By Hakim Abdul-Ali
In the Islamic world, the most anticipated time of the year is the arrival of the luminous month of Ramadan. It’s a sacred month where its thirty day month fasting period requirement is a premium virtuous endeavor for all of its sincere and dutiful observants.
Ramadan is actually the ninth month of the Islamic calendar of the twelve months comprising its annual year’s total. The Islamic calendar is based upon the lunar calendar as opposed to the Gregorian western calendar which is based upon the determination around the sun, thus making the Islamic calendar differing from the western calendar by approximately a minus eleven days annually.
This year’s fasting period is scheduled to begin on the evening of May 5, 2019, and will conclude on June 4. To say that the local, national and worldwide Muslim communities are exited and overjoyed to begin this holy month’s observances is not something that can be put into minimal words, especially if you’re not a believer in the teachings of Al-Islam, which means the submission to the will of the Creator Alone of everyone and everything.
Ramadan’s arrival is divinely isolated and so uniquely special because it’s when the Muslims’ sacred spiritual text of divine knowledge, guidance and instruction, The Holy Quran, was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) during Ramadan in Makkah more than 1,400-years-ago. The Holy Quran was revealed in Arabic and the sincere Muslims everywhere cherish and revere its 114 chapters dearly.
Muslims were advised by ALLAH in the holy scripture to, if physically able, to fast from dawn to sunset during this blessed month and to participate in late night extra prayers (Tarawih), besides the five daily obligatory prayers. In the Holy Quran, ALLAH says in Chapter 2, verse 185, “0h, you who believe, fasting is prescribed and obligatory for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may ward off evil.”
Ramadan’s fasting especial zone is a period of deep inner reflection, mental development and bodily disciplinary experiences of the highest spiritual challenges because this is what ALLAH asks of the believers to do and the practitioners to commit themselves to in this truly thought provoking observance. It’s definitely a wake up call to all of the believers and practitioners, in that, the fasting month is the ultimate spiritual and religious obligation in more indicative ways than one.
To fast (“saum” in Arabic) literally means “to abstain from something and to give it up). So, “saum” implies abstaining from eating, drinking, gratifying one’s self sexually with his/her legally married spouse, etc. from dawn to sunset. And this is only part of the essence of understanding the true quintessence of what Ramadan, the mighty, magnificent month, is all about.
Fasting in the great month of Ramadan is an imperative for the world’s estimated almost two billion followers with thousands more accepting Al-Islam daily through the universe. In the United States of America alone, it is known, accepted and professionally chronicled that Al-Islam is the fastest growing religion and the second largest faith tradition in this potentially great country.
As was mentioned previously, and in a synopsis, the Holy Quran specifically says that “fasting was preached to and prescribed for the followers of the Most High Alone, by the all of the noble prophets of God Alone (peace upon them all) before the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to and for those who believed in and worshipped only The Creator Alone. So, fasting is nothing new to the spiritual wise among the God Alone worshippers of “hue-manity.”
Now, hopefully, with this dynamic comprehension of Islamic fasting directives being understood, a clear, unbiased thinker and practitioner of spiritual fasting sees how the fasting process during Ramadan is so significant and he/she envisions the role that it plays in the training and purification of any “hue-man” being’s identifiable self. Without this insight, the purpose of the heart’s purification cannot be achieved, and there’s really no other form of God Alone worship, through spiritual religious fasting, which can take the place of Ramadan’s fasting regulations and responsibilities in this regard.
That’s why it’s always been an imperative duty in all of the divine teachings and holy books about only worshipping God Alone as taught by the Prophets of the Most High Alone (peace be upon them) before the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has eloquently said in an authentic and accepted “hadith”(sayings) of his, “The person who abandons the fast of Ramadan without a genuine reason or illness, cannot recompense it even if he fasts throughout the rest of his life.” (Ahmad, Al-Tirmithi, Abu Daud)
In fasting during Ramadan, I believe that all of us, who hope to begin fasting as of this year’s start, should know (and never forget) that Ramadan’s fasting month’s intrinsic purpose is to develop “Taqwa” or piety within us. With all that’s going on in the today’s present Muslim world, and in the chaotic rest of the world-at-large for that matter, I feel that I must explain what “taqwa” is from an Islamic point of view.
Please read and listen carefully. “Taqwa” is a moral quality which is the product of ALLAH’s love and fear. The love of ALLAH is produced in the heart by a strong faith in His Being and with a deep conscious awareness of His (Alone) attributes of mercy, beneficence and compassion. I ask you politely to think about what you just read.
And, about fearing ALLAH is to be equally conscious of His (Alone) wrath, displeasure and chastisement. That’s something to really, really think about, and the resultant feeling of the one’s spiritual heart and mental mindset is piety, or “taqwa,” which is indeed the basis of all good acts and a deterrent against all evil acts and inclinations.
Though prayer in all of its formats and reading the Holy Quran daily during Ramadan, which is a prescribed for all to do, fasting souls gain further insights into their selves, others who are without and about the pure realities of life. Ramadan can definitely do that for the committed supplicants. It does that for me.
Oh, by the way and before I forget in closing, the title of this article is “Ramadan Kareem.” It’s one of the special extra greetings that are extended during the month between sincere fasting souls and it literally means, “May your fasting during Ramadan be generous.”
The response to that greeting is “ALLAHu Akram,” and that means and implies that “God Alone is the Most Generous.” I wish you all who are fasting, “Ramadan Kareem,” peace, love and all the very best prayerful experiences of this blessed holy month. For today and always, that’s, “As I See It.”