Islam stands for rights

It was the month of Ramadan in which the Holy Quran was (first) bestowed from as guidance for mankind, with clear (signs) of this guidance, and the criterion (of right and wrong). Hence, whoever of you lives to see this month, has to fast throughout it” (2:185).

By Khwaja Mohammed Zubair

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Published: Tue 31 Aug 2010, 9:40 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:41 AM

Since Almighty God decided that mankind, with his egoistic limitations, greed and aggressiveness, would be established on earth, settled and made to thereon, He promised to provide it — besides material resources for its physical sustenance — essential divine guidance for the maintenance — of justice in various forms of human relations.

This he meant to do 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 a distinctive approach, which distinguishes it from other philosophical, legal, national or international human efforts. It has acknowledged the spirituality of the human structure and has used it as a basis for 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 not be limited merely to the law and security forces. Violation of others’ rights comes out of the ‘ego’, which allows no other vision besides self-interest. Such ego worship reflects a heedlessness of the Creator, the All-knowing and Almighty Sustainer, and Lord of all mankind. It also shows a heedlessness for the Day of Judgment and the 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 in such a month more than 14 centuries ago.

Ramadan reminds Muslims to secure the basic human rights: to safeguard the genuine faith in one 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 in much more 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 others possessions” or “bribing those in authority”.

Ramadan would be meaningless if its message of reform were 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 right: “And remember the time when you were few (and) helpless on earth, fearful lest people extirpate you — whereupon He sheltered you with His succour, and provided for you sustenance out of good things of life, so that you might be grateful” (8:26).

“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, He will cause their 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 for, verily, God is the most powerful, Almighty” (22:40).

The month which witnesses ghe greatest spiritual experience of Prophet Mohammad (peace by upon him) 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 a particular reason in which it falls are shared by the whole world. A solar month would have given the advantage of shorter days and cooler weather to one part of the world, and burdened the other with the disadvantages of fasting for longer days and hotter weather. The lunar month is more in consonance with the universal nature of the teachings of Islam — people have their 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 because it is a particular month of the Islamic calendar, that its advent moves all of the Muslim world. This movement effected by the advent of Ramadan in the Muslim world, is one of the year.

Khwaja Mohammed Zubair is former Khaleej Times staffer

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