Ingredients of the month

Kashmiri Muslims offer congregational Friday prayers at historic Jamia Masjid in Srinagar on first Friday of holy month of Ramadhan. Mubashir Khan/GK

Fasting in the month of Ramadan is prescribed to achieve Taqwa and the Qur’an was revealed in this very month (Q. 2: 183, 185)

Ramadan is the 9th month of Islamic calendar. It is the month in which Sawm (fasting), the third pillar of Islam, is prescribed for Muslims. It was in the month of Ramadan that the noble Qur’an, —Allah’’s Last Revelation—was revealed. These are mentioned in the Qur’an as: “You who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may be mindful of God. …It was in the month of Ramadan that the Qur’an was revealed as guidance for mankind, clear messages giving guidance and distinguishing between right and wrong” (Q. 2: 183-85).

These verses state clearly that achieving Taqwa (piety/ righteousness, or to be mindful of God) is the main purpose of the Sawm/fasting. Moreover, these verses also make it clear that the Qur’an, —a guide to mankind (Huddan lil-Nass) with clear ‘signs’ (Ayaat) for guidance and a criterion between right and wrong (al-Furqan)—was revealed in this very month.

In verses 183-187 of Surah al-Baqarah, it states in detail about the fasting in Ramadan, its terms and conditions:in Q. 2: 183, it states the purpose of fasting i.e., being “mindful of God” or to achieve piety or righteous.In Q. 2: 184, it says about the ‘number of days’ and also mentions about those exempted from the fasting: “Fast for a specific number of days, but if one of you is ill, or on a journey, on other days later. For those who can fast only with extreme difficulty, there is a way to compensate—feed a needy person. But if anyone does good of his own accord, it is better for him, and fasting is better for you, if only you knew”. In Q. 2: 185, it is mentioned that noble Qur’an was revealed in this very month.

Thus, one notes that the importance of the month of Ramadan is the advent of the Revelation of the Qur’an, and it is through understanding, followed by action, of the Commandments (ahkam) in this Divine Book, that we can achieve Taqwa or God-consciousness. The Qur’an clearly states, in surah Az-Zumar, 39: 28: “[It is] an Arabic Quran, free from any distortion—so that people may be mindful”.

Taqwa is generally rendered into English as Piety, God-consciousness, Righteousness, Good conduct, or Fear of God or God-fearing (which comes from the awe of Allah). It is very frequently directed and commanded in the Qur’an, as in Surah al-Hujjurat (49: 13): “In God’’s eyes, the most honoured of you are the ones most mindful of Him: God is all knowing, all aware”. The Qur’an repeatedly commands to have Taqwa, and the implication of the term is that one protects oneself by always keeping Allah in view. In other words, when we say something or do something, we do it as we see Allah and we are very careful, vigilant and cautious about this, because we know that Allah sees not only our actions and dealings, but also knows our thoughts and intentions, what we conceal in the inner of our hearts: “if you do good and are mindful of God, He is well aware of all that you do” (An-Nisa, 4: 128); “Be mindful of God: God has full knowledge of the secrets of the heart” (Al-Maidah, 5: 7).

Thus, to put it precisely, one finds an interesting and important triad of bliss, delight, and gladness here: fasting in the month of Ramadan, revelation of the Qur’an, and purpose of fasting to achieve Taqwa; and this blissful connection is possible, at its highest level, only in the month of Ramadan.

The author is a Kashmiri Academician and writes on socio-religious and educational aspects.