The Meaning of Ramadhan

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The Meaning of Ramadhan

#1

Unread post by Guest » Tue Dec 12, 2000 2:13 am

This article is a good reminder for us and a good introduction for our non-Muslim friends and colleagues.<p>De-Mystifying Ramadan<p>Introduction<br>This article aims to explain the elementary principles of Ramadan and the philosophy behind it to a non-Muslim audience. Part 1 discusses the timing and significance of Ramadan, as well as the procedure for observing fasts. It is not intended to be a comprehensive examination of Islamic legal theory relating to fasting and should only be used as a springboard for further investigation. <p>Fasting can be difficult - all the more so when living in a non-Muslim society that is unable to comprehend the benefits of fasting and tends to view it as an unusual and pointless exercise in self-depravation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Part 2 challenges such views and demonstrates why Muslims in secular western societies like the US,Australia, and the UK continue to observe and benefit from the fast during Ramadan.<p><br>PART 1<p>What is Ramadan ?<br>Ramadan is the Islamic holy month in which it is incumbent upon every sane, post pubescent, healthy individual who professes to be a Muslim to fast. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic year. Unlike the Gregorian calender, the Islamic calander is based on lunar months, thus Ramadan begins and ends with the arrival of the new moon. It is because of the lunar calander that Ramadan appears to start ten to eleven days earlier each year. For example this year it began on November 27, next year it will begin on November 16 or 17.<p>The significance of Ramadan lies in the fact that it was during this month the Quraan (Islamic holy book) was brought down from the “Lowhul Mahfuz” (The Protected Divine Tablets) to the “Sama’ud Dunya” (Heavens Above the Earth) where it was revealed bit by bit to Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) over a span of twenty-three years.<p>It is interesting to note a close connection between all the Divine Scriptures revealed to mankind and the month of Ramadan. Abraham (pbuh), Moses (pbuh), David (pbuh), and Jesus (pbuh) all received their Scriptures during this month.<p><br>How is it Observed?<br>From first light in the morning to sunset - eating, drinking (including water), and sexual relations are forbidden. There are no restrictions during the night.<p>Smoking, chewing gum, and taking injections and medication to invigorate physical strength also make the fast void. If you need to take medications or injections for a temporary illness you will be exempt from fasting (see “exceptions” below). <p>It is allowable to clean the teeth and mouth and gurgle and snip water into the nostrils. If some water goes into the body involuntarily, the fast does not become invalid.<p>What happens if you forget you are fasting and have something to eat by accident?<br>The Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) has said that while fasting, if a person, due to forgetfulness, eats and drinks, the person should continue that fast because it was God’s will to feed him and make him drink.<p>Exceptions to Fasting<br>Those who are sick, elderly and weak, on a long journey, and women who are pregnant, menstruating or breastfeeding are exempt from fasting during Ramadan, however they must compensate with an equal number of days later in the year before the next Ramadan.<p>If they are physically unable to do this, they must feed a needy person for each day missed. In practical terms this can be done by providing food to a local charity or treating a homeless person to a meal.<p>There appears to be no clear consensus on diabetics who must take insulin injections daily. Common sense suggests two alternatives. The injections can be treated as an allowable exception that does not invalidate the fast. Alternatively, the diabetic person could be considered permanently unable to fast and must feed a needy person for each of the 30 days missed.<p>What happens if you don’t fast intentionally?<br>The penalty for deliberately breaking a fast or not fasting without a lawful excuse (see above) depends on the way in which the fast is broken. If it is through intentional sexual intercourse, the consequence is to fast for 60 consecutive days. If this is not possible, 60 needy people must be fed. If this is not possible, the person who broke the fast should feel penitence for breaking the fast and ask God for forgiveness.<p>If the fast is broken through eating food intentionally, there is no clear consensus on the penalty. One view is that that day’s fast must be made up on another occasion later in the year. Another view is that the same penalty for intentional sexual intercourse will apply.<p><br>PART 2<p>Why?<br>Why do Muslims fast during Ramadan? The fact that it is has been prescribed by the Quraan and ordered by the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) is enough for most Muslims without further inquiry. However, many people need to understand the reasoning and purpose behind such an order before they can completely accept it.<p>The benefits from fasting are considerable:<br>1. Strengthening Willpower - Fasting strengthens a person’s self discipline and increases patience and endurance. Earthly passions (namely food and sex), that tend to dominate our behaviour and are often consumed (to our detriment) in excess, are bridled and regulated by fasting. Instead of being controlled by our desires, fasting helps us control our desires. Fasting can be considered to be a method of reinforcing the armour that we use to protect ourselves with. During the year, this armour is weakened by the general mental wear and tear of a busy life and the inability to resist earthly temptations and desires. Ramadan provides a much needed circuit breaker that allows us to regroup, reassess, and rebuild the armour for the coming year.<p>Do you have really big meals when you break your fast and in the morning when you eat before sunrise?<br>Ideally, the answer to this question should be a definite NO. Eating large tasty meals in the evening and then again in the early morning only serves to increase our earthly desires at such times and is completely against the spirit of Ramadan and the true spirit of fasting. Eating in such a manner means that we have merely altered the times of eating and have not really fasted at all. <p>It is acceptable for a fasting person to eat and drink as much as is necessary to sustain them in their activities for the next day, but overindulgence is something that must be avoided. The Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) has recommended moderation during all meals, saying that one third of the stomach should be filled with food, one third with drink and one third should remain empty. Unfortunately, many Muslims are not aware of this and see Ramadan as a time for delicious delicacies and over-indulgence to the point that they actually put on weight because they eat more during the nights than what they normally would when not fasting. This is unfortunate.<p>2. Developing a Greater Level of Spiritual Awareness - Fasting in the right frame of mind intensifies awareness of the Creator. By abstaining from the pleasures and sustenance of life during daylight hours, an individual is submitting his or her will to the will of God. Despite the fact that food and water are readily available to satisfy thirst and hunger, a fasting person prefers to remain hungry and thirsty, earning God’s pleasure and reminding him or herself of the omnipresence and omniscience of God. <p>Such submission unlocks spiritual reservoirs within a person that can be difficult to comprehend from the perspective of a non-fasting person. This sense of spirituality is heightened by prayer and meditation and provides much inner peace and tranquility. <p>3. Elevation of Moral Character - A fundamental aim of fasting is to improve one’s character. A fasting person should refrain from lying, swearing, or engaging in talk that is rude, idle, arrogant, or ignorant. The importance of this is emphasised by the fact that when asked what causes the fast to be void, the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) replied, “Telling lies and backbiting.” When asked what backbiting was, the response was, “To mention something about someone behind their back that they would resent.” It has also been reported that the Prophet (pbuh) declared that, “God does not accept the fasting of those who do not restrain themselves from telling falsehood or from doing false deeds.” These statements clearly indicate that a fasting person’s hunger and thirst are pointless if they are not accompanied by elevated moral conduct.<p>Fighting and petty arguments should be avoided when possible as they only serve to arouse the animal passions fasting seeks to contain. <p>4. Empathy with the Disadvantaged - Fasting accustoms people to hunger and creates empathy with the poor and homeless in society who are often in a continual state of hunger. Man’s sense of compassion springs from his feelings of pain, thus fasting is a practical means to develop compassion. It is only natural that as the rich and middle class are influenced by their renewed sense of compassion and sympathy, greater charitable donations and gifts are made to the disadvantaged members of society. Not only does this go a small way to reducing income inequality, it creates a genuine feeling of brotherhood and unity between different socio-economic classes, the benefits of which are immeasurable.<p>5. Health reasons. - It is well established among medical practitioners that fasting is beneficial for the preservation of health and the cleansing of the digestive tract.<p>Conclusion<br>It is hoped this article goes some way to de-mystifying the month of Ramadan. Far from being a pointless exercise in self-depravation, fasting during Ramadan is a practical way to elevate and harmonise our mind, body, and soul, as well as an effective way to inspire a more compassionate society. <p>However this moral, social, spiritual, and mental elevation should not simply slide after the end of Ramadan. Ramadan is not about achieving perfection for a mere thirty days - it is about learning what perfection is so it can be maintained every single day of one’s life. Of all the trials one may face whilst fasting during Ramadan, this is the most demanding.<br>



