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The month of Ramadan has once again begun. Ramadan is a very special month in a Muslim's life. It is a time for Muslims to earn countless rewards and a time to seek forgiveness for past sins. Muslims wait all year long for the arrival of Ramadan. Although Ramadan brings the hardships of fasting, it also brings the pleasure of knowing that the fast itself is for the sole purpose of pleasing Allah.
As-Siyam (Fasting) generally means "to abstain from something." For example, a verse in the Qur'an says: "I have vowed to the Merciful to abstain - that is from speaking." What is meant here is abstaining from food, drink, and sexual intercourse from dawn until sunset with the explicit intention of doing so (for the sake of Allah).
On both the individual and social levels, fasting has many virtues and benefits. Of these we can mention the feeling of sympathy for the poor. After all, man's sense of compassion springs from his feeling of pain, and fasting is a practical means to develop compassion in his spirit. In this regard, it is reported that Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) was the most generous among people, and he was especially generous during Ramadan.
Moreover, fasting establishes equality among the rich and the poor. In a way, it is a compulsory experience of poverty in that it is meant to make all people share an equality, not diversity, of feeling and to sympathize with one another through a collective sense of pain, not through a discord or diversity of desires.
It is also during fasting that Muslims can really sympathize with the starving people everywhere in the world and see the hardship that they go through everyday of their lives. We, as Muslims, must unite together and share with the rest of the Muslim Ummah all over the world. In this way, one will increase the practical aspect of the unity of Muslims and will reduce the idea of nationality and segregation.
Let us all remember what the Prophet (PBUH) said in his Farewell Pilgrimage Address:
"O people, listen to my words! For I do not know whether we shall meet again and perform Hajj after this year. O ye People! Allah says: "O people we created you from one male and one female and made you into tribes and nations, so that you are known to one another. Verily in the sight of Allah, the most honored amongst you is the one who is the most God-fearing." There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab and for a non-Arab over an Arab, nor for the white over the black nor the black over the white except in piety. All mankind is the progeny of Adam and Adam was fashioned out of clay.... O people! Every Muslim is the brother of other Muslim, and all the Muslims form one brotherhood."
So whether a Muslim is from Somalia, Bosnia, Palestine, Algeria, India, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Yemen, Vietnam, America, or wherever, he or she is part of this Brotherhood.
Fasting develops self-control and helps Muslims overcome selfishness, greed, laziness and other faults. It is an annual training program to refresh us for carrying out our duties towards Allah. Besides the feeling of hunger and thirst, fasting teaches us to control the love of comfort. Also, it helps us to keep our sexual desires within control. Hunger, comfort, and sex are three factors which must be kept under control to behave as Allah's servants. The purpose of fasting is to make a Muslim able to control his passions, so that he becomes a person of good deeds and intentions. Anger, a common human weakness, can also be brought under control by fasting. A Muslim is expected to keep away from all bad actions during his fast. He should not lie, break a promise or do any deceitful act.
Good habits are another good practice learned during Ramadan. A large quantity of good, edible food is dumped as waste daily. If it was used properly, society would have more food available to help combat famine. Those who are affluent have to learn how to cut down the consumption of foods. Allah says in the Holy Quran concerning the cutting down of food intake, in Surah Al-A'raf:
"...And eat and drink but exceed not the bounds; surely Allah does not like those who exceed the bounds." (Qur'an 7:31)
The Prophet (pbuh) advised people to decrease their food and liquid consumption. In this regard he said: "The worst thing for a person to do is to fill his stomach. It is enough for a person to have small bites to satisfy his hunger. However, if he has to eat more, then one-third for his food, one-third for his liquids and one-third for his respiration."
During the month of Ramadan, one should visit and offer prayers more frequently in the local Masjids. Ramadan is a special time for visiting friends and family and sharing meals with the less fortunate. All in all, let us try and make simple changes this Ramadan that will last throughout the year. Let us become kinder people, better neighbors, and good examples of the beautiful religion of Islam which we represent.
-from all of us at the Islamic Bulletin and the Islamic Center.
The Islamic Bulletin
P.O. Box 410186, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186
|March / April 1993|
|Ramadan Is Here|
|Letters to the Editor|
|Islamic World News|
|Islamic Dietary Laws|
|Women in Islam|
|Miracles of the Qur'an|
|Why I Embraced Islam|
|Stories of the Sahabah|
|The Kid's Corner|
|Sayings of the Prophet|