Significance of Ramadan Fasting
By K.S. Ahmed Pasha
Fasting, during the sacred month of Ramadan, has been prescribed by Almighty Allah for every adult healthy Muslim, except the sick and the traveller,as the second basic act of worship, after the Salat (Prayers), when he abstains not only from all food and drink from the sight of dawn (Sehri) to sun-set (Iftar) but also from all 'idle pleasures and unlawful acts.' Since Islamic fasting reckons with lunar calendar, it rotates in all the seasons of the year, accentuating in the person who is fasting a high sense of adaptability. The Holy Qur'an was revealed as 'a guidance for mankind, as also clear signs for guidance and judgement and the criterion of right and wrong' (2:183) during this sacred month. There could not be a better month to fast than this in effulgence and propitiousness, for the Muslims to adorn the day with fasting and the nights with Prayer. It helps the fasting person to exercise self-restraint and strike at the root of all carnal appetites. Even in the severest summer, when he is alone in the innermost chamber of his room, he desists from the temptation of quenching his parched thirst even by a single drop of water, when the inner most voice tells him: "Allah sees my action" surely a heavenly prescription institutionalised by Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) instilling in him a spiritual discipline that gets deep rooted in all the upheavals and a strong will power with adaptable adjustability in facing unpredictable hardships that help him in chartering his life on nobler planes, thereby shielding him from all evil thoughts and deeds.
The hunger, which is 'Allah's food on earth', he enjoys in the inimitable nearness with his Benevolent Creator - the nearness that becomes a reality filling the innermost recesses of his heart with 'the vision of the Most High', changing thereby the entire course of his life guided by such virtues as loftiness and sublimity, kindliness and compassion. He becomes more responsive to the sufferings of others, when he has himself experienced such privations. It helps him to rein in his animal passions and makes him realise that he is more than an animal. There is something God-like in him as attested by the Quranic verse: "I have made him and breathed within his body ' My spirit' (XV:29. In that state of spiritual sublimity, he feels as if he "wears the armour of God Almighty" against the world and that instills within his body the purity of death, "that purity and incorruptibility which are crystal hard and immutable, yet transparent before light."
The culmination of fasting is celebrated by observing Eid-ul-Fitr, the festival of breaking the fast, a day of thanks giving, when Muslims the world over, wherever they are scattered, congregate in vast numbers, offering their prayers in open spaces before noon, standing shoulder to shoulder, obliterating thereby all tags of identity and ranks of birth before the presence of Almighty Allah where good deeds alone have a lasting value proclaiming to the world that in the Islamic message of Unity of Allah and Brotherhood of man lies the salvation for this battered world.