during Ramadan is a unique opportunity to attain both peace of mind and
heart," says Imam Gayth Nur Kashif, Director of Washington, DC's inner
city Masjid ash-Shura.
Kashif, who came to Islam by way of the Black Muslim movement and was an editor
of the movement's Muhammad Speaks newspaper and a contemporary of Malcolm
X, explains: "During Ramadan one concentrates on rendering good and
abstaining from the wrong. Such a pursuit creates peaceful serenity in the
hearts of men and women. Ramadan fasting cannot be complete and in fact, the
fast can be invalidated if one fails to control his or her temper. The fasting
persons are advised to refrain from argument and to inform the other party that
they cannot continue the troublesome dialogue because they are engaged in the
sublime obligation of fasting. Without doubt a full month of such restraint is
destined to leave its mark upon our bodies and souls."
during Ramadan that requires certain restraints from dawn to dusk, the hours
when the human interaction is the greatest, is designed to mould the lives of
Molook Roghanizad, a member of the Curriculum Advisory Committee of the Fairfax
County School Board in Virginia and an educational consultant, says, "Ramadan
fasting offers an opportunity for Tazkiyah, - the cleansing of the self -
through its disciplinary regimen. And on another level, Ramadan offers a unique
opportunity for synthesizing with the less fortunate."
points out that the tazkiyah aspect is clearly emphasized by Prophet
who, according to Ka'b ibn
Malik, said: "Two hungry wolves sent against a herd of sheep will not do
more damage to it than a man's eagerness for wealth and prestige does to his
religion." [Cited in Ahmad, al-Tirmidhi and Abu Yahya]
Quran," she adds, "started to be revealed during Ramadan and it is
recommended that during this month we concentrate on the reading of the Quran.
Why? This is because during this month, we are less involved with physical needs
and have a better opportunity of understanding the Message - the Quran, that
is. Therefore there is a better chance of understanding the truth and reaching
that spiritual elevation that we all desire." This state of 'special
elevation', she is says comes when we elevate ourselves through understanding
the true message. "The moment you have reached the absolute truth is your Lailut
ul Qadr, the Night of
Power," she stresses.
says that the real attainment of Qadr for ordinary beings is not a
physical act, nothing sort of pulling a spiritual rabbit out of a hat, but in
reality that indescribable moment when all things become clear to you and this
moment of truth is worth one thousand months, more than a lifetime. The Quran says: "But
those will prosper who purify themselves and glorify of their Guardian-Lord and
(lift their hearts) in Prayer." (Quran 87:14-15)
Muhammad Hamidullah, the eminent scholar and translator of the Quran
into French, in his monograph Why Fast? (Centre Culturale Islamique,
Wilkes Barre, PA) discusses the physical aspect of fasting. He likens fasting to
the break from the ordinary to sleeping and to the weekend breaks in work and
school. He points out that just as sleep renovates the body, the fast
rejuvenates and invigorates the body, noting that Prophet Muhammad said, "There
is a tax on everything, the tax of the body being the fast."
fasting does to a Muslim is perhaps best explained by Jim Quraishi, who wrote
in an internet religion forum, "I am much more forgiving and accepting of
my coworkers. I am more liable to overlook their frailties and petty jealousies.
I'm like a man who knows that at the end of the day there is a pot of gold that
does not promote withdrawal from society, however during Ramadan a brief withdrawal
from society is allowed for those who desire to do so, which is called
itikaf. In itikaf a person can confine oneself to a secluded corner of a mosque -
can select a corner at home - during the last ten days of Ramadan to devote
their full-time to prayer and remembrance of God. The itikaf experience can be
likened to a retreat in a secluded camp. Ibn Umar said, "The Messenger of
Allah [Prophet Muhammad] used to seclude himself for the last ten days of the
month of Ramadan."
to the late Dr.
Alija Izetbekovic, President of Bosnia,
"The Islamic fast which is the union of asceticism and joy - and even
pleasure in certain cases - is the most natural and most radical educational
measure that has ever been put into practice. It is equally present in the
king's palace and the peasant's hut, in a philosopher's home and a
worker's home. Its greatest advantage is that it is really practiced."
fasting during Ramadan has been ordained for Muslims as fasting had been
ordained for people that preceded them. Prophet Muhammad,
companions on the last day of Shaban, the preceding month, said: "O
people! A great month has come over you; a blessed month; a month in which is a
night better than a thousand months; month in which Allah has made it compulsory
upon you to fast by day, and voluntary to pray by night. Whoever draws nearer
(to Allah) by performing any of the (optional) good deeds in (this month) shall
receive the same reward as performing an obligatory deed at any other time, and
whoever discharges an obligatory deed in (this month) shall receive the reward
of performing seventy obligations at any other time. It is the month of
patience, and the reward of patience is Heaven. It is the month of charity, and
a month in which a believer's sustenance is increased. Whoever gives food to a
fasting person to break his fast, shall have his sins forgiven, and he will be
saved from the Fire of Hell, and he shall have the same reward as the fasting
person, without his reward being diminished at all." [Narrated by Ibn