The Glorious Qur’an clearly states:
“And your fasting is better for you if you understand”. (Surah Al Baqrah: 184)
From the various verses of the holy Qur’an related to fasting, it is patently clear that the ultimate purpose of fasting in Islam is the attainment of righteousness or God-consciousness (taqwa) and achivement of divine pleasure. Merely abstaining from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset is not the true essence of fasting. It is rather focused on inner reflection, selfless devotion, self-restraint and ego-training to be a better and more humane person.
Therefore, the believers are required to carry on with an inclusive spirit of Saum (fasting) throughout the year, not just during the sacred month of Ramadan. Here are the different distinguishing aspects of Ramadan that we may keep in view to gainfully benefit from the harvest of this holy month:
Ramadan & Qur’an:
Ramadan and Qur’an are closely connected. The most paramount importance attached to Ramadan is due to the the Holy Qur’an being sent down to Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) during this sacred Islamic month. Qur’an was revealed as a divine communication from the Almighty Allah to all mankind, not just the people of Arabia.
Therefore, billions of believers all over the world, who believe in the divinity of the Qur’an, share great joy and festivity in celebrating this occasion. They reduce their mundane affairs to the minimum during this month and proactively engage in the acts of worship, particularly recitation (tilawat) of the holy Qur’an.
Ramadan & Righteousness
Keeping fasts during Ramadan is actually aimed at training and preparing the believers for Taqwa (Righteousness). It brings an abundant opportunity to spiritually gear up to live a life full of God-consciousness. This is extremely important to bear in mind for the spiritual beneficiaries of Ramadan. One can only achieve it by exploring the ultimate objective of fasting as stated in the Qur’an:
“O believers! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for the people before you so that you may become righteous”. (Surah Al Baqrah: 183)
Ramadan & Interfaith Relations:
Significantly, it has been a rich tradition of Muslims in India to observe the month of Ramadan not only as a sacred Islamic month, but also as a social and intercommunity occasion. It is their tradition during Ramadan that they invite one another as well as friends from other faith traditions to break the fast together by sharing their food, and thus communicating around the table of interfaith friendship and dialogue. The interfaith Iftar is usually held consecutively on every marked day of Ramadan, particularly every Friday. Thus, this month is deeply cultural and beautifully communitarian experience, too.
Ramadan & Repentance:
The sacred month of Ramadan bring the believers feelings of both elation and caution. On one hand, we become eager to rejoice in Allah’s attributes of Rahmat and Maghfirat (divine grace and infinite mercy and forgiveness) throughout the month, but on the other, we also need to be more careful of passing the divine exams by way of repentance and return to Allah. Repentance in Ramadan is a great opportunity. We must be careful lest Ramadan passes by without our repentance, utilizing the season in seeking Allah’s forgiveness. The holy Prophet (PBUH) said: “May Allah humble the one who lives long enough to witness Ramadan and passes the month without being forgiven.” (At-Tirmidi)