Ramadhan: The time for purification of the soul

Zamir  Ahmad

Let nothing be inside of you.

Be empty:  give your lips to the lips of the reed.

When like a reed you fill with His breath,then you’ll taste sweetness.

Sweetness is hidden in the Breath that fills the reed.

Be like Mary – by that sweet breath a child grew within her.
Rumi

The ninth month of Islamic Calendar, Ramadhan , is amongst us. Ramadhan is the month of piety, righteousness and fasting. The second religious duty (Ibadat) after daily prayers (Salah), made obligatory for muslims by Allah, is fasting. Fasting means abstinence during the day from eating, drinking and sexual intercourse. Like Salah,

Fasting in the month of Ramadhan is peculiar among other religious duties in many ways. One, It is a hidden religious duty. In the sense that it is not manifest in action as other obligatory duties are. All religious duties except fasting are performed by some outward movement. For instance, in Salah a man stands, sits, and does Ruku’ and Sajdah which is visible to everybody. In fasting only the Almighty knows that whether a person is fasting or not.

Two, Fasting makes one obey the injunctions of Almighty without break for a long period of time. The duration of Salah, for example, is not more than a few minutes at a time. The time for paying Zakat occurs only once in a year.

As against these, fasting is an exercise in following the commandments of Almighty for full one month in a year, day and night. Fasting in Ramadhan means following a strict and hard regimen through out the twenty four hours. Eating Sehri before dawn, stopping all eating and drinking precisely at the breaking of dawn, elaborate Dos and Donts during the day, taking Iftar in the evening exactly at the time of sunset, having dinner and then hurrying up for Taravih keeps a person tied to strict schedules and puts his will subservient to the divine will. In this way, every year for full one month, from dawn to dusk and from dusk to dawn, a Muslim is kept continuously tied up with rules and regulations like a soldier in an army, and then he is released for eleven months so that the training he has received for one month may show its effects.

Also, the earmarking of a particular month —Ramadhan— for fasting makes it more of a community programme. During this month, the whole atmosphere is filled with the spirit of piety, virtuousness and compassion. A general environment of goodness and piety is formed and the society becomes calmer, cleaner and God-centric.

Fasting is a means to become pious and to purify one’s soul. This is why Allah, after ordaining fasting, says ,” La’allakum tattaqoon” i.e. fasting is made obligatory on you, so that you become pious and virtuous. The Prophet (SAW) has drawn attention to the real aim of fasting thus: “ Whoever observed fast imbued with faith and with the expectation of reward from Allah, all his past sins are forgiven”

Ramadhan is the best and opportune time for us to self-introspect. Both individually and collectively. Our society is caught in the quagmire of crass materialism and a mad rat race to nowhere. The years of conflict have made us self-centric and self serving. Ramadhan Provides us a chance to evolve as a society and adorn ourselves with the much needed values of compassion, empathy and altruism.

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