Ramadan: A month Unlike Other

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Abdikadir Ibrahim

Introduction:

Ramadan is an Arabic word, and roughly translated as intense heat or sun-scorched ground—one feels dry sensation of thirst and burn of the stomach when fasting. Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar Islamic calendar. It was mandated to Muslims in the 2nd year of Hijrah (Migration or journey of Prophet Muhamed and his followers from Mecca to Medina), so it is one of the pillars of Islam (the fourth pillar). Ramadan was also mandated to people before Muslims.

Allah said, “O you who believe! Observe Asawm (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious)” (2:183).

Ramadan is the month of Qur’an (Muslim holy book). It was in Ramadan when the Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as well as Injeel, Torah, Zabur, and Suhuf to prophets Isa, Musa, Dawud, and Ibrahim (peace be upon all of them) respectively.

Allah said, “The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong)” (2:185).

The word fasting is sawm in Arabic, and it means to abstain. During the whole month of Ramadan all capable Muslim adults fast, commencing and ending with the sighting of new moon, and the entire day is spent on fasting from dawn to dust. It is recommended to break the fasting with dates and/or water, and to have a meal before the dawn prayer.

Things to Fast from:

Sawm means abstaining from food, water, sexual activities, and smoking during daylight. One is also not allowed to engage in any misconduct whether that is gossiping, slandering, lying, or harming others physically or emotionally. Parts of the rituals of Ramadan are to be peaceful and behave well, so that even if someone insults you while you are fasting, your response would to be do nothing but say “I am fasting; I am fasting.”

The Prophet said (pbuh) “Fasting is protection or shield, screen, or a shelter from the Hell-fire). So, the person observing fasting should avoid sexual relation with his wife or her husband and should not behave foolishly and impudently, and if somebody fights with his/her or abuses them, he or she should say to him or her twice I am fasting” ,( Bukhari).

Things we fast from can shortly be summarized as the following categories:

  •  Abstaining from forbidden physical activities performed by mouth, stomach, or sex organs.
  •  Preventing from forbidden actions or speech such as vulgar talking, hearing, seeing or viewing forbidden items.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “He who does not desist from obscene language and acting obscenely, Allah has no need that he did not eat or drink” (Bukhari).

As the hadith stated, all the above actions and words can negate the fasting. Therefore, one should avoid anything that invalidates his or her fasting.

Importance and Benefits of Fasting:

The rewards of this month are enormous.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, this month is divided into three parts. “Its beginning is Mercy, its middle is Forgiveness, and its ending is Liberation from the Hell-fire” (Bukhari).

Thus, the whole month is full of opportunity to make good deeds. The first part of the month is mercy. Allah is always merciful— He starts the word Most Gracious Most Merciful in the beginning of almost every chapter in the Qur’an. Allah’s mercy is open anytime to anyone, however, He rewards us with His mercy in this month than in any other month. Second part of the month is forgiveness. Allah is most forgiving to His servants. The probability of being forgiven is greater than any other time. The last part of the month summarizes the parts before it, because after receiving both mercy and forgiveness what one seeks is the ultimate price, which o be freed from the Hell-fire and to enter Paradise. Indeed, the last part of Ramadan is liberation from the Hell-fire. Allah wants us to take the advantages of this sacred month in which the deeds are multiplied.

For instance, our neighbor dealer is selling his or her Mercedes-Benz for $10,000 in one day of the year, where it actually is $20,000 for the rest of the year. I assume, each one of us would do their best to seize that opportunity. Allah gave us enormous opportunity to gain many rewards during the course of this month.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “A blessed month has arrived. Observing it in fasting is mandated on you. During this month, the gates of Paradise will be opened and the gates of Hell-fire will be closed and Satans or evils are chained. (Abu Hureirah).

In Ramadan, the doors of Paradise are opened and those of the Hell-fire are closed. The rituals and worshiping of Allah would be easier than other months, since big evils are jailed. Therefore, the temptations of evil would be less, which enables us to worship Allah more precisely and more frequently. In addition, fasting is by far the most intimate form of worship.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said that Allah said, “I swore by the One in Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, the unpleasant smell coming out from the mouth of a fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than the smell of musk”. (Abu Hureirah).

The smell that comes from the fasting person is much better with Allah than a perfume. This distasteful breath is caused by the lack of eating and long period in which the mouth was covered. It is difficult and not easy to stay without water, food and any desires of life for such a long time. Nevertheless, the reward that such a devout person could deserve is expounded by the following hadith.

