Ramadan: Self-Reflection, Empathy and Spiritual Consciousness.

2012-07-21 10:25

and it is the most sacred, meritorious and auspicious month in the Islamic calendar. In Islam fasting, acts of kindness, charities or any act of worship is only done with the sole intention to earn the pleasure of Almighty God.

Muslims look forward very devotedly to the month of Ramadan and its many benefits. It has medical, psychological, personal and social benefits and most important of all fasting is a spiritual rejuvenation method for Muslims.

Ramadan is not merely a month of worship and fasting. It is designed and intended for self-judgment, profound introspection and a time to reinforce and increase the concept of togetherness.

During Ramadan Muslims are supposed to deprive the body in order to infuse the courage to abstain from sin and transgression and to cultivate good habits, values and morals in order to lead a purposeful and meaningful life. Most often we live at a very shallow level of our existence, forgetting our true essence and identity as human beings. Regrettably, we become totally preoccupied with the material world, forgetting the spiritual essence of our lives. Therefore, the main object of fasting is to generate a balance between material and spiritual aspects of the human life.

Fasting is compulsory on every adult, healthy and able Muslim male and female. The very old, weak, sick and travellers are exempted from fasting. While in the state of fasting, one has to abstain from drinking, eating, smoking and marital sexual intercourse from dawn to sunset. A pre-dawn meal, called Suhoor, is eaten before the start of the day’s fast and at Iftaar (sunset) the fast is broken with dates and water. Iftaar is enjoyed as a community event, with Muslims gathering to break their fast together. The blessed month inculcates a sense of belonging to one community as Muslims of different Countries, colours, races, cultures, traditions and nationalities; fast, eat and pray together in large numbers. All borders are broken as they are during the Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah.

One of the nights of Ramadan is called Laylatul-Qadr, the night of power or honour and is considered “better than a thousand months”. Laylatul-Qadr is a special and blessed night as the Quran was revealed on this night. The last ten nights are the most blessed of the nights and are spent by many Muslims in I'tiqaaf- seclusion in Musjids in complete devotion to Almighty and in search of Laylatul- Qadr.

Ramadan is also the month of compassion, charity and empathy. With the high levels of poverty, unemployment and suffering around the globe today, the need for remembering this core message of Ramadan cannot be overstated. In reality, one of the main purposes of fasting is to instil in Muslims God consciousness, empathy for the widows, orphans, poor, oppressed, and the underprivileged. By fasting, Muslims are given a practical lesson in hunger and thirst and thus Muslims become more encouraged and motivated to empathize with the less fortunate. The month of Ramadan is the perfect occasion to correct and remedy all evil and unconstructive habits and to make it a true life altering and life-enhancing experience.

Thus, Ramadan is the month to remind us to strengthen our determination to fight against all forms of oppression, injustices, inequalities, poverty and suffering in the community. It also reminds us to reinforce our bonds of harmony and family and community ties in a multi-faith South Africa.

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