Ramadan is a holy month out of the 12 months in the Islamic calendar. It is the month of fasting (saum) which is one of the five pillars of Islam. Looking down into the history of Islam, Ramadan has been the practice of Muslims worldwide since time immemorial and so Muslims hold this month in very high esteem and deem it fit to always adhere to all practices that are spiritually favorable in this blessed month.
Adherents of other faiths may wonder why Muslims hold this month in high esteem because it is glaring that in this special month the remembrance of God Almighty is more intense. Hence, Muslims seek the favors, mercy, and forgiveness of God Almighty in all sincerity.
God Almighty has said in the Glorious Quran that “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become righteous” This verse of the Holy Quran gives an insight into why Muslims give full attention to this blessed month.
Ramadan is not just an ordinary month but a month that every Muslim brethren always longs for, a month that comes with a special notice. The remembrance of Allah the Almighty is intense, nights become sleepless and are spent at the threshold of The Almighty
In this month, the heart subdues itself to religious doctrines, the doors of unnecessary social gatherings are closed and the heart of man becomes cold from the worldly pursuits. Muslims’ hearts are filled with the love of God.
How then would a man want to miss from the great bounties of such a spectacular month, the doors of heaven are opened and that of hell is closed- a month everyone is mindful of his thoughts, actions, and selfish desires.
Ramadan is a month of spiritual reflection and self-improvement in which the rich remember the poor. No Muslim wishes to miss out of the great blessings embedded in this holy month. Shaitan is chained for he himself fears this glorious month. God Almighty brings Himself closer to mankind and hears the supplications of the supplicants. On one occasion, the Holy Prophet(sa) said, “If you knew the excellences of Ramadan and what Ramadan entails one would always wish that Ramadan should continue till the end of the year”.
Fasting does not mean just refraining from food or drink but also moving far from activities that void one’s fasting. To solely remain hungry from morning until evening is not considered fast. The Promised Messiah(as) has stated, “Through the practice of fasting, God Almighty desires for a person to decrease one form of nourishment and increase in another form of sustenance. A person observing the fast should always be mindful of the fact that observing the fast does not simply mean that one should remain hungry. Rather, one should remain occupied in the remembrance of God Almighty in order to develop a state of inclination towards God and detachment from the world.”
The Promised Messiah (as) states, “Therefore, a fast means that a person should refrain from the physical food that nourishes the body and acquire another form of food that is the means of comforting and nourishing the soul. Those individuals who observe the fast purely for the sake of God and do not do so as a mere tradition, they should remain engaged in praising God Almighty and also seeking His protection.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 9, p. 123)
The Holy Prophet (sa) has also stated that God Almighty does not require for you to simply remain hungry (Sahih Bukhari, Kitab al-Saum, Bab Man Lam Yada’ Qaul al-Zur wa al-amal bihi fi al-saum, Hadith 1903).
Moreover, God Almighty has also stated in the very first verse pertaining to the injunction that fasting has been prescribed so that one may become righteous. However, what is righteousness? It is to abstain from spiritual and moral weaknesses. As I have just mentioned, the Holy Prophet(sa) has stated that God Almighty does not require for one to simply remain hungry. The observing of the fast should develop a standard of righteousness within a person, through the means of which one is then able to protect themselves from all forms of spiritual and moral weaknesses, otherwise it is meaningless to fast.
Furthermore, the Promised Messiah(as) has elaborated on righteousness on one occasion in the following manner:
“To become truly righteous it is necessary that after having abstained from the more manifest form of sins, such as adultery, theft, usurping the rights of others, pretentiousness, arrogance, scorn of fellow beings, miserliness, one should eschew all low morals and should make progress in high moral values.”
In other words, one should make a concerted effort to abandon these ills. By abandoning these lowly vices, one should then adopt excellent morals.
The Promised Messiah (as) further states,
“One should behave towards his fellow beings with politeness, courtesy and sympathy and should cultivate true fidelity and sincerity towards God Almighty. (This is vital for righteousness and spirituality. One ought to have a true and loyal relationship with God.)
“One should constantly seek occasions of beneficent service.” This encapsulates both the rights owed to God Almighty and fulfilling His injunctions, and also fulfilling the rights owed to mankind. In other words, one should serve in such a selfless manner whereby it would be obvious that indeed, such a person is serving only for the sake of God without any vested interests.
Ramadan is a revered month that comes with enormous blessings. Unfolding the meanings of the last phrase of verse 184 of Surah Baqarah “La’allakum tattakuun”, it is stated that “the real object of fasting is, first, to be saved from harm and suffering, and secondly, to be saved from sin and evil”.(Five- Volume Commentary, vol. 1 p. 237) Fasting also protects one from spiritual and physical harms. And health wise it is beneficial for the body.
The Night of Majesty (Lailatul Qadr) is a rare blessing that comes during the period of one of the odd nights in the last ten days of Ramadan. The Holy Prophet (saw) described it to be better than a thousand months. A night that angels and the Holy Spirit descend, and it is all peace till the rising of the dawn.
Ramadan is a month all Muslims curiously await and the hearts of the believers burn in love for their Creator as they supplicate day and night throughout the noble month. He who fasts really evinces his readiness, if need be, to sacrifice his all for the sake of his Lord and Creator. Fasting indeed affords a wonderful moral and spiritual training ground for humanity.