Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ramadan's A Comin!

Excitement is in the air folks--at least for Muslims--as the holy month of Ramadan is fast approaching (no pun intended, hope you caught it). 

For those who have no idea what Ramadan even is, it is a sacred month for Muslims because on this month 1400 plus years ago, the foundation of the Islamic faith was laid out when the Holy Qur'an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). To commemorate the blessed event as believed to be ordained by God, Muslims all over the world give charity and pursue a state of tranquility through prayers and meditation and strive to increase their Islamic knowledge and better themselves. Most of all during this month, Muslims fast from morning til night for the full thirty days which means No food and no water during that time period.

O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed upon you as it was prescribed on those before you so that you may learn self-restraint [2:183] 

In this verse from the Qur'an above, God states that fasting was prescribed upon Muslims just as it was prescribed to people before us. A good number of religions hold fasting very near and dear to their hearts like Catholics do for Lent, Jews for Yom Kippur so it certainly is not a exclusive practice to one faith. And the sole reason as described from the same verse says the whole point of fasting is to "learn self-restraint". The Arabic term used in the verse is Taqwa and it really isn't something that can be so easily defined and boxed into a word like "self-restraint". Other words that attempt to capture the meaning of Taqwa is "God-consciousness" or "God-awareness". It's really all of the above. Fasting is a means to purify yourself and show obedience and reverence to God to show that He's the only one worthy of going through the task of fasting for.

Something I can't get enough of during this time of the year is the typical reaction from non-Muslims when they hear that I am starving myself, "Whoa man! You're gonna die! I can never do that." It's really not that bad when it comes down to it and various sources ranging from physicians to dietitians have declared it's actually good for your body. But of course, the cleansing and detox benefits are just a small bonus to what Muslims really would like cleansed when the month ends--their sins. During Ramadan, Muslims shut themselves out from (or should at least do their best to try) worldly matters like gossip and all channels of entertainment and do their best to try and bring themselves closer to God.

For me and I'm sure for a lot of people the difficulty really isn't in the actual withdrawal of eating and drinking, but of the "mental fasting" which is to avoid anger, envy, greed, lust, vain talk, sarcastic retorts, backstabbing, and gossip. And for married couples, no sexual intercourse (from dawn to dusk). That's right, all that fun stuff that seems impossible to stop for even one hour out of the day has to be avoided for a month. Music and trivial time-wasters like watching tv, and all that other stuff should be cleaned out or brought to a minimum.(bye bye gadgets, game consoles and uh oh Facebook!) I think people would find that more impossible then not having water and food.

All of this alludes back to the Quranic verse of teaching people self restraint and to learn to appreciate the essentials of life and not all the things people want but don't need. Avoiding all those goodies and distractions for a month I truly feel cleanses the inner soul and after the month I believe it makes one that ventures in it a better person. Muslims also believe that during the month, Satan is locked away in Hell so he can't bug any of you into doing stuff. So commiting any sin or crime during this month is done on ones own will and from their character. There's a lot people can learn about Ramadan and one measly blog can barely cover all the bases. During this time, your favorite PhilAsifer will only be on sparsely, only to possibly post Ramadan oriented blogs.

But til then folks, I'll be seein ya. Happy Ramadan and happy everything else.

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