Guest

#2

Unread post by Guest » Tue Dec 12, 2000 2:40 pm

If the holy month of Ramadan is to teach us patience and perseverance,how do you explain two mithas and two kharas (a large full meal deal) at all the markaz of the bohris.<br>How do you explain people fighting for masala space in the first row? It is heard that one has more sawab if one prays in the first row. Is it true? Also if one is given permission to say akamat he will recieve more sawab? Please explain



Guest

#3

Unread post by Guest » Fri Dec 15, 2000 7:59 am

The food is provided because it is sunnah to break the fast with some food at least at ifter. How much you eat depends on you. No-one can force food into your mouth, although they do try I know!<p>I can't comment on whether you receive sawaab on reciting iqamat. From the little knowledge i have, any service you do for Allah (including calling people to prayers) receives some sawaab. There is no exact formula for calculating sawaab if that is what you want. Allah knows



Guest

#4

Unread post by Guest » Fri Dec 15, 2000 4:06 pm

Only bohris are the one all over the world have big meal and drinks no matter what kind of occasion they are performing at their markaz(jamatkhana) all year round. Also don't forget the "matam" and "daris" too that they imposed in recent years.<p>Also only bohris are the one (specially mullas and chamchas) always fight for the first row to pray namaz for show-off. To me bohris are not on Islamic teaching at all . And all these teaching and "fatwas" ruled by Burhanuddin & Co.