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The Holy Month of Ramadan: When the gates of Heaven are opened

14 May 2021 05:05 am - 3     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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  • the purpose of fasting is not just to suffer from hunger and thirst but to become pious by abstaining from un- Islamic acts and deeds
  • Ramadan is a period when Muslims slow down from worldly affairs and focus on self reformation, spiritual cleansing and enlightenment

 

On the last day of Shaba an (i.e. the eighth month of the Islamic calendar) Muslims all over the world start looking for the new moon  in the sky to ascertain the Maghreb time when they start a month long  fast from dawn till dusk  abstaining from several things including food and drink .

Origin of Ramadan 

Ramadan is the name of the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. In Arabic Ramadan means intense heat, scorched ground and food scarcity. It is considered the most venerated month in the Islamic year.  Prayers, sawm (fasting), charity and self accountability are prevalent during this month and Muslims engage in special religious observances during this month.

The purpose of Ramadan

As narrated by Ibn Maajah 1690, classed as Saheeh by Al Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Madjah the purpose of fasting is not just to suffer from hunger and thirst but to become pious by abstaining from un- Islamic acts and deeds such as getting angry, using harsh language, back biting, gossiping, being rude and un-polite, lying and cheating, engaging in usury, allying with the enemies of Islam against Muslims and promoting non Islamic Ideologies.   

Rulings regarding fasting

It is obligatory for the fasting person to confirm his or her intention before appearance of fajr. The intention should come from the bottom of the heart. One should make his or her heart intention before going to sleep and should rise up early with that intention and commence fasting at the break of dawn. 

Beginning of fast and breakfast each day 

Fajr is the time of commencement of the fast. Fajr is divided into two parts. False Fajr is the time during which it is permissible for one intending to fast to eat and get ready for the fast.  True Fajr is the time during which it is unlawful to eat but lawful to pray. The meal that is taken before fajr is called Suhoor or pre dawn meal.
Time for breaking fast
The time for breaking fast is Maghreb or time of sunset. When one hears the call for Maghreb prayer or the fourth prayer of the day it is time for breaking fast. The Prophet used to breakfast with fresh dates before prayers. If fresh dates were not available he would eat some dried dates and if even dried dates were not available he would have a few sips of water.

Similar observations by other religions

For Buddhists too this is a period of religious importance because Vesak and Poson seasons are to be commenced shortly followed by the Wassana Kalaya (the rainy season sojourn period). Buddhist monks and laymen who observe Atthangaseelaya refrain from taking meals after mid day. One of the thirteen passion sub doing ordinances is to be observed by Buddhist priests is Pacchabhattikangaya- after eating ordinance. The difference is that while the Muslims fast during the day time (from dawn till dusk), Buddhists fast after mid day and continue till dawn on the following day.  The purposes, however, are the same.
 Christians observe fasting on Good Friday and on Ash Wednesday. On Easter Sunday alms are offered to the needy.  
On Maha Siva Rathri day Hindus observe fasting .Maha Siva rathri is the Hindu religious ceremony of day time fasting and vigil throughout the night observed  to wash away all sins and pave the way for eternal bliss through basic disciplines of Ahimsa, Satya, Brahmacarya, Daya, Karuna and Anithya.

Feeding the poor 

According to Islam combining fasting with feeding is one of the means of reaching  Firdhouse or paradise. It is said that there are transparent rooms in Paradise. Allah has prepared them for those who feed the poor, who are gentle in speech, who fast regularly and who pray at night while the other people are asleep.
The Prophet had said that anyone who gives food to a fasting person to break his or her fast will have a reward equal to his or her reward.   As narrated by al Bukhaari, “The messenger of Allah was the most generous of people and he was most generous during Ramadan when Gibreel met him. He met him each night and revised the Quran with him. The messenger of Allah was more generous than the blowing of the wind.

Zakaat

Zakaat is what is left over after meeting one’s  necessities from the earnings of the Islamic calendar year. By those who can afford to pay zakaat during the month of  Ramadan.Zakaat is calculated on a year to year basis and can be paid during any time of the year but payments are made mostly during the month of Ramadan.
Ramadan is a period when Muslims slow down from worldly affairs and focus on self reformation, spiritual cleansing and enlightenment establishing a link between the Almighty God  and themselves by prayer, supplication, charity, good deeds , kindness and helping others. 

