Once more, the honourable guest, Holy Ramadan is here. The word “Ramadan” comes from the Arabic root word denoting “scorching heat”, “parched thirst”, “intense dryness”,”sun-baked ground”, etc. Thus, Ramadan is so called to indicate the burning sensation in the stomach as a result of hunger and the dryness of the throat due to thirst.Ramadan also “scorches out” the sins of the Muslim as if burning it to the ground. In another sense, the hearts and souls soak up the spiritual warmth of Ramadan, just as the sand and stones are receptive to the sun’s heat.
Heat is also used as a medical treatment to remove and drive out toxins, cold and other harmful substances from the body. In a similar manner, the heat of Ramadan will expunge and “dry out” greed, arrogance, indifference and other spiritual maladies from the soul of man. Again, intense heat is vital to all manufacturing processes as metals, plastic, glass, wood, etc. are all moulded into various products under scorching temperatures. Similarly, the heart of man is cast into a beautiful spiritual mould in the heat of the crucible of Ramadan, thereby becoming a wonderful receptacle of piety and righteousness!
Tremendous benefits of fasting
Fasting is not a mindless exercise of torturing the body by remaining hungry and thirsty, but is extremely meaningful and produces tremendous benefits for the fasting person, some of which are summarised as follows:
• Increased Ibadah and devotions in Ramadan make a Muslim feel closer to the Creator, and generate appreciation for all His provisions; food, water, etc. as a boon and blessing from Him.
• By becoming more charitable in this month, feelings of generosity, soft heartedness and good-will towards others are developed. The Prophet Muhammad r was more generous than the fast blowing wind in this month.
• Through the self-control and discipline of fasting, a Muslim develops tolerance, patience, contentment, good manners, good speech and good habits.
• Ramadan causes a change in life’s routine, which results in healthy lifestyle habits –
particularly with regard to diet, eating habits and less smoking.
• Because fasting is a collective activity, it creates a sense of belonging to a huge global family of Believers and strengthens the bonds of family ties and Islamic brotherhood on a local level as well.
First hand sympathy with the poor and hungry
One of the outstanding benefits of fasting is that a Muslim experiences hunger and thirst, and thus personally identifies with the plight of the hungry and poor, thereby generating a real and intense degree of sympathy and concern for the underprivileged who have so little to eat everyday. This in turn makes Muslims reach out to the poor and render them all forms of assistance.One who does not from time to time experience this hunger first hand, cannot truly empathise with the poor and hungry and this has a bearing on the effectiveness of any relief programmes operated by such people.
Ramadan is a very special month, but it is important for the benefits of this month to remain throughout the year. The spirit of piety and spiritual elevation experienced in Ramadan should stay on during our “normal” lives in the eleven months. And when the spiritual batteries begin to weaken, again comes the next Ramadan to give a full charge! Ramadan Kareem to one and all.