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 Ramadan: Striving for God Consciousness

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PostSubject: Ramadan: Striving for God Consciousness   Mon 5 Oct - 21:10

Ramadan: Striving for God Consciousness
9/17/2007
- Religious - Article Ref: IC0510-2816


Ramadan
is the month of fasting for Muslims the world over. Muslims refrain from
eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse from dawn to dusk for the duration of
Ramadan. For some, fasting may appear as a form of deprivation and of bodily
exertion. On one level, abstaining from sensual needs and pleasures is indeed a
physical experience. But those who stop at the physical aspects of fasting miss
the essence of Ramadan and its purpose.

Fasting the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. These are the
foundation upon which the entire structure of Islam is built. These consist of
the declaration of faith, prayer, fasting Ramadan, paying of Zakah [the annual
charity payment], and performing the pilgrimage to Makkah, known as hajj. Three
of the five pilars of Islam are rituals, that is, prescribed religious acts
whose rationale is not immediately available for understanding. These are
prayer, fasting, and hajj. Muslims are required to do them because they are
part of their religious duties, that is, they are part of their covenant with
God.

As a ritual, fasting is a symbolic act whose meaning becomes gradually apparent
through experience. The meaning embodied in a ritual is always unveiled when
one immerses himself or herself in the act itself. This does not mean that
fasting is not open to intellectual delineation, but rather any intellectual
delineation either presupposes or predicts a meaning that can best become
apparent through performing the symbolic act itself.

Spiritual Development

The essence of fasting Ramadan and its goal is summed in the Qur'an in one
word: taqwa. "O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it
was prescribed to those before you, that you may attain taqwa." (Qur'an
2:183)

But what is taqwa? And how does it relate to the physical act of fasting?

Taqwa is a recurring theme in the Qur'an and a paramount Qur'anic value. Taqwa
is both an attitude and a process. It is the proper attitude of the human
toward the divine that denotes love, devotion, and fear. Love to the source of
good and beauty that make life worth living; devotion to God's boundless wisdom
and majesty; and fear of misunderstanding the divine intent or failing in
maintaining the appropriate posture and relationship.

The attitude of taqwa cannot and does not stay in the confines of the human
spirit, but is ultimately revealed in expression and action. The attitude of
taqwa is ultimately revealed in, and in turn reveals, the true character it
nurtures: the commitment to the sublime values stressed by divine revelations
of courage, generosity, compassion, honesty, steadfastness, and cooperation in
pursuing what is right and true.

Taqwa is equally the process by which the believers internalize the sublime
values of revelation and develop their character. Thus the Qur'an reminds the
believers that they should not reduce religious practices to a set of blind
rituals, of religiously ordained procedures performed at the level of physical
movement, and that they should always be mindful that religious practices, like
praying and fasting, ultimately aim at bringing about moral and spiritual
uplifting: "It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East
or West: But it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last day, and the
Angels, the Book, and the Messengers; to give out of the things you hold dear
to your kin, the orphans, the needy, the wayfarer, the one who asks, and to free
the slave. And to be steadfast in prayer and to give for charity. To fulfill
the covenants you have made, and to be firm and patient in times of pain,
adversity, and panic. Such are the people of truth, and such are the
God-conscious." (Qur'an 2:177)

As Ramadan helps us to develop our moral discipline, it also reminds us of the
plight of those who live in constant hunger and deprivation. We are reminded
time and again by the revealed book that religiosity is meaningless and
pointless if it does not lead people to care and share: "Have you seen one
who belies judgment; it is the one who repulses the orphan, and does not insist
on feeding the needy. So woe to those who pray but are neglectful of their
prayers. Those who are guilty of duplicity and refuse to provide for the ones
in need." (Qur'an 107:1-7)

Commitment

Fasting Ramadan, like other religious practices in Islam, is an occasion for
pursuing moral excellence that can also be translated into excellence in social
organization and interaction. In a tradition that was reported in the books of
Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet was once asked: "O messenger of God! who
is the most honored of people? He said: the one who has most taqwa. They said:
this is not what we are asking about.... He said: ... the best of them prior to
Islam is the best of them in Islam if they comprehend (the revealed
message)."

It is not difficult to see that the Prophet's companions did not have immediate
access to the meaning of taqwq, as many Muslims today still don't. When they did
not accept his first statement as an answer, the Prophet gave them an
explanation of what he meant when he responded to their question about
"the most honored of people." In responding with the question, the
Prophet was reiterated the meaning provided by the Qur'an: "Verily the
most honored of you in the sight of God is the most righteous (mutaqi)."
(Qu'an 49:13) The Prophet's statement underscores the fact that taqwa as a
moral and spiritual quality is significant in the human world insofar as it
leads people to act with compassion and respect toward others.

Empowerment

Nothing does empower a community more than the development of the moral
character of its members. By embodying the moral values of revelation, people
can have a higher social life, one that is based on mutual respect and help, as
it is based on honest and fair dealings, and a sense of duty that encourages
people to observe the principles of right and justice as they pursue their
varying and competing interests. The theme that moral life based on the notion
of taqwa leads to societal strength and prosperity is an oft repeated theme in
the Qur'an: "Whoever has taqwa of God, He prepares a way out for them, and
He provides them from sources they never could imagine." (Qur'an 65:2-3)
And again: "Verily the earth is God's to give as a heritage to such of His
servants as He pleases; and the end is best for the God-conscious."
(7:128)

Fasting is not simply a time during which people deprive themselves from
physical pleasures, but is an occasion to exercise moral restrain and
experience spiritual growth. Ramadan is a time of remembrance of God and
renewal of commitment to the high and noble values he revealed to mankind. And
nothing would give us the sense of spiritual fulfillment than a state of taqwq,
of God-consciousness, that Ramadan helps us to realize.




Dr.
Louay M. Safi serves as the executive director of ISNA Leadership Development
Center, an Indiana based organization dedicated to enhancing leadership
awareness and skills among American Muslim leaders, and a founding board member
of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy. He writes and lectures on
issues relating to Islam, American Muslims, democracy, human rights,
leadership, and world peace. His commentaries are available at his Blog:
http://blog.lsinsight.org
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Habib

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PostSubject: Re: Ramadan: Striving for God Consciousness   Sun 15 Aug - 13:34

Thank you , Mrs. NOOR
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Red1
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PostSubject: Re: Ramadan: Striving for God Consciousness   Mon 23 Aug - 0:00

Inchallah everything goes as expected


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