Tuesday, October 30, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 49


 
 









 

Ramadan helps Muslims build faith

Shazia Siddiqi

Islam is built upon five pillars: testifying that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; establishing the prayer;
giving charity (zakkah); performing hajj (pilgrimage) to the house (the Holy Kabbah); and fasting in Ramadan.

Ramadan will begin this year in mid-November. Ramadan is a special month of the year for more than one billion Muslims throughout the world. It is a time for inner
reflection, devotion to God and self-control.

Muslims think of it as a kind of tune-up for their spiritual lives. The prophet Muhammad said, "There has come to you Ramadan, a blessed month, in which Allah has
made it obligatory to fast. During it, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hellfire are closed."

There are many important lessons to be learned from fasting.

During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food, water and other desires from sunrise to sunset. This serves as a means of learning self-restraint and patience.
Patience gives us the ability to strengthen our sincere worship to Allah alone, cope with life's ups and downs, restrain our souls from greed and stinginess and
therefore give part of our wealth in charity.

We are also able to subdue the soul's ill temperament and thus deal with hardships without losing our tempers and behaving badly.

Fasting is a way of experiencing hunger, developing sympathy for the less fortunate and learning to become thankful and appreciate all of God's bounties. Fasting is
also beneficial to health, providing a break in the cycle of rigid habits or overindulgence.

Another lesson is cultivating good manners and truthfulness. The prophet said, "Whosoever does not abandon falsehood in speech and action, then Allah the
Mighty and Majestic has no need that he should leave his food and drink." He also said, "Fasting is not merely abstaining from eating and drinking. Rather, it is also
abstaining from ignorant and indecent speech." 

Thus this blessed month teaches us not only to abstain from food and drink, but also to abstain from such statements and actions that may be the cause of harming
people and violating their rights. The Messenger said while describing the true believer, "A Muslim is one from whom other Muslims are safe from his tongue and his
hand."

So by shunning oppression, shamelessness, hatred, back-biting, slander and other types of falsehood, we can be saved from nullifying the rewards of our fasting --
as Allah's Messenger said, "It may be that a fasting person receives nothing from his fast, except hunger and thirst."

In a nutshell, because of the lack of preoccupation with the satisfaction of bodily appetites during the daylight hours of fasting, a measure of ascendancy is given to
one's spiritual nature, which becomes a means of coming closer to God.

Ramadan is a time of intensive worship, reading of the Quran, giving to charity, purifying one's behavior and doing good deeds. For Muslims, Ramadan is not merely
a holiday, but an opportunity to gain by giving up, to prosper by going without and to grow stronger by enduring weakness.

Siddiqi, a sophomore psychology
major, can be reached at shazihuma@hotmail.com.

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