Rama’daan is an extra-ordinary month for Muslims; not only because they fast during the day and perform extra-additional worship to Allaah Almighty but also because it was the month when the Holy ‘Qur~an was sent down in Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Decree).
Fasting in Islaam
In Islaam, fasting is an action of forbidding normal human habits of eating, drinking, swallowing anything, and having sexual intercourse between husband and his wife for the duration of the day; which starts from dawn and ends with sunset.
Fasting in Islaam has two types:
* Obligatory: This type of fasting occurs only during Rama’daan where all Muslims should practise it during the entire month. If some of them couldn’t fast some days because of being ill, for example, they should re-fast those days in another month.
* Voluntary: This type of fasting is distributed throughout the whole year (except Rama’daan and the two days of ‘Eed) where Muslims are called to fast certain days, each according to what he/she can bear. If they couldn’t practise it, there’s no need to re-fast them.
What I’m interested in talking about is fasting during Rama’daan; as I consider it as the cornerstone of the Muslim’s life in general.
Aims and Goals
Some people might think that the purpose of fasting - either in Rama’daan or other voluntary days - is just to perform additional worship to Allaah Almighty in order to increase the person’s good deeds only.
Well, this is absolutely right; however it’s just a minor part of the truth. Unfortunately, the major one is always ignored despite that it’s the core of the philosophy of fasting in Islaam.
Allaah Almighty mentioned the following in the Holy ‘Qur~an: “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, even as it was prescribed for those before you, that ye may ward off evil);” (Chapter of Alba’qarah, 183]. From what Allaah Almighty told us, it’s clear that fasting came for the purpose of reaching the state of piety.
Piety - simply - can be defined as the state of mind Muslims called upon to reach in order to perform a definite mission. In order to reach such state of mind, body plus soul should work in harmony together.
As for the body; it’s called upon to stop the normal habits of eating, drinking, and having sexual intercourse, so it becomes lighter and ready to perform additional worship during Rama’daan, such as reading the Holy ‘Qura~n plus praying Taraweeh (congregational night prayer).
As for the soul, it’s called upon to purify itself via this extra worship to Allaah Almighty, not only to perform them because they are obligatory.
The state of Piety, when reached, allows Muslims - both Men and Women - to perform their role, which is Urbanising Earth for the welfare of humanity, in a better way.
That’s why I see fasting as a basic tool from Allaah Almighty to help Muslims perform their role, not the goal itself.
Etiquettes of Islaam
In Rama’daan, the real Islaamic manners and etiquettes, which Muslims are instructed to follow in their life, are revealed.
Such etiquettes represent the core of Islaam, which guided their ancestors to establish the Islaamic Civilisation between the 7th-15th centuries; a civilisation that offered light to humanity in many fields.
In the following few words I shall highlight the most important etiquettes, which we are instructed to follow all throughout the year; not only during Rama’daan.
Etiquette 1: Pursuance of Knowledg
Knowledge is the framework of the Islaamic faith; as the 1st verse which the archangel Gabriel taught to prophet Mu’hammad (PBUH) states: “Read: In the name of thy Lord who createth.” [Chapter of Al’ala’q, 1]
Knowledge is the way to know Allaah Almighty better; which means to think about life, search and work for creating new techniques to make life better, and this was what motivated Muslim scientists to rise in every field; astronomy, medicine, engineering, chemistry, mathematics, architecture, philosophy.
Etiquette 2: Equality
Human Rights are guaranteed in Islaam. Islaam considers all Humans - being Men or Women - to be equal in everything no matter what the colour of their skin is.
For sure there are rich and poor like any other community, however there is nothing called Masters and Slaves; rather rich people are called upon to help the poor, and both are citizens of a community and are called upon to cooperate and work together for the sake of their community. Finally, everyone according to his deeds will be judged by Allaah Almighty.
In parallel, even the human rights for other non-human creatures are guaranteed by default in Islaam. One of the famous companion who was the most prolific narrator of Hadith was called “Abu Hurayraa” (father of the kitten); because he used to take his cat everywhere with him.
Etiquette 3: Non-Muslims
Non-Muslims are part of the Islaamic community since Jewish were living in Medina side by side until the present in different Islaamic countries.
A fundamental part of Islaamic teaching states that Muslims have to believe in the past messengers from Allaah Almighty like Moses and Jesus. In parallel, Islam calls us to respect the religion of each member of the community, and not to force anyone to enter Islaam; rather every one has the choice wither to enter Islam or not.
Prophet Mu’hammad (PBUH) and the companions never urged any one to enter Islaam, rather they had entered - and still - according to their own conveniences.
Etiquette 4: War and Jihaad
People think that Islaam comes to declare war against Non-Muslims, and this is totally wrong. Islaam comes to convey to the people the last message from Allaah Almighty, so obviously it will not urge them to fight against each others.
Islaam forbids any kind of killing to any soul; either Muslim or none, and even for other creatures too.
The war in Islaam is only to defend ourselves against the enemies who were pagans. In parallel, within the war itself, there are several etiquettes Muslims must follow which forbid any kind of killing for women, children, weak, disabled people and elders. Therefore, terms like “torture” and “genocide” are totally forbidden under any circumstances within war in Islaam.
Etiquette 5: Women Rights
Women are an integral part of any Islaamic community, and Islaam guarantees their rights same as it did for Men.
The ‘Qur~an always talks to both Men and Women and did not differentiate between them in any thing, rather it urges them to work in order to make the community better, within the state of modesty which is the characteristic feature of an Islaamic community, and this was very clear during the life of Prophet Mu’hammad (PBUH) and the companions after him.
Special days that quickly pass
Well, in the light of what I’ve mentioned above, you can figure it out why I love Rama’daan. The spiritual values of this month make it something really like flying without wings. That’s why I consider it as the month of recharging our souls.
In parallel, ascending requires more effort from us than descending. Well, in Rama’daan the soul ascends to become closer and closer to Allaah Almighty, thus supplying us with the power we need to face life for additional 11 months until it comes again.
Another interesting note: Rama’daan is the 9th month of the Hijri Calendar (Islamic Lunar Calendar) same as a baby that comes to life after 9 months of pregnancy
Therefore, I see that our souls are re-born every Rama’daan in order to return back to its normal state of purity as Allaah Almighty created them. For sure it is not 100% pure as we are humans not angels; however this regeneration gives us the power to survive for the rest of the year.
I think that’s why Allaah Almighty made Ramad’aan one of the five pillars of Islaam.
Shall I not inform you of a better act than fasting, alms, and prayers? Making peace between one another: enmity and malice tear up heavenly rewards by the roots”
-- Prophet Mu’hammad (PBUH)
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