Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, or Hijra calendar is, to millions of Muslims, a sacred period dedicated to fasting, intensive prayer, sacrifice, worship, supplication, repentance, self-purification, and spiritual attainment.
Fasting during the month of Ramadan is the third pillars of Islamic faith. Ramadan is a month in which the Holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
The month offers a great opportunity for Muslims to reform and refine their spiritual being.
Allah (SW) in the Holy Quran commanded all Muslims to fast during this sacred month. It reads: “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain Taqwa (God-consciousness).”– Qur’an, 2:183.
It is therefore an obligatory for every Muslim believer to fast during this month, except those who are exempted from fasting which include: Children, sick people, elderly, travelers and menstruating women, postnatal, pregnant or breast-feeding.
During this period, Muslims all over the world redesign their lifestyles to focus on the goals of Ramadan.
A whole body awareness of God and a humble thankfulness for whatever blessings He has granted. Where there is awareness of God, there is spirituality. Once we attain spirituality, we are bound to attain self-righteousness, which is the key to success in this world and in the hereafter.
Ramadan is not just abstaining from eating and drinking. It requires restraint from a lot of things that are permissible at all other times, such as eating, drinking, intimacy etc. It also provides opportunity for Muslims who consciously or unconsciously engage in the acts that are prohibited by Allah to restrain from them during this month. By doing this for most of the day, it teaches discipline and the ability to fight and control desires of the soul at all times.
For example, a man who is in the presence of his beautiful wife, within the privacy of his home, and in a very romantic environment, and still control his permitted desire just out of obedience to Allah does wonders for his self-discipline, self-control, and sacrifice.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has said: “The blessed month has come to you. Allah has opened the gates of paradise and closed the gates of hellfire, and the devils are chained. And, there is a night (during this month) which is better than a thousand months. Whoever is deprived of its good is really deprived (of something great).”
According to medical practitioners, there are many health benefits of fasting as well. When one is fasting, the entire digestive system is at rest and gives the organs time to repair and rejuvenate. This enables better functioning of the systems and prevents many illnesses.
Apart from these, fasting also improves mental acuity and physical and mental stamina, as the body gets trained to survive without continuous and instant gratification provided by food and drink.
Ramadan is an opportunity to abandon bad habits and attempt at reaching a higher degree of moderation and spirituality in order to be closer to Allah and away from the negativity of the world.
We must reflect on our lives in order to view this world and the purpose of our existence with more penetrating insight. We must therefore strive to imbibe the spirit of this Holy month at all times.
Habits such as night prayer, recitation of the Holy Qur’an, repentance, supplication, charity, love for one another, and abstinence from all forms of immoralities should be retained even after Ramadan. If we are able to achieve all these, then no doubt, we have really benefited from the Holy month and are one step closer to gaining God-consciousness. We will also be sure of coming out of this month with a reformed soul.
May Allah accept our struggles, forgive our shortcomings during this month and help us to achieve all the good benefits of Ramadan. May He admit us in His paradise and save us from the torment of hellfire (Ameen). [myad]