The month of Rama’daan is here and you have the opportunity to make a difference in your life. This is the opportunity to fine tune your way of life to perfection; the opportunity to align your body, mind and soul to attain higher moral values that will bring you inner peace, tranquillity and success.
This is the best time to purify your body and your mind. It is the time to revitalise love, consideration and compassion; the time to strengthen your relationship with those who mean the most to you in your life. This is the time to seek new meanings in life and to get a deeper insight of life by accessing your inner and deeper self.
The ultimate goal of Rama’daan is to get peace of mind as you align your values and goals, as you balance between materialistic and spiritual life, and between this life and that of the hereafter. It is the time to engage your senses and use your faculties given to you by the Almighty Allaah to the maximum.
To do so, you must go beyond the obvious by spending quality time in critical thinking, meditation and reflection. When you capitalise on this opportunity, you will reach higher levels that will overwhelm you. The good news is that you have what it takes to get there.
As a start, you must appreciate that fasting the month of Rama’daan is one of the five pillars of Islaam. These are the foundation upon which the entire structure of Islaam is built on. These consist of the declaration of faith, establishing five daily prayers, fasting the month of Rama’daan, paying the annual charity in the form of Zakaah, and performing the pilgrimage to Makkah, known as ’Hajj. Rama’daan is an annual event and lasts for one month.
A careful analysis would suggest that acts and rituals carried out by Muslims in the month of Rama’daan directly benefit individuals who do them with sincerity and devotion with the aim to go beyond the obvious in their acts and intentions. In so doing, let us focus together on how the body, the mind and the soul can tremendously benefit in the month of Rama’daan.
Starting with the body: It has been said that “You are what you eat”. Most people have developed bad habits in choosing unhealthy diet. This is clear from the type of food or the quantity they consume. Rama’daan becomes an opportunity to free oneself from these bad habits as well as from addictions. Many people use this period to stop smoking, to stop eating unhealthy and junk food or simply to give up bad behaviours. This approach then gives the stomach and the digestive system a break. It also gives the body a chance to cleanse itself from impurities, excess fat and to get rid of weaker cells.
Fasting weakens the body to a certain extent. At the time of breaking the fast, one has to eat only little to regain strength and energy. This is a repeated phenomenon every day during Rama’daan. In this, the message is very simple. Food is a gift from Almighty Allaah. Digesting food and turning food into energy is also a miracle from Allaah who created you in perfection. If you were to be denied of food either through illness or scarcity of food, you would become weak. Therefore, make sure you look after your body by feeding it quality food. Make sure you do not consume food in excess. Do not overload your digestive system.
Another benefit for the body is experienced by those who properly fast. They have a chance to understand the meaning of hunger and the pain of starvation. As a result, they appreciate that food may not be taken for granted and that the majority of people around the world have very little of. As a result, remember the desolate and those in need by donating to them and to the orphans.
As of engaging the mind, we are told that thoughts are the seeds of every action. “You are what you think about most of the time.” The world today is suffering from a lot of negative thoughts, such as anger, self criticism and worries. These can lead to stress, depression and even a mental break down of a person who spends too much time on negative thoughts.
A lot of hospital studies show that more than 70 percent of all outpatient complaints have no physical basis. It all has to do with negative thoughts. Doctors say that negative thoughts reduce phosphorus which the brain uses as food. This result is putting more stress on thyroid and adrenal glands. Consequently, it affects the immune system, allergic reactions, metabolism and hormone production.
Muslims are therefore encouraged to purify their thoughts, words and action, more so whilst fasting. They are encouraged to think positively of themselves, of others and of their relationship with Allaah. They are encouraged to observe their habits of mind so that they develop positive ones.
Positive thoughts such as persistence, strengthening will power, controlling desires and impulsiveness, analytical thinking, developing open mindedness, listening attentively with understanding and empathy, striving for perfection, focus with accuracy, reasoning, questioning with advocacy and inquiry, searching for solutions, building hope and much more. In so doing, they focus on the positive, remain positive and give no room for negative thoughts to enter the mind.
One of the companions of the Prophet named Abu Huraira narrated: The Prophet (P.B.U.H.)said, “Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allaah is not in need of him leaving his food and drink (i.e. Allaah will not accept his fasting.)” (Narrated in the book of Albu’kaari.) When you apply this approach, and for one full month, you develop qualities of endurance and self-restraint to control anger as well as a fiery or malicious tongue.
To learn how to achieve what is mentioned above, you are encouraged to read the Holy ’Qura~n; the book of life that was sent down in the month of Rama’daan to be guidance for Mankind. Through reading the Holy ’Qur~an and through reasoning, you beging to understand your purpose in life and how to establish a relationship with Allaah, with yourself and with others. Think of the Holy ’Qur~an as the constitution for mankind, a road map to success and blue print to eternal happiness. Do not limit the Holy ’Qur~an to recitation and worship alone. Go beyond that and make it part of your day to day reading.
The first verse sent down as an inspiration was the word “Read”. Read the Holy ’Qur~an as an encyclopaedia of life and you will get many answers to the questions you have about life. Muslims and Non-Muslims who considerately read the Holy ’Qur~an with an open mind continue to testify to this fact.
Let us now focus on the spiritual development. The essence of fasting Rama’daan and the objective of every act of worship is summed up in the ’Qur~an in one word: Ta’qwa. “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may attain Ta’qwa.” (Soorat Alba’qarah, 183)
Ta’qwa is a recurring theme in the ’Qur~an and is described as a high value to have. It is being conscious of Allaah’s existence and presence in our lives. It is the proper attitude of the human towards the Almighty Allaah that denotes love, devotion, and fear. Love to the source of good and beauty that make life worth living; devotion to Allaah’s boundless wisdom and majesty; and fear of misunderstanding His message or failing in maintaining the appropriate relationship.
Fasting Rama’daan, like other religious practices in Islaam, is an occasion for pursuing moral excellence that can also be translated into excellence in social organisation and interaction. Nothing does empower a community more than the development of the moral and ethical characters of its members. The theme is that moral life based on Ta’qwa leads to societal strength and prosperity. “Whoever has Ta’qwa of Allaah, He prepares a way out for them, and He provides them from sources they never could imagine.” (Soorat A’t‘talaa’q, 65:2-3)
Fasting is not simply a time during which people deprive themselves from physical pleasures, but is an occasion to exercise moral restrain and experience spiritual growth. Rama’daan is a time of remembrance of Allaah and renewal of commitment to the high and noble values He revealed to mankind.
And nothing would give us the sense of spiritual fulfilment more than a state of Ta’qwa of Allaah -a consciousness, that Rama’daan helps us to realise. It is the time to get closer and closer to Allaah through prayers, recitation of the ’Qur~an and supplication.
In summary, Rama’daan comes with an opportunity to reorient oneself to the Creator and the natural path of goodness, purity and faithfulness. In so doing, one must not use fasting as an excuse to laze around or neglect basic duties at school and at work.
Living by the above principles requires courage and determination. So why not make this Rama’daan very special!.
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