Before his Prophethood, Muhammad (Pbuh) used to spend the sacred month of Ramadan in solitude, at Cave Hira, escaping the corruption of the mercantile class in Makkah while contemplating Divine Truth. Today, when Muslims observe Ramadan, we echo our Prophet’s solitude, fasting by day and praying at night, yet we do not fully seclude ourselves from the secular.
By Moin Qazi
Ramadan is a priceless opportunity to take action and become a better servant to humanity. Ramadan is a narrow path that reminds us fasting is not just about abstaining from food and drink, but also from back biting, gossiping, malice, suspicion, miserliness, extravagance, vulgarity, immodesty, infidelity, arrogance, ignorance, cowardice, and thinking ill of others, so that when food and drink become permissible once again, we have built an internal fortress to permanently abstain from the aforementioned bad habits
What It Means To Be Human
In the Bible it is stated ‘Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in us’ (I Cor. 6:19), and in the Qur’an God says, ‘I breathe into him [Adam] My Spirit’ (28:72).
With these verses in mind, the spiritual practices of fasting, prayers, charity, and intense meditation during Ramadan reminds us that our body is a base for the presence of the Spirit. Experiencing the presence of the Spirit reminds us to appreciate the body as sacred as well as rediscover and reconnect the sacredness of nature. The combination of re-establishing our link with nature’s ecology and a deeper God-consciousness (tawhid) fosters a heightened awareness of the One, present in all things.
Ramadan’s sacred time re-delivers what it means to be human; it provides insight into the knowledge of love, beauty, and truth while living a life of gratitude. Ramadan tells us that cultivating wisdom is beyond dogma and doctrine, rather the focus is on the Spirit.
Closeness of the Divine
Ramadan is a celebration of the closeness of the Divine, of family and community – which makes it the perfect time to welcome the stranger into our midst. When inviting loved ones for iftar, ask them to bring someone whom you do not know. Make room especially for those who are without family, partners, or friends during this sacred month, growing both our hearts and our ideas of community.
A Spiritual Gym
Ramadan is a month long spiritual gym where we work on metaphysical muscles through more deliberate disciplines, prayer, reflections and worship. It is an annual Muslim attempt to simultaneously grow vertically in their relationship with their Lord and horizontally with fellow human beings through emphatic and various acts of charity. It is a month of self-auditing and self-evaluation where believers check their accounts in Heavenly currency terms.
We should focus on what qualities and characteristics of the Prophet Muhammad have we made a part of our own personality. Ask yourself if you are as loving, as compassionate, as forgiving, as just, as honest as we know him to have been? Spend this month inculcating his qualities in yourself, and look into yourself to find one vice and make it your unshakable commitment to remove that vice from yourself this month.
Solitude and Community
The best ways to gain spiritual and emotional nourishment from the month of Ramadan are found both in spending time with oneself, and with the community. The fast is, at its core, deeply personal, a struggle between one’s ego/lesser self and the Creator. Yet through maintaining a balanced connection with a strong community – either online or in person – I have found myself able to pull through on the fast in a way that dealing with it all on my own doesn’t result in: a feeling of God given support and understanding arises, that pushes my fast to another level spiritually. It truly is a balance I endeavor to maintain.”
A Lesson in Humility
Ramadan is an opportunity to re-organise your life and establish your priorities. From chasing dreams to seeking God, for the believer, it’s about reminding ourselves of the direction of travel and seeking to lay down positive habits for the future. Restraint, contemplation, patience, it’s also a good lesson in humility as one begins to recognise the myriad blessings in our day to day life. Not least a sip of water on an over-crowded hot tube ride.
(The writer is based in Nagpur and can be reached at [email protected])