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The Egyptian Society for Spiritual and Cultural Research

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Sawm Ramadan
(Fasting the holy month)


Fasting the month of Ramadan is the fourth pillar. Typically the Muslim stops all her/his worldly desires (eating, drinking ..etc.), starting from dawn till sun set. S/he is advised to increase, as much as possible, her/his prayers, meditation time and reading the Holy Qur’an.

As a lunar month, the beginning of Ramadan is decided when people recognize the appearance of the crescent in the sky. The wording of the Holy Qur’an states this requirement in an inspiring way:

Those of you who witness the month (al-shahr), they have to fast"
(HQ: 2:185).

Reflecting upon this verse, we may be able to say that those who witness the month truly are also those who know what goal they are up to.

Fasting Is a Tool of Purification


The goal of fasting is not to torture the body, and not to scorn the physical desires, but to give the chance to experience oneself as spirit. Obviously, fasting is not merely the deprivation of the body from pleasures since human beings can enjoy those pleasures after the breaking of the fast. The “intention” of giving up those pleasures for a definite time, which is also part of the ritual, implies that one looks for purification and preparation of God's graces. When the body starts the stage of starvation, the spirit takes over and starts to ask for nourishment through all sorts and means of God's remembrance dhikr ullah. Fasting is a condensed sort of spiritual training. This spiritual experience is given to man once every year. During certain hours of the day, when man gives up all her/his earthly desires, s/he opens channels for heavenly connection. S/he has a chance of great spiritual transformation that cannot be counted or measured.

Fasting is a training the base of which, is to give human will, power and control over desires, and the climax of which, is to witness the oneness of God through the awakening of the divinity from within. Here is a pause for the mind to reflect, the will to get stronger, and the heart to flourish. If man achieves the required purification, and gives up the chance for the spirit to take over, s/he experiences the divine link that ties her/him to her/his Origin and ties all human beings in a sacred bond. By that awakening, s/he opens her/himself to the Grace of Allah, which cannot be counted or expected.

In one of the Divine Hadiths, we read,

"Every work of a child of Adam is counted for her/ him, except fasting. It is for Me and I reward for it."(DH)

Narrated by Al Bukhari, Moslem, Ibn Magah and Ahmad.

" Who fasts Ramadan devoting her/ himself to Allah, her/ his sins will be forgiven, and s/he will turn to be as pure as a new born"(PH)

Narrated by Al Bukhari and Moslem

Ramadan is called the Gracious and Blessed Month, al-Shahr al -Karim al-Mubarak. The spiritual gains that we may achieve exceed enormously the struggle we have gone through. The Night of God's Grace Laylatu'l Qadr is the metaphoric expression that describes the rewards, which cannot be measured or counted.glossary

We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of God' s Grace. And what will explain to thee what the Night of God's Grace is? The Night of God's Grace is better than a thousand months. Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by Allah's permission, on every errand. Peace!... This until the rise of Morn!.
(HQ: 97: 1-5) (Our translation)

Muhammad (PBUH) as an Exemplar opened for his followers the door of Mercy. Allah's Blessing is awaiting them if they devote themselves to Allah under his guidance. This blessing is expressed metaphorically with "The Night of God's Grace." Those who struggle within their soul to experience the closeness to God will reap the fruit, not according to their measurement, but according to God's bounty. The very word "Night" shows that man is incubated in the darkness, waiting for the blessing. Out of this darkness, the eternal light of Allah shines within her/his heart. It is not an event without preparation. Man is prepared through the whole month for this moment. Therefore, it is not a coincidence to be advised to expect the Night of God's Grace Laylatu'l Qadr in the last ten days of the Month because the first twenty are the incubation period for the immature being to nourish her/his very core of existence; his heart.

Sympathizing with the needy as a result of experiencing their pain will not stop by ending the fast, but will remain because of discovering the inner link of humans as spirits enclosed in matters. Yet the spiritual gains may exceed all one's expectations.

Revelations came from heaven to prophets during fasting. It happened to Moses (PBUH) , Jesus (PBUH) and Muhammad (PBUH) . All of them did not fast in order to have specific known outcomes. They fasted in order to meditate properly, think clearly and purify themselves from the worldly defilement. They might have fasted because they were passing through a spiritual stage where they rejected things that tie them to earth. Regardless of the motivations, which we don't know for sure, the point is, they prepared themselves spiritually through purification, and they received God's Grace in a way that they were not expecting. It is God's Mercy to show us -human beings - how to get ready for His grace.

The Significance of
Fasting According to a Certain Order


Other revelations guide man to purification through fasting in different ways, which all support man in feeling her/himself as spirit. The Revelation to Muhammad (PBUH) organizes the method of fasting in a way that is within human's capabilities. By pushing the body to starve, the maximum benefit of fasting may be achieved. The goal is to get closer to Allah. The intention of riding this tool to achieve such a sublime goal is what makes man experience spiritual elevation that can be invested in meditation and prayers.

In other systems of fasting, the hours of fasting are counted and they may lead to similar kind of spiritual elevation. However, the system of fasting that was revealed to The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) , expresses this beautiful relationship between man and the natural order directly and clearly. Fasting is related to the movement of the earth around itself, facing the Sun. During the light period, our body is elevated by its deprivation from its desires. We come back to our normal and earthly desires during the dark period, after the sunset. Like the relation between the Earth and the Sun, our spiritual training is meant to allow us to absorb the light during the shine of the Truth (the Sun Shine as its symbol), the opaque nature of the earth, (our own opaque nature) reflects that light during the darkness. We have to be aware of the source of light, waiting for its rise to feed ourselves once more.

Ramadan as a lunar month exchanges its time in the Solar years, so it may come in hot seasons, or cold seasons, or mild seasons. Man can experience fasting in different periods of time. Sometimes s/he gets more thirsty than hungry, and others s/he gets hungrier than thirsty and so on and so forth. Regardless of the body's complaints, man is asked to awaken this divine by praying and doing all sorts of meditations. Out of the pain of hunger, and thirst, the quest of the transcendental may increase.

The Significance of
Increasing Night Prayers in Ramadan


Because Ramadan is a month that gives us the maximum of our spiritual potentials, we have to devote ourselves to Allah all the time. In mid of the darkness, Prayers are extended, following the traditions of The Prophet (Sunna). There is a special Prayer recommended to be performed in Ramadan, following the night Prayer. It signifies that even though food, drink and desires of the body are allowed, there is a reminder that we should not be completely indulged. In other words, to be guided to perform more Prayers in Ramadan during nighttime is a symbol of man’s awareness of the need to spiritual support in the heart of darkness. Without that support, physical desires could be overwhelming.

Controlling our desires extends even after we are permitted to break the fasting. By the end of the month, we acquire the capability of being in control of our life. However, the spiritual strength we gain through this month may weaken and fade down in time, as a result of the pulling factors of our earthly life, the recurring of Ramadan saves us from falling deep in the layers of darkness.

Fasting Ramadan with the intention of getting closer to Allah can change man's whole life completely. S/he makes her/himself available to this great transformation from the earthly mud to the realm of light  Next >>>

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