Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, July 23rd, 2018

The Holy Month of Ramadan

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The Holy Month of Ramadan

The holy month of Ramadan is more than abstinence from food and drink during the hours of daylight. It is a time for exercising humanity, religious values and ethical code in the best possible way. In this month, Muslims are supposed to uphold human practices and nurture virtue and spirituality. It is also abstaining from evils, sin and inhumane acts and eschewing from religious and moral taboos.
Muslims should mold their souls according to religious tenets and moral standards and satisfy their spiritual needs through praying to Almighty Allah. Moreover, they will have to free their souls from worldly temptations and Devil’s yoke. In other words, it is the month of breaking the chains of slavery and purifying soul from satanic characteristics.
One must not curtail Ramadan to abstaining from food and drink. Ramadan has great philosophy and humane messages for mankind rather than sheer suffering from thirst and hunger in this hot climate. One of the reasons behind remaining hungry and thirsty, from dawn to dusk, is to feel the extreme pain and suffering of the poor who put up with for years or for the whole life. Therefore, they, especially the rich, have to help the poor. So, keeping fast is not an individual act but intends to boost the morale of compassion and humanity in a community. For instance, it will be immoral of one to live in skyscrapers and eat enormous food while his/her neighbors have no roof over their heads and suffer from starvation. Therefore, one has to nurture his/her humane feelings and emphatic and sympathetic emotions.
The message of Ramadan for warring parties is to, at least, humanize the war if not quit it. They will have to avoid spilling the blood of non-combatants, mainly women and children, the wounded in action and captives or hostages. In another term, humanitarian law, which stems from religious guidelines, must be abided by. People’s natural rights and dignity, bestowed by their Creator, must be protected under any circumstances. The Islamic radicals, who claim to practice upon a certain ideology, must decrease their militancy and suicide attacks so as to prevent from mounting number of casualties.
The aforementioned aspects of Ramadan do not mean to erode with the passage of time rather it means that acquiring humane characteristics must continue for the lifetime. Human societies should revive moral standards, in this month, and continue forever. They have to fight against both inward and outward evils and devils for their entire life. The outrageous acts of horror and terror should be ceased and people’s dignity and fundamental rights must not be violated not only during the Ramadan but forever.
Unlucky are those who restrict Ramadan only to remaining hungry and thirsty rather than learning a lesson and reforming their daily practices. The great aim of Ramadan is to bring positive changes in one’s social and individual life. One has to reform his/her behaviors within the family as well. For instance, men have to avoid treating their family members violently, especially in patriarchal societies and where traditional mindsets hold sway.
Keeping fast is also for extinguishing the flame of sexual desires so as to prevent from moral corruption in a society. Men have to train themselves not to give licentious looks at women, who walk on streets, and vice versa. This will let people enjoy their freedom in social arena. In Ramadan, holding out against passions, enduring hunger and thirst and resisting carnal desire awaken and arouse the dormant and secret inner force, provide an exercise in self-control and enable man to resist and not to succumb easily to the base desires like the outburst of lust, anger and selfishness. So, to develop this resisting power gradually one must have an occasion to fight against his desires and personal pleasures. Fast provides such an opportunity. It renders the required help in the development of this resistance. To put it succinctly, one must prove that he/she can hold the rein of their restive passions and is able to dominate their desires and lusts.
The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the soul by freeing it from harmful impurities. Ramadan also teaches Muslims how to better practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate; thus encouraging actions of generosity and compulsory charity.
Fasting trains the soul of a person. With temporary restrictions, fasting gives man perseverance, authority in will, ability of challenging with severe deprivations, and, since it controls restive instincts, it showers light and inner purity into the heart.
In brief, fasting in Islam is to train to suppress our natural appetites and shun evil. It does not mean abstaining only from food but from every kind of evil. Abstention from food is only a step towards the realization that if one has to abstain from that which is lawful, how much more he must abstain from what had been forbidden by Allah. The main object of the Islamic fast is to purify the conduct and character and get the soul charged with divine attributes of Allah in the practical life for one complete month.

Hujjattullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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