May 12, 2020
Ramadan is much more than just avoiding food and water when fasting. Ramadan is widely considered as the month of fasting, which is true. However, “fasting” is rather an inaccurate translation of Sawm, which means to abstain. In addition to food and drink, it reflects abstaining from cheating, lying, hurting others, getting angry and overindulgence.
It is a time for prayers, seeking God’s forgiveness, attaining spiritual growth and meditation. It is a time to reflect upon God’s blessings and seek nearness to Him in everything we do. This is a month for spiritual cleansing and strengthening, and an opportunity to renew your relationship with God. This is a month to seek, and work towards, nearness to God by submitting to His will and serving His creation.
“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may (learn) self restraint( or remain God-conscious)” The Qur’an 2:183
If done properly, fasting is indeed intended for healing for our physical, mental and spiritual health.
It is a month to learn, and practice self-control. By abstaining from some of the acts noted above, such as controlling your hunger, anger, and other urges, one is essentially going through a behavioral change that calls for self-control. Ali, Prophet Muhammad’s cousin, famously said “one who controls his inner self (AKA desires and urges), finds God”.
This is the month to show random acts of kindness to all- humans and animals and other creations of God- to parents, siblings, neighbors, strangers, co-workers and spouses. It is a month to forgive, and seek forgiveness from the Almighty. This month is a good opportunity to reach out to the poor and the needy in your neighborhood, and visit the homeless shelters to feed them. There is a hadith (saying of) Prophet Muhammad that says that one is not a Muslim if his neighbor goes to sleep hungry, and he did not reach out to provide food.
Muslims worldwide, including Muslim Americans, give the most during the month of Ramadan. According to some estimates, up to 70% of the yearly donations to charitable organizations are made during this month.
It is also a time to avoid polluting planet earth and keeping it clean. Taking good care of our environment is a form of service to God.