A kind of calm descends as the month of Ramadan arrives. The feeling of being blessed and sharing of one’s blessings with others pervades. It is a time of giving, sharing and helping others. It is a month that connects families, communities and Muslims the world over.
Ramadan, this month of fasting, is meant to nurture and polish many positive qualities within us through a form of worship that demands absolute submission to the Will of Almighty Allah. The month of Ramadan cleanses our spiritual and physical systems, and increases our faith and love for our Supreme Creator, as well as for our fellow human beings.
The virtues of Ramazan are well known to all Muslims, but it’s always good to be reminded of them once again as we start to welcome this month. To have an understanding of the blessings of this month, here is a hadith narrated by Abu Huraira: Rasulullah (s) said, “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the Heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.” [Bukhari]
And it was in this month that the Holy Quran was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on the majestic night known as Lail-a-tul Qadar (the Night of Power). This night is described in the Quran as “better than a thousand months” (97:3).
There are few beautiful lessons reinforced during this blessed month that help to make us better Muslims and human beings the rest of the year too. Let’s quickly glance at what these are.
Submission to Allah’s Will:
We submit ourselves completely to the command of Allah by following the guidelines for fasting, and not even trying to cheat when alone, because we know that Allah is always with us and even knows what is in our hearts.
If we just remember this the rest of the year and avoid all the things we should not be doing – because they are simply wrong or not liked by God – we can keep away from doing wrong things and become better people.
Fasting is the ultimate test of our patience, especially in these long and hot summer months. We control our thirst and hunger, and patiently wait for the sun to go down, thereby building up our patience and control. By controlling the most basic of urges, we become better at controlling other urges, especially those that tempt us towards doing wrong things.
The one moment when we become really, really thankful to Allah from the depth of our heart and every pore of our body is when we break the fast at sunset. When the first drops of a cool drink and a morsel of food go down our throat, we instinctively say “Alhamdulilah!”
We then automatically become appreciative of the countless other blessings that we have been given by God, things that we otherwise take for granted.
When we become thankful for what we have, we also become aware of others who are less fortunate than us and have far less than we do. This makes us reach out and help the physically weak, old and ill, the poor and the needy, and all those whom we can help in anyway. We also tend to do more charitable work during this month, both to help others and to please Allah.
Bonding and connection:
The different acts of worship during Ramadan reinforce our connection to Allah and, by eating together at Sehr and Iftar, we increase the bond between family and friends.
The rest of the year, not all family members eat together or in such a festive manner, but during Ramadan, everyone sits around the dining table and enjoys the special spread the whole month. Iftar parties and giving Iftar to neighbours and even total strangers fosters harmony, brotherhood and peace. Grudges and differences are also overcome this way.
Doing things at their correct time and following a strict schedule for the whole month automatically makes us more organised and punctual in every aspect of our lives. It also teaches us to maintain discipline and order in our lives which we should try and continue doing the rest of the year.
Let these lessons of Ramadan remain with us for the rest of the year till it is time to welcome this blessed month once again.
A version of this article was originally published in Dawn, Young World, May 27th, 2017