By M Aslam
Jun 09, 2016
Roza or fasting in Islam is an elaborate process stretching over a period of one month every year. It essentially means that a person observing fast will not only observe abstinence from eating and drinking but will get into a sublime state of mind in order to develop positive feelings. To achieve this one has to restrain oneself from listening, speaking, hearing or thinking negatively about others. The Qur’an says,
“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint.”
Fasting is a tool for reconstruction of our spiritual faculties. It instils the essence of consciousness of the Creator in the devotee's heart. It also instils moral courage and guides the seat of our emotions on moral issues. Since fasting helps in conditioning the heart, soul and body, it leads to tranquillity and calmness in the face of adversity. This helps one become patient. Patience is the pinnacle of discipline and spiritual suppleness. Jalaluddin Rumi said: 'Have patience, for that is true worship'.
One needs to experience Ramzan to understand its social significance in its totality. It is an elaborate process of self-purification. The expectation is that if one passes through this process of self-purification for a period of one month, its impact will remain for the remaining 11 months, after which this process will be repeated. Physical fasting alone does not have any social or religious significance.
Sociologically speaking, fasting is an expression of solidarity with the poor. It is manifested through the concept of charity, neighbourhood and hospitality. Apart from helping to purify body and soul through the process of self-purification, addressing these areas of social significance are bound to help people to shed all those things, which are not socially desirable.
Charity includes helping the poor through giving of alms. It is said that if one gives away even a small amount during this month, he will get 70 times more blessings in return. We should also take care not to forget the social significance of iftar gatherings.
The practice of the concept of neighbourhood is equally important. It has wider connotations than its literal meaning. The Prophet had said, “One should behave decently with the whole of humanity and foremost among them is your neighbour.” If one connects it with concept of fasting, an immediate implication is that a true Muslim cannot see any human being hungry, even if it means having to sacrifice ‘Iftar’ and to continue fasting for the next day. Similarly, a true Muslim cannot see a human being in pain or misery. It applies to both one’s immediate neighbourhood as well as entire humanity. What we are witnessing around us in the name of Islam is not Islam. In essence, Islam in general and ‘Roza’ in particular teaches a person to address human concerns and values.
Muslims need to demonstrate through observance of ‘Roza’ (in its totality), Islam’s relevance in today’s world. Let us make clear once and for all that any type of violence has no place in Islam. One of the greatest advantages of observing the month of fasting is that its true observance inculcates in a person the habit of speaking the truth, remaining patient, practising the concept of hospitality and neighbourhood and give charity to the needy.
If followed in letter and spirit, a person will certainly become a true ‘Insan’ and will be bestowed with God’s blessings and protection, which we all need so desperately in these turbulent times.