The Graciousness of the Fasting during Ramadan

The holy month of the Ramadan of the year of 1433 Hijra is fast arriving. This month is a great favor of Allah for the Muslim Umma and it is one of the five pillars of Islam and is an obligatory worship to be carried out with full devotion and all sincerity. This rite amongst the five basics of Islam carries special significance as testified in a number of Ahadiths {(Sayings of the Holy Prophet (pbuh)}. The Prophet (SAW) has said that Allah (SWT) has said, “The fasting (saum) is for Me and I Myself will reward (the man) for it.” In another Hadith the Prophet is reported to have said, ” Whosoever, keeps fasting in the month of Ramadan with conviction and consciousness and self-accountability, his all previous wrong-doings will be pardoned and whosoever remains standing during the nights of Ramadan (in prayers reciting the holy Quran), his previous wrong-doings will be pardoned.” (Bukhari and Muslim).

Imam Behaqui, quoting Hazrat Abdullah Ibne Amar Ibne Aas (RA) says that the Prophet (SAW) has said, “The saum (fasting) and the Quran will be interceding (before Allah) for the fasting man. The saum will implore upon Allah, “O Lord! ” I had stopped this man from eating and satisfying his animal gratifications (Shahawat) in day time. Therefore, grant my imploration for his exoneration (from all sins).” The Quran will say, “O Allah! ” I had stopped this man from sleeping during night. Therefore, accept my intercession for him.” Allah will accept the request of both of them (the Quran and the Saum).

There is another cardinal Hadith reported by Hazrat Salman Farsi (RA) saying, “The Prophet (SAW) gave us a sermon on the last day of Shaaban (the 9th month of the Hijra calendar) and said, “O People! A very gracious month is befalling on you, the month of grandeur, and the month of blessings. There is a particular night therein, which is far better than a thousand months. Allah has made its saum (fasting) obligatory and its standing in worship (during night hours) at one’s own free choice. It is a month with its first portion as (a source of) beneficence; its middle as (a source of) forgiveness and its end is (a source of) liberation from the doom of Hellfire.”

We can fully understand how the Prophet (pbuh) wanted his addressees to get them mentally and physically prepared for completely achieving the bounties of Ramadan. In principle it is very unlikely that one can fully avail a chance or a subject if one does not have a thorough understanding of the merits of that subject or moment. Let’s further understand what the Quran says about this great rite (Ibadat) of Saum of the Ramadan.

It has been described in a total of only six verses (Ayat) of the 23rd Section (Ruku) of the second Sura, Albaqara (23:2). The meaning of the Quranic text of these verses is given as under. ” O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, even as it was prescribed for those before you that ye may ward off (evil). (Fast) a certain number of days; and (for) him who is sick among you, or on a journey, (the same) number of other days; and for those who can afford it there is a ransom; the feeding of a man in need-but those doth good of his own accord, it is better for him: and that ye fast is better of you if ye know. The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs of the guidance and the Criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, (let him fast the same) number of other days. Allah desires for you ease; He desires no hardship for you; and (He desires) that you should complete the period and that you should magnify Allah for having guided you and that peradventure ye may be thankful. And when my servants question thee concerning Me, then surely I am nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he cries unto Me. So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order they may be led right. It is made lawful for you to go unto your wives on the night of the fast. They are raiment for you and ye are raiment for them. Allah is aware that ye were deceiving yourselves in this respect and He hath turned in mercy toward you and relieved you. So hold intercourse with them and seek that which Allah has ordained for you and eat and drink until the white thread becomes distinct to you from the black thread of the dawn. Then strictly observe the fast till nightfall and touch them not, but be at your devotions in the mosques. These are the limits imposed by Allah, so approach them not. Thus Allah expounds His revelations to mankind that they may ward off (evil). And eat not your property among yourselves in vanity, nor seek by it to gain the hearing of the judges that ye may knowingly devour a portion of the property of others wrong-fully”. ( Al-Baqara 183 to 188). ( Translation by Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall). These are the six verses in which not only the philosophy of the fasting of Ramadan has been explicitly given but the decrees ordained have been comprehensively accommodated therein. It is the peculiarity of Ramadan that it has been described only at one place in the Quran. All other obligatory worships have been described in the Quran in different Suras and their integral constituents are found scattered throughout the Text.

The real aim of the fasting of Ramadan: The real aim of fasting has been described to be ‘Taqwa’ which means to struggle every moment to keep away from all sorts of evils and try not to transgress any limits prescribed by Allah. The fasting gives the man the power to control his animal desires aroused by animal instincts. It is the fasting which gives strength to your Rooh or the Spirit which in turn will control the ‘Id’ ( Nafse Ammarah in the Quranic terminology) or the libido (Nafse lawwama) as it is called in the terminology of the renowned psychoanalyst, Fried. The weakening of the Id will strengthen the Ego or the Superego which is the ultimate objective of the fasting that the animal instincts are kept under check and the spiritual being becomes more powerful over the animal being of the man. According to the Quranic verses quoted above, the fasting results in the ‘taqwa’ or the strength to ward off evil. The recitation of the Holy Quran during night time further energizes the ‘Taqwa’ generated as a result of fasting by the day time. Therefore, the fasting man gets further and further purification when the two sources, the fasting and the standing in prayers with the Quranic recitation during night go simultaneously during the whole month of Ramadan.

The month of Ramadan has a special connection with the Holy Quran as the later was descended at a particular night of the month of Ramadan from the Lauh-e-Mehfooz to the Sky nearer to our world (Sama-e-Dunia) wherefrom it was gradually revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) according to the needs in a period of 23 years and the Message was completed. Now we understand that the graciousness and magnificence which is ascribed to the month of Ramadan is due to the fact that it is the month which has got the honour of revelation of the Quran in one go at a particular night of this month, mentioned in the Quran to be better (in value and graciousness) than a thousand months.

Since our physiological body is composed of the material substances therefore it will require for its nourishment the material food obtained from the soil and the air. The real being is the Spirit or Rooh in the Quranic terminology. There is a verse in the O Pan-i-Shad which says, “Man in his ignorance identifies himself with the material sheath which encompasses his real self”. This narration is quite in consonance with the teachings of the Quran which terms the Rooh or the Spirit to be beyond the material world and is an ‘Amr’ of the Allah which He attributes to His Own Self.

It has been explicitly narrated in Sura Alhijr and in Sura Sad as follow, “So, when I have made him and have breathed into him My Spirit, do ye fall down, prostrating yourselves into him.” (29:15). “And when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am about to create a mortal out of mire. And when I have fashioned him and breathed into him of My Spirit, then fall down before him prostrate,” (71-72: 38). The real being that counts is the Rooh or the Spirit as the Quran calls it. Allah has attributed it to His Own Self. The fasting is a source of the nourishment and rejuvenation of this Rooh, therefore it has got a special link to the Lord (Rab). Allah says, “They will ask thee concerning the Spirit. Say: The Spirit is by the command of my Lord, and of knowledge ye have been vouchsafed but little”.(85:15) It is why Allah says, (“Assaumo lee wa Ana Ajzee Behi”.) “The Saum is for Me and I Myself will reward (the man) for it.” Let us prepare ourselves for this highly reverend obligation and get all the graciousness of Ramazan and collect the bounties of Allah during the ensuing Ramadan.