“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint, G_d Consciousness.” (Qur’an, chapter 2, verse 183)
For 29 or 30 days every year, Muslims around the world unite in the discipline of fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadan, which corresponds roughly from April 13 to May 13.
The Muslim faithful will not eat or drink anything from an hour before sunrise until sunset. The fast of Ramadan is a complete fast that encompasses much more than controlling and disciplining our physical appetites. This annual fast is also a controlling of our tongue (speech), our anger and all other emotions. Additionally we discipline our spiritual life by increasing and strengthening our usual five daily prayers. The Muslim faithful fast (restrain themselves) on many levels — but all for the same reason: for the Good Pleasure of Allah.
Another common act of Muslims during Ramadan is the reading of the entire Qur’an — from cover to cover — by reading 1/30th of the sacred text each day. Due to this reading practice it is common among Muslim children to have read the entire Qur’an numerous times.
Another measurement of Ramadan is given in 10-day increments. The first 10 days is the seeking of Allah’s mercy. The second 10 days is the seeking of G_d’s forgiveness, with the last 10 days seeking freedom from hellfire.
Muslims take the fast of Ramadan very serious, anticipating the blessings that accompany the fast. It is with a spirit of willful submission that the Muslim fast for Allah, and for Allah only with a keen focus to bring our flesh under our command and control. Allah has made each human being responsible for controlling our flesh.
Anything that interferes with the fasting Muslim to control our flesh is denied.
Everyone is able to fast on some level, whether physically, mentally or spiritually, but it is best to fast on all three levels if possible. The Muslim who is ill or on a journey Allah instructs us that we are not to fast on those days. One should not be ashamed if they can’t fast on the physical level. Instead they should feed a poor person and enjoy Allah’s blessings.
Imam W. Deen Mohammed gave this advice to help us with controlling our physical appetites and passions. He said, “Man means a developed mind that rules over the forces of the Jinn, those people who are not able to rule over the forces of the physical body because they have neglected the cultivation of their minds.”
Imam Mohammed encouraged that we fight to control our lust. He said, “This is not necessarily speaking to the lust, or the powers and desires that we identify with sex. But, it is speaking to all those forces that are in the biological form, or in the physical body, such as, hunger for material wealth, hunger for sex, hunger for physical worship, and what we call, vanity. All these forces are forces of the physical body, and these forces can influence the other appetites that we have for culture or art, etc.”
Upon the completion of the 30-day fast the Muslim community will gather for a special prayer and sermon in a ceremony called Eid Al-Fitr. This is a joyous occasion that is accented with the sharing of gifts, visiting the sick and enjoying our family and friends.
Michael “Mikal” Saahir is the resident Imam of Nur-Allah Islamic Center. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 317-753-3754.