Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The Essence of the Ramadan Fast as Muslims enter the Holy Month

It is merely by the grace of Allah that Muslims are currently experiencing yet another Ramadan; a month of limitless blessings.

Fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the pillars of Islam and Muslims are obliged to observe it.

Fasting is basically an act of willing abstention from all food, drink, or both, for a period of time.

In Suratul Baqara Holy Quran Chapter 2 verse 184 Allah says "O ye who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become righteous.

God states that fasting is made obligatory in this month not to simply remain hungry from morning till the evening but so that righteousness is adopted.

A person who keeps fast should always have it in mind that fasting does not simply signify remaining hungry.

Rather such a person should engage in remembrance of God so that he can attain devotion to God and is able to forsake worldly desires. That is reciting the attributes of God at all times.

Fasting signifies that man gives up one kind of bread, which is for physical sustenance and takes the other kind of bread which is a source of contentment for the soul.

People who fast only for the sake of God and not as a mere ritual should stay engaged in hamd (glorification of Allah) tasbih (saying SubhanAllah) and tahlil (saying la ilaha illa Allah/there is no god but Allah) to have the other kind of sustenance.

Indeed, true believers should engage in hamd and tasbih during Ramadan more than before and raise their standard of worship in order to attain the beneficence of the sacred month.

The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said that fasting is a shield and it is a strong fortress against fire.

However, this is so when everything man does is for the sake of God and his night and day is spent in remembrance of God and he treads the path of righteousness.

Muslims should aim for adopting righteousness permanently and not fasting on a superficial level merely to remain hungry and thirsty.

Attainment of righteousness should be ever present in the mind every day when keeping fast in the morning and when breaking fast in the evening. We should not respond in kind to anyone being aggressive to us.

Rather, we should remain silent and simply tell them that we are fasting.

We should be mindful that there is no esteem in showing someone down and retorting back to them, rather it is in gaining pleasure of God. We should be mindful as to who is honoured by God.

Suratul Hujurat, Holy Quran chapter 49 verse 14 says "O mankind, we have created you from a male and a female. We have made you tribes and sub-tribes that you may recognize one another.

Verily, most honourable among you in the sight of Allah is the righteous among you.

Surely, Allah is All-Aware. Almighty Allah states that during Ramadan He comes very close to man so that man may seek as much beneficence as he can.

This spiritual camp lasts one month and should be fully availed of.

During this month acts of virtue for the sake of God reap manifold reward as compared to ordinary days.

It is very crucial for Muslims to rise, and attain true insight and perception of giving precedence to faith over worldly matters during this month.

These are the thought processes which will avail true benefit of Ramadan.

Fasting is not only a religious obligation but has many health benefits.

Scientifically fasting has proven very essential for the human body based on a large body of research.

According to Mark Mattson, senior investigator for the National Institute on Aging, part of the US National Institutes of Health, fasting has been shown to improve bio-markers of disease, reduce oxidative stress and preserve learning and memory functioning.

He investigated the health benefits of intermittent fasting on the cardiovascular system and brain in rodents, and has called for “well-controlled human studies” in people “across a range of body mass indexes” (J Nutr Biochem 2005;16:129–37).

Research suggests fasting reduces the risk of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, insulin resistance, immune disorders, and more generally, the slowing of the ageing process, and the potential to increase maximum life span.

Fasting promotes elimination of toxins from the body, and reduces blood sugar.

May The Almighty Allah out of His mercy see them through as they observe this fasting. Ramadan Mubarak To all Muslims.

BY: NASIRA AWAGAH, A JOURNALIST

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