By: Asma Uddin and Shazia Kamal
In the next few weeks, you may come into work and find your co-worker taking a power nap at 9:30am. At break time, you’ll notice she is missing in the discussion about Harry Potter over at the water cooler. At the staff meeting, you will be shocked when she is offered coffee and cookies and refuses ! By lunch time, your concern about her missing at the water cooler compels you to investigate the situation.
Then you remember what she had mentioned last week over a delicious Sushi lunch. Flooded with relief, you go up to her desk, and proclaim with much gusto, “Ramadan Mubarak (Moo-baa-rak)!” Ramadan’s Blessings to you!
The month of Ramadan is a happy occasion; it is the month that the Muslim holy book, the Koran, was revealed to our Prophet Muhammad. Muslims are called by their religion to celebrate the month by coming together in worship, fasting each day for thirty days from dawn until sunset.
While this may seem like a tremendous feat, consider this: Fasting while working is an even greater endeavor. Make it a little easier on your Muslim colleague by following a couple of simple rules:
The holy month of Ramadan comes to the Islamic world every year to remind the Muslim faithful on the need to return to Allah by following His teachings in all walks of their lives in order to achieve peace in this world and the Hereafter.
The daytime fasting and nighttime prayers spiritually energize the faithful to lead a new life, benefiting the whole humanity and opening a new chapter of peace and progress.
Ramadan is not a month for shopping festivals as many people wrong believed.
It is a month for fasting, reflection, devotion, generosity and sacrifice observed by Muslims around the world.
While major holidays of other faiths have largely become commercialized events, Ramadan retains its intense spiritual meaning.
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, has cautioned Muslims 14 centuries ago that the Ramadan fasting should have a real impact on their lives. He has advised the faithful: “Let it not be that the day that you fast and the day that you break fast be equal.” Meaning, Ramadan should change one’s behavior, attitude and outlook toward life.
Allah says in the Holy Qur’an: “O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed upon you as it has been prescribed upon those before you, so that you may attain Taqwa or piety.” 2:183) While fasting, Muslims must ponder whether it had any effect in making them more God-fearing and pious.
Ramadan is a month-long training program for Muslims to change their lives.
During this month, they engage in prayers seeking the forgiveness of Allah, recite and reflect on the Qur’an during night and day, perform the Taraweeh night prayers, and attend special Islamic classes and meetings.
Many faithful perform itikaf or retreat at mosques during the last ten nights of Ramadan, leaving all worldly pursuits to establish closer relationship with God.
Patience is another important quality one develops during Ramadan through fasting.
Allah has mentioned the word sabr or patience more than seventy times in the Qur’an and commanded patience in more than sixteen ways in the holy book.
When one fasts from dawn to dusk, giving up food and drink and marital sexual relations for several hours, he/she learns restraint and patience.
The Islamic nation needs men and women that are strong willed, who can stand upon the Qur’an and Sunnah and not waver in front of the enemies of God.
Ramadan encourages the faithful to engage in charitable and good activities beneficial to humanity.
The fasting in the holy month develops a strong feeling among the faithful that Allah is watching all their activities.
As a result, they will ask themselves before doing anything, ‘Does God love this action? Is God pleased with this action?’ Thus they gain the quality of watching oneself and staying away from showing off. According to a Hadith of the Prophet, Allah has said: “Fasting is for Me and I reward it.” (Bukhari) God singles out fasting from all other types of worship saying, “Fasting is for Me,” because no one knows whether you are fasting or not, except God. For example, when one is praying or giving charity or making tawaf or circumambulation around the Holy Kaaba, people watch him/her.
During Ramadan, Muslim faithful are trained to keep away from sins. The Prophet has advised them, “Whoever does not abandon falsehood in word and action, then Allah has no need that he should leave his food and drink.” (Bukhari) This Hadith reminds Muslims that they should purify their manners. The Qur’an has stated that the Prophet Muhammad “was sent to perfect good manners.”
Ramadan is a month for Muslims to change their lives for the better, leaving behind un-Islamic and immoral practices, to lead an exemplary life. The Prophet has said, “Every human being sins and the best of the sinners are those who repent.” (Ibn Maajah) God provides many opportunities to repent and seek His forgiveness. Allah says in the Qur’an: ” Say, O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (39:53)
Muslims do not fast because of medical benefits, which are of a secondary nature.
Fasting has been used by patients for weight management, to rest the digestive tract and for lowering lipids.
There are many adverse effects of total fasting as well as of crash diets.
Islamic fasting is different from such diet plans because in Ramadan fasting, there is no malnutrition or inadequate calorie intake.
The physiological effect of fasting includes lowering of blood sugar, lowering of cholesterol and lowering of the systolic blood pressure.
In fact, Ramadan fasting would be an ideal recommendation for the treatment of mild to moderate, stable, non-insulin diabetes, obesity, and essential hypertension.
In 1994, the first International Congress on “Health and Ramadan,” held in Casablanca, entered 50 extensive studies on the medical ethics of fasting.