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Religion of Saturday, 3 December 2016

Source: Abdul- Rahman Jonas Timothy

Life After Ramadam

-Abdul-Rahman Jonas Timothy.

Fasting is generally observed in the three major revealed religions of the world; namely Judaism, Islam and Christianity. In the case of Judaism and Christianity fasting is optional where as in Islam the Ramadan fast is obligatory while some other Muslim fasts are optional. Usually, fasting is about abstaining from food, water and in some cases sex for a period of time. There are different types of Fasting both in Islam and Christianity. Biblical fasting includes Regular fast by abstaining from all food both solid and liquid (in the case of liquids you have juice fasting, fruit fasting, milk fasting etc.), partial fast is where the person abstains from certain foods; for example not eating meat, fish or fruits for a period time and absolute or dry fast is the type where no water or food is consummed. The Bible also mentions sexual fast although not going by that name; for example the people of Israel at a point in time abstained from sexual relations for three days to offer prayers to the Lord. (Exodus 19: 15).

Fasting first began in the garden of Paradise (Garden of Eden in the Bible) where Allah instructed Sayyidana Adam and his wife Hawa (Eve) to eat all fruits in the garden but to abstain from the fruit of the forbidden tree. And Allah said “O Adam dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden and eat of the bountiful things therein but approach not this tree or you run into harm and transgression” (Quran surah 2:25). Unfortunately, Satan succeeded in deceiving Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit (thus breaking the fast) and thereof they disobeyed Allah. The couple were accordingly banished to Earth as punishment for their disobedience. Thereafter, Allah decreed a set of Laws including annual Fast to moderate the conduct and behavior of Adam and his descendants on earth and that if they passed this test of character, they will return to Janna (Paradise) as reward for their obedience.
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam ordained by the almighty God. Allah said “O you who believe fasting (AS-SIYAM) has been ordained on you as it was ordained on those before you (Jews and Christians) in order that you may fear Allah and be dutiful to Him “. It is pertinent to state that as-Siyam generally means” to abstain from something”. If a person abstains from alcohol, stealing, or cheating for the sake Allah, it is said that he is fasting on the thing he or she has abstained from. In another instance, Allah instructed Sayyidatu Mariam (Mary, the mother of Jesus) when she was in the throes of labour, not to speak to anyone. The Lord said “….So eat and drink and cool thine eye and if thou see any man, say ‘I have vowed a fast to Allah Most Gracious to enter into no talk (talk fasting) with any man “. (Quran Surah 19:26). This means a person can fast by abstaining from human intercourse (not speaking to anyone for a period of time).

Some Islamic scholars have categorized Fasting into two; namely minor and major fast. The minor fast is observed in the month of Ramadan while the major fast commences immediately after Ramadan and is all year round. In Ramadan, Muslims are enjoined to fast for a period of 30 days; abstaining from food, water, liquids , sexual intercourse and other heart desires during the day ( from dawn to sunset). Apart from fasting, Muslims spend much of the day and night (Tahajjud) in Salah (prayers), reciting the Quran, doing Zikr ( remembrance of Allah) and performing acts of charity in support of the poor, the needy , family members, friends and welfare organizations. Muslims use the month of Ramadan to evaluate their lives in the light of Islamic guidance. It is significant to state that Ramadan is much more than just not eating and drinking; it is a time to purify the soul, refocus attention on God and also to practice self-discipline and sacrifice. Ramadan is likened to a “spiritual workshop” where Muslims use the month to rekindle and strengthen their faith, beliefs and knowledge of Islam and also to prepare for the major fast which is lifelong and commences after Ramadan. The major fast involves daily voluntary fasting and abstention from major sins like lying, slandering, cheating, illegal sex and peddling falsehood. If a Muslim lives through Ramadan spending the days in fasting and performing acts of charity and other good deeds , then it is incumbent on him to continue to be obedient to Allah till the end of one’s life. Steadfastness after Ramadan is the greatest sign that our Ramadan has been rewarded and successful. There is a hadith narrated by Sufyan ibn Abdallah who said “O Messenger Allah tell me something about Islam which I cannot ask anyone else besides you “. The Prophet replied” Say, I believe in Allah and then be steadfast upon this”.

It is however sad and disheartening to observe that many Muslims abandon this path of piety and righteousness right after Ramadan and return to the old ways of sinning and transgression. This simply means that the spiritual workshop which they undertook in the month of Ramadan has been a total failure and thereof unrewarded. It is strongly advisable and recommended that after Ramadan, Muslims continue to be obedient to their maker until called to glory. Allah says “And worship your Lord until the certainty (death) comes to you (AI-Hijr 99).

With the end of Ramadan, we should not relax in performing spiritual and physical acts that will not only draw us closer to God but will also earn us great rewards and tremendous blessings. After Ramadan, there are other voluntary fasts that the Prophet highly recommended and these are: six (6) days immediately after the month of Ramadan, the first ten (10) days of Dhul-Hijjah and then one day of ‘Ashurah. A person can also decide to fast most of the month of Sha’ban, then fasting on Mondays and Thursdays or fasting three (3) days of every month and fasting one day and not the next day throughout the year. During Ramadan, Muslims perform mid-night prayers, read the Quran and perform other spiritual exercises and it’s strongly recommended that these laudable acts continue throughout the year. We are also enjoined to continue to be kind, respectful, humble and truthful and to fast on vices such as cheating, backbiting; idol worship, corruption, falsehood and what have you until death do depart us.

In conclusion, we admonish all believing men and women to continue to strive in obedience to Allah and to live righteous lives at all times and not to slide back after Ramadan into sinning and transgression. The Prophet said “Fear Allah wherever you are, follow up evil deeds with good ones “. May Allah help us to continue to be righteous and continually perform good deeds at all times. We take this opportunity to admonish Muslim youth throughout the country not to allow themselves to be used by unscrupulous politicians to commit mayhem and other Electoral offences in the forth coming National Elections. Allah says” He does not love people who commit mischief and spill innocent blood on the land “. Maa - salaam !

Abdul- Rahman Jonas Timothy-0203022595
Islamic student & Researcher. Tamale.
Translator: Haj Goldwater. 020 8118057