Fasting equips one with a creative sense of hope and an optimistic outlook on life, providing that the individual is eager to please Allah Ta’ala and is seeking His Grace, Writes Yunus Paruk Marketing Manager of Al Baraka Bank.
Alhamdulillah, we welcome the blessed month of Ramadaan, in which we, once again, enjoy the opportunity to increase our spirituality.
This is a particularly special month for Muslims across the globe and is regarded as the most meritorious month; one which affords the ideal opportunity for spiritual purification and progress. It is also a time for inner reflection, devotion to Allah Ta’ala, self-restraint and self-building, all leading to gaining greater proximity to our Creator.
According to the Holy Quran and the Prophetic Tradition, Saum (Islamic Fasting) instils in each of us unique moral, spiritual and social characteristics. This article outlines these characteristics.
Closeness to and Consciousness of Allah
The Holy Quran says, “O you who believe! Observing the fast is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may be conscious (of Allah).”
The Quran was revealed in this month as guidance for mankind and proof of the difference between right and wrong. The primary aspect of benefiting from the Quran during the month of Ramadaan is to act upon the very advice it offers and to reflect on its verses and meanings.
Allah Ta’ala says: “Do they not contemplate the Quran, or are there locks on their hearts?” (47:24). It would, accordingly, be wise and beneficial for us not to rush through the recitation of the Quran simply in order to finish, but rather to take the time necessary to really reflect upon what Allah Ta’ala is imparting to us.
An often asked question is how does fasting help us attain Taqwa? (Consciousness of Allah Ta’ala). In sence, a fasting person’s abstention from food and drink is tested many times each day. With every success in overcoming the urge to eat or drink, the individual weakens the domination of his or her own body over his or her mind, so strengthening his or her link with Allah Ta’ala. Such individuals know that Allah is watching them. This is what is meant by ‘Taqwa.’
Fasting also teaches the principles of sincere love, because by observing the fast, one is doing so out of a deep love for Allah Ta’ala. Importantly, too, fasting equips one with a creative sense of hope and an optimistic outlook on life, given that the individual is eager to please Allah Ta’ala and is seeking His Grace.
Fasting fills a person with genuine virtues of effective devotion, honesty, dedication and closeness to Allah Ta’ala. It also inculcates humility in an individual as he or she strives to control his or her desires. It cultivates in man a vigilant and sound conscience, because a fasting person keeps his or her fast in secret, as well as in public. In fasting, especially, there is no mundane authority to monitor an individual’s behaviour or to compel them to fast; instead, fasting is sustained to please only Allah Ta’ala.
In effect, fasting delivers a useful lesson in applied moderation and willpower. An individual who fully and correctly observes his or her fast may be regarded as someone capable of applying discipline to their passionate desires and physical temptations, demonstrating the admirable characteristics of willpower and determination.
Finally, fasting demonstrates sympathy for the poor and hungry. During the fasting month it is common practice to express sympathy with those less fortunate than ourselves; a practice which is actively encouraged by the traditions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be Upon Him).
Unity, Brotherhood and Charity
The fast of Ramadaan assists Muslims to become aware of their unity.
Such unity is manifested through the execution of acts of charity and being cognisant of the fact that back-biting, gossiping and the like nullifies the spiritual benefits and rewards of fasting.
In a Prophetic Tradition, the companion Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him), reports that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be Upon Him) said: “If a person does not keep away from falsehood and false conduct, Allah Ta’ala has no need for him to abstain from eating and drinking.” (Bukhari).
In conclusion, by regarding the month of Ramadaan as a period of reflection and contemplation, we come to realise our real purpose in this world. By making a few small sacrifices on our part, we will be led on an unfathomable journey to Allah Ta’ala; a journey which extends beyond this world and into eternity. May Allah Ta’ala guide the Muslim Ummah and grant us all ease. Ameen.