Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
illustrate the true spirit of Ramzan, the month of fasting. The Prophet forbade
believers from engaging in uninterrupted fasting (Sahih Muslim). He also said,
‘Beware of continuous fast. Beware of continuous fast.’ (Al Muwatta)
of this month is to train the believer. It is not to accumulate rewards by
increasing the number of fasts observed, because if that were the case, the
Prophet of Islam would not have discouraged continuous fasting. The purpose of
fasting is rather, to be an annual refresher course, for training the mind of the
believer, so that he may become a spiritual member of society.
considered a month of restraint when an adherent of Islam strives to foster
good wishes and care for humankind and develop piety in himself. The Prophet
once exclaimed, “It is not good for a man upon whom Ramzan enters and then
passes, before he was purified.” (At-Tirmidhi) This purification becomes
internalised for a whole lifetime as the believer undergoes ‘training’ fast for
a specified period of time during Ramzan.
from food and water is a symbolic act. It, in effect, represents a resolve
that, just as we relinquish food and water for a month, we shall henceforth,
similarly abstain forever from any practice deemed as spiritually undesirable.
‘training’ fast lasts for a month, the ‘real’ fast continues for a lifetime.
The meaning of the real fast is to give up negativity, malice and hatred for
life. We must refrain from feeling offended by, and vengeful and negative
towards fellow human beings.
focus of Ramzan is to train the mind of the believer on spiritual principles
which can be applied in everyday life. While the Prophet of Islam referred to
fasting as a short-term symbolic activity, he did not say this of acts that
call for ridding one’s mind of negative thinking, refraining from anger, and so
on. All such forms of restraint are to be eternally observed.
to a Hadith, a person once asked the Prophet of Islam for a master advice. The
Prophet replied, “Do not be angry!” (Al Bukhari). The Prophet certainly
encouraged leaving off anger for one’s lifetime, just like other negative
compulsions, such as hatred, revenge and malice. Shunning these evils is an act
of ‘fasting’ and this must last an entire lifetime.
fasts during Ramzan, bearing in mind all of the above, is akin to
revolutionising one’s life to the point of consciously undertaking a renewed
spiritual journey. The Quran alludes to this: “Colour yourself in the hue of
God!” (2:138). Spirituality and positive thinking are the hues of God. During
Ramzan, man imbibes the desired spiritual principles, which he is subsequently
expected to observe in his personal, societal and national affairs for the rest
of his life.
believer, Ramzan is a process of rejuvenation, with the power to become a guide
for life – teaching him to abstain from all that is negative and violent and to
adopt that which is peaceful and positive. One who has observed the fasts of
Ramzan in their true spirit can count on being able to draw upon the reservoir
of resilience he has built up and the power of patience and gratitude
inculcated in him, which will stand by him whenever he is faced with any kind