“The month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur’an was revealed, a guidance to men and clear proofs of the guidance and the Criterion. So whoever of you is present in the month, he shall fast therein. …” ~ Holy Quran, Chapter 2, the Cow, Verse 185
Muslims around the world welcome the annual Fast as a time of heightened devotion, self-analysis and self-correction. Fasting during the Holy Month of Ramadan is an act of individual restraint and collective advancement of good will in commemoration of the Revelation of the Holy Qur’an.
Yet, we remind ourselves this Holy Month of Ramadan of the Universal Mission of Muhammad and the Universal Message of the Holy Qur’an are “a guidance to men” Revealed to humanity and that we are obliged to share the spirit of our devotion through the Fast of the Month of Ramadan with all of society to remake the world. The devotional force of this great Fast extends beyond the walls of our mosques, perceived borders of our communities, and nations to seek the renewal of the whole of the human race.
Islam did not begin with the revelation of the Holy Qur’an but is rooted in the Nature of Allah (God) and the Reality of human identity in relationship to Him. Therefore, there are shared human values among the faithful through the Truth of His Revealed Word and among His Signs in creation itself throughout time (Holy Qur’an, 30:30, 59:19).
The principles that undergird fasting as a component power in spiritual and mental resurrection as a means to advance nearness to the Creator is shared among the righteous and all faith communities of the human family. Allah (God) Reminds the Believer in the Holy Qur’an, Chapter 2 Verse 183, “O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you.”
Allah (God) beautifully states in the Holy Qur’an, Chapter 5 Verse 69, “Surely those who believe and those who are Jews and the Sabeans and the Christians—whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good—they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve.” Allah (God) Teaches us in His description of these communities as, “The Family or People of the Book” (Ahl-ul-Kitab) that we share common bonds of faith and devotion.
Allah (God) gives Light to fasting as a prescription continuing in Chapter 2, the Cow, Verse 183 with clear direction to the purpose of this shared principle of fasting or restraining one’s self (sawm) among the righteous. Allah (God) Reveals this prescription is given, “so that you may guard against evil.” “O people, surely We have created you from a male and a female, and made you tribes and families that you may know each other. Surely the noblest of you with Allah is the most dutiful of you (in guarding against evil). Surely Allah is Knowing, Aware.” (Holy Qur’an, 49:13)
“We have indeed sent down to you clothing to cover your shame, and (clothing) for beauty; and clothing that guards against evil—that is the best. This is of the messages of Allah that they may be mindful.” (Holy Qur’an, 7:26). The best garment is the garment of Truth and righteousness, which guards against evil.
In his message titled, “Set Your Mind And Set Your Will For The Great Fast Of Ramadan,” the Honorable Minister Farrakhan teaches: “Fasting, one of the main pillars of Islam, is a principle that must be practiced by every believing Muslim. In fact, fasting has been enjoined in every age, by every prophet that has come to reform the conduct of man.” Minister Farrakhan teaches, “That is a challenge.
We drink no water during the daylight hours, we eat no food during the daylight hours, nor do we go into our wives during the daylight hours, nor do we argue, nor do we fight, nor do we do anything that will disturb our quest for closeness to Allah, and to do what this fast is designed by God to do, gives us the power to guard against evil. Now, this is a great trial, especially for the new Believers.”
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan teaches, Taqwa or waqaya, “The root of the Arabic word ‘muttaqi,’ which is often translated as ‘God-fearing,’ signifies “the guarding of a thing from that which harms or injures it.” The Holy Qur’an is a guide to those who guard themselves against evil” referring to the Qur’anic Arabic. Allah (God) Reveals in the following verse: “This Book, there is no doubt in it, is a guide to those who keep their duty (guard against evil) …” (Holy Qur’an, 2:2)
The complementary concept of this teaching appears in the Bible in Ephesians 6:11-12: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Taqwa in its fullness means: to be mindful, to protect, save, preserve, ward off, guard against evil and calamity, be secure, observe duty through observation of Divine ordinances in every walk of life; to abstain; to take as a shield and be regardful of one’s duty towards humanity and God.
The companions of the Prophet (PBUH) have described Taqwa as, “when you walk on a narrow and steep path lined with thorny bushes one treads very carefully from the fear of thorns that may prick you so that your clothes do not get entangled in thorns and you do not get injured.” Taqwa is being as a sentinel on guard:
“walking your post in a perfect manner, keeping always on the alert.” What are you on guard for?—every aspect of your garment of righteousness. The garment that Allah has created us in that is represented in our character rooted in God-consciousness.
From its Qur’anic Arabic root meaning, ramida—to scorch or burn—the Month of Ramadan is uniquely designed to burn away the impediments of ego, excess, and evils of self-destructive hungers that hinder individual and human growth. The practice of self-restraint or stillness through the act of fasting (sawm) is a principle action of Muslims practiced throughout the year to rid “self” of the impurities of mind, spirit and body.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad gives beautiful guidance in these words in His book “How to Eat to Live: Book 1,” page 46: “In this month of fasting we shall keep our minds and hearts clean” and in “Message to the Blackman in America,” page 84, He advises, Islam “heals both physical and spiritual ills by teaching what to eat, when to eat, what to think, and how to act.”
Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) has instructed, “many get nothing out of the fast except hunger and thirst,” suggesting that there is no true reward or benefit in the fast for the one that is engaged in gossip, slander, idle talk, and other activities that are of sport and play. Muhammad (PBUH) in this same spirit instructs, “Fasting is a shield. During the fast do not use obscenity, nor yell at others, nor act ignorantly towards them. However, if anyone abuses you verbally or attempts to draw you to fight with him, say ‘I am fasting.’”
Ramadan is a means for the Believer to deepen one’s discipline in restraint against evil to purify our character. The Honorable Minister Farrakhan teaches us in these words in “Self-Improvement: Basis for Community Development Study Guides,” “Since fasting is given to us as a prescription—and a prescription is given to us by a doctor, telling us to take a certain medicine at and for a specified time, to effect a cure for a certain illness—in this case, Almighty God Allah is The Doctor prescribing for all of humanity. And now we are speaking specifically to the Black people of America, that fasting is to be used as a cure for a sick spiritual, moral, social and physical condition.”
On page 57 and 58 of “How to Eat to Live: Book 2,” the Honorable Elijah Muhammad writes, if you take the prescribed fast of Ramadan, “you are doing the right thing, until this evil world has vanished.”
Brother Sultan Rahman Muhammad serves as the Student National Imam of the Nation of Islam and resident Imam of Mosque Maryam National Center, Chicago. Visit NOI.org/ramadan, follow @ImamSultanM on Twitter, or email: [email protected].