Consumption of favourite foods during the month of Ramadan
 
Since Ramadan is a special month Muslims in many parts of the world consume favourite foods during this month.Since Ramadan emphasize community aspects family members, relatives, friends, well wishers etc. take the dinner together.Some Muslims invite one another to share the evening meal after breakfast. However, some Muslims eat less even at night during the Ramadan period due to stomach contraction. Even if they eat less for the dinner they experience less fatigue  during the day when they engage in fast because they become used to the altered routine  before the end of the second week of fasting.

Holy Quran

In addition  to fasting devotees are encouraged to read the Quran. Arrangements  are made in mosques for special prayers called Tarawih held every night  in the Ramadan month during which the Holy Quran is read section by section. Very often the Holy Quran is completed by the end of the month of Ramadan In Arabic Tarawih means special prayers. 

Ramadan taking the form of a festival

As instances of offering and sharing are involved Ramadan takes the form of a festival. Muslims buy new clothes and other family requisites. They also prepare special food and invite relatives, friends and well-wishers for Ifthar meals  (A meal to breakfast) Charity is made to the needy. 
Food is donated to the poor. Muslims dressed in new clothes go for communal prayers which are held in the early morning followed by fasting and visiting relatives and friends. There are optional prayers in addition to the five compulsory prayers.

Events of Ramadan

Two days in the month of Ramadan are of special importance. One of them is the day on which the first verse of Quran was revealed at night.  This night known as Laylat al Qudr is known only to God and Muhammad. Indication has been made by Muhammad that it is one of the last ten odd nights of Ramadan.
The other occasion for celebration is the ending of the fasting period. With the sight of another new moon Ramadan fasting period ends on the last day of the month of Ramadan. This is called Zakaat al -Fitr in Arabic.

Virtue of fasting

Fasting makes the soul shine. It invigorates the soul and enlivens it from its lethargic state. Excessive eating makes one blind and dark just as excessive water destroys crops. Excessive eating makes a man dull and stupid and deprives him from the power of thinking. A Hungry belly is ,however, a fountain of  wisdom. This has been the experience of many pious individuals. The practice of fasting creates the taste of prayer. A full belly can never taste the sweetness of prayers and invocations Fasting removes the pride because a hungry man finds himself weak and naturally turns towards the one who is strong.Hunger makes a man modest and turns the mind towards the Almighty for help.Fasting greatly contributes to the preservation of health and saves expenditure.It teaches us the principles of democracy and equality at least at prayers.

Rewards of fasting

Rewards of every action of the son of Adam is manyfold, each good deed receiving tentimes its like up to seven hundred times.Allah,the most High said “Except for fasting for it is for me  and I will give recompense for it. He leaves off his desires and his food for me. For the fasting person there are two times of joy,a time when he breaks his fast  and a time of joy when he meets his Lord. The smell coming out of the fasting person is better with Allahthan the smell of musk.( al Bukharee).

al-Rayyann, gate of Paradise 

There is a gate of Paradise called al-Rayyann. On the day of Resurrection those who fast enter through that gate and it is closed  after the last of them enters through it. Who so ever enters it drinks and who ever drinks there will never become thirsty.” 
(Ibn Khuzal-mah Saheeh) 

 


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  Comments - 3

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  • Ralaharamy Friday, 14 May 2021 12:48 PM

    Very simple and enlightening article about Fasting in Islam from a person who is not a follower of Islam. Great effort.

    Faqir Hussain Friday, 14 May 2021 01:15 PM

    All religions claim they are the one true religion. Yet, none can show incontrovertible proof that any of their claims are true. Without verifiable evidence, all you have are guesses with factual viability. How can seemingly intelligent people devote their lives to such apparent fiction? The absence of evidence to support the existence of a god is perhaps the strongest evidence to support the absence of a god.

    Faqir Hussain Friday, 14 May 2021 01:19 PM

    We live in the 21st century; these idiots still live in the bronze age. So there are some people who still believe, a man flew to the heavens on a winged donkey and spoke to the non-existent 'god'. Man, come on, we are in the 21st Century.


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