Every year, many of my friends, colleagues and neighbors used to ask me questions like why you fast, how you fast, what’s importance of Ramadan and such similar questions, when we start fasting in the month of Ramadan. This year, they may not ask such questions as we don’t get opportunity to meet or interact with our beloved friends due to lockdown because of COVID-19 pandemic.
As most part of the world is under lockdown, facing the challenges of Pandemic and many lost their loved ones. By extending solidarity and condolences to all those families who lost their loved ones during lockdown, I welcome Ramadan 2020. Many of us may think, due to Pandemic and lockdown we may not celebrate or experience the real essence of Ramadan. No, nothing to worry we can celebrate Ramadan with its real sense this year too.
What is Ramadan? Ramadan is the 9th month in the Muslim/Islamic calendar. Only healthy Muslims must fast in Ramadan from dawn till dusk. During the holy month, Muslims would wake up early to eat a pre-dawn meal called suhoor, and they break their fast with a meal referred to as iftar at time of dusk.
“Fasting is for a fixed number of days (29 or 30), and if one of you be sick, or if one of you be on a journey, you will fast the same number of other days later on. For those who are capable of fasting (but still do not fast) there is redemption: feeding a needy man for each day missed. Whoever voluntarily does more good than is required will find it better for him; and that you should fast is better for you, if you only know. (Al Quran 2:184)
Fasting includes abstaining from drinking, eating, immoral acts and anger. Fasting is to feel the hunger of the poor and feed the needy. Let’s do it as many are in need due to lockdown and encourage others to do so. ThisRamadanHelpTheNeedy. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:”… whoever fasts during Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, and then all his past sins will be forgiven.”
Why to fast in the month Ramadan? The Quran was revealed in Ramadan. “During the month of Ramadan the Qur’an was sent down as guidance to the people (not just Muslims) with Clear Signs of the true guidance and as the Criterion (between right and wrong). (Al-Quran 2:185). Also fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and it’s an act of worship, a way to get closer to the Almighty and a way to become more compassionate to those in need. The purpose of fasting is to teach us self-restraint form the evil and to surrender ourselves to the Almighty. Fasting is also seen as a way to learn patience and avoid bad habits as this month is also termed as training for positive change.
The fact is a section of Muslim community misrepresented the actual essence of Ramadan and most of the people who see practices of Muslims, think what they do is Islam. Due to misrepresentation, non Muslims generally think that Ramadan is month of festival to eat a lot specially Haleem/Harees, doing shopping unnecessarily and taking lot of rest instead of feeding the poor, helping the needy, reminding or re-reading and practicing the teachings of the Quran.The Quran is not just for Muslims but for entire humanity. Let’s say #TheQuranForAll.
How the month of Ramadan is different from other months? Apart from doing Suhoor and Iftar, special prayers at night is performed which is called Taraweeh. Praying five times daily is obligatory on every Muslim for all 365 days, but in Ramadan special prayers to please Almighty is additional but not compulsory, it depends on individual’s will and wish. During this Ramadan amid the pandemic, these special prayers can be done at home also, instead of roaming unnecessarily, all can utilize the opportunity of lockdown and can perform prayers, recitation of the Quran, seeking forgiveness and mercy from Allah. #LetsPrayForCoronaFreeWorld.
In this month, last ten days are more important to get close to Almighty as the Quran was revealed in one of the last ten nights of Ramadan and it is called as Night of Power (Lailatul Qadr).
Behold, Allah revealed the Qur’an on the Night of Power. And what do you know what the Night of Power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. The angels along with the Spirit descend in it by the permission of their Lord with all kinds of decrees. All peace is that night until the rise of dawn. (Al-Quran 95: 1-5).
Follow the instructions of Lockdown. It’s best time to pray as much as possible, during last 10 days of Ramadan and search for Lailatul Qadr and practice Itekaaf (Dedicating one’s time to the worship of God).
How Muslims celebrate the month of Ramadan? Different cultures have different traditions during Ramadan, whether it is a special food they cook or iftar gatherings with family and friends or arranging dinners to poor and needy, giving Zakath or charity or inviting guests on iftar followed by dinner. Due to lockdown these gatherings may not happen this year, but alternatively we must forward the greetings with a message of Ramadan, Quran and Islam to colleagues, friends and neighbors. We can plan iftar gatherings post lockdown. #NoGatheringDuringPandemic
Similarly, Zakath is also another pillar of Islam. It is mandatory to every Muslim to give 2.5% of one’s accumulated wealth and the Zakath is meant only for the poor and the needy and those who are in charge thereof, those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and to free those in bondage, and to help those burdened with debt, and for expenditure in the Way of Allah and for the wayfarer. It has no direct relation to fasting and Ramadan but usually Muslims spend amounts of Zakath and do more charity during Ramadan. So we should give Zakath for uplifting the poor and the needy people and migrant workers and those hit by the lockdown and to support the small scale businesses.
What is the essence of Eid-Ul-Fitr? Ramadan festival is called as Eid-Ul-Fitr. After fasting for a month, for thanks giving to Almighty Muslims celebrate Eid-Ul-Fitr (Festival of Charity). Fitra is another type of charity which is obligatory on every Muslim, the head of the family on behalf of every individual will give charity before the festival prayer. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) came across a little boy named Zuhair Bin Saghir on festival day, who was sitting on the footpath all by himself. He was alone, sad and crying. Prophet Muhammad (PBUB) asked him “Why are you crying child? Why are you crying on such auspicious day? The child said, I am an Orphan, today is day of celebration, look how everyone is happy, all my friends are wearing new clothes and have delicious things to eat, and here I am, I don’t have clothes, I have no place to go and no food to eat.”
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) comforted him and said, “I exactly know how you feel, I lost my parents when I was a little boy.” Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) smiled and said, “What if I become your new father and my wife your new mother and my daughter your new sister, will that make you happy?” “Oh! Yes! That will be the most ideal thing in the world!” The boy smiled with new hope. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) took him to His house and provided him with new clothes, delicious food on this auspicious day of Eid-Ul_Fitr. #AnOrphanWhoAdoptedTheWorld
Ramadan is not just for doing shopping and eating delicious foods, but to take care of others, an opportunity to get much closer to Allah. Post Pandemic (may be after Ramadan) let’s continue to be best like you were in Ramadan. Not only in terms of helping the needy but to help mother, sisters or wife in daily works at home is also necessary. If you change yourself, it will have an impact on your family, if your family changes, then it will have an impact in the society around and your locality will be an example of positive change to the rest of the world. Change yourself to change the world in a constructive direction