Reflections on RamadanThe month of Ramadan and the blessings of fasting [Archives:2005/884/Culture]

October 10 2005


The month of Ramadan is one of abundance, described in the Qur'an, itself sent down as a guide to all of mankind, as “better than a thousand months” (Surat al-Qadr: 3) and which contains the Night of Power. Throughout this month all the Muslims of the world carry out their fasting obligation as one and thank their Lord for the blessings He has given them. In Surat al-Baqara, Allah proclaims the following about the month of Ramadan:

The month of Ramadan is the one in which the Qur'an was sent down as guidance for mankind, with Clear Signs containing guidance and discrimination. Any of you who are resident for the month should fast it. But any of you who are ill or on a journey should fast a number of other days. Allah desires ease for you; He does not desire difficulty for you. You should complete the number of days and proclaim Allah's greatness for the guidance He has given you so that hopefully you will be thankful. (Surat al-Baqara: 185)

In one of his sayings our Prophet (saas) emphasizes the importance of Ramadan as follows:

“Oh people! A great month has come over you; a blessed month… month in which Allah has made it compulsory upon you to fast by day, and voluntary to pray by night. Whoever draws nearer (to Allah) by performing any of the (optional) good deeds in (this month) shall receive the same reward as performing an obligatory deed at any other time… It is the month of patience, and the reward of patience is Heaven. It is the month of charity, and a month in which a believer's sustenance is increased…” (narrated by Ibn Khuzaymah)

Regarding the rite of fasting, which God has made a religious obligation observed during the month of Ramadan, the following is revealed:

“You who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you)so that hopefully you will have taqwa” (Surat al-Baqara: 183) and

“That you should fast is better for you, if you only knew.” (Surat al-Baqara: 184)

Fasting is a duty that brings countless benefits to Muslims. This obligation, fulfilled by all Muslims together, further increases the enthusiasm of and solidarity between Muslims, who are dispersed all over the world. The fact it is observed en masse further increases its spiritual nature.

One of the many instances of wisdom in fasting is that thanks to this act of worship people are better able to understand the blessings they enjoy. Even for a sincere Muslim there is a danger of taking the blessings he enjoys for granted. That prevents a person from giving thanks for the blessings given him by Allah in the way he should. In a number of verses, however, Allah has told people they should give thanks to Him for the blessings He has imparted, and that those who do so will be given still greater blessings. A person who fasts is protected from the danger of being led by Satan to forget these things and take the blessings given to him for granted. Someone who has never thought deeply before, begins to consider how many things Allah has given him, and what great blessings all things are. He therefore gives thanks again and again for all the opportunities and health he enjoys. In short, as Bediuzzaman Said Nursi has said, fasting in Ramadan is “the key to a true, sincere, extensive, and universal thankfulness.” (The Risale-i Nur Collection, Letters, The Twenty-Ninth Letter, The Second Section, Second Point)

God desires not difficulty but ease for His servants, and determined as their religion those values that best conform to their needs, wishes and manner of living. In a verse of the Qur'an, our Lord commands as follows:

…Today disbelievers have despaired of overcoming your religion. So do not be afraid of them but be afraid of Me. Today I have perfected your religion for you and completed My blessing upon you and I am pleased with Islam as a religion for you… (Sura al-Ma'ida: 3)


There are those who live by modern-day as well as social standards, who accept the rules applied by the majority as absolute facts and use them to try and interpret the Qur'an. People like this make up the majority of those who try to object to the Qur'an, even though they are the least educated and cultured. It is possible to come across such people in every profession and part of society. They make up a majority, who do not think too deeply or possess a certain world-view, and are obsessed only with worldly pursuits and are only focused on their livelihood. Since they seek simple pleasures, small calculations and profits, they perceive the Qur'an as a threat that would limit their so-called freedom, alter their simple lifestyles or expectations, and the order to which they are accustomed. Therefore, they try to oppose the Qur'an with their primitive logic.

Members of this group make the same comments about the Qur'an that they have heard from others, ideas originally not their own. They usually make unreasonable and ignorant remarks about the Qur'an using sentences that begin with such words as, “In the 21st century , “In our day and age , “In the space age “, “In the West ” , and so on.

They propose that the lifestyle described in the Qur'an and that of our own time are incompatible, and that the former is in fact outdated. From that perspective they subsequently make false claims concerning the Qur'an. For example, they claim that such things as fasting and prayer interfere with the pace of the modern lifestyle, that the Islamic ban on interest cannot be practiced under current economic conditions and even that the prohibition of adultery in this day and age is evidence of the impossibility of applying the Qur'an to our daily lives.

They apply superficial logic and display great ignorance when addressing the topics of the prayers, commands, and prohibitions in the Qur'an. They introduce arguments about the wisdom in some commands which they do not understand or the verses that they cannot comprehend. Worse still, they defend their illogical claims with great ferocity. This stems in part from the fact that what they are defending with such eagerness is based on the ideas of the majority, rather than on logic or reason.

They accept society's general lifestyle and world-view, which they refer to as “the facts of life,” as the absolute truth and seek errors and discrepancies in the Qur'an by taking them as a point of reference. The notions they use as criteria have no actual scientific or logical worth. The concepts that they assume to be the absolute truth, “the facts of life” or the requirements of the modern age, are in fact illusions with which they only deceive themselves and provide psychological support for one another.

We are informed, in the Qur'an, of the twisted path of these people, who gather all their strength from being part of the majority and think that they are on the right path since they are in harmony with everyone else:

If you obeyed most of those on earth, they would misguide you from God's Way. They follow nothing but conjecture. They are only guessing. (Surat al-An'am: 116)

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