Ramadan The Fasting Month

Ramadan The Fasting Month

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. It is during this month that Muslims observe the Fast of Ramadan. Lasting for the entire month, Muslims fast during the daylight hours and in the evening eat small meals.  Ramadan is considered as an honorable guest. A guest that visits us once a year and brings with it all sorts of goodness and happiness. A guest that brings with it the wide Mercy and Forgiveness of Allah. A guest that takes the believer closer to Allah and away from the devil and Hell Fire. We are advised in our merciful religion of Islam to be kind and generous towards the guest, so what if the guest is the best of guests over the year? It is from the immense mercy of  Allah  upon  His  slaves  that  He  made  them  Muslims  and believers  and  that  He  extended  their  lives  till  they  reached Ramadan.  It  is  reported  that  the  companions  of the  Prophet  Muhammad:  (Peace  and  Blessing  o f Allah  be  upon  him)   used  to  pray  to Allah  during the six months before Ramadan to extend their lives so,  that they can fast Ramadan, and in the 6 months after Ramadan they  would  ask  Allah  to  accept  their  fasting  of Ramadan. Therefore, we have to be thankful to Allah that He allowed us to witness this Ramadan, so let us please Him during this month. Allah’s Messenger  (Peace  and  Blessing  of Allah  be  upon  him)  Used to  give glad tidings  to  his  companions  of the  approach  of the  month  of Ramadan. He would inform them of it being a month, in which the gates of mercy and the gates of paradise are opened, the gates of Hell Fire are locked and the devils are chained. This huge blessing is detailed beautifully in this hadeeth.

Ramadan is the month of goodness and blessing during which Muslims become more inclined towards the worship of Allah. They pay greater attention to the recitation of the Qur’an, remembrance of Allah and seeking pardon for sins. Ramadan is distinguished from other months due to its many virtues. Amongst them is that: During the blessed month of Ramadan, Allah the Mighty sent down the Qur’an as a guide for people and a cure for the believers. Allah the Most High said: ‘the month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong)’.  (Al-Baqarah,Verse: 185) The month of Ramadan is also distinguished by Lailatul Qadr (The Night of Decree). It is the most excellent night of the whole year. In this blessed night, the Mighty Qur’an was sent down.This night is a blessed night and as regards its excellence it is better than a thousand months.

Characteristics of Fasting

Fasting is another unique moral and spiritual characteristic  of Islam.The Arabic word ‘sawm’ is used for fasting. The term ‘to fast’ literary  means  ‘to  refrain’  i.e.  Absolute abstention and self-restraint. Al-Qur’an uses the word generally when Mary, the mother  of Jesus  (Peace  be  upon  them),  has  been  instructed by Allah the Most High to say:

‘ Verily; 1 have vowed a fast unto the Most Beneficent (Allah) so  I shall not speak to any human being this day \(Maryam,Verse: 26)

According  to  Shariah  (Islamic  legislation)  fasting  means abstention  from  drinking,  eating  and  restraint  of the  sexual intercourse and the like, as a form of worship to Allah, being from dawn to sunset.  Allah the Most High said:

‘Eat and drink until the white thread becomes distinct to you from the black thread of the dawn. Then strictly observe the fast  until nightfalV. (Al-Baqarah,Verse: 187]

Even though from dawn to sunset, Muslims abstain from food, drink and all sensual pleasures, that doesn’t mean food or sexual relations are entirely out of the picture.Two main meals are taken each day during Ramadan.The Suhoor (pre-dawn meal taken each day) and the Iftar (i.e. main meal taken after sunset). A man can also practise sexual intercourse with his wife during the nights Of Ramadan.

Although the  definition indicates restraining the stomach and private parts from whatever nullifies  the fast, other body parts such  as  tongue,  eyes,  ears,  etc  are  equally  obligated  to  be restrained. The  most  significant  aspect  of  fasting  is  the development of Allah-consciousness  (Taqwa)  in the heart and the  soul  of a fasting person.  One must abstain from immoral behaviour and attitude as well. Refraining from food and such is essential during fast but it is not sufficient.

T he Underlying   Principles of  Fasting

Why do Muslims fast?

There are many reasons why people do fast, depending upon the social, cultural, religious, and economic understanding of the people or the individuals.  Some of the reasons why people do fast can be: to lose weight, to lower blood pressure, to cut down on smoking, to digest food better, to learn better eating habits, to share with the hungry, to call attention to political or social issues and so on. However, Muslims fast as a religious obligation upon them, so as to gain the pleasure of Allah the Most High and to earn His blessings and rewards.

