By Afshan Zahra
Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, is a comprehensive period of fasting, contemplation, sanctity, devotion, bounty, worship and sacrifice observed by Muslims all round the globe. While other religious events have largely been commercialized, the holy month of Ramadan still retains its potent spiritual meaning.
The word “Ramadan” comes from the Arabic root word for “extreme thirst” and “sun-baked ground”, expressing the hunger and thirst felt by those who spend the month in fasting.
Abstaining from food and drink is not the only purpose of fasting in Ramadan. This blessed month is here to teach us some eternal lessons of morality that must remain with us throughout the whole year. Some of them are as follows:
Through fasting, a Muslim experiences hunger and thirst, and develops a sense of sympathy for those who have to bear hunger pangs every day.
- Proximity to Allah
Through increased devotion, Muslims feel closer to their Creator, and they realize that everything that they have been granted in this life is an endowment from Him. This raises their level of proximity and gratefulness to Allah.
Through increased charity, Muslims develop feelings of munificence and good-will toward their underprivileged brothers.
- Self Control
Muslim develop high level of self control during Ramadan as they are required to refrain from food and drink from dawn to dusk and resist the temptation of it. Through self-control, a Muslim practices good manners, good speech, and good habits. Moreover, we have an opportunity to establish healthier lifestyle habits — particularly with regards to diet and smoking.
- Community Spirit
Through family and community gatherings, Muslims strengthen the bonds of brotherhood in their own communities and throughout the world.
The feelings and lessons we experience in Ramadan should stay with us throughout the year. In Surah Baqarah, ayah 183, Muslims are commanded to fast so that they may “learn self-restraint”. This restraint and devotion is especially felt during Ramadan, but we all must strive to make the feelings and attitudes stay with us during our daily routine life as well. This should be the genuine objective and aim of all Muslims during Ramadan.
May Allah accept our fasts and guide us all to the Straight Path.