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Fasting is the act of abstaining from fulfilling one`s physiological needs of eating, drinking and other bodily requirements for a certain period of time. It has been in practice from centuries being the essential religious deed in almost all the religions including Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism etc. The objectives behind observing it from previous nations had been diverse but the overall aim has always been to attain the state of sanctity. Regarding this, Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran:
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.” [Quran, 2: 183]
Now talking about the Muslim point of view, fasting is observed in Ramadan, 9th month in Islamic Calendar. It was made obligatory to carry out in the second year of Hijrah (Migration). Roza (fast) is one of the vital constituents of the five Pillars of the Religion of Peace. It has been ordained upon all the Muslims to complete this holy responsibility from dawn to dusk, with a view to refrain from realizing one`s daily needs of food and water, unethical behavior and most importantly to accomplish the spiritual condition of heart and soul.
Realizing the Great Significance And Benefits Of Ramadan
The great importance of Ramadan is evident from the fact that the Holy Quran was first revealed upon the Messenger ﷺ of Allah in this month. Every year, Muslims around the globe strive for betterment in their lives through “Soum” (fasting) in the sacred month of Ramadan. They adopt a consecrated routine of morality and uprightness during this period, but it has also been commonly observed that most of its practitioners lose this routine and turn to wickedness after Ramadan, forgetting the true essence of this interval.
Just like employees of any organization are given training and development opportunities for some time, so that they could perform on their jobs more productively, same holds accurate for the divine month of Ramadan, which is the phase of acquiring a complete way of life for a Muslim. So, it is crucial to first understand the basic theme behind this act, which is the transformation and consistency of principled conduct in both thoughts and actions.
A Muslim achieves following things from this month:
- Nearness to Allah SWT through Taqwa (piety and righteousness) resulting in forgiveness of sins and attainment of His blessings
- Strengthening of one`s religious faith by keeping a state of hunger and thirst for whole day
- Consciousness of God`s many blessings which one enjoys at the time of Iftaar (breaking of Fast)
- Realization about the less fortunate people who do not have anything to eat leading to carrying out of charity
- Learning about putting up with unavoidable circumstances of life through patience and perseverance
- Reliance in One Allah is fortified after successful fasting for whole month time after being comforted at the end of every “Soum” (fast) with His countless bounties in the form of food
- The qualities of patience and gratitude adopted during this stage help a person to be patient and resolute during tragedy, and be appreciative to the Almighty and other people for in times of prosperity
- Conquering one`s anger through self control assists in dealing with many harsh situations of life and while coping with other fellow human beings
- Feelings of pride and envy are controlled and moderated with a sense of meekness and modesty towards God and other people
- Increase in tolerance and forgiveness towards others by asking the Exalted One for one`s own clemency of sins
- Development of habit of regulating and scheduling of matters by carrying out prayers and other worships at their set times
- Understanding the difference between one`s needs and wants while fasting and being appreciative of every single blessing of Allah which one tends to ignore in normal circumstances
These are some of the imperative gains that a Muslim tends to benefit from during this auspicious time of the year which add greatly to the overall significance of this sanctified month.
Planning For Ramadan 2015
As, Ramadan Kareem in 2015 is approaching fast, everyone can take advantage from the above described detail base one`s schedule during this greatest period of the Islamic Calendar on it. Ramadan is 2015 has been said to start from around 18th of June and ending nearly on 17th of July. Therefore, one must prepare for it from now in order to spend this blessed month with its due reverence and insinuation.
1) Maintaining The Dining Table
Unfortunately, most of us do not realize the exact meaning of Ramadan and get to eat a lot of food especially during Iftaar (breaking of fast). Throughout the year, those who are obese, they concentrate on their dietary plans to keep fit, but sadly when Ramadan itself offers a great time table for it, they fail to act upon it. Majority of the households keep unnecessary food items on their dining tables which are left spare in the end and nobody has the room in their bellies to eat them all. There is a great need for sustaining balance in this grave matter and necessary amount of foodstuff should be served so as to avoid wasting the blessings of Allah SWT.
i) At Sehar
The instances of Sehar, the time of eating and drinking before officially keeping the fast, are considered to be very revered in their nature. It is a period of getting great bounties of God. Anas ibn Malik (R.A) narrated the Holy Prophet ﷺ to have said:
“Take Suhoor as there is a blessing in it.” (Bukhari)
It means these moments are highly blessed and hold tremendous amount of glad tidings from the Gracious God, so one must also keep on asking for its forgiveness and seek Allah`s pleasure by taking His Name at this time.
