Ramadan is the most precious month in Egypt.The streets are decorated with hanging lanterns, miniature ‘masjids’ and ‘kaabas.’ Long silver streamers run across the street from balcony to balcony, winking and gleaming in the bright sunshine. Television stations change their entire daily program to accommodate new shows and sitcoms made especially for the Ramadan month. Compassion fills people’s hearts, you feel God’s mercy washing over you with so much generosity.
There’s no doubt in my mind that this special month of worship is a blessing to Muslims. Islam is the only religion that has such a type of fasting; going without food or drink from sunrise to sunset for a month. And for those who fear torturing their stomachs during this time, I’m happy to say that medical studies proved that abstaining from eating or drinking for the amount of hours decreed by this month is one of the healthier things to our bodies.
Ramadan, a month of fasting and worship, is also a month of learning and discovery. Islam is a religion that takes great pride in learning. The very first thing God did for Adam when he was a complete human was to teach him the names for everything around him. It tells us in the Qur’an, ‘And He taught Adam all the names (of everything)' A second example of how important reading and learning is to Islam is the first word that Gabriel presented to the Prophet with. The very first word that came down from God to Earth him as the beginning to what would become one of the most miraculous books ever read was ‘Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists)'.
God’s words were directed not only at the Prophet and we are to learn not only from the Qur’an. God’s acts are an effort to direct Muslims to read, learn and discover because it’s through learning that our Muslim nation can be strong. Egypt can be leading and self-depended. Finding out new information about Islam is a wonderful way of strengthening yourself by learning about the Islamic heritage. During Ramadan, reading stories about Muslims and the tough beginning of Islam catapults one to the days of moral and spiritual perfection of the Prophet and his friends and followers (sahabah).
Ramadan is also a time of repentance and soul-searching. It’s a time of getting closer to God, and somehow by doing that, you come closer to yourself a little more. I think that’s the main aim of Ramadan: to dig down deep into your world and come up with a meaning within the individual. Like the wise Arabic saying, √É¬¨The one who knows himself knows his God.√É¬Æ It’s a time to see how our life here on Earth is a duty; there is a purpose to it and Islam is the weapon we’ve armed ourselves with to reach that purpose.
Ramadan is a time of remembrance that we were brought on this Earth to act as ambassadors to God. In chapter 2, verse 30 God says ‘And (remember) when your Lord said to the angels: ‘Verily, I am going to place (mankind) generations on earth.' He tells them to kneel to Adam as in respect forto his new acquired position as the new ambassador to follow God’s faith and beliefs that converges in Islam. This is why God tells us to fast one month out of the 12 for a few hours each day. It is His way of strengthening our powers of existence so we can get in touch with our role as representatives of Islam to mankind. God has placed such a great responsibility on our shoulders to bring harmony and progress to the world that it’s a shame to lose sight of our mission. So, we have Ramadan to remind us, if we’re lucky, that we must ponder the reason for our existence. It’s a time of discipline and worship, a time to bring friends and family closer together.
Ramadan is a month of opportunities to get rewarded blessings by God (thawab=reward of blessing) because the thawab is doubled for every single act of good you perform √É¬± only for Ramadan would something like this happen. There’s the giving of charity (zakat alfitr), evening prayers throughout the month (taraweeh), reflecting on one’s countless blessings, asking God for forgiveness and strength, the continual praying to God, the concentrated reading of the Qur’an, and of course the rewards one reaps from the act of fasting. It’s amazing that there exists this religion where its benevolent and ubiquitous God orders His servants to a certain act, and when we do it, we get rewarded in ways so extravagant, our wildest imagination cannot fathom it. This is one of the times we get to see first-hand how gentle God is. Ramadan is the only time during the whole year that the doors to Heaven open up wide while the doors of Hell are closed shut with all the devils locked up.
Ramadan is the month that witnessed the appearance of the Torah for Moses, the Bible for Jesus and the Qur’an for Prophet Mohammed. When I try thinking of what it’ would be like without the Qur’an by my side ‘It’s impossible, life would be hollow. It’s the ultimate guide to every single being in every single era. It took prophet Mohammed 23 years to receive all the verses of the Qur’an from God via Gabriel. But the beginning took place on a very special night near the end of Ramadan. Out of all the nights of all the months in the year, it is during Ramadan that we witness the ‘Night of Power’ (Al-Qadr) which the Qur’an calls √É¬¨better than a 1000 months'.
If you really think about the numbers, it’ll blow you away because one thousand months comes to 83 years and almost 4 months. Why these numbers in particular? And what’s so special about one night between 355 more in the year? These are all mysteries we cannot answer, yet their existence pulls us closer to the holiness of God and to the majestic month of Ramadan. God said in chapter 41 (Fussilat) ‘We will show them Our signs in the universe, and in their own selves, until it becomes manifest to them that this (the Qur’an) is the truth. Is it not sufficient in regard to your Lord that He is a witness over all things?'
- Al-Baqarah (The Cow). 2:31
- Al-Alaq (The Embryo). 96:1
- Al-Baqarah (The Cow). 2: 30
- Al-Qadr (Destiny). 97:3.
- Fussilat (Detailed). 41:53