By Nikhat Sattar
May 18, 2018
A BLESSING that is sent to us every year is
the special opportunity to purify our hearts and bodies, make an effort to
atone for our sins and give thanks to our Creator. While our entire lives
should be spent towards this goal, it is this particular time of the year that
has been declared as the most suitable by God.
According to Amin Ehsan Islahi, just as in
the material world, there are seasons for specific crops to be sown and
harvested and if these seasons are lost, no other time can compensate for them,
the spiritual world too has defined periods of time when the spirituality of
humans can benefit the most.
For Muslims, this is the month of Ramazan.
No other day or night can be quite as effective for repentance of sins,
cleansing one’s soul, doing good and achieving calmness of spirit.
A superficial look at what Ramazan means
would be to define it as abstaining from eating, drinking and conjugal
relations from daybreak to sundown. This form of fasting had been practised for
thousands of years by humans, mainly as a symbol of regret for having committed
It was also common in pre-Islamic Arabia.
If this were all, this would be mere starvation and this is not what God has
desired. It does no good if humans deprive themselves of basic needs merely to
observe a ritual. And yet, this is what many of us end up doing during this
The first gift given by God to humans is
that of rationality. He then gave us His Books and messengers to guide us so
that we may navigate the tough terrain of this world by understanding His
message by using this rationality.
It was in Ramazan that the Quran was
revealed, a Book that He has called Furqan — that which distinguishes
between truth and falsehood. Ramazan helps us to appreciate and understand this
great revelation. God’s instructions to us to refrain from fulfilling our basic
needs for certain hours of the day are meant to assist us in developing piety
and a deeper realisation of what the Quran means for us in this life and for
The main aspects of fasting during Ramazan
include submission to God, by whose orders we refuse to eat or drink even if we
wish to. This curbing of our natural desires should bring home the realisation
that we are under His control and submit to Him for something as simple and
instinctive as feeding our physical selves. If we are submitting to Him, we
must also place restrictions upon our anger, hatred, greed, profiteering,
cruelty, etc, in short, any wrongdoing that we will be answerable for when we
face Him in the afterlife.
Our belief in the next world and in the
fact that while there may be no justice here, everyone shall obtain full
justice in the Court of God must be reinforced. Submission to any command from
God is useless without believing that every act of ours will have to be
In the Muslim sense of the term, fasting
means practising patience and putting restrictions upon actions that are
normally carried out to please our senses. Keeping guard over our thoughts and
actions every moment even while our physical energies are depleted during
fasting is what strengthens our spirituality and perseverance.
Even if goaded, we should tell ourselves
and others that we are fasting and hence will not respond to any negative
stimulation. Our time during the blessed days and nights is to be spent in
prayer, reading the Quran with understanding and repentance for our sins,
rather than wasting it in watching mindless television and sleeping off our
To fast is also to experience hunger and
thirst, the state millions like us face every day. This experience over 30 days
is meant to nurture in us the values of austerity and simplicity in our lives,
compassion and love of giving and using resources sustainably.
Unfortunately, at the break of fast, we go
into an orgy of eating and drinking, and buying consumer goods. It is true that
giving is highest during Ramazan but equally, we indulge ourselves excessively.
This period is expected to inculcate a deeper morality for the rest of the year
Each year, Ramazan is gifted to us and it
is up to us to make use of it as best we can. Who knows if we will be alive or
able to sow at least some of the seeds next year which could be harvested after
Nikhat Sattar is a freelance contributor with an interest in religion.