At the weekend, Muslims began observing the fast of the month of Ramadhan, in fulfillment of the fourth pillar of Islam.
It is the ninth and the most revered month on the Islamic lunar calendar because it is in it that the holy Qur’an was revealed to the prophet. It is the only month that Allah mentions directly in the Qur’an (2:185) which, according to some Islamic scholars, makes it a unique month before Allah.
Yet it is not listed among the four sacred months (Ashahur haram) of Muharram, Rajab, Dhul Qa’adah and Dhul Hajj the first, seventh, eleventh and last month on the Islamic calendar respectively.
“The Ashahur haram are majorly prohibitive because in them, fighting [warfare] is prohibited which is not the case with Ramadhan,” says Sheikh Ibrahim Hassan Kirya, the spokesman of the Kibuli faction of Muslim leadership.
Other than warfare, which is a general prohibition to all Muslims, the sacred months also carry other prohibitions which are limited to specific areas such Mecca. Sheikh Umar Sserunjogi from Masaka Noor Az-har Shareef Islamic Centre reasons that since taking part in a holy war (Jihad) carries a lot of rewards, it is permitted in Ramadhan.
“All the major victories that the Muslim armies recorded against their pagan enemies, like at the battle of Badr, were in Ramadhan,” Sheikh Sserunjogi says.
The fast is observed from dusk to dawn, and during this period, a fasting Muslim has to abstain from not only food and drink, but also sexual relations, illicit behavior such as gambling and idle talk. It is the most venerated month, which, according to some scholars, is enough qualification for Ramadhan to make it to the list of the sacred months.
“But Ramadhan ranks higher than the rest of the months of the year because of it is in it that the Qur’an was revealed, in it is the night of power [Lailatul Qadr] which is greater than a thousand months,” argues Sheikh Kirya.
By the virtue of being the only month mentioned directly in the Quran, Sheikh Sserunjogi argues, Ramadhan is the mother of all of the months on the Islamic calendar.
“That is the reason why we get multiple rewards for every single deed that we do for the pleasure of Allah during Ramadhan,” Sheikh Sserunjogi says.
Why the fast?
Fasting of Ramadhan was ordained in second year of Hijra (Prophet Muhammad and his companion’s migration from Mecca to Medina). This was around 622 AD. It is one of the greatest acts of worship in Islam as it cleanses one’s mind, body, and soul from the spiritual and physical impurities of this world.
It is an act that brings the hearts of Muslims together as they endeavor to practice the virtue of self-discipline in unison. Allah says in 2:183 that “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed onto you as it was prescribed onto those before you, that perhaps ye may (learn) self-restraint.”
Fasting is thus considered an act of deep personal worship in which Muslims seek a raised level of closeness to God. It is a period during which Muslims are encouraged to exercise utmost humility to the disaantaged, elderly, orphans, widows and children.
The 30 days of fasting are climaxed with the celebration of the feast of Eid-el-fitri, which falls on the first day of Shawwal, the tenth month on the Islamic calendar.
Source : The Observer