The Real Significance of Fasting
By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, MMNS
This article contains many quotes and the feeling of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, the late leader of the Mosque Cares. Most of us know that Imam Mohammed is credited with turning an entire nation of Muslim from a nationalist agenda, to the world-wide teachings of the Umma of Prophet Muhammad, Peace be on him.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar calendar.
The Holy Qurâ€™an enjoins upon Muslims to observe the fast consecutively for 29 or 30 days, depending on when the crescent of the new moon appears. This year the first day of fasting is slated to begin on August 11, 2010. The period must be consecutive so the full purpose of the fast may be realized. If the time period were spread out, the training that one receives for bearing with thirst and hunger would not be acquired. By observing the fast, I mean abstaining from eating, drinking, smoking, allowing anything whatsoever to enter into what is understood to be the interior of the body. Also voluntary vomiting, sexual intercourse etc. is forbidden. This is observed from the break of dawn to sunset throughout the duration of the month.
This brings us to the â€œReal Significance of Fastingâ€. ALLAH tells us that fasting will (should) bring us into more awareness of Him (GOD-Consciousness). Realizing that ALLAH is always present can only help the believer gain more self-control and thus more power over yourself and your surroundings. You will be able to save yourself from being an easy victim to the temptation that beckons us constantly. This in turn will make the practice of virtue easier and lead one nearer to the Kingdom of ALLAH. If you can voluntarily give up that which is ordinarily lawful to you, then how much easier would it be after Ramadan to abstain from that which is unlawful.
ALLAH, in His Infinite Wisdom and Mercy, realizes that everyone is not able to fast. Men and women too old and feeble to bear the hardships of a fast are exempted, but they should feed a poor or needy person every day or they may pay a soup-kitchen or masjid to feed the person for them. Small children unable to comprehend the fast are also exempt; however they are not required to feed a person or make up the fast. A woman that is pregnant or suckling a child, and there is danger of reduction in the supply of milk if she fasts, is also exempt.
These exemptions, and others, demonstrate the Mercy of Almighty ALLAH. He is our Creator and He knows us better than anyone else. He is also the Most Compassionate so He would not order us to deny ourselves food and drink if it would hurt us.
â€œâ€¦.He does not wish to put you into difficulty. He only desires for you to complete the fastâ€¦â€
It is very important to take care of your physical body during the fast. If you have a habit of sleeping late or not eating breakfast, break that habit, at least for these 30 days. Prophet Muhammad, the prayers and Peace be on him, said â€œpartake suhoor (morning meal) for there is blessing in doing so.â€ Drink as much water as you can to prevent dehydration during the day. This simply means that you will experience much less discomfort because you have consumed the water, and you are aware you have consumed it.
Also be aware of the fact that during Ramadan we can consume at least 2 meals a day. Now who cannot make it two meals a day? Some people in the world have no meals a day. Being aware that we can eat at least two meals a day gives us strength during lunchtime periods and the time between Asr and Maghrib. We are less likely to get weak because we know in a few hours we can eat and drink â€“ and we are gaining the strength ALLAH intends for us.
There are many people who have taken the Shahada during the last year and this will be their first Ramadan. Pay close attention to the above words that you may gain in knowledge.
A Blessed and generous Ramadan is wished for all. InshaALLAH. Let us strive to make this the most fruitful of our lives.
As Salaam alaikum
Al Hajj Imam Abdullah El-Amin