Thursday, 19 August 2010

Fasting Is Not Merely About Hunger and Thirst.

Fasting is not merely about hunger and thirst.

Praise be to Allah, we praise Him and seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil of our own selves and from our evil deeds. Whomsoever Allah guides cannot be misled, and whomsoever He leaves astray cannot be guided. I bear witness that there is no god except Allah alone, with no partner or associate, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
Moment we are born to the last rites of our life and every moment in between are laden with rituals, though some of us may deny it. Whether we go to the gym, eat our food; go to sleep, wear clothes, drive some place, in our intimate moments, or picking that phone up, we follow rituals.

It is an annual training or a refresher. It requires one to abstain from food, drink, intimacy, ill will, ill talk, ill actions or any temptations from dawn to dusk, every day for a month. One has to rise above his or her baser desires. Islam gifts this month to its followers to inculcate discipline to bring moderation in their daily lives.

Discipline is necessary to do things on time, managing personal relationships, driving to a destination or keeping within budget to achieve the goals; the result is worth the discipline to most people. When joyous, whether we are a theist or not, we have to express that sentiment, otherwise a sense of incompleteness lingers in our hearts.
Every faith is composed of a set of unique rituals to bring discipline and peace to human life. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five key rituals that Muslims around the world observe.

 More than 1,400 years ago, the holy month of Ramadan offered Muslims the chance to strengthen their minds and exercise self-discipline in order to attain higher things. In Islamic history, Ramadan was a time when major battles were fought and won. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also used to be the most active during the month of fasting.

Does Ramadan still hold the same spiritual and ethical values in the 21st century?

“Ramadan is a month of worship and active work. If we adjust our lifestyles properly, we can do both and also be more productive,”

“Unfortunately, people become more tense and irritated during Ramadan. One can easily notice the bad moods, the tension and the inability to put up with anyone or anything,”

I believe that even if people have bad habits, they must try hard to convey the spirit of Ramadan by being more forgiving and understanding.

For friends of Allah

(interpretation of the meaning)It is He Who has sent down to you (Muhammad SAW) the Book (this Qur’an). In it are Verses that are entirely clear, they are the foundations of the Book [and those are the Verses of Al-Ahkaam (commandments, etc.), Al-Farâ'id (obligatory duties) and Al-Hudud; and others not entirely clear. So as for those in whose hearts there is a deviation they follow that which is not entirely clear thereof, seeking Al-Fitnah , and seeking for its hidden meanings, but none knows its hidden meanings save Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: "We believe in it; the whole of it are from our Lord." And none receive admonition except men of understanding.

Allah has blessed His slaves with certain seasons of goodness, in which Hasanaat (rewards for good deeds) are multiplied, sayi’aat (bad deeds) are forgiven, people’s status is raised, the hearts of the believers turn to their Master, those who purify themselves attain success and those who corrupt themselves fail. Allah has created His slaves to worship Him, as He says (interpretation of the meaning): “And I (Allah) created not the jinn’s and humans except that they should worship Me (Alone).” [Al-Dhaariyaat 51:56]

One of the greatest acts of worship is fasting, which Allah has made obligatory on His slaves, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“… Observing al-sawm (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become al-muttaqoon (the pious).” [Al-Baqarah 2:183]
Allah encourages His slaves to fast:
“… And that you fast, it is better for you, if only you know.” [Al-Baqarah 2:184 – interpretation of the meaning]
He guides them to give thanks to Him for having made fasting obligatory on them:
“… That you should magnify Allah for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him.” [Al-Baqarah 2:185 – interpretation of the meaning]
He has made fasting dear to them, and has made it easy so that people do not find it too hard to give up their habits and what they are used to. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“… For a fixed number of days…” [Al-Baqarah 2:184]
He has mercy on them and keeps them away from difficulties and harm, as He says (interpretation of the meaning:
“… but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days…” [Al-Baqarah 2:184]

Still here  He!He!He! (joking) lets read on.
However, fasting is not only a part of worship, but a great instrument for self-discipline too. It is a training of the mind and the body to endure and harden up against all hardships, to persevere under difficulties and not give up. Food means gratification of the senses and to starve the senses is to elevate them to contemplation. Luqman, the wise once said, "When the stomach is full, the intellect begins to sleep. Wisdom becomes mute and the parts of the body restrain from acts of righteousness."
No wonder then, that in this Month the Hearts of the Believers turns to their Most Merciful Lord, fearing their Lord above them, and hoping to attain His reward and the great victory (Paradise).
As the status of this act of worship is so high, it is essential to learn the ahkaam (rulings) that have to do with the month of fasting so that the Muslim will know what is obligatory, in order to do it, what is haram, in order to avoid it, and what is permissible, so that he need not subject himself to hardship by depriving himself of it.
If you keep on learning, you can never forget. You will be master in that. So same like that this one month, if every Muslim practice good deeds than he or she will not commit bad deeds whole year.

Although Ramadan is popularly known in the West for its culinary delicacies and fancy Iftar (ceremonial breaking of fast at sundown), the spirit and intent of Ramadan lies in a human transformation in a month-long inner spiritual journey of finding oneself in tune with spirituality.

God has no need for the hunger or thirst of someone who hurts others, violates their dignity or usurps their rights, said Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The fasting of the stomach must be matched by the fasting of the limbs. The eyes, ears, tongue, hands and feet all have their respective fasts to undergo. The tongue's temptations, for example - lies, backbiting, slander, vulgarity and senseless argumentation - must be challenged and curbed to maintain the integrity of the fast.

Ramadan is a beginning and that it is a fruitful time to sow these virtues so that they may be reaped later. Actually, for those who believe, a person’s life is Ramadan, adolescence is when the fasting begins, and deaths the breaking of the fast. One month of Ramadan is like a rehearsal for a fast that will last a life time. Those who know how to continue to enjoy the virtues gained in this month are aware that the remuneration of staying thirsty and hungry in this world will come to them when they break the fast with God’s words “My servants, I used to see you off color, with your eyes and cheeks sunken and you used to endure this for Me. Eat and drink to your hearts’ content for all that you sent ahead in advance in days past.”.
Fasting is not merely about hunger and thirst. It is also definitely not about turning night into day either. The spirit and intent of Ramadan lies in human transformation in a month long inner journey of struggle and discovery. It is to do one’s utmost to become, more generous, more patient, and an overall better, human being.

And Allah knows best

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