Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Hijri calendar whereby a month long fasting is observed by the Muslim Ummahworldwide. The question arises why God chose this particular month for fasting? What is the principal connection between the revelation of the holy Quran and fasting? And, how should our fasting be like actually? There are numerous theories piled up throughout our Islamic tradition. The most common position is that the fasting in the holy Ramadan is to restraint oneself from eating anything from sunrise to sunset for a complete month unless a Muslim is ill or traveling; in order to obtain Taqwa ( piety, God consciousness, fear of God). Fasting cleans not only our body, restricts greed of our nafs but the fasting in Ramadan is very much directed to purify and wash our souls from all ills developed from our carnal self. The level of our Taqwa is directly related to our realization of the higher truths and our level in the way of God. The holy Ramadan is itself the month of the holy Quran which means our fasting is to train our soul, mind and intellect so that the Quran is opened upon us; we get to realize the inner core/essence of the message put into the holy book. As explicitly goes itself in the sacred Quran:“The month of Ramadan is one in which the Quran was sent down as guidance to mankind, with manifest proofs of guidance and the criterion. So let those of you witness it fast (in) it.” Fasting enhances our understanding of the verses, chapters, stories, laws etc. as directed by the Divine. The more we gain the Taqwa in us is the guarantee of the more revelation of the metaphysical meanings of this sacred text upon our intellect. When we truly train and develop our self along the divine lines which this holy Ramadan is abundantly carrying along, we decode the esoteric aspects of our existence in relation with the Divine Reality ultimately.
The purpose of the revelation of the holy Quran during this holy month was to keep us on the divinely guided track, siratul mustaqeem, perfectly as willed by our Creator. As Allah has mentioned in Surah Baqrah verse number 183: “Believers! Fasting is enjoined upon you, as it was enjoined upon those before you, so that you become God-fearing.” Taqwa, as is the direct result of our fasting and other virtues, helps us to live a righteous, pious and God-fearing life which has a direct bearing upon our ceaseless journey towards the eternity. Each overt or covert act of life when done in the guidance of the holy scriptures leads us closer to Allah, the Ultimate Reality which we are striving consciously or unconsciously towards. The holy Ramadan accentuates this spiritual training and guidance of our souls than all other months of the year combined. Then, the fasting itself is not exclusively related to our abandoning of eating and drinking. Rather, each and every aspect of our existence is to be on fast, each organ of our body and every streak of our mind and soul should join this divine training. That is when we are set to gain the God-consciousness so to tread the way of the righteous whom God Himself guides under His Divine Command.
The spiritual rewards of fasting are immense. The guidance of the holy Quran puts us under the celestial grace which helps us realize the heaven here and now. Similarly, the holy Ramadan helps us shun all bad comportments, sinful activities, crimes, hate, greed and every possible negative activity. This spiritual period throws innumerable opportunities for the mankind to gain blissful life; a master key to get the gates of the paradise opened and the gates of the hell locked not for only this month but for the rest of the life and beyond. We are very much directed to look around us to find those who are in need, find out the people who are in the most difficult times so that we can help them in one way or the other in order to realize the Quranic spirit in practice. When God directs us to help those who are in need, it means God gives us opportunity to experience divinity in these materialistic and agnostic times. We are reminded that we aren’t alone. No matter how much individualism, devastations to our mutual relationships, hatred against people have become the order of the day, we are still expected to realize the Divine Light in the middle of this darkness. Ramadan as a whole and the fasting in particular helps us to forfend ourselves from the habits or doings which harm our soul as well as body. Our test is to keep treading the journey of our lives in the light of the Divinity. The ultimate meaning of our life itself in this materialistic world is basically a test how we live our lives in this world so that the next levels of our existence are decided accordingly. If we do good deeds, we will be rewarded otherwise our bad deeds and other rebellious acts would verily make us taste a bad life on this earth and the hell fire in the world to come. Indeed the holy Ramadan is the foremost month to amend our deeds and perfect our lives as per the sacred text of the Quran. When we choose to surrender in front of our Lord, every difficulty turns into ease and leads a person to peaceful journey.
Thus, the sacred month of Ramadan is the spring time for the dead hearts and rusted souls. No matter how far we have gone away from the divine centre, no matter how much sinful our character has been actually, we are re-invited to have a fresh bath under the ceaseless ever-flowing cascade of the divine mercy whose origin is God Himself. It is the Almighty, yes! our own Creator who guarantees our forgiveness regardless of our past records. We have to come towards the Divine Feast well before our eyes are closed forever.
Come, whosoever you are, this is not a house of despair.
If you have broken your vow a thousand times, we don’t care
Lover of leaving. O doubtful one:
Come whoever you are, come and yet again come.
(Sheikh Abu Sa’id Abulkhayr)