HASAN Kamoonpuri –
In this blessed month of Ramadhan one gets a socially supportive environment to review and reform one’s habits. One also gets a chance to develop and deepen one’s spiritual awakening as opposed to mundane materialistic behaviours.
Allah, the Exalted, says in the Glorious Quran (Surat Al Ma’idah verse 2): “Cooperate with one another in righteousness and piety and do not cooperate in sin and transgression”.
This month offers a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every individual has the opportunity to appreciate the meaning of life, mutual cooperation, peaceful co-existence, sharing and worship, which in turn foster spiritual awakening in terms of feeling the presence of Allah Almighty in all our affairs and every moment.
One can safely say that the month-long Ramadhan fasting is a great school of training in righteousness, empathy, and caring for others. It also develops and deepens one’s awareness regarding the Divine wisdom in all that we see around ourselves.
Fasting assumes special significance because it has had an important role in all faiths and ways of life including Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Down through the centuries, saints, sages and prophets who brought about great reforms and revolutions have testified to the necessity of prayer with fasting. Fasting transforms prayer into a richer and more personal experience. Fasting can result in a dynamic personal revival, awakening and self-understanding.
Before starting his prophetic mission, the great Prophet Isa (Jesus, PBUH) fasted for 40 days and only then was the word of Allah revealed to him. Prophet Moses (PBUH) also fasted for 40 days at Mount Sinai before he was entrusted with heavy responsibilities by Allah.
In much the same manner, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to fast in in seclusion in the cave of Hira before becoming the final Prophet. Only after a long life of this inner purification, did the time come for him to receive the word of Allah. And that revelation began during Ramadhan, making it the holiest of holy months for believers.
On the face of it, Ramadhan fasting may look difficult. But actually fasting along with congregational prayers, mass Sahur (pre-dawn meal) and iftar goes a long way in uplifting energy levels, refining character, and enhancing spiritual awakening. One also feels a deep and inexpressible feeling of joy and wellbeing while fasting.
LOVE OF ALLAH
According to the Glorious Qur’an, one of the purposes of fasting is to attain taqwah (God-consciousness). Fasting, according to the Prophet (PBUH), is a shield that guards people from evil, brings believers closer to the path of goodness and love of Allah the Exalted.
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Shall I tell you about something which, if you do it, will distance you from Satan as much as the distance between the east and the west?” People said, “O yes! Please do so.”
The Prophet (PBUH) said: “It is fast. It darkens his (Satan’s) face, while charity breaks his back and the love for Allah’s sake and assisting others in doing good deeds cut off his tail and seeking Allah’s forgiveness splits his spine. For everything there is a Zakat (purification), and the Zakat of your body is fast”.
The outer sign of fasting is abstention from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk, but in its real essence, it is to withdraw from all worldly attachments, and reduce all mundane necessities to a minimum. This reaches a climax during Itikaf (renunciation through a total retreat inside a mosque) conducted during the last 10 days of Ramadhan.
Fasting is a special deed. It makes a person kind-hearted, and enables him/her to awaken the finer feelings. He is then able to feel and experience what the Creator desires of a man in this world. Ramadhan activities show that Islam is a natural faith, a way of life founded on a strong sense of responsibility, purpose, balance, discipline, and simplicity.
The month-long fasting in Ramadhan can be viewed as a sort of annual crash course in self-discipline, self-reflection, self-regulation, togetherness and empathy. Believers are trained intensively during this one month so that they may live the whole year round with the lessons learned in the spirit of fasting.
To put it simply, Ramadhan offers an extensive programme of reform and spiritual elevation to all of you to help remould your entire being. Because as humans we tend to lose touch with our inner world, Islam has provided for a substantial provision in the form of an annual ‘workshop’, which we call fasting.
A fasting person may have plenty of food and water in front of him, but he/she will not consume it in spite of the hunger and thirst, even if no one is around. Allah desires that this exercise in self-control and self-restraint should be demonstrated whenever you have the opportunity to commit wrong.
Islam teaches us that if man is to earn Allah’s favour, he must eschew the path forbidden by Allah, and set his feet firmly on the path of modesty, humility and generosity and goodness. Ramadhan fasting along with congregational prayers strengthens the bonds of love and unity in society as opposed to individualism, materialism and nationalism.
Through fasting, prayers and charity, the believers learn to curb their desires and check them against transgression, extravagance, and the yielding to the lower desires, all of which degenerate man and bring him to the pit of self-destruction.
Fasting fosters a strong will, teaches patience and self-discipline, the ability to bear hardship and tolerate hunger and thirst. It is a moral education, a nourishment of supreme virtues. In short, it brings about a clear victory over one’s illicit desires and selfish impulses. It regulates and systemises the energies of instincts. It trains the body to submit to lofty spiritual impulses. It safeguards the body’s health by protecting it against extravagance. It grants its organs a respite so that they may be ready to resume their activities.
Fasting is also an effective means of overcoming desires and libido, since it reduces the vigour of the limbs of the body.
The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) advised those who have the need for marriage, but cannot afford to marry, to fast because fasting will help control his sexual desire and thus fasting is a shield for him. The Prophet (PBUH) also said: “The Khisaa (preventive practice or medication against sexual desires) of my Ummah is fasting”. (To be continued)