Monday, May 23, 2016

Ramadan Revisited

Ramadan In pre-Islamic times, the tribe of Quraysh observed Ramadan and Jews would fast on the day of Ashura, marking two historical events: the day when Noah left the Ark and the day when Moses was saved from the Egyptians by God. During the downpour of his revelations, God proclaimed to Prophet Muhammad that fasting for His sake was not a new innovation, but rather an obligation practiced by those truly devoted to the oneness of God. During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims are called upon to re-evaluate their lives in conformity with Islamic traditions, making peace with those who have wronged them, strengthening ties with their family and friends, avoiding harmful thoughts and acting nobly and courteously toward mankind. During this month every part of the body must be purged of every evil impulse or inclination. The tongue must be restrained from gossip and backbiting. The eyes must not covet that which is unlawful. The ears must refrain from listening to idle talk or angry expressions. The feet must refrain from approaching dens of vice and violence. That way, every part of the body can participate in fasting, rejecting the corruption of sin, hatred and malice, and purifying one’s body and soul to seek God’s grace and guidance. War is not permitted during the month of Ramadan. War is a great transgression in the sacred month of Ramadan. (2:217 Quran) Fasting is not only abstaining from food, but purging oneself by shunning the forces of evil, draining out hatred, malice, enmity and the lust to kill and abstaining from defiling the sanctity of any woman’s body or soul. Allah is not in need of leaving his food and drink, and He will not accept the fast of the one who tells lies, acts on lies and refrains not from evil actions. - Prophet Muhammad/Al Bukhari [3:127-O.B] Shall I inform you of a better act than alms, prayer and fasting? Making peace between one another. Enmity and malice tear up heavenly rewards by the roots. - Prophet Muhammad Times of Fasting A fast begins before sunrise and ends immediately after sunset. Muslims fast from fajr— dawn, until dusk. Fajr means the light of the morning, and Prophet Muhammad said: “God has ordained for you to eat and drink until you can discern the white streak of dawn against the blackness of the night, then resume fasting until sunset.” These are the bounds set by God. Do not then offend against them. It is thus that God makes clear His messages unto mankind, so that they might remain conscious of Him. (2:187 Quran) Eat and drink and do not be misled by the ascending white light. Eat and drink until the redness of dawn appears. - Prophet Muhammad Clerics pressed by zeal throughout centuries have succeeded in convincing Muslims worldwide that fajr starts three or four hours before sunrise. Sidelining Quran and Prophet’s injunctions ‘Eat and drink until the redness of dawn appears.’ Eid-ul-Fitr A day which occurs often, this is a festive and joyous occasion after a whole month of fasting (known as Ramadan). Sumptuous feasts and sweets - especially vermicelli cooked in sweetened milk - are prepared to be shared with friends and neighbors. It is a three day festival when Muslims visit friends, relatives and neighbors in the spirit of love, enjoying feasts and friendships, and forgiving all past rifts and grievances. Everyone wears new and colorful clothes, especially children, who are presented with gifts of cash or sweets. Other celebrations include fairs and entertainment, accompanied by song, music and dancing. This is much like the time when the Prophet Muhammad would sit with his family, watching the performance of dancing with spears, and enjoying songs and music. This joyful festival after the conclusion of Ramadan marks the birth of Islam, as Prophet Muhammad received his first revelation during this holy month. The festival also serves as a reminder to Muslims that they have an obligation toward the poor of the community. A special contribution called sidaqat-ul-fitr is made for this purpose. It is recommended that this contribution be given to the poor before Eid so that they too can enjoy the Eid celebrations. Fasting is a form of worship which has been prescribed and practiced for many ages by different peoples and religions. The essence of this worship may best be presented through this revelation from the Quran: O you who believe! Fasting has been prescribed upon you as it was prescribed upon those before you, that you may learn self-restraint and God-consciousness. (2:184 Quran) The best way of avenging yourself is not to become like the wrongdoer. Marcus Aurelius

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