In accordance with the Messenger of Allah’s (peace and blessings of Allah be with him) instructions regarding Ramadhan, let us analyse what we stand to achieve in the month of Ramadhan.
The Qur’an, in Surah Al-Baqara, states the purpose of fasting: “Oh, you believers! Fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become pious & God fearing.’ Chapter 2 verse 183.
We learn that fasting was ordained so that we may become pious. Late brother Khurram Murad in his booklet on Ramadhan compares the blessings of Ramadhan to rain. Just as rain water is retained by lakes, ponds, rivers & boulders in different capacities, our share of the blessings of Ramadhan too are in accordance to our efforts & abilities.
Merely by remaining hungry and thirsty for ten to fourteen hours a day can not instil piety in any one. Therefore fasting is not just shunning food and drink for a stipulated time each day, but along with it one must make conscious efforts to shun all that is declared as undesirable by our Deen.
In a hadith the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be with him) said, ‘If a person does not avoid false talk and false conduct during fasting, Allah does not care if he abstains from his food and drink. Quoted both by Imam Bukhari & Imam Muslim.
Fasting persons’ sins are forgiven but the condition is that he fasts with Iman [faith] and Ihtisab [Accountability]. These conditions ensure that fasting is not merely a mechanical act but is undertaken in the right spirit too. In a Hadith we are told that in Ramadhan every voluntary acts earns the reward of an obligatory act and the reward for obligatory acts could be increased to seventy times more than it earns in any other month .This inspire us to do more and more good deeds during the month of Ramadhan.
For a period of one whole month we Muslims try our best to please the Almighty. Efforts are made to offer voluntary prayers like the Tahajjud and Taraweeh, spend time in devotional confinement in the mosque by undertaking Itikaf. We also purify our wealth by giving Zakat and perform other charity also.
All these efforts undertaken by a Muslim to achieve Allah’s pleasure in this month are in keeping with the spirit of Ramadhan. Unfortunately these often evaporate on the eve of Eid as we consider ourselves liberated after a month long struggle.
A Muslim ought never to feel liberated from the bonds of subservience to the Almighty. This tendency creeps in because we fail to correctly perceive the purpose of fasting. We have a short term goal to fasting lasting only for a month, some go a little further and fast keeping in mind the aforesaid Hadith – shunning evil, and doing good.
Some remain hungry and thirsty not even bothering to make an effort to be punctual and regular in the five regular prayers. If we have risen beyond this stage and comprehended the second level and are fasting with the right spirit then let us move a step ahead and attain some long term and everlastings benefits from this month of fasting.
Let us first give up the practice of immersing ourselves in marketing and wandering and wasting our time in unnecessary things and wrong practices followed especially on the eve of Eid. Let us remember what the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be with him) said about this night.
Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah said ‘On the last night of Ramadhan my Ummah is granted pardon’. The companions [May Allah be pleased with them] asked. ‘Is this the night of Power [Lailatul Qadr]?’ The Messenger replied, ‘No the worker receives his wages when he completes his work’ [By Musnad Ahmed]
Hence for one more night we should queue up at the door step of our Lord seeking reward for all our efforts and asking him to guide us in the year that follows. Consider how unfortunate a labourer would be if after toiling for the whole month he fails to make appearance to collect his due wage. The bulk of Muslims present a similar picture when they forget to present themselves for the night prayer or Tahajjud or the Fajr on the eve of Eid. Instead they are busy in the crowded market looking for meagre worldly things wasting their precious time. This is our preoccupation on the eve of Eid but often the next day is spent on even more frivolous activities which are contrary to the teachings of Islam.
In life when we undertake a training course we intend to implement what we have learnt and do not put aside what we have been taught and go back on the ways of the pre-training period. Similarly when we have tuned ourselves to praying regularly and punctually in Ramadhan, keep away from films, songs, back biting and other evils, let us strive to maintain this level of goodness. In doing so we would be retaining the effects of Ramadhan. Each Ramadhan would then add to our piety and every Ramadhan would then elevate us as a Muslim.
To achieve this it is necessary that we consciously and seriously promise ourselves that we would fast with the intention of attaining Piety, Taqwa as described by Caliph Omar is to walk through a thorny terrain in such a manner that our clothes are not caught up in the thorns around. We should know that this caution is not required only for a month but for the entire life time.
Late Maulana Abul Hassan Ali Nadwi, in his booklet [Do Ramadhan] says that there are two kinds of fasting [Ramadhan]. The first one we all know very well and are quite familiar with, while the second one we always tend to forget i.e. a Muslim’s entire life is a long and arduous fast. It too has Dos and Donts like the fast of Ramadhan. Abiding by the Dos and Donts of Ramadhan fast train us to practise similar restrain in our lives.
Every day we break our fast with Dates, Zamzam, or water, while the life long fast promises a much more lucrative drink – The Water from the lake of Kausar, served by our beloved Messenger of Allah himself. In order to enjoy that hospitality we must carry forward the restrain and discipline we have practiced in the Ramadhan into our entire life. This is the long term goal of Ramadhan. May we all understand this and work towards achieving it! Ameen.
The fast in Ramadhan ends at sunset everyday but the long fast of life would end with the sun setting on life [death]. It is the hope and desire of every Muslim that the Iftar of this life long fast is by the goblet from the Kausar held out by the Messenger himself. However, in order to achieve that and be successful we have to follow strictly the teachings of our Deen and Sunnah of our Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be with him). Spreading the words and commands of Allah should be our mission and purpose of our lives. Let’s take care that this fast is not invalidated so that we too get our share of the Iftar and hospitality awaiting the believers.