The most desired guest for the believers is the Holy Month of Ramadan. Believers are commanded to welcome this special guest with fear of God in their heart and purity of mind and soul. The Almighty (Allah) says in the Holy Quran: “O you who believe, fasting is decreed for you, as it was decreed for those before you, that you may attain salvation.” (Chapter 2; Verse 184).
First of all, what is Fasting? In Quran and Hadiths the word defining Fasting is “Sawm” which means “to abstain”. In our current language, this means that we must not drink or eat, and abstain from sexual relations from the beginning of dawn till sunset. Fasting existed even before the advent of Islam, for all people before Islam received divine commandments to fast, even if the quantity and quality of the different fasts were not the same.
Fasting is one of the fundamental pillars of Islam. The first pillar being the Shahada (Attestation of Faith), the second being Salaat (Prayer), the third being Sawm (Fasting – especially in the month of Ramadan where it is obligatory for a believer except if one is ill, on a long journey, and for the ladies who are in their menses, or pregnant or are breastfeeding their babies), then afterwards come Zakaat and Hajj.
Fasting is a divine institution for the purification of a person. It enables a believer to improve himself morally and spiritually, and definitely it is good for health. It is the Almighty who has instituted the month of Ramadan as sacred and commanded all believers to participate by observing these fasts. Allah says in the Quran, in Chapter 2, Verse 186: “The month of Ramadan is that in which the Quran was revealed, a guidance to men and clear proofs of the guidance and the distinction; therefore whoever of you is present in the month, he shall fast therein, and whoever is sick or upon a journey, then (he shall fast) a (like) number of other days; Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you difficulty, and (He desires) that you should complete the number and that you should exalt the greatness of Allah for His having guided you and that you may give thanks.”
Through this verse it is quite clear that Allah, our Creator wants us to observe fasting without considering it as a burden for us for a whole month. God loves those who submit themselves completely to His will. The one who submits and follows His commandments all the time will never fall in obscurity.
And exactly like this, Allah has illumined the month of Ramadan by sending the command to observe fasting as a light so that we, believers, His humble creatures may never fall into darkness. Allah has mentioned the merits of the month of Ramadan whereby it is during this blessed month that the Holy Quran has been revealed to the universal Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Unfortunately today some of our youngsters in the Islamic world are suffering at a spiritual level (a lack of spirituality in them) because they do not know the principles of Islam about fasting, especially fasting in the month of Ramadan, not really caring about its philosophy and benefits. Fasting in the month of Ramadan must become a good habit which a Muslim must observe so that he may keep himself pure morally and spiritually, and by this means, detaching himself slowly but surely from the attractions of this temporal world so that he may go in quest of God, and His satisfaction (i.e., the pleasure of the Almighty).
The prescription of fasting is for our own good. Allah gives precision in the above-mentioned verse that He does not want difficulty for us. Therefore, it is up to each and every Muslim believer to implement this divine command by fasting, not only to please God but also to reform himself spiritually and physically. This is the real training which the Muslim needs so that he may reform his life in the best way and let go of all impurities which used to bound him and keep him away from the remembrance of God.
“O Ramadan, Your coming brings comfort for the soul, for therein is the remedy to the afflictions which have gripped it for a long long time. Your coming is like the sweet and cool breeze in the hot season.
O Believers! Welcome this month with open arms, so that you may be counted among the close servants of the Almighty with affection and love. Fasting diminishes nothing in you; on the contrary, it is the pathway to recognising the supremacy of the Lord through a clean soul, and the sufferings of others through the pangs of hunger and deprivations.
O Ramadan! You come as a trainer for the believer for the rest of the eleven months to come, until your next visit, may God enable us to reform ourselves completely under your Gaze, O Blessed and Sweet Guest of the Muslim believers…”
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