Now let us look at some of the essential food items to have during Sehar this time around:
- Drinking a lot of water: Ramadan in 2015 will be held in summer time in most of the regions of the world. So, having 5 to 6 glasses of water during Sehar would fulfill one`s many needs of successful body functioning especially in flow of blood in body organs
- Since days are longer in summer, therefore, one needs to have vigorous rations like egg, milk, fruits, cheese, yogurt, cereals and wheat bread etc. to give one essential quantity of energy throughout the day
- Avoid in-taking sodium rich foodstuff that causes dehydration during day time like canned meat, and soups etc.
One must also not sleep through this time. If one does not have enough time to eat food to fill its need, it can take help from just drinking water as the Messenger ﷺ of God has said:
“The pre-dawn meal is blessed, so do not neglect it even if you only take a sip of water. Verily, Allah and the angels pray for those who have pre-dawn meals.” (Ahmad)
Sehar is a means of getting purity of mind and soul through getting Allah`s blessings. Thus, in Ramadan 2015, every Muslim should avail the opportunity to eat and drink in this hallowed occasion of the late night.
ii) At Iftaar
After a daylong self-restraint from food, water and committing wrongdoings, Iftaar, the starting instance of eating and drinking is an extremely sanctified phase of Ramadan. Rasulullah ﷺ has advised His followers to be quick at breaking the fast as it is the opening of a lot of favors from Allah SWT. Narrated by Sahl bin Sad (R.A):
“The people will remain on the right path as long as they hasten the breaking of the fast.” (Bukhari)
It means that hasting, which is generally not a prescribed action to do in Islam, has been only recommended in availing the great bounties of the Almighty Lord in terms of breaking one`s fast as quickly as possible.
Now let us look at some of the necessary foodstuff one must have during this most promising instance of Ramadan 2015:
- Starting consumption of food with Dates, as it is the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ to do so. If it is not available, one is advised to drink water instead. Both of these items provide instant energy and help in regulating the working of body organs
- Saying No to overeating: eating less and in a well planned way. Sudden in-take of a lot of foodstuff at once might lead to causing disturbances in the metabolism of the body
- Eating food rich in proteins and carbohydrates like brown rice, fish, beans, chicken, vegetables or salad etc. in a balanced fashion
- Avoiding ingestion of canned meat and other stuff from stores, rather consume home made provisions to carry on a well managed dietary plan
Therefore, maintaining a sound nutritional arrangement during Iftaar this year will definitely be useful in keeping one`s body fit, and keeping away from carrying extra weight.
2) Performing The Obligatory And Other Religious Actions
“Soum” itself is an essential and must do deed that should be accomplished by every Muslim, but one must not ignore other compulsory acts as they are meant to be carried out at any cost. Unfortunately, most of us do not take care of this serious matter and skip pass our other holy duties by taking fasting as an excuse for it. Accomplishing such actions in Ramadan is even more beneficial than normal days as it is vastly consecrated period of the Islamic Calendar. The necessary spiritual acts to be performed in Ramadan 2015 must include:
i) Offering Daily Prayers and Taraweeh
Salah is second and the most important religious act to do after fulfillment of one`s faith. There is no leniency for leaving any of the five obligatory daily prayers. Apart from that one must also perform Namaz e Taraweeh during this holy month, as Rasulullah ﷺ is reported by Abu Hurairah (R.A) to have said regarding Salat e Taraweeh:
“Whoever observes night prayer in Ramadan as an expression of his faith and to seek reward from Allah, his previous sins will be blotted out.”(Muslim)
Although it is the Sunnah act of the Holy Prophet ﷺ, but as the above mentioned Hadith suggests, offering Taraweeh prayer results in great bounties of God and His Mercy. Therefore, in Ramadan 2015, every Muslim should try to take advantage from this highly revered and blessed Practice of Hazrat Muhammad ﷺ in order to benefit from its blessings.
