A lot of people know that Ramadan is a time of fasting for Muslims around the world. But beyond the notion of fasting, is there anything else? Turns out there are some people who know so little and hence fail to understand the principles of the religion.
This month, Muslims across the globe, from Tanzania to Sweden, will join in a universal practice that aims to bring them closer to God.
Ideally, the fast of Ramadan is two pronged: Muslims abstain from food, drink, alcohol, drugs and sex to suspend their indulgence in worldly comforts. Adherents also refrain from lying, cheating, gossip, swearing and other bad deeds to cleanse the soul and practice virtue.
This holy occasion has been practiced since time immemorial. On my daily endeavours in Mbezi Beach, I came across a devotee Muslim named Khaleed Juma. He is a jack of all trades, engaging in electrical work, carpentry and so much more. We began talking and within a few minutes, I enquired as to what he’s got planned for Ramadan. “Not much other than being a better man,” was his response.
“A better man?” I wondered. “Yes, a man God can be proud of,” he retorted. His response sounded cavalier in its tonicity, so I demanded a more elaborate explanation of the matter. He began by saying that Ramadan to him is like a lesson on how a devoted Muslim should live his or her life.
“If a man is respectful of his parents, then he ought to respect that parent his entire life and not choose to be good during Ramadan and afterwards backtrack,” he explained. My interest peaked so I had to know more.
My second encounter was with Abdul Khamis, one of my family friends who’s also a Muslim. I wanted to hear what he had to say about the holy month of Ramadan.
Abdul started off by explaining that fasting is a way for a Muslim to repent his sins and become a better version of him or herself. “It’s the time for reflecting on the bad things you did and repent.” He continued, “People who follow the words of Quran should be able to understand that there are unfortunate people with little to eat during Ramadan.
They do not have food and can barely afford other necessities. Charity is one way a good Muslim can play a part in helping someone.” Ramadan is a time where God forgives and sins committed are magnified a hundred times.
According to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the holy month is a time to reflect on that which matters to us most, including the bonds of family and the essence of spirituality.
“From volunteering at charity iftars to filling Ramadan fridges with goods, we can all do our bit with basic acts of humanity and compassion to help those facing a tough mental and physical challenge in the weeks ahead,” he said.
During the Ramadan period, there are Dos and Don’ts that a Muslim should keenly consider in this holly month. These are guidelines put in place to help Muslims best navigate the temptations of the world and come out victorious against evil – a way to reach a spiritual growth.
However, there is much more to Ramadan than the menial act of keeping and breaking a fast. One should keep in mind that this month is about patience, forgiveness and goodness.
The DO NOTs of Ramadan
Ramadan adherents shouldn’t lose patience. God is a pinnacle of tolerance therefore in this month the practitioner shouldn’t lose his or her patience. It is no surprise that deprivation of food and the scorching sun can make one irritable and vulnerable. Refrain from indulging yourself in destructive behaviour because Ramadan is all about patience and tolerance, and surely, the reward of patience is Paradise. This is according to The book Al-Kafi, compiled by Muhammad ibn.
Do not resent anyone for wronging you. Since God is forgiving, you should emulate his strength no matter how difficult it is. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) has said, if God almighty can forgive us for our sins that we commit throughout the year then why not follow the same suite?
It (Ramadan) is the month, whose beginning is mercy, its middle is forgiveness, and its end is emancipation from the fire (of hell). This is according to Bihar al-Anwar, a comprehensive collection of traditions compiled by Shia Muslim scholar Mohammad-Baqer Majles.
Refrain from gossip. Gossiping is like wild fire, once it starts, it has no bounds.
The Dos of Ramadan
The month of Ramadan is enshrined in a holy circle with strict rules to be followed by its adherents. There are a number of things or daily routines that should be adhered to. These include:
Recite the Quran to honour and remember God as many times as possible. A good prayer in this time gets the highest attention from the Almighty due to the belief that there are no barriers between the flock and The Almighty. Why? Because it is believed that during this time The Devil likes to prey on weak souls. You’re also expected to remember the Almighty as frequently as possible.
Ramadan is the greatest opportunity to communicate with Allah. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.”
According to Persian Islamic scholar Imam Bukhari, Ramadan is the perfect opportunity to seek forgiveness from the Lord and reestablish ties with Him.
To Follow the Sunnah: It is always advisable for a Muslim to follow in the footsteps of the Holy Prophet, however, the spirit of Ramadan requires that the Sunnah of the Prophet is adhered to, to reap the benefits of this holy month.
The routine of the Prophet during this month should be a standard for every Muslim. It is believed that imitating the best of the human beings will surely make us better people and even better role models as Muslims in good faith.
Taraweeh, another essential element of this month, is the performance of the additional prayer to the five daily prayers. Taraweeh prayers are to be performed after Isha (night prayer) each day to create a stronger bond with the Almighty and to gain the blessings of God.
Give Zakat: Being one of the five pillars of Islam, Zakat is the compulsory giving of a set proportion of one’s wealth to charity. A definite act to indulge in. Ramadan is all about helping others and feeling their pain – putting one in the shoes of another and having empathy. So, what better time to help someone than in the holy month of Ramadan?
While some non-Muslims are practically aware of the Dos and Don’ts during Ramadan, there those who need to know some tips they should try to avoid:
Refrain from eating food in public places: It’s, important to respect those who are fasting and avoid eating or drinking in public. There are exceptions to this demand, they include pregnant women, the elderly, and someone who is unwell.
Do not organise work lunches: Those who are fasting will be open to meeting colleagues outside office for work purposes. They will even be courteous enough to entertain you if you accidentally invite them for a work lunch, though they may not eat anything. You should schedule meetings in the morning.
Do not decline Iftar invites: Iftar is a special meal. It’s the meal you have after ending the fast for that particular day. So, if you are a non-Muslim who is invited by a Muslim friend for Iftar, you should not refuse their hospitality or conclude that because you haven’t fasted you won’t eat. This moment is their way of showing how much they care and want to celebrate with you.