Ramadan: The month of the Quran and a month to attain God-consciousness
Muslims worldwide, around 1.8 billion, which is about 24% of the world population from East, West, North and South of the globe welcomed the month of Ramadan 2018.
It is in the Islamic calendar 1439 Hijri. Most of the Muslim adults will fast as ordained by God from dawn to sunset for a period of 29-30 days (depending on sighting of the moon) to increase self-discipline and attain God-consciousness.
The month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar which is based on a lunar year. The word Ramadan is derived from Arabic root word ramad, which literally means scorching heat.
A lunar year of 12 months is about 11 days shorter than Therefore, the month of Ramadan moves about 11 days earlier every year.
The impact of this rotation of the moon is great as Muslims experience fasting under all kinds of conditions in all seasons. For example, Britain is a country in the northern hemisphere and when Ramadan falls in the summer months, fasting is observed when the days are warm and long – whereas when it falls in the winter, the days are cool and short. However, Australia is a country in the southern hemisphere where the conditions are reversed. Thus, it provides equal conditions for people living in different parts of the world.
Fasting which is in Arabic – Siyam, is one of the five pillars of Islam. Siyam means to abstain. In the month of Ramadan during the hours of fasting, Muslims abstain from food, drinks and sensual contact. The hours for fasting are outlined in the Quran, Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 187: “… You may eat and drink until the white thread becomes distinguishable to you from the dark thread at dawn. Then you shall maintain the fast until the night …”
However, fasting is not something new and is found in other religions too. In ordaining fasting in the month of Ramadan to the Muslims, it was mentioned in the Quran, Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 183: “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, so that you might remain conscious of God!”
The fasting was made obligatory on adult Muslims in the second year of Hijri – the starting of the Islamic calendar that is migration from Makkah to Madinah of Muslims.
The main goal of fasting is to develop God consciousness – Taqwa, which is derived from Arabic root word waqa that signifies: the fear of God, restraint or guarding one’s tongue, hand and heart from evil, hence righteousness, piety and good conduct. It also means to preserve, to protect and to keep one safe. Taqwa is connected to the heart. It is reported by Muslim, Al-Tirmidi and Ahmed in Hadith that the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to point to his chest and say: “Here lies Taqwa.”
The month of Ramadan is honoured and fasting is given great importance in the Quran and it is mentioned in Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 185: “Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Quran, as a guide to Mankind, also clear (signs) for guidance and judgement (between right and wrong).” Regarding fasting, it is stated in Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 184: “… If you fast it is better for you, if you only knew.”
The Quran expresses unambiguously about the significance of timing of its revelation in Surah Al-Qadr, verse 1-5: “We have indeed revealed this (Quran) in the Night of Power. And what will explain to you what the Night of Power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by their Lord’s permission on every errand. Peace until the rising of the dawn.”
The essence and the nature of the Quran address to humanity as a whole and then direct it to individuals, families, communities and nations. Furthermore, it speaks to a person and the soul, individually and collectively. It is clearly mentioned in Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 2: “This (The Quran) is the Book, in it is guidance sure, without doubt to those who fear God.”
Next, the Quran in Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 3 and 4 provides a vivid description of the characteristics or qualities of God-fearing people or people of Taqwa by saying that these people are those: “who believe in the unseen, are steadfast in prayer and spend out of what We have provided for them. Those who believe in what has been revealed to you (referring to Muhammad PBUH) and what was revealed before you, and are certain of the hereafter.”
Following the qualities of the people of Taqwa, the Quran in Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 5 – aptly concludes about these God fearing people by saying: “They are on (true) guidance from their Lord and it is these who will prosper.”
Indeed, the month of Ramadan is a blessed and honoured month because in this month the Quran was revealed. Undoubtedly, Ramadan is the month of the Quran and in it is the Night of Power which is better than a thousand months.
Let this Ramadan 1439AH, be a starting point for us individually and collectively; to improve and increase devotion to God and in worship; engage in spiritual reflection; time for soul-searching; restrain one’s tongue, hand and heart from evil; steadfast in righteousness, piety and good conduct. Together, we reinvigorate God-consciousness and become followers of the Guidance of God to receive prosperity.
by Sadequl Amin