Blessings of Ramadan

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Ramadan is the ninth month in the Muslim lunar calendar. Healthy adult Muslims fast in Ramadan from dawn until dusk. This includes abstaining from drinking, eating, immoral acts, and anger. Other acts of worship such as prayer, reading the Quran, and charity are also encouraged during the holy month. Ramadan is a special time of year, a time when Muslims take a step back from their daily routines and focus on community, charity, fasting, and prayers. But at times it is felt that the true spirit of the month is lost in the rush for iftar and the daylong expression of anger, intolerance, and indifference that we notice around us. The spirit of Ramadan goes far beyond mere fasting. It is an occasion for deep introspection and building capacities for self-actualization. It is not only a month of fasting but abstinence from all things that have a negative influence on one’s personality. Since character-building is a long, hard, and continuous process, Ramadan comes back every year as a reminder and re-enforcer. We should not be under the false impression that our spiritual development is taking place while our life goes on as usual. The Quranic term for the Ramazan fast is ‘soum’, which means to control one’s desires and discipline life within the limits prescribed by Allah. ‘Saim’ is the person who stops himself from treading the wrong path by controlling himself. It is a month of self-control and supplication, caring and benediction, repentance, and sanctity. With belief and faith, we all are conscious of the fact that the true aim of fasting is to weaken a person’s dependence on material things and strengthen his or her spiritual resolve.

It was in Ramadan that the Quran was revealed, a Book that He has called Furqan — that which distinguishes between truth and falsehood. Ramadan helps us to appreciate and understand this great revelation. God’s instructions to us to refrain from fulfilling our basic needs for certain hours of the day are meant to assist us in developing piety and a deeper realization of what the Quran means for us in this life and for the next. The main aspects of fasting during Ramadan include submission to God, by whose orders we refuse to eat or drink even if we wish to. This curbing of our natural desires should bring home the realization that we are under His control and submit to Him for something as simple and instinctive as feeding our physical selves. If we are submitting to Him, we must also place restrictions upon our anger, hatred, greed, profiteering, cruelty, etc, in short, any wrongdoing that we will be answerable for when we face Him in the afterlife.

It is said that Satan and all evil forces are chained during this month; but it is also sadly true for our society that crime, thefts, robberies, murders, hoarding, and profiteering assume very high proportions. Perhaps our good deeds and intentions are not righteous enough to defeat the forces of evil and vice. During this month and at all times, Muslims should strive to protect themselves from evil and adopt the divine laws as a habit. Ramadan brings unlimited blessings, happiness, festivities, and spiritualties with it, but here in Pakistan, it also comes along with the high prices of daily food items. We are well aware of the problems of poverty and the fate of the working class in our society. The prices of daily food items increased tenfold during Ramadan, and people are unable to afford the food items needed to break their fast. The government needs to take some serious action to control inflation in Ramazan and to reduce the burden on people who fast. The private and government sectors should work together to cope with this situation. Moreover, the issue of the marginal price differences between the open markets and Ramazan bazaars needs to be highlighted.

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