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Ramadan is not about starving our bodies but nourishing our souls

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Ramadan: Beyond Fasting



Bisma Farooq Sheikh

Ramadhan is a month of blessings and mercy as the doors of hell are closed and Satan chained by Almighty Allah at the outset of this sacred month. Mercy and forgiveness of Allah is at the peak. Besides being a month of fasting, it holds other significances as well including the fact the Holy Quran was revealed in this blessed month.

As mentioned in several authentic Hadith’s (sayings of the prophet), fasting is a great virtue and among the Ibbada (prayers), fasting has a special place.  The apparently unpleasant smell coming out of the mouth of fasting person is dearer to Allah than the smell of Musk, a Hadith narrates adding that not only this at the time of Iftar (breaking of the fast) Allah promises to fulfill any permissible dua (prayer) by a  fasting person as a reward for him.

But the question is whether Ramadan is limited to starving our bodies by refraining from eating, drinking, smoking and other bodily engagements including making love? The answer is a big no!  Ramadan is about nourishing souls with the food they need and that is the remembrance of Allah. Just like we feed our physical bodies with delicious recopies in Ramadan and otherwise also, we have to feed our souls and heart with duas, dhikr, and recitation besides obligatory as well as special prayers. We all have to remember Allah in unique ways; our preferences should change. We should devote more and more time in worship, focus should shift from bodies to soul and only then we can qualify for promised rewards, mercy and blessings, forgiveness and shield from hell fire.

During this month our dead and withered souls bloom and blossom and are refreshed. Our hearts are filled with joy and tranquility and an ecstatic peace transcends upon us as if our hearts deep longing wish has been fulfilled. Ramadan is to our hearts and soul what rain is to a desert. It rejuvenates our religious and spiritual self. Masjids reverberate and echo the Dhikr or Almighty and the holy prophet.

Fasting also has many health benefits as it improves our digestive system, decreases bad cholesterol and burns extra fat. Many studies have shown that fasting actually rejuvenates the body by refreshing each cell of it and by improving our immunity. This is besides the psychological benefits including self control, discipline, restraining oneself from anger, fighting, gossiping etc , that we achieve during the month of Ramadan.

The month is such that we become more empathetic and altruistic offering more charity and also becoming more tolerant of mistakes of others-we forgive easily and therefore avoid confrontations. We develop greater appreciation for the blessings of Almighty that we enjoy and seek mercy for ourselves as well as others. It is the long hours of fasting that make us aware about the ordeal of those people living on the margins- we can feel the plight of a hungry person and the pathos of the thirsty.

Ramadan rejuvenates our social bonds as well. Every home gives a festive look at Iftar and Sehri time and families prefer to eat together. It is a routine that during this month, people invite friends and extended families for Iftar etc.

Besides the unlimited mercies that this month bestows upon us, Ramadan teaches us the balance between worldly life and hereafter. We remember Allah, we offer prayers on time, do other forms of worship as well and try to develop a kind heart. We become conscious of those who might have little and might need our help. We are constantly reminded of the great virtue of giving alms and charity- our beloved prophet has shown us correct ways of doing so.

May Allah make us steadfast on Islam and turn our hearts for good of humanity.  May Almighty Allah accept our fast and prayers and ease our sufferings- Aamen!

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