As we embark on the blessed month of Ramadan, we are slowly getting accustomed to the nights of worship, the feelings of thirst or hunger during the day and most of all, the overall change that this month brings in terms of our habits and our thinking.
It is easy to think that the month of Ramadan is simply about abstaining from food and drink but there is more to this month in terms of the manners, etiquettes and rulings that we must adhere to as part of this month.
Todays reminder is an attempt to convey some of those so that we can be of the best manners for this month and so that we do not break any of the rules surrounding this month.
The first point was highlighted by the imam through the 185th ayat of Sura Baqara which is translated to say:
Ramaḍân is the month in which the Quran was revealed as a guide for humanity with clear proofs of guidance and the standard ˹to distinguish between right and wrong˺. So whoever is present this month, let them fast. But whoever is ill or on a journey, then ˹let them fast˺ an equal number of days ˹after Ramaḍân˺. Allah intends ease for you, not hardship, so that you may complete the prescribed period and proclaim the greatness of Allah for guiding you, and perhaps you will be grateful.
Dear brothers and sisters, from this ayat alone there are a number of ruling we can take but alongside that there is a deeper explanation given by Allah SWT for this blessed month.
Starting with the fasting itself, Allah SWT tells us that we should be fasting in the month of Ramadan. However, as with all things, Allah SWT demonstrates mercy in His deen because he clearly outlines exceptions for those who may find it difficult to fast.
The first one of these is that we should not be fasting when we are feeling unwell. There is no heroics in attempting to fast when you are unwell. It places unnecessary burden on your own body as well as unnecessary burden on those around you who worry at the prospect of someone unwell fasting and therefore not resting or taking medicine.
We have clear instruction here from Allah SWT that we are to skip fasting when unwell and make it up later and so we should not allow ego to get in the way of this instruction.
Equally so, if we see hardship coming from fasting whilst travelling then we also have the means to skip fasting on this day and make it up later. We should assess if the travelling will place any unnecessary burden on ourselves or others by fasting and if it does, we should follow the guidance as given in this ayat.
The other point to remember in this month is one the first part of this ayat. Allah SWT chose to link the mention of Ramadan with the first revelation of the Quran. We should also take a lesson from this that the month of Ramadan isn’t just about fasting. We should use this month to reconnect with the Quran.
Whether it is through extra recitation, through contemplation of the meaning of the Quran, through study circles or any other means, the month of Ramadan to the believer should be entwined with the reconnection with the Quran.
Alongside the above reminders from this ayat, the imam also reminded us that the month of fasting has been prescribed in our deen to all people of sound mind that have reached puberty. This excludes those who are not able to due to mental or physical disabilities.
And fasting is prescribed for the month of Ramadan from the beginning of Fajr to the start of Magrib prayer. It is fasting of the physical, i.e. refraining from food and drink but also it is fasting of the mental and spiritual. This means we should refrain from bad habits, bad behaviour and step up acts of worship and charity in this month.
The imam also reminded us of another ruling in regards to the month of Ramadan by referencing the 187th ayat of Sura Baqara which is translated to say:
It has been made permissible for you to be intimate with your wives during the nights preceding the fast. Your spouses are a garment for you as you are for them. Allah knows that you were deceiving yourselves. So He has accepted your repentance and pardoned you. So now you may be intimate with them and seek what Allah has prescribed for you. ˹You may˺ eat and drink until you see the light of dawn breaking the darkness of night, then complete the fast until nightfall. Do not be intimate with your spouses while you are meditating in the mosques. These are the limits set by Allah, so do not exceed them. This is how Allah makes His revelations clear to people, so they may become mindful ˹of Him˺.
Dear brothers and sisters, we can conclude from this that this is not a month to become like a monk. For those of us who are married, there is wisdom in this ayat that we must strike a balance in this month of Ramadan. We have a duty towards Allah. SWT in regards to this month but our responsibilities and duties, as bestowed upon us by Allah SWT, should not be overlooked in this month and this ayat clearly outlines the ones we have towards our spouses.
And so, dear brothers and sisters, the main take away from this weeks reminder is that the month of Ramadan is a great opportunity to gain reward and blessing from Allah SWT. However, we should not be under the false assumption that this month is only about not eating and drinking during the daylight hours.
There is a mindset shift that ought to and does take place during this month. Especially in a place where we are surrounded by non-Muslims, they should be able to see from our behaviour that we are in the month of Ramadan and not just because we are skipping lunch. Ramadan is about cleansing the mind, removing the bad habits and detoxing our soul from all the filth it has acquired over the past year. We can only do this if we enter Ramadan in its entirety and by devoting our time, our efforts and our mind to this blessed month.