Ramadan has a lot to do with the heart and as little as possible to do with food or water, no seriously, it’s true. As God said in the Glorious Quran:
“Oh you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may learn piety and righteousness” (Q 2:183)
Starting with a reference to the source, to the texts that command, guide and inspire us every day, especially so in the blessed month is pivotal. Because today in a world devoted to its appetite for excessive consumption, quick fixes and instant gratification, the crux of the underlying purpose of Ramadan has taken a back seat. And it’s this issue we need to address this Ramadan, on a personal and societal level – starting with the purification of our hearts.
Although abstinence from food and hunger is a part of fasting, it shouldn’t however be the end product. In fact the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stated that “Many receive nothing from the fast except hunger and thirst.” [Hadith]. A hunger which many of us ironically quench by indulging in gluttonous behaviours – adding little if any at all in the way of personal development of the heart.
Fasting, for the sake of God has been given a status to which there is no equivalent.
Abu Umamah reported: “I came to the Messenger of Allah (saw) and said: ‘Order me to do a deed that will allow me to enter Paradise.’ He said: ‘Stick to fasting, as there is no equivalent to it.’ Then I came to him again and he said: ‘Stick to fasting.”‘ [Imam Ahmad, Imam Nasa’i, and Imam Hakim].
Why is fasting given such a high status, the obvious and most accurate answer is that fasting, is something that is dear to the Creator, in fact fasting is an act that if done solely for His sake, God Himself will reward the fasting person for it.
But looking a little deeper than most of us tend to do today, fasting concerns not just your stomach or your throat. It concerns your entire being, your mouth, heart and eyes. Since taqwa (God consciousness) – the primary purpose we are trying to achieve is found in the heart, it is only fitting to draw from it that the heart should be a focal point during the blessed month.
You see once there is taqwa or greater discipline in the heart all else fits into place. Lowering of the gaze, abstaining from the prohibited, giving charity and being kind all stem from the heart; and it’s consciousness of its Creator. It’s not the easiest muscle to tame, but we have a month in which distractions are minimal to work on it – the benefits however are priceless. For this reason it is fundamental that the concept of the heart and not the stomach being the organ we are trying to control, strengthen, remedy and permeate to the core of our understanding.
Sharing is one of the best medicines for the heart – it opens up the little we have of our lives to others, even if for a brief moment. What better way is there to work on your heart than sharing this blessed month, a month that means so much to you with other people who may never have witnessed the blessings this month has to offer.
With this is mind, we must not forget that we are not only trying to better ourselves but also our communities. In times of increasing tensions it only seems fitting to explore different ways of challenging the phobias associated with the Muslim community. Like most phobias, the fear is derived of the unknown – sharing Ramadan is the best way to tackle misconceptions head on. As it not only involves the act of engaging and informing those members of the community that aren’t of your faith (or no faith) but it gives them a practical insight. Ever heard of the phrase “Walk a mile in my shoe”?
Well Share Ramadan gives them just that opportunity, in fact it gives them several miles, well hours or to be exact 19 hours – which is the roughly the number of hours this years’ fasts are expected to be.
So this Ramadan , why not challenge a friend or colleague who is not of the Muslim faith (or no faith) to participate in this noble cause, and potentially raise money for a cause of their choice.
Ali R Ilyas
Ali R Ilyas is a 23 year old Trainee Solicitor at Lloyds Solicitors in Longsight, Manchester, a city in which he was born and studied Law. His interest in human rights activism, specifically in women’s rights led him to become a Director of the emerging Luna Women’s Foundation, which has a specific aim to target gender inequality; be it at home or work. Apart from being involved in several community organisations and his political role as the Chair of his local Labour Party, Ali enjoys writing creative stories, articles, poetry and performing spoken word poetry.
The views expressed in this blog are those of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Share Ramadan or the publishers.