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In the name of God, Most Gracious Most Merciful
Like all other religious practices gifted to us by God, fasting during the month of Ramadan is another great system to develop the soul in preparation for the Hereafter. While there is the scientifically proven health benefit as well, there is the real benefit of enhanced remembrance of God throughout the month. The additional time spent before dawn preparing for the fast, the breaking of the fast, the supplications to God for His support in making the fast easy and the increased gatherings to commemorate God, all help us remember God so much more. Every moment that we submit to God’s command to refrain from food and drink from dawn to sunset, we are automatically remembering and praising Him consciously and subconsciously.
[33:35] ..... the fasting men, the fasting women, ..... GOD has prepared for them forgiveness and a great recompense.
[2:184]..... But fasting is the best for you, if you only knew.
Not only has God given us this great blessing, He is also compassionate in accommodating every kind of situation, just so that His servants can submit to His commands and fulfill their obligations.
[2:184] Specific days (are designated for fasting); if one is ill or traveling, an equal number of other days may be substituted. Those who can fast, but with great difficulty, may substitute feeding one poor person for each day of breaking the fast. If one volunteers (more righteous works), it is better. But fasting is the best for you, if you only knew.
[2:185] ..... Those who are ill or traveling may substitute the same number of other days. GOD wishes for you convenience, not hardship, that you may fulfill your obligations, and to glorify GOD for guiding you, and to express your appreciation.
Unfortunately, like with almost everything else in the religion, Muslims end up nullifying their worship by following laws made by corrupt, ignorant religious leaders (9:31, 22:8), or other illegal sources such as Hadith and Sunnah. These man made rules have no basis in Quran, are difficult to follow, and often repel people from embracing Islam (3:99, 6:26, 9:34). Here are some of typical misunderstandings and violations committed during Ramadan, for you to consider in light of the Quran and share with your friends and family (17:36).
Many people believe that they must start and end the fasting month only after they sight the moon physically, while God tells us that He rendered the sun and the moon as calculation devices (6:96, 10:5, 17:12, 55:5). This idea of waiting to see the moon first is not logical. Muslims use the moon to decide other months and events such as Hajj years ahead without seeing the moon, so how is it justified to enact Ramadan only after seeing the moon. Muslims also use the sun to calculate the Salat prayer and do not need to see the sun physically to check if it is time to pray. So why do they not apply the same law for the moon during Ramadan? At times, due to the rise and set of the new moon near to the rising or setting of the sun, it is almost impossible to see the new moon. Just like it will be too late if you wait to see the sun rise before you decide to do your dawn prayer, it may also be too late if you wait to see the moon before you commence Ramadan fasting. You may be off by a day or two and lose out on a perfect month! If the weather is cloudy and you cannot see them, does it mean the sun and moon are not doing their perfect appearances? Even within sighting of the moon there are rules about how to sight the moon and some countries even send out a plane if they have to. Prophet Muhammad’s generation and the those before him did not have aircraft to send into the air. They used the sun and moon to calculate. Nothing has changed, so calculate.
[10:5] He is the One who rendered the sun radiant, and the moon a light, and He designed its phases that you may learn to count the years and to calculate. GOD did not create all this, except for a specific purpose. He explains the revelations for people who know.
[6:96] At the crack of dawn, He causes the morning to emerge. He made the night still, and He rendered the sun and the moon to serve as calculation devices. Such is the design of the Almighty, the Omniscient.
This is also an incorrect idea without any basis. God says to fast during the month of Ramadan. He does not say to adjust the month to fast 30 days. Depending upon the position of the new moon, different places can have a lunar month of 29 fasts in some years.
The Salat Prayers are required to be done in a specific mathematically coded format which triggers off a mystical harmony in the universe and establishes ‘Direct Contact’ with God. The key is in doing the Salat exactly as decreed by God, 5 times a day, throughout the year, no more and no less. But people end up innovating additional Salat Prayers which have no basis in Quran. Prayers such as such as ‘Wajib’, ‘Sunnat’, and ‘Nafil’ are all false prayers and destroy the mathematically coded set of prayers decreed by God.
There is even something called a ‘Tarawih’ prayer which makes a special appearance in Ramadan consisting of various ways to go about it depending upon the preference of Hadith by the hundreds of unauthorized sects around the world (6:159, 30:32). Some Tarawih sessions make people stand and sit so much that they end up bored and tired. Most mosques divide the Quran into 30 equal parts and recite a part each night of Ramadan just for the sake of finishing it, even though no one cares to listen or understand (2:171, 7:204). Instead of these false and uncomfortable religious gatherings, people should follow God’s command in Quran to meditate in the night (17:79, 25:64, 26:217-219, 73:2), reflecting upon His name (50:40) and seeking His mercy in Ramadan and throughout the year as well (3:191-192, 20:130, 32:15-16, 40:55).
