Fast of the Faithful

 
By Rukshana Rizwie
“Good and evil are not equal. Repel evil with good and you will find that your enemy has become your close friend” (41:34)
O you who believe! Observing as-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you that you may become Al-Muttaqun (pious)” – Qur’an (2:183)
Muslims all over the world will begin fasting on Tuesday in observation of Ramadhan – a pillar of Islam and the blessed and holiest month, when the faithful abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk.
That is, if, Ramadhan begins on Tuesday.
Every year, identifying the start of Ramadhan for Muslims is like a waiting game until Islamic scholars sight the new moon in the night sky. This greatly anticipated announcement officiates the begging of the fast from the next morning and ends with the sighting of the birth of the next new moon – a period of a month.
Many wonder what purpose fasting serves, among mainly, the  experience of fasting is intended to teach a Muslim self-discipline and self-restraint, and understand a little of the plight of the less privileged. A Muslim will have one meal (Suhoor) just before sunrise and break the fast exactly after sunset (Iftar).
Ramadhan for Muslims is like an intensive course intended to help him/her cultivate the essential virtues. People today live at a superficial level of existence with emphasis on the physical realm or attachment to material dimensions forgetting the identity as human beings. The first few days of Ramandhan are usually difficult on the believing Muslims because it restrains the mind, body and soul to discipline ourselves.
A Muslim has to guard his tongue and restrain his anger. Do good deeds and exercise personal discipline. It is a blessed month of peace and love in which individuals are encouraged to bury differences, forget and forgive and renew both human and spiritual relationships. Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) had said, “The best of people are those who benefit most, the rest of people.” 
“When Ramadan comes, the gates of Heaven are opened, the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are chained.” — Sahih Bukhari Hadith 3.123
Muslims don’t make New Year resolutions, they make Ramandhan resolutions. In Ramandhan we starve our body to feed our soul. Fasting imbues in a Muslim the genuine virtue of effective devotion, honest dedication and closeness to God; because when he fasts he does so for Allah and Allah’s sake alone.
Fasting cultivates in man a vigilant and sound conscience; because the fasting person keeps his fast a secret even in public. In fasting, there is no mundane authority to check man’s behavior or compel him to observe fasting. He keeps it to please God and satisfy his own conscience by being faithful in secret and in public.
Fasting in Ramadhan is obligatory on every responsible and fit Muslim. But there are other times when it is recommended to make voluntary fasting, after the traditions of Prophet Muhammad.
“The month of Ramadan is a blessed month, a month in which Allah has made fasting obligatory. This month contains a night greater than a thousand months. Whosoever deprives himself of the blessings of that night truly denies himself tremendously.” (An-Nisa’iee)
The night referred in the paragraph above is Laylat-ul-Qadr(meaning the Night of Power).  It was during these nights in the year 610 C.E that the holy Prophet received the first of the divine revelations through the Angel Gabriel. This event is annually marked by Muslims on the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadhan.
The end of Ramadan is marked by a festive celebration called ‘Eid-ul-Fitr, the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast. Muslims not only celebrate the end of Ramadhan, but thanking Allah for the help and strength that he gave them throughout the previous month.
There are special services at mosques and Muslims partake in a special celebratory meal eaten during daytime, the first daytime meal Muslims would have had in a month.
Eid is also a time of forgiveness, and making amends. On this day, Muslims dress in their finest clothes, give gifts to children and spend time with their friends and family. At Eid it is obligatory to give a set amount of money (zakat) to charity to be used to help poor people.
The Nation wishes its readers a blessed Ramadhan!
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4 thoughts on “Fast of the Faithful”

  1. Ms.Rizwie,thank you very much for sharing this article with us! I got to know many things that I didn't know about Ramadhan…I once read that even the Muslim sportsmen and women who competed in 2012 Olympics fasted… "It is a blessed month of peace and love in which individuals are encouraged to bury differences, forget and forgive and renew both human and spiritual relationships": Well, that is something that all of us need, no matter what our religion is!:)

  2. I really like this piece and it's nice to see such a personal perspective on something that often goes on being ignored and/or unquestioned. As you say Rochelle, burying the hatchet is really really important if we are to prosper and learn to reconcile.

  3. It does go mostly unquestioned, now that I think of it. I mean, when classmates used to fast, I just accepted it as something their religion required of them. I never asked them why they fast and what they hope to achieve

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