Understanding the spirit of Ramadan
By: Hamaad Koul
Fasting month of Ramadan provides the best opportunity to Muslims for this lifelong act of worship. The normative culture of Islam reflecting justice, equality, peace and brotherhood is necessarily to be witnessed in the social system lived up by the Muslim community during the month of fasting.
The Qur’an says: “O believers: fasting is ordained for you, even as it was ordained for those before you that might attain the God consciousness” (Al baqarah 2.183). After ordaining the fasting, the Qur’an says that fasting is made obligatory on all Muslims, so that they may attain to God consciousness. So the real purpose and spirit of the fasting is to attain righteousness (Taqwah). That is why it had been ordained for every Ummah that lived before.
Coming to the empirical situation of the predominantly Muslim settlement of Kashmir, a little impact of fasting on socio-psychological aspects of one’s behavior is being reflected. The desired attitudinal change and refinement is hardly witnessed in the society during the fasting hours.
The pre-Ramadan unwarranted and unlawful activities are visibly found in Ramadan as well. The guidance is there but a few persons follow it and very few use the shield of fasting for the protection of Satan’s attack.
The business community, which is responsible to ensure the supply of essential and non-essential goods and commodities to the people, is usually unable to adhere to the business ethics and values even in Ramadan. There is no downward trend in the common economic crimes like hoarding, unapproved price hike, selling of substandard items on high prices.
If someone is fasting while undermining the very spirit of the act, she/he is simply causing unnecessary inconvenience to his body and soul. To them, fasting is not more than a change in the timing of eating. They now eat during nights what they used to eat during days in pre-Ramadan.
However, there are, of course, believers (though less in number) living in the same social set up who observe fast by grasping its real purpose and maintaining its sanctity by pursuing deeds that please Allah and control themselves from displeasing Him. They seem to be exceptions and do more good works than usual and ardently desire to perform acts of kindness.
Not for a single moment should people live without worshiping, that is surrendering to Him in thoughts and deeds. Besides, fasting has another spiritual potential that it develops the sense of collectivism among the Muslims by getting up collectively early before dawn for Sehri, stop all eating and drinking precisely at a certain time, do certain activities and abstain from certain activities during the day, break the fast in evening exactly at certain time (Iftar).