The reason Muslims fast can be found directly in  the  Qur’an and the Sayings  of Allah’s Messenger (Peace  and  Blessing  o f Allah  be  upon  him)  The divine purpose of fasting is to develop righteousness and to attain a spiritual state of mind where it turns towards Allah for the whole day Another purpose is to train self-discipline and an exercise in patience and endurance. A person who observes fast becomes the master of his/her desires instead of a slave to them, thus  making one  feel  closer to Allah  because  He  only knows  whether a person is fasting or not.  Therefore it is a test as to whether one wants to please Allah or not. Fasting provides a direct communication between the slaves and the Creator (Allah the Lord of the heavens and the earth and whatever exists). It is an act of worship that enriches self-worth, self-strength, self-discipline and control.  It moves the believers from an unauthentic to an authentic environment that enriches their vital needs of physical and spiritual. It makes us forget about our beginning, it awakens the mind and hearts thinking and being conscious of Allah. Fasting has also social benefits.  Fasting gives the Muslims a feeling of brotherhood in practice. It draws them closer together and fills their hearts with love and affection.

Fasting brings passion under control. Passion is the root of all evils, and this can be regulated by the method of fasting. Allah the Most High created man and his passion; He knows the best medicine for passion and therefore prescribed fasting. There are  several  sayings  of the  Prophet   (Peace  and  Blessing  o f Allah  be  upon  him)  relating to the virtues and merits, which a man receives from Allah by fasting in the month of Ramadan. In this month, the doors of mercy, forgiveness and kindness are specially opened and the doors of punishments are closed.

General Recommendations of Fasting

Ramadan comes with blessings to the Muslims. The reports from the Qur’an and the Sunnah (tradition reports of the Prophet) encourage an increase in action to get reward as we fast out of gratefulness to Allah. There are a number of spiritual behaviors that should be practiced during Ramadan. These are observed in accordance with  the  instruction  of Allah  the  Most  High  and Strongly recommended by the Prophet   (Peace  and  Blessing  o f Allah  be  upon  him) ,   his  companions  (may  Allah  be  p leased   with  them )  and  Muslim scholars.  Practicing  and  applying  these  principles,  rules  and behaviors  helps  the person maximize  the physical as well  as spiritual benefits of fasting. In general, performing deeds, which are from the Sunnah carry with them extra blessings. Now, when we  combine  these  deeds  with  the  uniqueness  of the  month  of Ramadan,  the  rewards  are  unimaginable.  It  is  strongly recommended  by  Prophet  (Peace  and  Blessing  o f Allah  be  upon  him)  to observe these general practices especially during Ramadan:

 1 Having Pre-Dawn meal (Suhoor)

Suhoor is the eating and drinking at the end of the night with the intention of fasting.  It is strongly emphasized and highly recommended by the Messenger of Allah   (Peace and Blessing of Allah be upon him). He (Peace and Blessing of Allah be upon him) ordered for one intending to fast, that he should partake of the Suhoor.

2 Merits/Values of Suhoor

Warning for those who do not Fast during Ramadan

Allah the Almighty has constructed the universe upon a certain balance and has likewise ordered this balance upon humanity. The  great  religion  of Islam  offers  perfect  guidance  for  every branch  of our  lives.  It offers a programmed of action for everything that it prescribes. The primary objectives of Salah, Zakah and Fasting are to bring us closer to Allah and inculcate taqwa (piety and self restraint) within us.  But the fact is that when Islam is taken as a unitary whole and its entire programmed implemented, each of its pillars reinforces the other and serves multiple purposes. Fasting in Ramadan is a part of the broader programmer that Islam prescribes for man to fulfils his moral and spiritual destiny in this world and in the Hereafter. It is a special worship designed to develop in man the ability to exercise self-restraint and patience for the pleasure of Allah the Most High.

Thus, denying or ignoring fasting excludes a person from the fold of Islam. Ibn Abbaas  (may Allah  be  pleased  with  him)   reported that: Allah’s Messenger (Peace and Blessing of Allah be upon him)  S a id :

“The roots of Islam and the foundations of the Deen (religion) are three, upon them Islam is built, whoever leaves one of them has disbelieved in them and his blood is lawful: Testifying that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah, the prescribed prayers, and fasting in Ramadan.” (AbuYa’la, Ad Daylami, and verified by Ad Dhahabi)Ad Dhahabi said: With the believers it is agreed that whoever leaves a fast in Ramadan without sickness he is worse than the adulterer and the addicted drinker. In fact the believers have doubt about his Islam.

That is not all about Ramadan


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