SPECIAL EDITION ON RAMADAN FASTING {SAWM} ANOTHER TOOL TO UNITE THE UMMAH FASTING {SAWM} ANOTHER TOOL TO UNITE THE UMMAH

Friday, June 17, 2016
Islam Is religion of unity: unity in God, in prophet, in Book, in fundamental Articles of faith, and in fundamental Articles of Practices. All are meant for unity. Allah says: “Truly, this, your Ummah [Islamic monotheism] is one Ummah, and I am your Lord, therefore worship me” Q: 21:92.

Fasting is one of those Articles that help the Muslim Ummah to be aware of importance of unity. From the moment the new moon is seen, the whole Muslim world enters into the one spiritual discipline of fasting. Mutual awareness and mutual sympathy between Muslims start increasing, especially with the poor and hungers.

Anybody who has experienced the pangs of hunger while fasting is expected to sympathize with the poor and with homeless refugees to who hunger is a common experience.

During the fasting month, it is common to express this sympathy by giving out food as and when one can afford it and this practice is encouraged at any time of the year as an important act of charity. This act of giving food to those in need is made compulsory at the end of the fasting month when Zakatul-Fitr is to be given out on behalf of every member of the family of those who have the means. This practice, categorically mad the month of Ramadan month of Unity, sympathy and Brotherhood, when every single Muslim wherever he or she is {geographical Location}, whatever his or her Madhab {Jurisprudential School}, his or her Tariha, all of them share the same feeling, the same way at the same time. This is pure social welfare and practical true unity that Islam calls all Muslims to exercise during the month of Ramadan.

Beside this big achievement in moral and social objectives, Ramadan has many other great spiritual objectives. It helps Muslims to attain Taqwa {Consciousness} of Allah, and closeness to Him. Allah says: “O you who believe! Observing the Fast is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become the Pious”

Fasting is a denial of the body’s physical needs. That’s why is defined as: Complete abstinence from food, drink, and intimate intercourses, before the break of the dawn till sunset, during the entire month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic year.

When Islam introduced this matchless institution, it planted an overgrowing tree of infinite virtue and invaluable products. Here is an explanation of the spiritual meaning of the Islamic Fasting:

1.It teaches man the principle of sincere Love, because when he observes the Fasting he doses it out of deep love for God. And the man who loves God truly is a man who really knows what love is.

2.It equips man with a creative sense of hope and an optimistic Outlook on life, because when he fasts he is hoping to please God and seeking His Grace.

3.It imbues man with a genuine virtue of effective Devotion, honest Dedication and closeness to God, because when he fasts he dose so for God and for His sake alone.

4.It cultivates in man a vigilant and sound conscience, because the fasting person keeps his fast in secret as well as in public. In Fasting, especially, there is no mundane. Authority to check man’s behavior or compel him to observe the fasting. He keeps it to please God and satisfy his own conscience by being faithful in secret and in public. There is no better way to cultivate a sound conscience in man.

5.It indoctrinates man in patience and Unselfishness, because when he fasts he feels the pains of deprivation but endures patiently. Truly this deprivation may be only temporary, yet there is no doubtthat the experience makes him realize the severe effects of such pains on others, who might be deprived of essentialcommodities for days or weeks or probably months together. The meaning of this experience in a social and humanitarian sense is that such a person is much quicker than anybody else in sympathizing with his fellow men and responding to their needs. And that is an eloquent expression of unselfishness and genuine sympathy.

6.It is an effective lesson in applied moderation and willpower. The person who observes his Fasting properly is certainly a man who can discipline his passionate desires and place his self above physical temptation. Such is the man of personality and character, the man of willpower and determination.

7.It provides man with a Transparent Soul to transcend. A clear mind to think and a Light Body to move and act. All this is the never failing result of carrying a light stomach.

8.It shows man a new way of wise savings and sound budgeting, because normally when he eats less quantity or less meal he spends less money and effort. And this is a spiritual semester of home economics and budgeting.

Now, someone may be tempted to raise the objection: If this is the case with the Islamic institution of Fasting, and if this is the picture of Islam in this aspect, why are the Muslims not living in a utopia? To such an objection we can only say that the Muslims have lived in and enjoyed a utopia in a certain epoch of their history. The realization of that utopia was a phenomenon of a unique achievement in the history of man we say unique, because no religion or social system other than Islam has ever been able to realize its ideals in reality. The Utopia of other religions and social systems has always remained in the category of theories or wishful thinking and dreams- sometimes clear, sometimes vague, sometimes near, most of the time far. But the Utopia of Islam was realized and put into practice and production at full capacity.

In a human and practical sense this means that the utopia of Islam can be reestablished once again right here on this earth, and that it is raised on solid foundations and practicable principles.

The reason why the Islamic utopia is not being established nowadays is manifold and easily explicable. But to restrict our discussion to the institution of Fasting we may say that many Muslims, unfortunately for them, do not observe the fast or, at best, adopt the attitude of indifference. On the other hand, most of those who observe it do not realize its true meaning and, as a result, derive very little benefit out of it or, in fact, no benefit at all. That is why the Muslims of today, on the whole, do not enjoy the real privileges of Fasting.

Again, someone else may say that what is claimed about the Islamic Fasting is also true of other types of fasting like the Jewish Passover, the Christian Lent, the Ghanaian Type, etc. Why, then, do the Muslims make these arbitrary claims about their type of Fasting?

To such a person and to all others like him we direct our appeal. It is against our religious principles and our morals as Muslims to defame any prophet of God, or reject any truth, or falsify any divine religion. Other people do feel free to commit these irresponsible offenses, but we Muslims should not, because we know that once we plunge into this low level of morality or rather immorality, we are virtually out of the ranks of Islam. We do also know that the insinuation of Fasting is an old as history itself, and that it was prescribed by God for the people before Islam as it has been prescribed by Him for the Muslims. But we do no the exact form or the proper manners in which God prescribed those other types of Fasting. However, we may, for the sake of the truth and enlightened curiosity, substantiate our contentions by comparing this institution of Islam with the other types of fasting

To be continued

Author: Alhaji Ousman M. Jah