On Saturday, 2nd April, Muslims in The Gambia joined a billion others around the world to begin fasting in the month of Ramadan. Allah commanded in the Qur’an: “Oh you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed to those before you, so that you may attain taqwa (God-consciousness).
Muslims are told to fast in the blessed month of Ramadan so that we may attain God-consciousness. This is the purpose of fasting. In linguistic terms, the Qur’anic word for fasting, ‘siyaam’ means ‘to abstain’. So in this month, we abstain from many permissible things in which we would have been otherwise indulged.
During fasting, we are commanded by Allah to leave the halal things. Food, drink and inter marital relations. When not fasting, we usually find ourselves indulging in these pleasures and blessings. Yet, due to the love we have for Allah in our hearts, we follow His command to abstain from these delights for a certain part of the day.
Ramadan is the time to develop a love for and connection with Allah, our Lord, without Whom, we are nothing. So let us turn to Him fully for the next 27 or 28 days and allow the blessings of this month to enter our souls in a manner which leaves our souls yearning for their Maker even after Ramadan.
In essence, this is God-consciousness. The thought of Allah never leaves our mind and so we are protected from committing much wrong. If we attain this level of God-consciousness, we will, insha Allah, attain the purpose of Ramadan. The Prophet said “poor is the one who leaves Ramadan the way he was before”.
The effect of Ramadan should be visible upon us in the same manner the morning dew rests upon the flower petal. It allows the flower to twinkle and after absorbing it, the flower is revitalised. Such is Ramadan. Its blessed effects will allow us to shine, and if we absorb the goodness of this month into our souls, our souls will also be revitalised.
We can strengthen our connection with Allah in this most blessed of months by keeping a good fast and reading and re-reading the Qur’an. Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an. Imam Abu Hanifah was said to have read the Qur’an 61 times in this holy month: once in the morning of each day, once in the evening, and once in the taraweeh. In this age of distraction, few can match the ocean lucidity of Imam Hanifah but we can dedicate a portion of the day to reading the Qur’an.
We can also strengthen our connection with Allah by engaging in self-reflection. We can spend sometime – perhaps after asr, or after fajr, or before going to sleep – to focus our attention on our Creator, and think about our day. How did we spend it? What did we do? Did we fall short in any area of obedience? Did we do anything which would make our Lord unhappy? Did we do anything which may bring happiness to our Lord?
In whichever manner we choose to do it, some aspects of self-reflection should be there. This will improve our connection with Allah. By putting ourselves to account by our own selves, we can see where we are lacking and where we can improve. And this will allow us to inculcate the characteristic of taqwa within our souls.
This is a month in which we should engage in heightened devotion and worship. We should endeavor to speak only the truth, give out alms, visit the sick, and engage in communal work. The Prophet said “when Ramadan arrives, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of hell are locked up and devils are put in chains”.
We can create our little paradise here on earth in this month by helping out struggling family members, neighbours and those in the wider community. As Gandhi jii said, if not for the greed, there’s enough for everybody’s need. Ramadan Mubarak to all our blessed readers and patrons.