Ramadan is the blessed month in which the noble Qur'an was revealed and fasting prescribed (Surah al-Baqarah, 2: 183-85). Fasting (Sawm) in the month of Ramadan (9th month of lunar calendar) is the fourth pillar of Islam. Fasting is not just abstaining and desisting from food and drinks (from dawn to dusk), but it is one of the blessings of Almighty Allah which gives us many opportunities to come closer to the Creator; and to serve the Creation in best possible ways—with multi-fold rewards for every action and deed—from offering extra prayers to dhikr to helping poor and needy—and even uttering 'good word' (as stated in a Hadith: "It is also charity to utter a good word" [Bukhari & Muslim]). The fasting is an act for which the reward is unlimited, as a Hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari states: Allah said, "Every good deed of Adam's son is for him except fasting; it is for Me; and I shall reward (the fasting person) for it'…".
This year Ramadan has come at a time whenwhole humanity is facing COVID-19 pandemic crisis, and the 'lockdown' is beingobserved as a precautionary measure and perfect antidote to stop the spread ofthis virus and to save the humanity. The Greater Kashmir, in its front page Editorial("Ramadan: Does it change us!", 25th April) put forth it rightly as: "This yearthe month of fasting—Ramadhan—comes at a time when the pandemic has broughthuman arrogance to knees. From West to East the man has realised that with allour worldly strengths—industrial, capitalistic, and militaristic—we are finallydefenceless. This pandemic has exposed our exploitative, and oppressiverelationships with our fellow human beings, and with the nature. Ramadhan isthe time we search our souls and seek forgiveness for all our acts ofoppression and exploitation".
Similarly, The Islamic Foundation(Markfield, Leicestershire, UK) has come up with 'My Ramadan Planner 2020',with the objective of helping us "to live Ramadan with the required focus",keeping in view the current situation. In its introduction it highlights inclear terms that the "amazing month of Ramadan … comes with the prospect of allour sins being forgiven, a night better than a thousand months [Lailat ul Qadr,Q.97] and with the opportunity to become better and stronger, thus receivingAllah's promises in this life and in the Hereafter", but it is a fact "Ramadanwith the current lockdown will be strange. But the opportunities and blessingswill be no less, InShaAllah".
Ramadan is not only observed as a month offasting, but it is a month of Mawasaat, of giving charity, of goodness, ofgenerosity, and helping each other. It is a month that fosters communalsolidarity and individual piety: Ibn 'Abbas (RA) narrated: "The Messenger(SAAS) was the most generous of all people, and he used to become more generousin Ramadan when Gabriel met him" (Bukhari). It is a month of 'unlimited' rewards: Almighty Allah said:"Every deed of man will receive 10 to 700 times reward, except Siyam (fasting),for it is for Me and I shall reward it (as I like). There are two occasions ofjoy for one who fasts: one when he breaks the fast and the other when he willmeet his Lord" (Muslim).
We should try our utmost to spend on poorand marginalised; and as we get double reward for the good acts during thismonth, so we are doubly guilty if we ignore them. This month teaches us, amongothers, that "if we don't hold the hand of weak and oppressed, we are abjectcriminals".
Ramadan is month which gives us anopportunity to recover, mend, and improve our relationship with Almighty Allahand with the humankind—described as the 'Crown of the Creation'. Ramadan givesan opportunity to tell the world that "we care for human race"; "we stand bythe poor, by the oppressed, and by the exploited", irrespective of theirreligion, race, colour, language, culture, community, status, etc. Ramadan isthe month of "universal goodness": doing good for everyone—poor, needy,deprived and destitute, etc. The Companion Abu Dharr (RA) reports that theProphet (SAAS) said, "Help a poor person who has a family or do something foran unskilled person", Abu Dharr (RA) asked, "What if I lack the strength to dothis?", the Prophet (SAAS) said, "Refrain from doing harm to people. This is anact of charity you do to yourself" (Bukhari).
Ramadan is a month which gives us an opportunity to come closer to our Creator, to think and care about humankind, and amid the 'current lockdown', it is high time that we devote more and more of our time, energy, and devotion for this greater cause—to care about 'our relations with our Creator' as well as take care and do serve the 'deprived' humankind. In this regard, I would highly recommend the reading and following the 'Ramadan Planner 2020' of The Islamic Foundation (IF), UK (available on their website at www.tif.org.uk): it has been launched by IF to help to live this Ramadan with the required focus, "by setting some Ramadan goals", such as reflecting over how we can "become a better Muslim; what knowledge, practices and habits" do we need to acquire during the blessed month, because a "personal and reflective Ramadan could be the perfect antidote" in the current circumstances faced by humanity, globally.
It is high time that we turn to Allah,repent for our sins, and seek forgiveness, so that to become more worthy ofMercy, Compassion, and Kindness of the 'Most Gracious, Most Merciful'—the Lordand Sustainer of the Creations/Worlds.
May this Ramadan (even amid this currentstrange situation and 'lockdown') prove a blessed and wonderful month for usall! May Allah bring us all closer to Him and to each other!
P.S.: The translation of all the Ahadith istaken from the 'My Ramadan Planner 2020', The Islamic Foundation, UK, which theauthor received via email on 23rd April.
*The author is Assistant Professor, Islamic Studies, at GDC for Women, Pulwama (J&K).