By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi
The welcoming words “Ramzan mubarak” bring feelings of both joy and caution. On one hand we are eager to rejoice in God’s grace, infinite mercy and blessings throughout the month, on the other we have to be meticulously careful of passing the divine exams by shunning all evil and enjoining the good.
Keeping fasts during Ramzan is aimed at providing Muslims with an abundant opportunity to spiritually gear up to live a God-conscious life. First and foremost is the mental preparation and spiritual readiness for Ramzan. This is only achieved by exploring the multi-faceted objective of fasting as enunciated in the Quranic injunction: “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may become righteous.”
Clearly, the ultimate purpose of Ramzan is attaining righteousness and God-consciousness (taqwa). Merely abstaining from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset is not the true essence of Ramzan. It is rather a time for inner reflection, devotion to God, self-control and self-training to be a better and more humane person.
However, Muslims are required to carry on with this pursuit throughout the year, not just during the sacred month of Ramzan. The most paramount importance of Ramzan is that it is the Islamic month in which the Holy Quran was sent down to the Prophet Mohammad. It was revealed as a divine message from the Almighty God to all mankind.
Therefore, one billion Muslims all over the world, who believe in the divinity of the Quran, share great joy and gusto in celebrating this occasion. They reduce their mundane affairs to the minimum during this month and actively engage in the worship, particularly recitation (tilawat) of the Quran. For Ramzan and the Quran are closely connected.
Most notably, Ramzan induces us to do two virtuous things: benevolence and generosity. According to a tradition (hadith), Prophet Mohammad was the most generous of the men; and he was the most generous during the month of Ramzan when the angel Gabriel visited him every night and recited the Quran to Him. During this period, the generosity of the Prophet waxed faster than the rain bearing wind.
Significantly enough, Muslims celebrate the month of Ramzan not only as a religious festival, but also as a social and inter-community occasion. It is their tradition during Ramzan that they invite one another as well as friends from other faiths to break the fast together by sharing their food, thus communicating around the table of interfaith friendship and dialogue. The iftar is held consecutively on every marked day of Ramzan, particularly every Friday. Thus, this month is deeply cultural and a beautifully communitarian experience, too.
Ramzan is also a beautiful a countdown to Id-ul-Fitr, the greatest festival of Muslims. On Id-ul-Fitr, Ramzan winds down, leaving the eyes awaiting its return next year.
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is an alim (classical Islamic scholar) and a Delhi-based writer. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org