By Sadia Dehlvi
Jul 09, 2013
The month of Ramzan is like an honourable guest in the homes of Muslims, a gift from Allah. Ramzan is a wonderful opportunity to turn back towards God, turn away the trivia of the world and say, “Allah hu Akbar,” or “God is great”. Ramzan is a month of reflection and contemplation, a time when God generously opens His gates of mercy, providing us with special opportunities for repentance. The story of mankind in Islam begins with the story of Adam who presents us the possibility of erring and the possibility of turning back to God through repentance. After forgiveness, God appointed Adam His messenger. Adam’s entry into Earth is a sign that God’s mercy takes precedence over His wrath.
In this sacred month, Muslims are required to be constantly conscious of God, getting rid of rancour, vanity, anger and falsehood. Islamic scholars say that one should be extremely vigilant in speech, examine shortcomings and seek ways to rectify them.
Ramzan affirms the two foundations of Islamic principles, Sabr and Shukr, patience and gratitude. Fasting is about patience during the day and spending the nights in gratitude for God’s generosity and compassion. The Quran informs that the succession of the day by night is a sign of God. Fasting makes us reflect on the extraordinary nature of the cosmos, enabling us to be humbled by the limitless signs of the Divine.
The Quran defines patience as one of the paths that lead people from the shadows of darkness to light. The Quranic principle is that light is real, while shadows exist purely because of light. A heightened spiritual awareness through fasting enables the seeker to see the created world as a shadow of the “One Light”. Patience requires putting the other person before oneself, and it is people with these qualities who attain a high spiritual rank with God. Prophet Muhammad said, “Patience is half of Imaan (faith).”
Ramzan is a time for intensive worship, reading the Quran and purifying one’s behaviour by engaging in charity and other good deeds. It is an opportunity to reconcile with friends and family. Islamic scriptures say that that those who abandon their loved ones will not enter paradise till they make peace with them. Getting together for Iftar meals is encouraged as a blessing so that families and friends make time for each other.
Sadia Dehlvi is a Delhi-based writer and author of Sufism: The Heart of Islam.