By Sirajuddin Aziz
May 9, 2019
THE literal meaning of Saum (fasting) means
to be at rest and it implies abstinence. The word Ramadan is derived from the
word “Ramz” which means “to burn” and here it applies to the burning of selfish
desires. The sacred month of Ramadan is in fact an annual invitation to the
delinquents, to shed evil away and put on garb of humility.
Holy Quran states,
“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed for
you, even as it was prescribed for those before you, that ye may ward off evil”
The regulations about Ramadan in Chapter II
of the Holy Quran are coupled repeatedly with an emphasis upon two aspects:
facilities and concessions given in respect of Fasting
(b) spiritual significance of fasting,
without which fasting would be like an empty shell without a kernel.
Thus, fasting has been enjoined and made
incumbent upon every Muslim adult but with the condition that he must be fit
physically for it. A sick person, one who is travelling, an old person and one
who finds the severity of fast hard to bear on account of age or other
infirmity are exempt. But for the sick and the traveller this is a temporary
exemption, they have to complete the period on other days.
“And whosoever of you is sick or on a journey
let him fast the same number of other days”. (2:185).
Yousuf Ali, in his commentary on the Holy
“Illness and journey must not be interpreted
in an elastic sense; they must be such as to cause pain and sufferings”.
On the other hand, Allah does not wish to
burden the man who has permanent infirmity, for such a person the Holy Quran
those who cannot afford it there is ransom, the feeding of a man in need”. (2.184).
According to Hadith
commences, the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of hell are closed and
the Satans are chained”.
verse i.e. II: 187, that follows the ordinance about Ramadan, is of particular
significance to the concept of self-denial and offers limitless assurances, to
those who fast, “when My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to
them). I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on me….” In
the Holy Quran, the subject of fasting is mentioned and explained only in one
place, that is in the 23rd section of the second chapter; though there is
mention on other occasions of fasting by way of expiation or ‘fidya’ in certain
Even before the advent of Islam, it was
customary for Arabs to devote a certain period of the year to exclusive worship
and prayer. Muhammad Hussein Heykal in his biography of the Holy Prophet (PBUH)
has referred to this tradition as, “the Arabs annual retreat” and states that
much before revelations began to the Prophet; he would each year spend the
whole of Ramadan in the cave of Mt. Hira, devoting himself uninterruptedly to
his spiritual pursuits in peace, solitude and tranquillity.
The Holy Quran states,
“O ye who
believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, even as it was prescribed for those
before you that ye may ward off evil” (2:183).
The verse i.e. II: 187, that follows the
ordinance about Ramadan, is of particular significance to the concept of
self-denial and offers limitless assurances, to those who fast,
servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them). I listen to the
prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me….”
According to a tradition, the Holy Prophet
(PBUH) said, ‘verily, a month of blessing has come to you… Allah has made
obligatory the fast of it on you. The doors of paradise are opened during it,
while the doors of hell are closed. Satan is put in fetters. There is a night
in it which is better than one thousand months. Whoever is deprived of the
goodness of it is really a deprived person.
The institution of fasting was enjoined
upon the faithful in the second year of Hijra Syed Ameer Ali writes: “The
institution of fasting in Islam has legitimate object of restraining the
passions by abstinence for a limited and definite period, from all
gratifications of senses and directing the overflow of animal spirits into a
healthy channel”. The regulations about Ramadan in Chapter II of the Holy Quran
are coupled repeatedly with an emphasis upon two aspects:
(a) Facilities and concessions given in
respect of fasting
(b) Spiritual significance of fasting.
Ramadan is a month of patience. The object of fast is to attain righteousness,
patience in adversity, steadfastness in deprivation and to increase one’s power
has been very rightly said by a noted Lebanese writer that, “If you plant your
pain in the field of patience, it will bear the fruits of happiness.” The
object of fast is to attain righteousness, patience in adversity, steadfastness
in deprivation and to increase one’s power of resistance. Fasting places
everybody the rich and the poor; the high and the low on the same pedestal.
Both the well-to-do and the less favoured experience in common the pangs of
hunger and privation to an equal degree.
Fasting infuses in man a great degree of
determination and trust in Allah, imparts loftiness to his character and
personality. There is a tradition related by Abu Hazim, that the Apostle of
Allah once said, “In Paradise there is a gate named Ar-Rayyan through which on
the Day of Reckoning those who fast will enter, and through which none but they
will enter”. It is said that the Prophet (Pbuh) during Ramadan was more
generous than the rain bringing wind. Fasting accustoms us to face hardships of
life – by renouncing everyday comforts; we give strength to our resolve and
increase one’s power of resistance. “Muslim Fast is not meant for self –
torture. Although it is stricter than other fasts, it also provides
alleviations for special circumstances.
is not merely a temporary abstention from food and drink but this abstention
enables the attention to be directed to higher things” writes Yusuf Ali. It
must not be forgotten that the whole purpose of fasting during Ramadan is to
promote righteousness, which is a progressive cultivation of spiritual values.
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) was very particular and emphatic in drawing attention
to this aspect of fasting. He said “He who abstains from food and drink during
the period of fasting but does not strive to abstain and safeguard himself
against moral lapses, starves to no purpose.”
Sirajuddin Aziz is Chief Executive
Officer of a financial institution.