Islamic Perspectives

The Virtues Of Ramadan

The holy month of Ramadan has again come as a bounty for Muslims. It is a month when mercy from God shrouds them, their sins are forgiven and in reward they are granted salvation from Hellfire, according to Qur’an and Hadith.

Ramadan is the ninth month of lunar calendar. As all the lunar months can be of either 29 or 30 days, so can be Ramadan. Its completion will mark the beginning of the month Shawwal; the first day of which is celebrated as Eid-ul-Fitr (The Celebration of Breaking Fast) by Muslims. Throughout the month adult and sane Muslims, men and women alike, are commanded to observe fast.

The Arabic equivalent for fasting is Saum. In Arabic terminology saum refers to abstaining from some work whether related to eating drinking or talking. It is in this sense that a horse which does not eat fodder or stops from walking is called as-Sayim (one that fasts) in the usage of the Arabs.

Making fast an obligation upon Muslims God says in Qur’an, “Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his/her home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (should be made up) by days later. God intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him.” (Qur’an)

On another occasion, God the Almighty says, “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may (learn) taqwa (self-restraint).” The Qur’an also puts it, “The most honored by God amongst you are those best in taqwa.”

Taqwa means to incorporate one’s deeds as per the will of God. Through messengers, God has taught mankind His likes and dislikes. During fast, one has to abstain from food, drink, and sexual intercourse from dawn until sunset. When a person is able to abstain even from what is allowed—food, drink and sex with their legal partners—during fast, they will surely abstain in other circumstances from what is forbidden by God. Fasting makes them complete self-restraint.

One who observes fast is supposed to avoid bad behaviors such as lying, cheating, backbiting and slandering etc. These are ill practices which should be avoided out of Ramadan too but in this sacred month more care should be taken. Abu Hurairah, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), relates that the Messenger said, “Whoever does not abandon falsehood in word and action, then God the Mighty and Majestic has no need that he should leave his food and drink.” (Bukhari)

So, fasting is not merely abstaining from eating and drinking, rather it is also abstaining from ignorant and indecent speeches and behavior. It is so that in the case anyone abuses or behaves ignorantly with a fasting Muslim he/she has been ordered to just say, “I am fasting, I am fasting.”

In fasting, sincerity in intention is utmost important. Fasting must be solely for the sake of God. A sense of show-off kills the spirit of fasting and is likely to make it of no use. The Prophet said: “He who fasts Ramadan, due to belief in God and hoping for reward from Him, his past sins are forgiven.” (Bukhari, Muslim) A person whose sins are forgiven becomes closer to God.

Apart from spirituality, there are social aspects of fasting too. Helping the needy, the widows, the orphans and the beggars is a social responsibility of every one. When a person voluntarily keeps himself thirsty and hungry he/she experiences the hardships the destitute lots suffer daily. It urges them to help those in need. The Prophet was all time generous. But in Ramadan his philanthropy would touch its height. No one would be, then, deprived of his generosity. Muslims devote a share of their wealth for needy in order to fulfill their social duty. In Ramadan, his/her hands are more open as the reward of good deeds in the month is seventy times more than in other days.

A. Hameed Yousuf

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