For Muslims, observing fasting in the month of Ramadan—the month in which the Qur’an was revealed—is prescribed to achieve Taqwa (Q. 2: 183, 185)
Sawm (fasting in the month of Ramadan) is the third pillar of Islam. Ramadan is the blessed month in which the noble Qur’an was revealed and fasting prescribed: “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 make it clear enough that it is month of Ramadan in which Sawm/ fasting was prescribed for the Muslims so that they may be mindful of God, or achieve Taqwa. These verses also state, very clearly, that the Qur’an was revealed in this very month, and that the Qur’an is a guide to mankind (Huddan lil-Nass) with clear ‘signs’ (Ayaat) for guidance and a criterion between right and wrong (al-Furqan).
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 that fasting is a prescribed duty on Muslims, and the purpose is “so that you may be mindful of God”. Later, it says about its ‘number of days’ and who are 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” (Q. 2: 184). In the next verse, Q. 2: 185, it is mentioned that noble Qur’an, which is Guidance for mankind and is al-Furqan, 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—Piety, Righteousness 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—rendered into English generally as Piety, God-consciousness, Righteousness, Good conduct, or Fear of God or God-fearing (which comes from the awe of Allah)—is very frequently enjoined, directed and commanded in the Qur’an: for instance: “In God’s eyes, the most honoured of you are the ones most mindful of Him: God is all knowing, all aware” (al-Hujjurat, 49: 13). 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, a very important trio of bliss, delight, and gladness is seen here: fasting in Ramadan, the Qur’an, and (achieving) Taqwa; and this blissful connection is possible, at its highest level, only in the month of Ramadan.
The author is Assistant Professor, Islamic Studies, at GDC Pulwama.