It's almost a week now since we bid adieu to the blessed month of Ramadhan and the shallowness of it's absence already feels like an abyss in our life. The day long Fasting, the nights spent in prayers, the charity, the obligations, and everything about it is just so soulful and soothing, one who has truly felt it wish its Ramadhan all year through.
Ramadhan is basically a month of Fasting, but there is so much more to it than which meets the eye. So, when my dear friend suggested I present a general idea of Ramadhan, I felt it will be a wonderful opportunity for its observers and those interested in understanding it alike.
Ramadhan, the 9th month of islamic calendar and the holy month of Fasting for muslims world over. We begin our Fast daily a few minutes before dawn, and Fast till the last minute of twilight.
Sehri and Iftar:
This ritual of eating before dawn is called as Sehri, taken after the word Sehar which means - that which is hidden. (It refers to the last part of the night, behind whose veil hides the breaking of dawn). There is an option to observe Fast without eating Sehri too, as a last resort, but Islam highly recommends eating in Sehri, with our Prophet Mohammed also advicing us to do so even if its only three morsels as it is blessed with mercy and prosperity.
Apparently, we would feel more hungry and weak if we would Fast without sehri, but the emphasis on it is to teach us the relevance of food in our lives, and to let us to understand that Allah does not intend to create hardship for us.
At the same time there is a strict adherance to time. Even a second past the last minute stipulated to be done with the sehri, destroys the Fast. We cannot eat a single grain or even drink a drop of water past that time. If we do, our Fast becomes null and void, and we have to make do the same on another non-ramadhan day. This teaches us the virtue of commitment, respect of law and conditions us in aspects of obedience, self-governance and self-righteousness.
The whole duration of daytime when we observe Fast, it's just not enough to abstain only from food and water, but also every vice and impure acts and thoughts. We are not supposed lie, cheat, kill, do mischief or such acts, as the essence of Fasting is not simply to starve us for few hours. It aims to imbibe in us goodness of character, salvage us from the destruction we have set about for ourselves and the world , and re-emphasize the virtues of humanity.
We are even commanded to carry our work as usual. Thus emphasising on the importance of hard-work, and make us realise the plight of the hungry, poor and down-trodden.
This continues to dusk till the last minutes of twilight hours. The ritual of now breaking the Fast is called Iftar(meaning to break the Fast on schedule). Allah here again shows us mercy by asking us to do so at the earliest moments of Iftar (not prior to it), so we don't feel the pangs of starvation more than our due.
It is Sunnat (example set by our prophet) and preferred by Islam that we break our Fast with dates and/or water. It is so, because dates are rich in nutrients, and water is a natural cleanser. This again teaches us the value of good food, and presents itself as d reward of day long endurance.
It is also highly esteemed and pleasing to Allah to share our iftari (food eaten during iftar) with our friends, neighbours,brethren and the poor. Thus highlighting the virtues of sharing, cordiality, friendliness and helping the needy.
But as I said, Ramadhan doesn't just abstain us from food and water. There's more to it than which meets our eye. Let's explore such various aspects in the days to come.