salvation from the hell-fire. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) proclaimed on reward of fasting: “Every action of the son of Adam is given manifold reward, each good deed receiving then times its like, up to seven hundred times. Allah the Most High said, 'Except for fasting, for it is for Me and I will give recompense for it, he leaves off his desires and his food for Me.' For the fasting person there are two times of joy; a time when he breaks his fast and a time of joy when he meets his Lord, and the smell coming from the mouth of the fasting person is better with Allah than the smell of musk."
Muhammad Assad (formerly Leopold Weiss) in his book Road To Mecca wrote on fasting: “Two-fold: I learned is the purpose of fasting. One has to abstain from food and drink in order to feel in one’s body what the poor and hungry feel. Thus, social responsibility is being hammered into religious consciousness as a religious postulate. The other purpose of fasting during Ramadan is self-discipline, an aspect of individual morality strongly accentuated in all Islamic teachings (as for instance in the total prohibition of all intoxicants which Islam regards as too easy avenue of escape from consciousness and responsibility). In these two elements - brotherhood of man and individual self-discipline began to discern the outlines of Islam’s ethical outlook.”
Poverty and hunger is a common occurrence especially in developing countries and may be visible in our neighbourhood. Ramadan fast gives you a feel of how the hungry and thirsty feel? The condition of hunger gets highlighted on each fasting person leading to: Care and concern for the poor and hungry; Helping attitude towards have-nots; Charity and donations; Refrain from wasting food and drinks; & Social responsibility.
Dr Jack Goldstein in his Book Triumph Over Disease By Fasting and Natural Diet stated that fasting gives vital organs a complete rest. Fasting is known to restore a youthful condition to the cells and tissues. In addition to benefits of fasting, Dr Jack Goldstein dispelled many misbeliefs about fasting. Abstinence from food for a short time can in no way operate to the disadvantage of a normal person. In fact, fasting benefits individuals affected with certain types of gastrointestinal disorders. Fasting has also been used in cases of diabetes and obesity. It is a cleansing process and a physiologic or functional rest, which prepares the body for future correct living. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) stated more than 1400 years ago: “Fast and you shall become healthy”.
I wish whole Muslim Uma a happy and fruitful Ramadan 2012.
Prof. M. S. Khuroo is former Director, Professor & Head Gastroenterology and Chairman Department of Medicine, Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura, Srinagar; Feedback at Khuroo@yahoo.com.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 26 Jul 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 26 Jul 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 27 Jul 2012 00:00:00 IST
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