THE Holy Qur’an — which falsehood cannot approach from either in front or behind, which leads people from the darkness to the light, to the path of our Almighty and Omniscient, and much-praised Lord, a blessing, glad tidings and a mercy for all Muslims, an advice and a reminder for those who fear with a trembling heart — was sent down in the month of Ramadan. Allah speaks of this holy month when He revealed the verses to our Prophet (peace be upon him), in the Qur’an: “The month of Ramadan is the one in which the Qur’an was sent down as guidance for mankind, with clear signs containing guidance and discrimination. Any of you who are resident for the month should fast it. But any of you who are ill or on a journey should fast a number of other days. Allah desires ease for you; He does not desire difficulty for you. You should complete the number of days and proclaim Allah’s greatness for the guidance He has given you so that hopefully you will be thankful.” (Surat Al-Baqara, 185)
The month of Ramadan is a fertile month that also contains the Night of Power, “...better than a thousand months” (Surat Al-Qadr, 3). This month has a unique importance, sanctity and beauty in the eyes of Muslims. Throughout this month, all the Muslims of the world obey their obligation to fast “as a single body,” maintain the bounds set by Allah in verses, are aware of their weakness and give thanks to our Lord for His blessings, pray with great sincerity and strive to discipline their lower selves. In a Hadith our Prophet (peace be upon him) says this to believers regarding the month of Ramadan: “How happy are those who spend this month fasting, worshipping and in doing good deeds!”
It is believers’ “purity, sincerity and taqwa” that make fasting acceptable in the Sight of Allah: Believers welcome the month of Ramadan with joy. This is the joy of faith that comes from discharging an obligation they hope will be pleasing to Allah.
Believers devote all their lives and deeds to earning Allah’s approval at every moment. They therefore seek His approval alone in all their religious obligations, such as fasting. In the verse, “Their flesh and blood does not reach Allah but your taqwa does reach Him...” (Surat Al-Haj, 37) Allah reveals that what matters in His Sight is believers’ fear of displeasing Him as they perform acts of worship, their sincere intentions and purity.
With fasting, too, what is most acceptable in the Sight of Allah is to do this with purity and sincerity. This is also a sign of fear of displeasing Allah and a powerful faith. In the verse, “...My prayer and my rites, my living and my dying, are for Allah alone, the Lord of all the worlds,” (Surat Al-An’am, 162) Allah notes that believers’ rites are dedicated to Allah alone, and tells them to “...persevere in His worship.” (Surah Maryam, 65). Allah also notes that there are people who simply perform their observances for show and calls on believers to “...make their religion sincerely His.” Therefore, as with all acts of observance, as people fast they must be at one with Allah and seek His approval alone.
There is much goodness and wisdom for believers in the month of Ramadan and in fasting
In the verse, “You who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that hopefully you will have taqwa.”(Surat Al-Baqara, 183), fasting is an obligation imposed on all believers. When Ramadan comes, all believers strive to obey this commandment in the finest way and strive to earn Allah’s approval.
Ramadan is a most auspicious time, a reminder for all mankind that calls them to the true path. All Muslims across the world taste the zeal and delight that come from acting as one in the light of the same aim and worshiping on the same path for the approval of Allah. Ramadan is therefore also a means for believers to increase their brotherhood and solidarity and to exhibit moral virtues in that context.
It is a means whereby believers come to realize their need and weakness in the face of the greatness of our Lord: Allah created man and equipped the world with the finest blessings that he needs. Human beings need the protection of our Lord, His blessings and His showing the true path; these are truths grasped by all believers who appreciate the might and power of our Lord. Yet if people fail to reflect deeply and do not use their minds and consciences properly, they may fall into heedlessness and forget these important truths. Yet by fasting in the month of Ramadan they realize how weak and corrupt their bodies are. They remember how much they need the mercy of Allah. They abandon the evil of the lower self, realize their weakness before Allah and turn to Him and they start giving thanks for the blessings He has bestowed upon them. In this way, they come to appreciate how they can own nothing unless Allah so wishes and how they need the protection of Allah for every blessing.
As with all the commandments revealed by Allah in the Qur’an, there is great goodness and wisdom in fasting. The month of Ramadan is a means whereby believers see and reflect on that goodness and thus grow deeper in faith.
It leads believers to reflect on Allah’s mercy and blessings and to give thanks: One of the wise aspects of fasting is that it leads people to reflect on and grasp our Lord’s mercy and blessings. People encounter numerous blessings bestowed on them by Allah throughout their lives; Allah provides the colorful, aromatic and delicious food they eat from the black soil. The way that delicious and aromatic fruits and vegetables emerge from the earth with no scent or flavor is a miracle all by itself. If Allah so wished He might have created just one food, as bitter or tasteless as the soil that grew it. Yet thanks to Allah’s mercy on His servants, the food He provides is diverse and delicious. Ramadan is a holy month when people who forget these blessings are reminded of their variety as a manifestation of His names of the All-Compassionate and the Most Merciful because in the month of Ramadan people are deprived of these blessings for a short time and they appreciate their value much better as they sit down ready to eat in the evening.
We must regard the month of Ramadan as a “key to gratitude” in the training of the lower self.
Fasting and the blessed month of Ramadan contain much more great wisdom. The most important thing, however, is to be able to continue living by these acquired virtues even after Ramadan. Allah reminds us in the Qur’an that the lower self always commands evil unless He wishes otherwise, so we must never forget the need to behave virtuously and in a manner that meets with His approval.
— The writer has authored more than 300 books translated in 73 languages on politics, religion and science.