The spirit of Ramadan is compassion

The spirit of Ramadan is compassion

The holy month prepares the ground for a mass movement towards equality, and wants the believers to erect a social order that is just and humanity-oriented The holy month prepares the ground for a mass movement towards equality, and wants the believers to erect a social order that is just and humanity-oriented



by

Ishtiaq Ali Mehkri

Published: Mon 14 May 2018, 1:39 PM

Last updated: Mon 14 May 2018, 3:44 PM

It is time to relive the spirit of Ramadan. Blessed are those who make use of this holy month and ask for forgiveness from the Almighty for their guilt and sins. Basically, the spirit of the holy month is to make a believer fall in line and indulge in introspection. Prayers, good deeds, charity and supplications that are widely performed in this blessed month are just the tools to reinvent the sense of humanity, and do a soul-search of what and how things have gone bad in life. The intention of the faithful, in the eyes of Almighty Allah, is to reorient themselves with the glorious teachings of the religion of peace (Islam), and reiterate one's commitment to the service of mankind.
Ramadan is not only about abstaining from eating and drinking from daybreak to sunset; there's a lot more to it. It's intended to dwell into the reality of life and humanity around us, and work for compassion and serenity. This is why it is said peace, happiness, kindness and forgiveness are practised during the holy month, and a believer should keep that concept of greatness alive throughout the year. It is a learning and unlearning process to redefine life, its values, its motto and mould one's life under the tenants of Almighty as ordained by Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).  
Fasting in Islam is primarily a spiritual discipline in that it aims at attaining nearness to the Almighty. Fasting awakens in man a new consciousness of a higher life, a life above that which is maintained by eating and drinking, and this is the spiritual life. Likewise, there is a moral discipline underlying fasting, for it is the training ground where man is taught the greatest moral lesson of his life. He should be prepared to suffer the greatest privation and undergo the hardest trial, rather than only being obsessed with luxuries. Similarly, fasting has social value, too. The commencement of the holy month is a signal for mass movement towards equality, which is not limited to one vicinity. 
The benefits of fasting are plenty. From a medical point of view, abstaining from food and water, throughout the day, galvanises the human body and helps it shed toxins, and regain fresh blood and remain fit. It could be conveniently said that the month of blessing and compassion embodies new energy, thinking and spirit to reevaluate life and its true meaning. 
The sense of collectivity in this month coupled with self-sacrifice and benevolence towards others would never be lost if the 30 days are spent in spiritual commitment. This doesn't mean that one should abandon worldly lifestyle and adopt a reclusive role. Rather the purpose of the month is to strike a balance in all walks of life and live it in a generous manner as taught by Islam.
The Holy Quran was revealed in this month, and is widely known as a month of recompense. Repentance is sure to win forgiveness. Just a repentant tear - with a resolve to be no longer negligent - are enough to get the past misdeeds written off. Thus, Almighty Allah warns us, never in any circumstance, to lose hope of His mercy. 
The ritual of fasting is not new. It had been in practice for time immemorial. Even in Christianity and Judaism, people used to fast and seek mercy. Islam, however, made it mandatory, along with moral and physical discipline. Islam has inculcated a special kind of spiritual discipline that aims at attaining nearness to Almighty. It awakens renewed consciousness and underscored the need for a process of trial and rectification.
Nonetheless, the social dynamics of fasting are remarkable in essence. It prepares the ground for a mass movement towards equality, and wants the believers to erect a social order that is just and humanity-oriented. Islam wants to do away with class, caste and creed, and gives no edge to any race or nation over the other. In the eyes of Almighty all humanity is sanctified and no one has the right to undermine the other fellow human being. Despite the odds of life, it brings people of various backgrounds on one platform. The lesson is to start believing in the universality of Almighty's sovereignty and embrace fellow beings as 'ours', 'indispensable' and 'inviolable'. 
It is an opportunity to bow down in humility and rise to new excellence in life, once again. All great religions have taught respect for human life and denounced inordinate indulgence in pleasures. Life is not about frivolity. Islam recommends regulation rather than suppression. It allows the natural urges - love of wealth, and pleasure - to have a guarded approach in life.  And Ramadan just reiterates that spirit in all its generosity.
- mehkri@khaleejtimes.com 


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