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School of Islamic Sufism®
The holy Qur’an cites the following verses about fasting and the month of Ramadan: “Ramadan is the (month) in which the Qur’an was sent down to you, as a guide to mankind, and clear signs for guidance and salvation.” Holy Qur’an (2:185) “Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may (learn) self-restraint.” Holy Qur’an (2:183)
Ramadan is the month of purification, self-discipline, and devotion toward the remembrance of God. Fasting is a principle of Islam and a key Sufi practice. Fasting means abstaining not only from food, drink, smoking and other cellular desires, but also abstaining from pollutants of the mind and soul. The fasting of Ramadan is a time of purification, requiring self-discipline and devotion to the Divine Beloved.
Sufism teaches that without presence of heart and the right intention, all actions become meaningless and trivial rituals. This is also true for fasting. Professor Nader Angha, the Sufi Master of the M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi® School of Islamic Sufism®, has illuminated the spiritual significance of Ramadan and the reality of fasting in his teachings as follows:
“The word “Ramada” ( ض َم َر ( ( َmeans a land parched with the intense heat and dryness, a land which is so dry in its extreme thirst that its surface is cracked open, and the sections of the surface begin to curve up at the ends creating bowl like shapes. The surface is almost detached from the ground facing the sky, waiting for the pure and life-giving rain to quench its thirst. This represents the yearning of the body and soul of the sincere seeker of the truth during the month of Ramadan. The seeker in his or her thirst and yearning avoid earthly pleasures. In his solitude, he turns toward the source of Life in his heart, awaiting the flow of knowledge and love from the spring of his heart.”¹
By refraining from food, drinks, and other cellular pleasures during the daytime, and avoiding desires, negative thoughts, hard feelings, low attributes, and all unnecessary words and actions, he purifies his entire system and gathers and concentrates his energies. He is aware that fasting and purification of the eyes, ears and tongue and breaking habits is fundamental.
Professor Nader Angha teaches that “Purification of all aspects of one’s being, meaning cleansing of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels, creates the necessary balance and harmony to connect to the essence of existence through the Source of Life within. This is when the Love of the Beloved enflames the flame of love in our hearts.”
I have observed and witnessed the heavy burden of habitual daily and routine living during the initial course of fasting. Fasting has been always a joyful journey with result of tranquility, peace and physical health. Fasting has been the best part of my life to be able to accomplish a task that I would not be able to do by myself.
¹Professor Nader Angha, Lecture Series, Pleasant Hill, CA, 1992