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The Notion and Intention behind Ramadan

The holy month of Ramadan has begun and Muslims across the globe are welcoming it wholeheartedly. A conventional shift and change in lifestyles is observed among Muslims during Ramadan. Believers fast from a few hours prior to sunrise till sunset. Mosques get filled with gatherings of hundreds of worshippers. Amid this, the core reason behind all this phenomenon should be made known to the masses. People from different faiths and ideologies should get an idea of why God has given this month such a significant and remarkable status and why Muslims take care of this month unequivocally.

Among the colossal range of nearly 8.7 million species present on the floor of earth, inside the deep bed of seas and oceans, and throughout the wide canvas of the atmosphere, homo sapiens or humans are the most accentuated, foremost, and dominant creatures of the world. There is an undeniable significance of human beings because they influence the natural, social, political, and administrative systems of this world through their activities. Despite this, when it is pondered over keenly, there is no as such apparent difference that highlights humans apart from other creatures like animals.

Animals eat, drink, fulfil all their natural requirements and necessities, and so do humans. It is an eminent notion that merely a few differences in the physical traits or outward characteristics between humans and animals cannot be the factor for human’s authoritative and controlling nature. Rather, it is something non-material and intangible that draws humans at odds with all the other living beings and these are the attributes of consciousness, spirituality, thoughtfulness, and decision-making inbuilt in man. This is now evident that the physical needs of man have nothing to do with the spiritual aspect of humans but are merely the animalistic tendencies of the human body.

Credits: Wikipedia

It is observed around the human civilisation that today, the purpose of all the activities and pursuits has just remained to accomplish the natural inbuilt animalistic requirements and no exertion and labour is put to ameliorate the spiritual aspect of the human soul. As a result, in the monotonous race of achieving more and more materialistic pleasures and bodily satisfactions, the human soul is crushed abysmally, eventually leading to stress, anxiety, depression, mental issues, and even suicides. It is a well-known fact that mental health has become one of the most crucial issues for humanity today. The irony is that the reality and problem of mental disturbances are talked, emphasized, and debated about, but the reasons and causes behind it are never touched. The more man isolates himself from his spiritual aspect, the farther he will be from mental contentment. Ramadan is a period of a month provided by the Creator of the universe as an opportunity for man to ponder over and strengthen his spiritual aspect.

The meaning of spirituality should be understood preliminary to knowing how Ramadan touches the spiritual aspect of human beings. Firstly, it should be made well-known that spirituality in Islam does not mean abandoning all worldly belongings, possessions, and relationships and living in forests or mountains in the search of God for spiritual fulfilment. Islam has no place for renunciation. Rather, the most apt connotation of spiritual fulfilment is to attain such a concrete connection with God that makes the believer always conscious of God’s existence. Islam literally means complete submissiveness to God. When the believer bows down his entire existence in front of the Almighty Creator and aligns all his wills and wants according to the will of God, that vehement internal emotion of obedience and subservience is what develops the elements of piety, love, compassion, tenderness, contentment, peace, and satisfaction within the human heart and soul. These sentiments can never be understood or experienced by reading texts but can only be felt by heart and soul after tracing the foregoing path of spiritual attainment.

Spirituality alters the human attitude of getting affected by hindrances, opinions, and questions so dynamically and energetically that he doesn’t feel afflicted by any hassle or challenge. The natural tendency to feel affected, depressed, or anxious is overhauled by the strong inner spiritual connection with God. When a man becomes heedless to detrimental concerns of the creatures of the Universe and more percipient towards his relationship with the Creator of the Universe, all mental and physical stresses and ailments curtail for him and he becomes a possessor of equanimity, tranquillity, and contentment who has no heed for pessimistic issues of life.

Ramadan, in all its ways, is a period given as an opportunity to humankind to stiffen their spiritual aspect. All the animalistic tendencies and needs of humans are ordered to be suppressed like hunger, thirst, sexual urge, which are allowed on days except during Ramadan to let this concept be elucidated that humans are much more than just fulfilling their body’s requirements and that internal peace cannot be attained in revolving around this materialistic world. God says in the Holy Qur’an:

Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.”

Al-Qur’an: 13:28

Ramadan emerges as a chance to come closer to God and indulge in his remembrance by subduing ‘Nafs‘ or ‘Self‘, that is the will that arouses from within the human desires and urges the human to satiate it by fulfilling them and attain pleasure. This is what gradually makes the spirit of humans devastatingly weak and humans, the slaves of their wills. Contrary to this, when a believer consistently overpowers his Nafs, he eventually turns his personality into a nonpareil who can withstand the hardest aggravations of life. As a result of repressed inner wants and wills, the believers develop the attribute of ‘Taqwa‘ or inner piety, righteousness, and the fear of Almighty God. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an at 2:185:

The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it;

At 2:183, God commands the believers:

“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.”

It is an unassailable averment that Ramadan has myriad sets of benefits for the believers. Cleansing of soul and inner self through worshipping God and His remembrance is one of the most important aspects of it. When ‘Fasting’ is talked about, it not only refers to restraining oneself from eating, drinking, and physical relationship during the day, but also restraining from deception, malice, distaste, slandering, and defaming others and developing the sentiments of love, helpfulness, compassion, and acceptance for others. A sense of social service gains prosperity through acts of charity and food supplication for the indigent and underprivileged. It is more about creating healthy habits, learning self-discipline and sincerity, breaking unhealthy cycles, developing as a person, beautifying one’s character, inhabiting patience and thankfulness, increasing ‘Zuhd‘ or detachment from this temporary world, building Taqwa or God-consciousness and solicitude for the humankind and the all-encompassing trait of being the conqueror of Nafs. The believers must reappraise their thoughts and intentions before fasting and should try to achieve its real motive so that their entire life till death should be spent in the same way as Ramadan, closer to their Lord.

Syed Ilham Jafri is pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Zaina Shahid Khan

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Written by Syed Ilham Jafri

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