ii) Performing Nafl (Non Obligatory) Prayers
One must also take advantage from this consecrated time of the year to offer Nafl (supererogatory) prayers as rewards of these religious deeds done in this month are doubled in their proportion and are said to be equal to Fard (compulsory) acts according to Prophetic narrations.
iii) Conducting Zakah (Charity)
As, Ramadan is the best time period to realize basic needs of the poor, therefore, during Ramadan 2015, one should take this opportunity to help out the deprived people by fulfilling the Islamic duty of Zakah. One would not only be able to earn more Ajar (returns for good deeds) from Allah SWT but also would purify its wealth through this religious obligation.
iv) Reading the Holy Quran
Recitation of Furqan e Hameed is a highly informative as well as blessed action to do. It guides mankind in every walk of life. But reading in the month of Ramadan is even more emphasized according to Prophetic traditions:
“Jibreel used to come to the Prophet (PBUH) every night in Ramadan, and study the Quran with Him.” (Bukhari)
Therefore, everyone of us should try to recite the Holy Quran everyday of this coming Ramadan in 2015 to not only fulfill the Sunnah of the Messenger ﷺ of God but also earn many of the bounties of Allah SWT by understanding and glorifying the Heavenly Verses.
v) Carrying Out Salaatul Tasbeeh
One more Nafl (non compulsory) prayer that is the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ should also be performed at least once during this time as it results in forgiveness of past wrongdoings.
vi) Finding Lailatul Qadr(the Night of Power)
The Holy Quran was sent down on 27th of Ramadan on the Messenger ﷺ of God. Hazrat Muhammad ﷺ directed all the Muslims to search for Shab e Qadr (the Night of Power) in the last Ashra (Part) of this sacred month. Narrated by Hazrat A`isha (R.A):
“Look for Lailatul Qadr in odd nights of last tens of Ramadan.” (Bukhari)
It was again quoted by Hazrat A`isha (R.A):
“As much Rasulullah PBUH tried (ibadat) in the last Ahra (Ten Days) of Ramadan, He PBUH did not try in any of the Ashra”. (Muslim)
Hazrat Aisha (R.A) asked the Holy Prophet ﷺ, “What should I do when I find it?” The Messenger ﷺ replied, “Recite this:”
“ALLAH HUMMA INNAKA A’FUVUN TOHIB BUL AFVA FA’AFU ANNI” (Tirmidhi)
Translation: “O Allah! You are the Forgiver and You like forgiving so forgive me”
Therefore, one must try it very best to supplicate to Allah SWT in last ten days of Ramadan 2015 so as to find the highly blessed night of Qadr in it.
3) Other Necessary Habits And Customs to Follow
Some of the secondary yet highly imperative acts to take care about during Ramadan 2015 include:
i) Keeping Calm and Cool Head: Most of the Muslims while fasting lose their conscious and start quarreling with each other on pity matters. So, there is a need for making resolution to avoid this act as Rasulullah ﷺ has greatly stressed on staying away from anger. Acting upon this instruction would also result in carrying out of Soum in the rightful manner.
“Fasting is a shield – one who fasts does not use obscenities or act in an ignorant manner. If someone argues with you or insults you, say: ‘I am fasting, I am fasting’.” (Bukhari)
Thus, one should keep this Saying of the Apostle ﷺ of God while interacting with others and evade from annoyance.
ii) Avoiding Sleeping Excessively: Instead of staying in the state of slumber all the time especially during day time, one should learn Quran and offer Nafl prayers besides the obligatory ones to avail this auspicious time of the year in the best way.
iii) Inviting others to Iftaar: One should take this opportunity to invite relatives and especially the poor neighbors to call them to Iftaar at its home to not only earn Allah`s blessings but also fulfill others` rights.
iv) Doing Moderate Exercise: Most of Muslims get obese during Ramadan and make an excuse of not being able to take exercise in gymnasium due to fasting. It is not a sufficient enough reason; rather one could still perform exercise in this month by exerting less strength.
So, to conclude, it is necessary to make a well balanced plan for the upcoming Ramadan in 2015 from right now. One should keep all the above mentioned guidelines and instructions and add more to them by its own choice to benefit from this most promising and sacred month of the Islamic Calendar in the best possible way.