In the name of GOD, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
There is no other god beside GOD

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Ramadan: A Gift Of Rememberance

They remember God while standing, sitting, and on their sides,
and they reflect upon the creation of the heavens and the earth:
"Our Lord, You did not create all this in vain. Be You glorified.
Save us from the retribution of Hell." (3:191)

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. (2:185)

God created us and knows our every wish, desire, and need. Our most basic needs are food and water. In addition to the physical benefits of fueling our bodies, we derive a great deal of satisfaction from a full stomach and a well-quenched thirst, no matter what the climate. And food and drink are at the center of the human being’s celebrations.

It is not new for God to use food or water to get our attention. "Eat from the good things we provided for you" (2:57). At the birth of Jesus, Mary was told, "Eat and drink and be happy ..." (19:26) All provisions are signs from God of His absolute authority, and His unending mercy towards human beings. Celebrate the wonder of God.

God knows how to get our attention. He knows that the distractions of our daily lives frequently keep us from remembering Him "while standing, sitting, or lying on our sides." We strive to do our best as we go through our days with the realization that all provisions are given by God alone, and that all creatures are provided for. What peace to know this, without doubt. And how easily we take it for granted!

God has tested the human being with food and drink frequently, and He relates these tests that we might learn to be more appreciative, more aware of the true nature of our temporary world. For example, the majority of Saul’s troops failed to pass the test at the stream, but for those that were steadfast, patient, and obedient, the reward was victory (2:249).

We will surely test you through some fear, hunger, and loss of money, lives, and crops. Give good news to the steadfast. When an af-fliction befalls them, they say, "We belong to God, and to Him we are returning." (2:155-156)

Recall that you said, "O Moses, we can no longer tolerate one kind of food. Call upon your Lord to pro-duce for us such earthly crops as beans, cucumbers, garlic, lentils, and onions." He said, "Do you wish to substitute that which is in-ferior for that which is good?... (2:61)

Remind them of the community by the sea, who desecrated the Sab-bath. When they observed the Sab-bath, the fish came to them abun-dantly. And when they violated the Sabbath, the fish did not come. We thus afflicted them, as a conse-quence of their transgression. (7:163)

And of Adam and Eve, we read:

As for you, Adam, dwell with your wife in Paradise, and eat therefrom as you please, but do not approach this one tree, lest you fall in sin. The devil whispered to them, in order to reveal their bodies, which were invisible to them. He said, "Your Lord did not forbid you from this tree, except to prevent you from becoming angels, and from attaining eternal existence." (7:19-20)

Of all God’s food provision, only four are prohibited and if forced to eat these, we will not bear the conse-quences (2:173; 6:145; 16:115). God is so merciful as to provide for every possible circumstance of the human being’s life. All things are lawful to eat.

And He speaks frequently of water. He uses "pure drink" and "flowing streams" to describe the heaven we all strive for. He knows us and knows water is a source of life and internal peace for us. We are carried in water through nine months of pregnancy. It provides great comfort to us, psycho-logically, emotionally, and spiritually. God describes water and its source in many ways.

Recall that Moses sought water for his people. We said, "Strike the rock with your staff." Whereupon, twelve springs gushed out there-from. The members of each tribe knew their own water. Eat and drink from God’s provisions, and do not roam the earth corruptingly. (2:60)

Despite this, your hearts hardened like rocks, or even harder. For there are rocks from which rivers gush out. Others crack and release gentle streams, and other rocks cringe out of reverence for God. God is never unaware of anything you do. (2:74)

In the creation of the heavens and the earth, the alternation of night and day, the ships that roam the ocean for the benefit of the people, the water that God sends down from the sky to revive dead land and to spread in it all kinds of creatures, the manipulation of the winds, and the clouds that are placed between the sky and the earth, there are sufficient proofs for people who understand. (2:164)

And when implored by Job, God said, "Strike the ground with your foot. A spring will give you healing and drink" (38:42).

Such a precious commodity and so freely given by God in His infinite mercy.

What are the conditions of fasting? These are explained in the following verses:

O you who believe, fasting is de-creed for you, as it was decreed for those before you, that you may attain salvation.
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 sub-stitute 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.
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 ex-press your appreciation.... You may eat and drink until the white thread of light becomes distinguishable from the dark thread of night at dawn. Then, you shall fast until sunset....(2:183-187)

God decrees fasting at other times as well. As atonement for violating our oaths (5:89), for killing game during Hajj (5:95), and for estranging our spouse (58:4). God knows that fasting can be very difficult, but God also knows how quickly He can get our attention by decreeing it for us. These very basic needs are constant remind-ers of God’s absolute mercy.

Preparation for the month of Ramadan extends beyond the 30 days of fasting. We are aware of the calen-dar, the months passing. As the days approach, we begin to plan for them and pray that we will have a better Ramadan this year, and thus, com-memorate God more frequently. We are grateful for shorter days and we pay more attention to weather fore-casts, hoping for cooler days. During the days of fasting, we look forward to a "family celebration" with our broth-ers and sisters each Friday evening. We spend time planning for that meal with joy. Some may experience head-aches, lightheadedness, stomach rum-bling, etc. We count minutes and hours more closely. Our attention is more focused on our bodily needs. Or is it?

The effects of fasting are many. What is perceived as a loss by some, is a real gain for our soul and its growth. We have the chance to focus on our "real self," our soul and its nourish-ment. Our body’s needs turn into re-minders of God and the growth of our soul. We grow more alert to our pro-visions and their source. And through God’s mercy, He weaves reminders of Zakat for the poor. And we know hunger and thirst as the poor often do, to better understand why Zakat is so important. And each Salat prayer brings us closer to the day’s end and provisions. More reminders. We come to understand the words "steadfast" and "patience" more specifically, as the days of fasting proceed and we refrain from suspicion, anger and bad thoughts. Verse 33:35 takes on new meaning, "for the fasting men and women, for the commemorating men and the commemorating women... forgiveness and a great recompense."

All of these activities and thoughts are opportunities to remember God alone, from whom all things come. As we reflect on God’s creation, we might notice that even the animals, plants, and mountains, who did not accept the responsibility of "freedom of choice," are not exempt from fasting. There is no place on earth that does not experience drought at one time or another. The consequences of a severe lack of water include a reduction in all other provisions as well. And since these other creatures endure much longer that the human lifetime, they endure periodic fasting much longer than we. Yet, heaven is assured for each of these creatures. And by God’s design, where life seems to disappear with the lack of water and the suste-nance which come from it, life springs back repeatedly once water is received.

Our lifetime is so brief compared to eternity. We are deprived of nothing during this brief period, including re-peated, individualized messages of God alone. Twenty-four hour God-consciousness is our goal. It is that which we strive toward, with stead-fastness and patience. We know that "God never burdens any soul beyond its means ..." (2:286) and that fasting is not an ordeal but rather a great op-portunity to run, not walk, along God’s path. How awesome is God. He takes His creation with all its limits and uses it to remind individually and constantly that He alone is our Lord and Master. Given our previous be-havior, God is merciful beyond our wildest dreams, and provides us with a gift of remembrance that can only lead us closer to Him for all eternity.


Kathryn Kolton

(Reproduced from the Submitters Perspective, January 1998. Published by the International Community of Submitters, Masjid Tucson, P. O. Box 43476, Tucson, AZ 85733)


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