The Holy Month is a time for blessings, forgiveness, and sharing, says Aftab H. Kola.
As Ramadan knocks on our doors, the sense of gathering and celebrating family while engaging in good deeds is uppermost in our thoughts. Ramadan is slated to begin in Oman in the first week of May. Fasting in the blessed month of Ramadan is one of the five main pillars of Islam. Its significance goes beyond the one-month obligatory abnegation of food and drink (sawm) as it is about strengthening one’s faith and spreading harmony while demonstrating that sharing is caring.
Allah, through a cluster of verses in the holy Quran, has commanded Muslims to fast in order to attain God-consciousness. One such verse in ‘Surah Al-Baqarah’, Chapter 2, verse 183, says, ‘O you who believe! Fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you that you may attain taqwa’.
Addressing his companions on the last day of Shaban (the month before Ramadan) Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), said, “O people! A great month has come to you.
A blessed month, a month in which is a night better than thousand months; a 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”.
It was in this month the Holy Quran was first revealed and thereafter the revelation was completed in a period of 23 years with verses revealed with the occurrence of events during the Prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh) and was ordained to be followed as the Final Guidance for the whole of mankind till the end of the world.
One of the most rewarding acts Muslims engage in this month is distributing zakat, which purifies them by removing selfishness, greed, and materialism. It develops compassion, care, love and kindness among Muslims and helps the needy and provides funds for good causes and for community projects. Although zakat can be distributed any time of the year, Muslims all over the world prefer the Holy Month of Ramadan for its distribution.
God has gifted the Muslims a special night during one of the last ten days of Ramadan and it is called Lailatul Qadr, or the Night of Decree or the Power Night. Allah the Almighty says, “Verily, We have sent it (Qur’an) down in the night of Al-Qadr (Decree). And what will make you know what the night of Al-Qadr is? The night of Al-Qadr is better than a thousand months. Therein descend the angels including Angel Gabriel by Allah’s permission with all Decrees. (All that night), there is peace (and Goodness from Allah to His believing slaves) until the appearance of dawn”. (Qur’an, 97).
Muslims ensure that during this month prayers (salat) are performed in abundance. Besides the obligatory daily five prayers, ‘Taraweeh’ prayers are special voluntary prayers offered any time after Isha prayers and this component of worship is performed only in Ramadan while ‘Tahajjud’ is another voluntary prayer that may be offered any time of the year during the night but Muslims ensure that in Ramadan tahajjud is not missed.
Prophet said, “Make sure to have your suhoor meal, for suhoor is blessed.” From this we can make out the importance of suhoor, a pre-dawn snack/meal. Suhoor marks the beginning of the day’s fast. Iftar is the sunset meal with which a Muslim ends his fast. It is highly recommended that we break the fast with dates and zam zam water. In Oman, at several places including mosques’ courtyards, iftar mats/tables laden with fruits, dates and juices are a common sight. These community iftars are a good example of bonding.
Fasting overhauls the body and helps detoxify and declutter your system. It enables the body to have a very welcome rest which helps it to function better through the rest of the year. People can benefit from fasting if they follow a healthy and balanced diet and also continue it even after Ramadan.
Many historical events relating to the Muslims occurred in Ramadan. The first generation of Muslims accomplished great victories during this blessed month. Among the most prominent event is the Battle of Badr, which occurred on 17th of Ramadan which gave Muslims a victory. This decisive battle laid the foundation for the Islamic State and made Muslims a force to be reckoned with in the Arabian Peninsula.
As a reward for month-long fasting Allah has asked Muslims to celebrate the first day of the next month after Ramadan as Eid Al Fitr. It is a day of rejoicing and a ubiquitous feeling of camaraderie. Wishing you all a blessed Ramadan!