By Sadia Dehlvi
June 14, 2017
Ramzan is that special blessed month which is visiting us this time of the year.
Prophet Muhammad once called his companions and addressed them, “O people, know that a sacred month is upon you, a month that Allah has made sacred and made it obligatory to fast during days, and stand in prayer during the night.” Ramzan is that special blessed month which is visiting us this time of the year. It is the time for detachment of the world, patience and thanksgiving to the Almighty. The Quran says, “Truly in the succession of the day and the night there are signs of God.” For devout Muslims, Ramzan is the time to reflect upon God’s signs.
We grew up being taught that fasting protects from Satan. A time when the gates of paradise remain open, the devil chained and the doors of hell closed. Fasting is essentially about purification, discipline of both body and soul. Love of the world is weaned by voluntary deprivations for prohibited things are extra-prohibited, and the permissible becomes prohibited during fasting hours.
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. 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 famously said, “Patience is half of Iman, faith.”
The Prophet said that five things break the fast of a believer, lying, backbiting, slander, false oaths and lust. Ramzan is a time for charity, to be conscious of other people’s needs and to forgive those who have wronged you.
The Prophet described the best charity in Ramzan as setting things right between people who harbour acrimony with one another. Islamic scriptures are clear that those who abandon their loved ones will not enter paradise till they make peace with them.
Abu Madyan, the African mystic wrote, “One who is hungry becomes humble, one who becomes humble begs and the one who begs attains God. So hold fast to your hunger, my brother, and practice it constantly for it means that you will attain what you desire and will arrive at what you hope.” The eighth century Sufi scholar Imam Jafar Sadiq from the family of Prophet Muhammad said, “Your day of fasting should not be like ordinary days. When you fast, all your senses, eyes, ears, tongue, hands and feet must fast with you.”
Fasting has been a tradition of prophets and mystics, holding timeless wisdom. Rumi writes, “Hunger is God’s food for which he quickens the bodies of the upright.” Shaqiq Balkhi, a ninth century mystic, taught that 40 days of constant hunger could transform the darkness of the heart into light. Sahl Tustari, another early mystic, fasted perpetually and earned the title of Shaykh ul Arifin, master of the knowers. He said, “Hunger is God’s secret on the earth.” Ramzan is an extraordinary time to cleanse one’s heart of spiritual maladies and to get closer to God.
Sadia Dehlvi is a Delhi-based writer and author of Sufism: The Heart of Islam.