Islamic Humanitarian Services
Ramadhan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, is a time of deep spiritual up-liftment and reflection. Amongst the blessings of this month, is the injunction to fast. The holy Qur’an, referring to the prime act of worship in this month, states:
O you who believe. Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may acquire piety. 2:183
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
Translators have used the word “prescribed” for the Arabic “kutiba” symbolizing that fasting is a spiritual medication for the Believers. Similar to an antibiotic or other medication that a doctor prescribes for an ill patient, the Almighty Creator has decreed fasting as a spiritual cure for ailments that are not necessarily physical. First of all fasting teaches discipline. Food and water may be right in front of us, and normally permissible. But for the one fasting in the holy month, that food and water, during daylight hours, are not permissible. Thus, one learns self control, and the ability to strengthen will power, as taught by the holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family).
Once a person is able to control their desire to eat and drink, they are able to control their desires in other aspects of life also. Secondly, from a physical point of view, it helps cleanse the digestive system. At the time of breaking fast, it is important to eat gradually and slowly, a requirement even when it is not Ramadhan. Even at the time of suhoor (pre-dawn meal), the encouragement has been to be moderate. Therefore, an individual, who may be having three or four meals a day, is down to a meal and half a day, giving the internal organs an opportunity to rest and clean. Thirdly, the holy Prophet has instructed those who are fasting to be extra pleasant, and that all good deeds multiply during the holy month. Ones dealing with family members, subordinates, superiors, classmates, and others have to be exceptionally polite, in spite of being hungry and thirsty, which under normal circumstances would make someone irritable.
During the holy days and nights of Ramadhan, Muslims are reminded to ponder over the blessings and bounties Almighty Allah has given, and to be thankful for the same. Imam Ali (peace be upon him) has been quoted as saying, “If a person realized the bounties bestowed upon him by Allah the Exalted, while in sajda (prostration) he/she would never be able to lift their head from that state.” To reflect and think of God’s grace is also seen as an act of worship in Islam.
Blessed Ramadhan also contains therein another important fact, the revelation of the Holy Qur’an. The final divine scripture was sent down to the Allah’s last Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family). Details about this part shall come in a future article, Insha-Allah.
May Allah, the Almighty, accept our good deeds and forgive our shortcomings during Holy Ramadhan.