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Love and Light

Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr – An inside view

The Ramzan month is set apart for the holy task of bringing into memory and practice the teachings that Hazrath Muhammad conveyed and attaining that stage of unity and purity which is truly Divine. Islam gives importance to the Moon which regulates the months. Hindhus consider the Moon as the deity presiding over the mind. With the dharshan of the New Moon, the Ramzan fast begins and when the New Moon is seen again, the fast ends. 'Fast' does not consist in merely desisting from food and drink. The fast starts at sunrise and is broken' only after sunset and is observed most rigorously.

Every human being has three needs: food, clothing and shelter. Seeking to fulfil them, man has developed a variety of foods to fill his little stomach ignoring the purpose of eating them. Clothing has to be worn to protect the body from cold. But we are attaching enormously exaggerated value to clothing. Of course, one must have a house to live in and lay the body down for rest. The Muslim, Gibran, asks why build these gigantic dwellings then? They are erected not for oneself but to hoard one's treasure and riches. Gibran says these mansions are tombs erected by the dead for the living.

The Quran lays down that all men should cultivate the sense of unity, of interdependence, of selfless love and of the immanence of Divinity. Generally, all men take food of some kind or other for the body five times a day: an early cup of coffee in bed, breakfast two hours later, a heavy lunch at noon, tea at four and a fat dinner at nine. Islam prescribes food for the spiritual nature of man and directs that it be taken five times a day, as prayer. For the arousal of the Aathmic consciousness, for earning spiritual joy and for promoting the manifestation of Aathmic illumination, prayer is prescribed as many as five times a day, from the dawn of discretion up to the moment of death.

Since Islam means surrender to God, all who in a spirit of surrender and dedication, live in peace and harmony in society, do really speaking, belong to Islam. Islam insists on full co-ordination between thought, word and deed. Muslim holy men and sages have been emphasising that we must inquire into the validity of the 'I' which feels it is the body and the 'I' which feels it is the mind and reach the conclusion that the real 'I' is the Self yearning for the Omniself, God. The Ramzan month, the fast and the prayers are designed to awaken and manifest this realisation. Whichever may be the religion, its emphasis is on unity, harmony, equal-mindedness. Therefore, cultivate love, tolerance and compassion, and demonstrate the Truth in every daily activity. This is the Message I give you with My Blessings.

Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Excerpts from the Divine Discourse in Prasanthi Nilayam on 12th July 1983

It is that time of year where almost a quarter of the world will be celebrating Eid-al-Fitr, the celebration to mark the end of the month of Ramadan. Most people have heard of Eid and Ramadan and know that Ramadan is the holy month where Muslims will fast from dawn to sunset. But, is that all there is to it? I can assure you that fasting is just the tip of the iceberg.

Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic calendar and it is during this month that the Qur’an (the religious scripture that Muslims follow) was revealed to the prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him) and his people. It is a time when the good deeds and prayers are multiplied in the eyes of Allah (One of the names for God in Arabic).

Most people think that fasting just involves not eating and drinking from dawn until sunset, however, there is so much more to it. During Ramadan, Muslims will disconnect from worldly issues. It is a time when Muslims really get to know themselves through reflection, and meditation, to work on their own personal flaws. They will go out into the community to feed the hungry, strengthen bonds between friends and family, and try their best to improve the society that they live in, spend in the way of charity and undertake many more such good actions.

Fasting is not a new concept, it is found in almost every religion and is seen not only as a way of worshipping God but also a way of training themselves to control their own personal desires and act in a way which will not only benefit them but also others in this world. It isn’t just a time where Muslims will be at their best for the month and go back to how they were. A Muslim will use this time to train oneself to do all these things so that when Ramadan finishes, one can continue to develop as a human and be an asset to the community and world.

So why is it that during Ramadan all of this is possible? Well, Allah has sent this month as a blessing to the Muslims. He has given Ramadan a certain spirit that cannot be matched at any other time of the year. It is a time of forgiveness, of charity, happiness and a time to increase the love between all of mankind. Often, people say it must be hard to fast throughout the day, but it gives Muslims perspective in life and gives us a small taste of what those who are less fortunate then us must go through daily. The prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) said.

"Ramadan has come to you. (It is) a month of blessing, in which Allah covers you with blessing, for He sends down Mercy, decreases sins and answers prayers. In it, Allah looks at your competition (in good deeds), and boasts about you to His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves, for the unfortunate one is he who is deprived in (this month) of the mercy of Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted." Narrated by Tabarani

Muslims are often very sad when Ramadan finishes and often look forward to the year to pass quickly so they have a chance to experience it again, in the meantime, Allah has blessed us with Eid-al-Fitr. Eid-al-Fitr is the celebration where Muslims families and friends will meet up with each other to share food, gifts and show their appreciation for one and other. For a Muslim, fasting is compulsory and is part of the five pillars of Islam, but those who practice and read more around the blessings and value of Ramadan, are truly thankful for the month. For those who haven’t fasted, I highly recommend it as a way to not only learn more about oneself, but also to gain a new perspective on life and to truly realise what is important in life.

Dr Adil Ibrahim