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Holy Ramadan and the significance of Fasting

Published : Monday, 18 March, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 722

Ramadan, the ninth month in Islamic calendar, is recognised as a fasting month for Muslim around the world.

Every year 1.5 billion Muslims across the globe eagerly wait for the month of Ramdan to observe fasting.

Ramadan is an Arabic word, which stems from the root word "ramida" or "ar-ramad" meaning burning, and scorching. The holy month is called Ramadan as all the preceding sins of believers are burned and forgiven during Ramadan. The holy month is divided into three stages; First ten days of Ramadan are the days of Rahmat (Marcey), second ten days of Ramadan day 11th to 20th are entitled the days of Magfirat (forgiveness), and the third part states on the 21st of Ramadan and ends of Ramadan are considered as Nazat (salvation). Therefore, the whole month is full of blessing, mercy and forgiveness.   

During Ramdan, the devil and the evil Jinns, the enemy of the human beings, are put up in chains the entire month since when a new crescent moon appears on Ramadan so that believers can easily perform their righteous activities without any obstacle. Another important thing of the month of Ramadan is that the gates of paradise are opened up and fires` gates are also shut down. It is narrated in a Hadith by Hazrat Abu Huraira (RA); "When there appears the first night of Ramadan, the devils, and evil jinns are chained up and the gates of the fire are shut up as no door therefrom can be opened, and the gates of paradise are opened up, so as no gates therefrom can be shut up, and a proclaimer proclaims: O seeker of good come forward, o seekers of evils, cut short. And for the sake of Allah, they are free from fire, and that for every night." (Tirmizi, Ibn Majah, Ahmad).  

In Ramadan, the main business for the believers is observing fasting between sunrise and sunset. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. The word fasting means abstain from something; abstain from eating, drinking, or engaging in sexual relations for the duration of fasting. The ummah of the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) not only fasting but also all preceding nations would keep fasting. The holy book of Allah, Al-Quran has mentioned; "O you who believe! Fasting has been made compulsory (Farj) upon you as it was done upon those who preceded you so that you can attain Taqwa. (Surah Al- Baqarah;183)

But the big question is why fasting has been made compulsory for us? Weve found it from the above verses that the reason for fasting makes it obligatory to attain Taqwa (fear of Allah). The Arabic word `Taqwa` stands for "fear and abstinence, forbearance". Some descriptions of the term from Islamic sources include: "fear of Allah, love for Allah, self-restraint, and Allah`s consciousness piousness . Its mentioned the word Taqwa many times in the holy Quran and attached no end of importance to it.

While fasting, Muslims are not only forbidden from eating and drinking during daylight hours but also they strive to preserve all organs of the body for better performance of fasting. Such as tongue, eyes, ears, hands, legs, etc. from all sorts of sinful use. Because not controlling these organs will harm the Sawm. Hazrat Abu Huraira (Ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, "Whoever does not give up false talk and action according to it, there is no need of Allah that he should give up food and drink."(Bukhari). Such a habit of keeping away from sinful acts helps a person to attain taqwa.

However, these two words Fasting and Taqwa are very closely inter-connected in terms of the meaning. The meaning of both words is o abstain from something. Throughout the month-long observing fasting from dawn till dusk in Ramadan, a fasting person abstains from eating, drinking, and sexual pleasure. Even though they protect all body parts including the mind from all sorts of heinous activities and thoughts. Especially when a person observes fasting, s/he does not take any food, or drink in a secret place though s/he has the chance of taking those inside any locked room. Nobody except Allah knows about the secret act of eating or drinking. These types of practices lead a man to earn Taqwa.

So, fasting during Ramadan trains a man to hold the lifestyle of the Muttaqi. Fasting also plays a vital role in establishing sympathy, amity, and brotherhood among all, including affinity with the rich and poor across the world. It softens the heart, making it more receptive and humble. Perhaps this is the wisdom that links together Fasting and Qiyamullail-two glorious acts of worship that symbolize this glorious month.

However, fasting has several health benefits. Recent studies have shown that there are a number of benefits of fasting during Ramadan are: a) fasting helps in preventing obesity and weight loss and protecting against the hazard of a fat and sugar-rich diet. b) As per the many scientific studies, regular fasting helps to improve heart disease. c) As per the research on curing cancer, fasting can fight against cancer. d)  Long month fasting improves blood sugar level, lowers bad cholesterol and prevents chronic diseases. e)  Fasting positively improves the digestive system and. f) It helps in the improvement of memory and intellect of human beings.

In particular, it was during Ramadan when the Holy book `Al-Quran` was revealed. In the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan, there is a powerful night that is better than a thousand months called "Lailatul Qadr which was the first incident of revolution of the Holy Quran in the history of the world. Therefore, this is logically proven an indivisible link between the Quran and Ramadan. Allah Almighty has clarified in the Quran by saying- The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs of the guidance, and the criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month.
(Surah Al-Baqarah 2:185)
It is the month of reciting the holy Al-Quran much and gaining many rewards. Itikaf is also a very rewarding activity that is done during the last ten days of the month of Ramadan. Sadaqatul Fitr, Zakat, and other optional donations are paid more by the believers in this holy month.

Dear Muslims Ummah, Ramadan is the month of self-purification and forgiveness. Every year the glorious month of Ramadan comes like the seasonal rain to cleanse our heart with this spiritual rain. But the other big question is how much do we utilize this holy month to purify ourselves. Every year Ramadan comes and goes but many of us don use this holy period to take advantage of the holy month. We should practice how to overcome bad habits by using the glorious month. Ramadan is an annual crash course offered by Allah every year to teach us how to become better people.

In conclusion, this sacred month is considered for a deep introspection. It is a unique opportunity of getting closer to Allah and a time of gaining Taqwa through observing fasting, offering prayer (Tarabih and Tahazzad), giving charity, and religious devotion. As weve already entered the holy month of Ramadan, we should realize the sanctity and significance of this month. May the norms of Ramadan reflect in our personal and social lives.

The writer is a Researcher on Islamic views on contemporary issues and Teacher of Islamic Studies at St. Joseph Higher Secondary school

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