The Prophet (pbuh) said Allah said “He or she left his or her food, drink, and desires for My sake. The fast is for Me. So I will reward the fasting for it and the reward of good deeds is multiplied ten times” (Bukhari).

The reason fasting is for Allah is because every other pillar of Islam is carried out physically and cannot be hidden. When one performs, others could see and can even comment on his or her actions. Fasting is different because no one knows whether one is fasting or not. For example, if one cheats around the corner and drinks water during the day who knows other than Allah? Therefore, Allah is the only One who can know such actions, for He is the knower of the Unseen. As mentioned above, Ramadan is the month of Qur’an; thus, Muslims are recommended to read the Qur’an, perform tarawih (an extra prayer performed during this month after ‘Isha prayer), and to read a section from the Qur’an every night/day. The Qur’an contains thirty sections (Juz); thus, one can finish the whole Qur’an at the end of the month. Within this month, Allah hides in it a night which its deeds are better than the deeds of a thousand months.

Allah said; “The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit descend in it by the permission of their Lord for every affair, Peace, it is, until the break of the dawn” (97: 3-5).

This night’s deed is equivalent to an amount of good deeds in more than 80 years. Hence, it is our best interest to obtain the deeds of this night. This night could be in any night during the month; even though the majority Islamic scholars indicate that it is one of the odd nights of the last ten nights. Some scholars specifically indicated as the 27th night of Ramadan. Again, no one knows precisely other than Allah. The safest way to attain this night is to do all the rituals of this month by observing fasting, giving charity, performing prayers, reciting the Qur’an, participating in all rites of the month and avoiding any misconducts and bad habits for the whole month. It is in this night that first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to the Prophet (peace be upon him). It is the night in which Allah determines the courses of the world for the coming year.

Ramadan is the month of discipline and self-training. It teaches us how to control ourselves, so that we can do and stop things in a certain time. It is the learning month, so if the lessons learned from this month are carried out after Ramadan whether it is dietary, righteousness, or how to control desires the impact will be long lasting. The fortune of having assets as fancy as airplane, ships, and sky rises buildings, or basic as place to sleep, or food to eat whatever it may be, it is a bounty from Allah. It is a mandatory act for whoever was given that fortune to praise and thank Allah and at the same time to sympathize to those who are less fortunate.

Therefore one of the core values of Ramadan is to teach us to clean our hearts from its vulgarity and arrogance so that we will help each other and minimize the vices between us. Ramadan has health benefits. The Prophet (pbuh) said in a hadith that a human being has not filled a container worse than his or her stomach. Therefore, eating too much and keeping our stomach full all the time could cause some problems. Many of the diseases that we are afflicted with in these days come from what we eat. We are living in an era in which billions are spent to reduce weight.  Thus, fasting with its rules will help one to control his or her diet, to manage their weight, and to lower their lipids and cholesterol level. Fasting also gives a rest to digestive system to digest the food particles one at a time. This leads to another hadith in which the prophet (pbuh) said, fast, you will get healthier.

Reasons and importance of fasting can be summarized as follows:

  • Obligation from Allah: obeying and following Allah’s command
  • Purifying the soul and gaining more piety: strengthening one’s connection and devotion for Allah – performed by heart and mind
  • Self-Control: to discipline one’s habit and to train his or her self by following an order that they can stop or do things in a certain times.
  •  Physical Health: to control one’s diet
  • Sympathy for less Fortunate: appreciating Allah’s bounty of having what to eat so one might remember the need of those who do not have food.

Who must fast?

  •  All mature, sane, and health capable Muslims

Who will not fast?

  •  Children: who have not reached the age of puberty

Who is excused?

  • Travelers: they will make up the missed days
  •  Sick individuals: they will fast the missed days later when they are cured
  •  Pregnant and breast feeding women: they might feed a poor person or fast later on according to different scholars’ opinions
  •  The elderly and patient: who has no hopes of regaining their ability or health, they will pay or feed one person every day

Who must not fast?

  •  Women in Postpartum or Period : they will fast later to make up the missed days

 

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2 Responses to “Ramadan: A month Unlike Other”

  1. Hello,
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  2. Liked your tips about losing weight particularly regarding maintain the alkaline stability, which i feel has a role to play in balancing the body metabolic process. It’s also important to include a routine of workouts or exercises to speed up the process.

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