Ramadan Mubarak to everyone. To help try and get in the right frame of mind for this blessed month I have chosen extracts from two books by two different twentieth century Islamic scholars, one Sunni and the other Shi’i. Hope they strike a chord with you, insha’ Allah.
The Heart of Islam, Seyyed Hossein Nasr
‘In this holiest of months, Muslims combine physical and psychological purification with an intensification of prayer, recitation of the Qur’an, and acts of charity…During the fast one puts on, in a sense, the dress of death and distances oneself from the passions that attach one to the world. It is a time of great self-discipline and the practice of the virtues of patience and persistence in hardship for the sake of God.’
Let Us Be Muslims, Sayyid Abul A’la Mawdudi
‘The greatest mistake we commit is to regard the outward shape of acts of prayer and fasting as the real ‘Ibadah (worship) and we suffer from the delusion that whoever just fulfills these requirements performs the ‘Ibadah of Allah. Just as physical strength cannot be obtained from the bread until it is fully digested, the spiritual power cannot be obtained from fasting until the person allows Ramadan’s purpose to permeate one’s heart and mind and dominate one’s thought, intention and deed.”
‘In this way does Allah put to the test a Muslim’s faith for a full month every year. To the extent you emerge successful from this trial, your faith becomes firmer and deeper. The Fasting is both a trial and a training. If you deposit anything on trust with somebody, you are, as it were, testing his integrity. If he does not abuse your trust, he not only passes his test, but, at the same time, also develops greater strength to bear the burden of greater trusts in future. Similarly, Allah puts your faith to severe test continuously for one month, many long hours a day. If you emerge triumphant from this test, more strength develops in you to refrain from other sins.
‘This is what the Qur’an says:
O believers! Fasting is ordained for you, even as it was ordained for those before you, that you might attain to God-consciousness (al-Baqarah 2: 183)
‘Every year, for one full month from dawn to sunset and from sunset to dawn, you, like a soldier in an army, continuously live a disciplined life, following certain rules all the time. You are then sent back to continue your normal duties for eleven months so that the training you have received for one month may be reflected in your conduct, and if any deficiency is found it may be made up the next year.
‘The month of Ramadan suffuses the whole environment with a spirit of righteousness, virtue and piety. As flowers blossom in spring, so does taqwa in Ramadan. Everyone tries extra hard to avoid sin and, if they lapse, they know they can count on the help of their many other brothers who are fasting with them. The desire automatically arises in every heart to do good works, to feed the poor, to clothe the naked, to help those in distress, to participate in any good work being done anywhere, and to prevent evil. Just as plants have their season of flowering, so Ramadan is the time of year for the growth and flourishing of good and righteousness.’