“The fast of Ramadan and the discipline of prayer at prescribed times during the day is the greatest aid in developing personal discipline and regulating our affairs and habits.” -The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar; in which, the Qur’an was revealed.
The month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur’an was revealed, a guidance to men and clear proofs of the guidance and the Criterion. So whoever of you is present in the month, he shall fast therein, and whoever is sick or on a journey, (he shall fast) a (like) number of other days. Allah desires ease for you, and He desires not hardship for you, and (He desires) that you should complete the number and that you should exalt the greatness of Allah for having guided you and that you may give thanks.
What is the meaning of Ramadan?
Ramadan means excessive heat, burning… Ramadan once meant “the hot month.” It comes from the Arabic ramida, which means “to be burnt, scorched; thus, the meaning of the institution of Ramadan, is the burning of sins; if we participate in the fast in the way that Allah prescribes in the Qur’an; then He will forgive all of our sins such as fire burns garbage.
It was narrated by Abu Huraira (R) that our beloved Prophet (PBUH) said: “Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, and then all his past sins will be forgiven.”(Al-Bukhari).
Therefore, in the examination of surah and ayah (chapter and verse) 2:185, we noticed some of the values of the institution/month of Ramadan:
1. The Qur’an was revealed… and within this Qur’an, Allah states its purpose :
A. a guidance to men
B. and clear proofs of the guidance (indisputable evidence)
C. and the Criterion (Distinguishment)
2. So whoever of you is present in the month, he shall fast therein… So what are some values of fasting?
A. Holy Qur’an 2:183, “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard against evil.” “So that you may guard against evil”, comes from the Arabic waqaya, which also means “God-Consciousness”; so, when the Muslims are fasting, they should be guarding against evil and against that which harms and injures, and is regardful of their duty towards others and Allah (God). The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s words bear witness to the Arabic waqaya, used by Allah at the end of 2:183 when he states in How to Eat to Live, Book 2: “FASTING takes away evil desires. Fasting takes from us filthy desires. Fasting takes from us the desire to do evil against self and our brothers and sisters. We are created of the material of goodness. Therefore, good belongs to us…and it should not be hard for us to turn to our own selves in which we were created…good.”
B. The Hon. Min. Louis Farrakhan also gives us insight into the value of fasting from the teachings of The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, “Fasting, one of the main pillars of Islam, is a principle that must be practiced by every believing Muslim. In fact, fasting has been enjoined in every age by every prophet that has come to reform the conduct of man.”
C. He, Minister Farrakhan, as well opens up for us the Arabic word, “kutiba” translated in this verse as prescription, “Since fasting is given to us as a prescription—and a prescription is given to us by a doctor, telling us to take a certain medicine at and for a specified time, to effect a cure for a certain illness—in this case, Almighty God Allah is The Doctor prescribing for all of humanity. And now we are speaking specifically to the Black people of America, that fasting is to be used as a cure for a sick spiritual, moral, social and physical condition.”
The words of The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Hon. Min. Louis Farrakhan, reminds me of a hadith (sayings) of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH); where, he (PBUH) said, “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.” (Imam Bukhari).
The Prophet (PBUH) is not saying anything “spooky”. If we carefully examine/study and practice the words of Allah, The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Hon. Min. Louis Farrakhan, we would see, how the gates of heaven (conditions of life) are opened and the gates of Hell (conditions of life) are closed and the devils (wickedness/evils of self) are chained.
What are your thoughts and feelings before and when Ramadan starts? How many of us make the Ramadan Resolutions (like the New Year’s Resolutions, smile)… “I’m completing my reading of the Holy Qur’an; I’m completing the 30 days of fasting; and I’m making all of my prayers”? So, where is hell and those devils? Those statements sound like Heaven to me!
However, do we unconsciously allow the gates of Hell to open and those devils to creep out; and, thus losing the value of Ramadan and just merely existing in rituals? How does this happen?
Moving Beyond the Rituals
@LouisFarrakhan: “So many of us are bound in rituals that we have lost the truths to which the rituals are pointing us.”
The Hon. Min. Louis Farrakhan teaches us from the teachings of The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad that the “truth” is the nature of Allah (God). So, we are given rituals which are designed to contain the truth; however, rituals are not the truth; but that which is design to help us to reach the goal; and Allah says in the Holy Qur’an, 53:42 “and surely to your Lord is the goal.” Therefore, when you are bound to rituals, you stop advancing in the truth towards your Lord; and you are only going around in circles of the ritual.
The Minister stated, “The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught us that fasting must be observed by us in order that we could resist the unnatural urge to smoke, drink, and abuse ourselves and others…”. Allah (God) has declared that He will not accept any religion in the Day of Judgment except the religion of Islam. He says in the Qur’an, “Surely the true religion with Allah is Islam.” Many of us have thought that that means a particular way of prayer, a particular time to fast, a particular kind of ritual. Wrong. These rituals, which are principles of action, are to teach us higher lessons. Prayer and the manner of prayer is to teach us a higher lesson. Zakat, fasting, jihad—the struggle against the weakness of self—these principles are eternal, but the manner of expressing these principles have changed as Islam evolved from Prophet Ibrahim to Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). The true religion with Allah (God) is not a specific way of prayer or time of fasting. The true religion with Allah (God) is entire submission to His Will… then we have to put our will into subjection to His Will and fasting is one of the principles that cause us to submit. Prayer softens the mind and the heart against rebellion to Allah (God).”
Remember, the purpose of fasting is prescribed by Allah to give us the discipline necessary by forsaking the things that are natural: food, water, and, sexual relations with our spouses during the daylight hours.
The Minister stated in one of his study guides, Rising Above Emotions Into the Thinking of God, “Hunger and thirst centers in the hypothalamus track glucose levels in the blood. When supplies of glucose (energy food) are too low, the brain, not the stomach, generates hunger pangs. The sensation of thirst does not originate in the throat, but here in the brain, when receptors indicate the salt level in the blood is too high… The hypothalamus has connections to the pituitary gland so it has an effect on growth and sexual behaviour. It actually orders the pituitary to organize the endocrine glands ‘release of hormones into the blood.”
The Minister’s words from Rising Above Emotions Into the Thinking of God, in context of the this article, The Value of Ramadan: Moving Beyond the Rituals, reminds me of going to the gym and when you look at the machine weights, there is a diagram which shows what muscle that particular machine works. The Minister’s words clearly give us a picture and the function of that portion of the brain; so by practicing the injunctions of Ramadan, we have the ability to master hunger, thirst, and sexual activity until sunset; and even when the month of Ramadan is concluded, and our practice was not ritualistic, then the mastery of self will continue the other eleven months. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an, 9:36, “Surely the number of months with Allah is twelve months by Allah’s ordinance, since the day when He created the heavens and the earth…”
So, let us not just go through our day waiting for the sun to set, just to eat. Let us also strive every day to read 1/30th of the Holy Qur’an, make our five daily prayers, and be charitable and generous to others.
May Allah bless us with a beautiful month of Ramadan to continue our growth into the truth.
Your Brother in Islam,
Eric R. Muhammad