Brothers and sisters, Ramadan is coming, tomorrow or next. It is the month of fasting and fastening belts. The month of patience and passion will come and pass, as usual, with many people misunderstanding the background upon which its philosophy is based. After the month, the cheaters will continue cheating and liars will continue lying.
Unless we understand the philosophy of fasting the month of Ramadan, the lessons that we will learn in this month will hardly transform half of Muslims population. Some of them will not change even in the Ramadan. Many people don’t understand its wisdom and why people around the world, even before Islam, fast. Let’s not go far.
What is the philosophy of fasting the month of Ramadan? What is so special about the month? Why Muslims are so happy that they will abstain from eating, drinking and sex in the days of Ramadan? Is there any metaphysical answer beyond what we hear in mosques and on pulpits about the questions of Ramadan? How should we read Koran in the month of Ramadan?
God is not forcing us to fast so that, in twenty-nine or thirty days of the month of Ramadan, we must feel the wrath of hunger. Allah desires ease for us, and He does not desire hardship for us. If fasting is bringing difficulties to your life, there is redemption by feeding an indigent. Allah says (Koran, 2:183):
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
“O’ you who have Faith! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those who have gone before you, so that you may guard yourselves”
The ultimate philosophy behind fasting the month of Ramadan is to have self-control and possess ability to fight your desire. It is about fight between your righteous soul and your ego. If you can prevent yourself from having sex with your partner within wedlock in the thirty days of Ramadan, then you can prevent your private parts from falling into the trap of sexual intercourse outside marriage for a whole year, if not for a lifetime. If you can stop lying in the month of Ramadan even if your heart is pushing you to do so, why can’t you stop it for your lifetime? Yes, you can!
The same philosophy applies for drug addicts who are struggling with the addiction. You can practice stopping it in the days of Ramadan and, believe me you, it will yield fruitful result in your lifetime. For those who know how addiction is, it will be very difficult quitting drugs, alcohols or smoking at once. But with abstaining in Ramadan with the intention of quitting in toto, you will surprise the effect.
The claim that fasting is prescribed to us so that we will feel the feelings of the poor among us, is myth under logical lenses. If the claim is true, why the poor is also fasting? We are asked to help the poor physically but metaphysically we share the same problem with him. We (the rich and the poor) can not quench our material thirst but we can fight our metaphysical desires. The philosophy behind the month of Ramadan is for us to learn how to live even without what we think we cannot live without. Fornication, drugs, foods, hate, gossip, and other unwanted desires.
Muslims are happy in the month of Ramadan because rewards are doubled in the month. Feed a poor and your doubled reward multiplies. The reward is not only here, it can be in here and in the hereafter. Hunger is not hunger in this month. The hunger in this month is to help you control hunger outside the month. Patience in this month is not like patience outside the month. Dear sex addict, your reward for fasting in this month will be both in here and in the hereafter.
We read Koran in this month, don’t we? We recite it, recite it and recite. Koranic exegesis (tafsir) are held in this month in every nooks and crannies of Northern and some parts of Southern Nigeria. But why are we not transformed by the beautiful heart-touching verses of the Holy Book? Why even the memorisers of the Book are found bringing unwanted social ills? The answer is, we read and memorise Koran without understanding its verses. Koran was not revealed to memorise, it was revealed to understand, meditate and ponder over its verses. Allah says (38: 29):
كِتَابٌ أَنزَلْنَاهُ إِلَيْكَ مُبَارَكٌ لِّيَدَّبَّرُوا آيَاتِهِ وَلِيَتَذَكَّرَ أُوْلُوا الْأَلْبَابِ
“(Here is) a Book which We have sent down unto thee, full of blessings, that they may ponder over its verses, and that men of intellect may receive admonition.”
If we want see the beauty of the Koran we should not convert Koran into a book only for memorisation. We should practice as we are asked. Read it and ponder over its verse. The beauty and the miraculous nature of the Koran will be unveiled to us only when we recite it not only with our eyes but with our hearts. The transforming effect of the Koran will then be felt. For this, you don’t have to read the entire Koran in the month of Ramadan, trying to understand its verses and applying the teachings of a single sura is better than reading the whole Koran without understanding a single verse.
Mr Aliyu can be reached on twitter at: @aliyussufiy