Since Almighty Allah decided that mankind, with its egoistic limitations, greed and aggressiveness would be established on Earth, settled and made to thrive thereon, He promised to provide it—besides material resources for its physical sustenance—with the essential divine guidance for the maintenance of justice in the various forms of human relations, by nourishing God – consciousness and providing ethical and legal principles for the demarcation of right and wrong and for the indication of mutual rights and obligations.
Being the work of the Creator, the divine declaration of human rights, i.e. the Holy Quran, has had a distinctive approach, which has distinguished it from other philosophical, legal, national or international human efforts. It has acknowledged the spirituality of the human structure and has dealt with it as a basis and used it as a deeply rooted and widely spread safeguard for human rights.
The urge to preserve freedom and equality should start from every human heart and mind and should not be limited merely to the law and security forces. Violation of other’s rights comes out of the ‘ego’, which allows no vision except for fulfillment of self-interests. Such ego—worship reflects a heedlessness of the Creator, the All-Knowing and All-Mighty Sustainer and Lord of all mankind and the heedlessness of the Day of Judgment and eternal life to come.
Ramadan comes yearly to remind Muslims of the declaration and establishment of human rights in the Holy Quran, which started to be revealed to such a month more than 14 centuries ago. Ramadan reminds Muslims to secure the basic human rights: to safeguard the genuine faith in the one Almighty God and to develop spirituality, morality, knowledge and social solidarity. During the whole month, Muslims offer more prayers, read and listen to the Holy Quran daily and observe strict self-discipline through fasting. They pay Zakat and Sadqa to the poor and are more in contact with other Muslims.
“And that your fast is to do good unto yourselves—if you but knew it” (2:184).
It is significant that the Holy Quran concludes the verses on fasting with a rule about honesty and avoiding any “devouring of others’ positions” or “bribing those in authority”.
Ramadan would be meaningless if the message of reform was not felt in the behaviour of the individual, society and the state. This yearly training through the institution of Ramadan emphasises the essential elements for a full resurgence of faith based on the divine declaration of human rights: “And remember the time when you were few (and) helpless on Earth, fearful lest people extirpate you – whereupon He sheltered you His succour, and provided for you sustenance out of good things of life, so that you might be grateful” (8:26).
“Almighty God has promised those of you who have attained to faith and do righteous deeds that, of a certainty, He will firmly establish for them the religion, which he has been pleased to bestow on them; And that of a certainty that He will cause there erstwhile state of fear to be replaced by a sense of security -- (seeing that) they worship Me (alone), not ascribing divine powers to aught beside Me” (24:55)
“And God will most certainly succour who succours his cause: for, verily, Almighty God is the most powerful, Almighty” (22:40).
The month, which witnessed the greatest spiritual experience of the holy Prophet, was thus considered to be the most suitable month for the spiritual discipline of the Muslim community, which was to be effected through fasting.
There are evident reasons for choosing a lunar month. The advantages and disadvantages of the particular season in which it falls are shared by the whole world. A solar month would have given the advantages of shorter days and cooler weather to one part of the world, and burdened the other with advantages of longer days and hotter weather. The lunar month is more in consonance with the universal nature of the teachings of Islam, and all people have the advantages and disadvantages equally distributed.
On the other hand, if a particular time had not been specified, the discipline would have lost all its value. It is due to the choice of a particular month, that with its advent the whole Muslim world is, as it were, move in one current from one end to the other. The movement effected by the advent of Ramadan in the Muslim world is the greatest movement on the face of the earth.
Khwaja Mohammed Zubair is a former Khaleej Times staffer
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