As we reach the end of the holy month of Ramadan, the blessed month of peace and mercy of Allah, we have to remind ourselves of our obligations to the Lord, our Creator and Sustainer.
Fasting was prescribed for man that he attains Taqwa. It is the month of sincere repentance whereby we seek forgiveness for our past sins. We fast in complete submission to our Lord and rediscover our lost faith whilst also seeking his help to live as he has ordained for us always and not only in this sacred month.
Repentance has a status that does not exist with any other form of worship. Allah loves those who repent and diligently seek purity. This is the month of endurance that also brings Paradise within man’s reach.
|A Nepalese Muslim boy counts plates while arranging the break fast meal for devotees at a mosque during the holy month of Ramadan in Kathmandu REUTERS.
Fasting or saum, one of the five pillars of Islam, is a shield that protects man and makes him aware of his obligations and also enables him to control his desires. It comes between man and fire. Every action of the son of Adam is given manifold reward, each good deed receives ten times its like, upto seven hundred times. Allah says “Except for fasting for it is for me, and I will give you recompense for it” (Muslim).
The glorious Quran which came as guidance for mankind was revealed in this holy month. Clear proof of guidance and the criterion of right from wrong are also part of the revelations that follow. So “whoever of you who sights the crescent moon, on the first night, he must fast that month (2-185).”
Fasting enables man to master himself and resist the cravings of his inner self. Instead of being a slave to his desires, he finds contentment and inner peace with the knowledge that all this and fasting is for Allah’s sake.
Allah does not impose hardships on man for he knows his ability. In Surah Mulk Allah says, “Should he not know, he that created (67-140) he understands the finest mysteries and is well acquainted with them.”
Ramadan is the month for good deeds and Allah’s blessings are manifest . We have to keep in mind that fasting in Ramadan does not mean to only abstain from food and drink, from dawn to dusk, but also to control our tongue and actions, devoid of evil deeds and speech. As we fast we come to terms with the pangs of hunger the poor experience in their daily life. If we fast in its true sense, we can get the benefits both spiritually and physically. Fasting is restricting the consumption of food and drink, as also our desires.
The Holy Prophet explained the experience of fasting and said that when man fasts his sins are forgiven through this blessed act of worship. “And eat and drink, until the white thread appears to you, distinct from the black thread (2-187). This is in reference to the breaking of dawn. The breaking of the fast should be as soon as the sun sets and Suhoor or the predawn meal should be taken as late as possible, before fajr. It is a blessed meal from Allah as Allah’s Messenger called it and is a compliance of the Sunnah.
Let us not be practising Muslims in this month only to be seen by others but let us devote our time throughout our life to Ibadah, and remembrance of Allah, the Lord our Creator.
The unity of the Muslim Ummah is once again manifest when the Muslim world fasts in obedience to Allah. Only Allah knows when man fasts, unlike his other deeds which may be seen by others. Fasting overpowers ‘Shaitan’ the enemy of Allah who leads man astray because the base of all carnal desires is the stomach. In many homes we know of the overindulgence in practice at Ifthaar with tables spread with food. Let us not be over indulgent and be mindful that fasting is not feasting. This is the time we have to remember the poor most of whom do not have the wherewithal to break their fast. Let us share this at least one needy person.
This also the month of charity. It is enjoined on man that his wealth be also given to kith and kin. Give of the largesse Allah bestows on you. Wealth is a trust bestowed on man not only for himself to live a life of luxury but to assist the needy. Allah reiterates this in the Holy Quran thus: “Covet not that which God has bestowed more freely on some than others. God loveth not the arrogant and vainglorious. Nor the niggardly, who hide the bounties that God has bestowed on them for we have prepared for them a punishment that steeps them in contempt (4-36).”
In ch-2- 215, Allah says, “They ask thee (O Muhammed) what they shall spend” say : “that which ye spend for good, must go to parents, near kindred and orphans, and the needy and wayfarer whatever good ye do, Allah is aware of it. Believe in Allah and his Messenger and spend of that which he has made you trustees, theirs will be a great reward. Let him that hath abundance, spend of his abundance and he whose provision is measured, let him spend of that which Allah has given him.”
We should not wait to be asked for that which should be distributed to the needy. Those who deserve our help should receive it in the proper way. Zakat is incumbent on every Muslim who has the means to give.