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Today's Reminder

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Living The Quran

Reasons to Fast
Al Baqara (The Cow) - Chapter 2: Verse 183

"O you who Believe! Fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may develop consciousness of God."

“What is fasting?” “How does the fasting of Muslims in Ramadan differ from the fasting of other faiths?” “Why should one ‘torture’ one’s body in the first place?” “What do you really gain from fasting in the end?" These are a few questions that a number of non-Muslim friends and colleagues often ask us, usually out of fascination with this spiritually-uplifting practice of Islamic faith, and at times out of pity and sympathy for us, thinking, why should anyone suffer from hunger and thirst like Muslims? I wouldn’t be surprised if many of us shared the same negative perception of fasting.

It is important to note that fasting in Arabic is called “Sawm”, which literally means ‘to be at rest’. Fasting in the month of Ramadan (the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar) is one of the Five Pillars upon which the “house” of Islam is built. During this month, every able-bodied Muslim is required to fast everyday from dawn until dusk

7 Reasons To Fast

  1. Fasting is an institution for the improvement of moral and spiritual character of human being. The purpose of the fast is to help develop self-restraint, self-purification, God-consciousness, compassion, the spirit of caring and sharing, the love of humanity and the love of God. Fasting is a universal custom and is advocated by all the religions of the world, with more restrictions in some than in others. The Islamic fast, as opposed to mere starvation or self-denial, is an act of worship and obedience to God, thanksgiving, forgiveness, spiritual training, and self-examination. 
     
  2. Fasting indoctrinates us in patience, unselfishness, and gratitude. When we fast we feel the pains of deprivation and hunger, and learn how to endure it patiently. The meaning of this powerful experience in a social and humanitarian context is that we are much quicker than anybody else in sympathizing with the oppressed and needy around the world, and responding to their needs. 

  3. It cultivates in us the principle of sincere love because when we observe fasting we do it out of deep love for God. And a person, who loves God, truly is a person who knows what love is and why everyone on this Earth should be loved and treated justly, for the sake of God.
     
  4. Fasting elevates the human spirit and increases our awareness of God. It strengthens our willpower as we learn to rise above our lower desires. The institution of fasting is both unique and a shared experience in human history. From the very beginning of time, humans have struggled to master their physical and psychological selves: their bodies and their emotions. Hunger is one the most powerful urges that we experience. Thus, when a person purposefully denies something to their own self that it craves, they are elevating their mind above their body, and their reason and will above their carnal passions. 
     
  5. With the clarity of mind and absence of distractions also comes a greater focus. In the month of Ramadan, many Muslims try to avoid watching TV, listening to music, and some other leisure activities, which spares them more time and energy to be spent on more productive activities such as academics, intense study of Islam, voluntary prayers, social and humanitarian causes, and a quality time with the family, to name a few. It is a reminder of our duty to God, our purpose and higher values in life.   
     
  6. It makes us realize the reality of life and death. Fasting makes us realize how dependant our lives are on things that we often take for granted, such as food and water. It makes us think about our dependence on God and God’s mercy and justice. Moreover, it reminds us of the life after death, which itself has a great impact on our character and our worldview.
     
  7. Ramadan is a blessed month for a special reason: it is actually the month in which God first revealed His final message and guidance for mankind to our beloved Prophet Muhammad. This message has been perfectly preserved both orally and textually in the form of a Book, called the Quran (The Reading/Recital). Therefore, Muslims try to do an intense study of the Quran in this month especially, and evaluate their lives according to the standards and guidance contained in it.

In a nutshell, even though the real purpose of the dynamic institution of fasting is to discipline our soul and moral behavior, and to develop sympathy for the less fortunate, it is a multi-functional and a comprehensive tool of change in various spheres of our lives including social and economic, intellectual and humanitarian, spiritual and physical, private and public, personal and common, inner and outer –  all in one!

Compiled From:
"The Fasting of Ramadan: A Time for Thought, Action, and Change!" - Taha Ghayyur & Taha Ghaznavi

From Issue: 795 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Statements

After the heart, there is one thing that is particularly important for a believer to guard over and make sure that it does not stray from what is right. This is the tongue. The statements of one's tongue can be very damaging and can lead a person away from the straight path. Many times, a person may not realize the damage that he has done to himself by his own statements. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) made this point clear when he said,

"A person makes a statement that is pleasing to Allah although he did not give it much concern. [Due to it] Allah raises his rank. And a person makes a statement that is displeasing to Allah although he did not give it much concern. [Due to it], he is flung into the Hell-fire." [Bukhari]

In another hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

"Whoever guarantees for me what is between his jawbones and what is between his legs [that is, whoever can guarantee that his tongue and private parts will not be involved in forbidden acts], then I guarantee for him Paradise." [Bukhari]

The seriousness of the actions of the tongue may be why this hadith continues with the Prophet (peace be upon him) warning Sufyaan about the dangers of the tongue. Again, the portion of the narration not found in Sahih Muslim states,

[Sufyan then said,] "O Messenger of Allah, what is the thing that you fear most for me?" He [the Prophet (peace be upon him)] took hold of his own tongue and said, "This."

Indeed, in another hadith, from Musnad Ahmad, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) is reported to have said,

"The faith of a person will not be straight and sound until his heart is made straight and sound. And his heart will not be straight and sound until his tongue is made straight and sound."

Compiled From:
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, pp. 687, 688

From Issue: 872 [Read original issue]

Cool Tips!

Understanding the Quran

Your understanding of the Qur'an may have various levels and take different forms.

Firstly, that you comprehend its simple, literal meaning, as when you read a book in a language you know, or as an Arabic-knowing person would understand the Qur'an.

Such comprehension must be the bare minimum requirement, the key to all other stages, but it is not enough.

Secondly, that you find out how the learned have understood it, either by hearing their expositions or reading their exegeses and other sources.

Thirdly, that you study and ponder, on your own, to discover and absorb its meaning.

Fourthly, that you discover its meaning by obeying its messages and by fulfilling the duties and mission that it entrusts to you.

Compiled From:
"Way To the Quran" - Khurram Murad

From Issue: 643 [Read original issue]