When we choose to surrender in front of our Lord, every difficulty turns into ease and leads the person to a peaceful journey.
Ramadan: The Month of Divine Intellection
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Hijri calendar whereby month-long fasting is observed by the Muslim Ummah worldwide. It is one of the most sacred months for Muslims as the revelation of the Holy Quran upon the Prophet (s.a.w.w) through the agency of the Arch Angel Gabriel happened during this sacred period – more precisely on the Night of Al-Qadar.
It is obligatory upon every mature Muslim to keep fasting all the days from sunrise to sunset for this complete lunar month. Among the important practices during the holy month of Ramadan are recitations of the Quran, offering extra prayers, repentance, charity, and night vigils.
This month stands as the grand opportunity for the servants to return back to God Who Himself has invited all folks of mankind, regardless of their past records, sins, crimes, etc. back on His Divine Table full of facilities and grace.
Now, the question arises why God chooses this particular month for fasting? What is the principal connection between the revelation of the Holy Quran and fasting? And, how should our fasting be like actually?
There are numerous theories piled up throughout our Islamic tradition. The common most position is that fasting in Ramadan is to restrain oneself from eating anything from sunrise to the sunset for a complete month, unless a Muslim is ill or travelling, in order to obtain Taqwa ( piety, God-consciousness, fear of God).
Fasting cleans not only our body and restricts our greed of our nafs, but fasting in Ramadan is very much directed to purify and wash our souls from all ills developed from our carnal self.
The level of our Taqwa is directly related to our realization of the higher truths and our level in the way of God. The holy month of Ramadan is itself the month of the Holy Quran, which means our fasting is to train our soul, mind, and intellect so that the Quran is opened upon us; we get to realize the inner core/essence of the message put into the Holy Book.
As the sacred Quran itself says: “The month of Ramadan is one in which the Quran was sent down as guidance to mankind, with manifest proofs of guidance and the criterion. So let those of you witness it fast (in) it.”
Fasting enhances our understanding of the verses, chapters, stories, laws, etc. as directed by the Divine. The more we gain Taqwa in us, there is more guarantees for further revelation of the metaphysical meanings of this sacred text upon our intellect.
When we truly train and develop ourselves along the divine lines which this holy Ramadan is abundantly carrying along, we decode the esoteric aspects of our existence in relation with the Divine Reality ultimately.
The purpose of the revelation of the Holy Quran during this holy month was to keep us on the divinely guided track, siratul mustaqeem, perfectly as willed by our Creator. As Allah has mentioned in Surah Baqrah verse number 183: “Believers! Fasting is enjoined upon you, as it was enjoined upon those before you, so that you become God-fearing.”
Taqwa, as is the direct result of our fasting and other virtues, helps us to live a righteous, pious, and God-fearing life that has a direct bearing upon our ceaseless journey towards eternity. Each overt or covert act of life when done in the guidance of the holy scriptures leads us to closer to Allah, the Ultimate Reality which we are striving consciously or unconsciously towards.
The holy month of Ramadan accentuates this spiritual training and guidance of our souls compared to all other months of the year combined. Then, the fasting itself is not exclusively related to our abandoning of eating and drinking. Rather, each and every aspect of our existence are to be on fast, each organ of our body and every streak of our mind and soul should join this divine training. That is when we are set to gain the God-consciousness so as to tread the way of the righteous whom God Himself guides under His Divine Command.
The spiritual rewards of fasting are immense. The guidance of the Holy Quran puts us under the celestial grace which helps us realize heaven here and now. Similarly, Ramadan helps us shun all bad comportments, sinful activities, crimes, hate, greed, and every possible negative activity. This spiritual period throws innumerable opportunities for mankind to gain a blissful life; a master key to get the gates of paradise opened and the gates of hell locked not for only this month but for the rest of life and beyond.
We are very much directed to look around us to find those who are in need, and find out the people who are in the most difficult times so that we can help them in one way or the other in order to realize the Quranic spirit in practice. When God directs us to help those who are in need, it means God gives us an opportunity to experience divinity in these materialistic and agnostic times. We are reminded that we aren’t alone.
No matter how much individualism, devastation to our mutual relationships, and hatred against people have become the order of the day, we are still expected to realize the Divine Light in the middle of this darkness. Ramadan as a whole and fasting, in particular, helps us to forfend ourselves from the habits or doings which harm our soul as well as body. Our test is to keep treading the journey of our lives in the light of the Divinity.
The ultimate meaning of our life itself in this materialistic world is basically a test of how we live our lives in this world so that the next levels of our existence are decided accordingly. If we do good deeds, we will be rewarded – otherwise, our bad deeds and other rebellious acts would verily result in us tasting a bad life on this earth and the hellfire in the world to come.
Indeed the holy month of Ramadan is the foremost month to amend our deeds and perfect our lives as per the sacred text of the Quran. When we choose to surrender in front of our Lord, every difficulty turns into ease and leads the person to a peaceful journey.
Thus, the sacred month of Ramadan is the springtime for the dead hearts and rusted souls. No matter how far we have already gone away from the divine centre, no matter how sinful our character has been, we are re-invited to have a fresh bath under the ceaseless ever-flowing cascade of the divine mercy whose origin is God Himself. It is the Almighty, yes, our own Creator who guarantees our forgiveness regardless of our past records. We have to come towards the Divine Feast well before our eyes are closed forever.
Let’s come now and here in this blessed month of Ramadan and open up the holy Quran as is haq and gain our grounds back to our primordial origin!
Come, whosoever you are, this is not a house of despair.
If you have broken your vow a thousand times, we don’t care
Lover of leaving. O doubtful one:
Come whoever you are, come and yet again come.
(Sheikh Abu Sa’id Abulkhayr)