People simply miss the spirit of Islam. God wishes for us convenience not hardship (2:185), but by refusing to understand that God wants to help us slow down, practice self restraint and upgrade our remembrance of Him, they end up making the religion difficult to enjoy and appreciate. God only orders us not to eat and drink (2:187), and surely He does not want us to suffer while we are it! Just doing something because He said so (whether we need it or not), is Submission to Him (Islam). Saliva is not a food or drink substitute. So avoiding swallowing saliva, a biologically natural product of the mouth, and deliberately making oneself more thirsty or believing it constitutes breaking the fast is a false notion. If the idea is to suffer the hardship of heat and thirst during Ramadan as some people think, why do they sit in the breeze or an air conditioned room which definitely reduces thirst?
Watching TV also does not nullify a fast. If TV is okay to watch in the rest of the year, it is okay to watch during a fast. Like with everything else, believers must only see that nothing in life distracts them from the remembrance of God, be it TV, or business, family or anything (9:124, 24:36-37, 31:33, 35:5, 63:9).
While continuing to believe themselves to be good Muslims, many of them try and escape fasting by abusing God’s law which allows exemption from fasting if a person needs to travel during Ramadan. But the law clearly talks about Substituting other days for the missed ones, so fasting cannot and will not be avoided by sincere Muslims (2:184 -185). People must realize that they cannot fool God. He knows the intentions of anyone who really needs to travel and cannot fast due to travel or illness.
[2:184] Specific days (are designated for fasting); if one is ill or traveling, an equal number of other days may be substituted....... But fasting is the best for you, if you only knew.
[2:185] Ramadan is the month during which the Quran was revealed, providing guidance for the people, clear teachings, and the statute book. Those of you who witness this month shall fast therein. Those who are ill or traveling may substitute the same number of other days. GOD wishes for you convenience, not hardship, that you may fulfill your obligations, and to glorify GOD for guiding you, and to express your appreciation.
There is also no compulsion in religion (2:256). That is why it is not righteous to punish or criticize others who cannot fast, may choose not to fast, or follow another religion which does not specify fasting. When Muslims are fasting, it does not mean they should turn unpleasant and intolerant, and make it difficult for others to lead a normal life, eating and drinking as they wish to. As long as people are not opposing or oppressing you because of your religion (60:8-9), showing kindness and tolerance of people’s choices is actually a better way of inviting people to Islam rather than forcing it upon them.
Zakat, the obligatory charity for Muslims is such an important requirement that God says He reserves His mercy for those who give it (7:16). The Quran teaches us that Zakat is given on the day of harvest namely, whenever we ‘harvest’ or earn income (6:141). But people give their Zakat only once a year in Ramadan which can turn out to be wasteful, besides being economically unsound. Since Zakat can also be given as food, is not uncommon to hear of needy people waste or refuse perishable food because of surplus food receipts. But Zakat given throughout the year brings about constant circulation of wealth and periodic relief to the needy. Imagine what would happen to a poor person who received Zakat just once a year and it was stolen or misplaced. Can the poor person afford to wait for the next Ramadan?
Ramadan fasting is one of the many gifts from God. But it does not mean that any religious acts such as Salat and Zakat during this month makes them any more special than doing them during the rest of the year. Giving Zakat and praying only during Ramadan does not give your soul any more credit than if you did them throughout the year -- as they are required to be done. It is also a wrong belief that during Ramadan the soul is built up so strong that it will help overlook your sins through the rest of the year.
Many people believe that the fast can only be opened with select foods such as a pinch of salt or date fruit. Some go even further by importing dates from Mecca or Medina because they believe that it those dates that must be eaten, not just any other dates from God’s spacious and bounteous Earth. These are false rules which find their root in Hadith. The dietary prohibitions specified in Quran are applicable at all times and do not make distinction among foods during Ramadan or any other time (2:187, 13:4). Believers are free to end or start a fast with whatever food they want (even dates), provided they do not make a religious law out of it and attribute it to God (7:32).
The end of Ramadan is celebrated by festivities called Eid-ul-fitr. On the first day after Ramadan ends, people get together and celebrate with a feast, greeting and congratulating each other for fulfilling such a great obligation to God. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing this, provided it is not made into a religious requirement. It is a personal choice and is absolutely optional because it is not a religious law. Also, just like there is no extra Salat Prayer as mentioned earlier, there is no such thing as an ‘Eid’ Salat prayer which is performed in congregation on the first morning after fasting.
May God bless you with a great month of fasting.
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