Over 1.6 billion Muslims, old and young, will be eagerly waiting to sight the new moon, on Tuesday or Wednesday, 15th or 16th May 2018, that will herald the beginning of the month of Ramadhan, 1439. (2018).
Fasting during this month is an obligation on all Muslims, male and female, who have reached the age of puberty and whose health permits them to do so.
A cautionary note at this stage is advisable to those secularised Muslims who are either careless or indifferent to this obligation. By its very nature, secularism dilutes, weakens and eventually renders irrelevant the distinction between “truth” and “falsehood”, that which is “permitted” and which is “prohibited” and acts which are virtuous and those which are sinful.
Muslims are also reminded that by their very birth they are religious beings, living within a religious community and society. Therefore the Creator of the Universe, God All Mighty, Allah, as Muslims refer to Him, is the centre and the measure of all things. If not, man positions himself at the centre of the universe and he becomes the judge and jury of all things. When the word of the All Mighty does not conform to his/her rational preferences, the word of God must be either rejected or subjected to progressive interpretations. This is called secularisation of religion.
The Qur’an says “Oh you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, so that you may learn self-restraint”. Thus the institution of fasting is found in Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and others. The objective of Fasting is to obtain piety and Godliness (God-consciousness). The Arabic term for this state of the mind is called “Taqwa”.
It must be said that the majority of Muslims world-wide observe the compulsory fast of Ramadan. Unfortunately we also find many Muslims who do not fast as a result of the considerable impact of the Western life-style on such Muslims. This life-style is constructed on secular and materialistic foundations.
Godliness or God-consciousness (Taqwa) possess both a moral and a spiritual aspect. Its moral dimensions implies moral correctness which is grounded in divine care and observance and the decontamination of the ego. Divine care and observance manifests itself in the performance of virtuous acts of doing good and refraining from evil. These values embedded in the moral code must be recognised as one pillar on which power is built.
There is a link between Fasting and power. Fasting consolidates and underpins values and values form a decisive foundation of power. No nation or society can rise to greatness without establishing and sustaining the ethical and moral health of its people. For Muslims, fasting plays a crucial role in nation-building and establishing a healthy and enduring society and civilisation. The Qur’an declares that those who cleanse themselves and permit the proper growth and development of their moral being will thrive and flourish. Those on the other hand who corrupt themselves and obstruct the growth and development of their moral being, will ultimately perish. This holds true as much for the social order and the nation, as for the individual.
The Muslim world today is in a sorry and perilous state. The question is “WHY ?
The Quran states; “Truly this Ummah of yours is one, single and united. I am your Creator, therefore worship me only”. (21:92)
When you consider the gathering of the Ummah during Hajj and Umrah, and the constant circumambulation of the Ka’aba, you sense the true nature of this one single Ummah. You then would hope that people would return to their homes with the same sense of unity they displayed during their visit to the Holy Land so that we could truly become a united community of nations.
What distinguishes the Muslim Ummah from any other groupings of people? The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said that the Ummah is like the human body. If one part of the body feels pain the rest of the body feels the pain. That is what separates the Ummah from another group of human beings. It is the concern that one shows for the other.
Do we have this concern? Do we feel each other’s pain?
During the Holy Month of Ramadan, Muslims must strive to inculcate this attitude of oneness within the body of Muslims. Sadly, in our daily lives we do not project this aspect of oneness as prescribed by the Holy Prophet (PBUH). In the month of Ramadan, Muslims strive to develop our self-esteem as well as our self-image. The month is used to develop our value system, winning our inner freedom, strengthen our foundations of knowledge, faith, uniting the Ummah and developing a life of self-discipline.
The Blessed Month of Ramadan is a time for serious inner reflection and examination. A time to re-assess our journey through life and strengthen our relationship with our Creator.
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