O Month of Ramadan, Welcome
In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
It was the month of Ramadan in which the Qur’an was bestowed from on high as a guidance unto man and a self-evident proof of that guidance, and as the standard to discern true from false. (2:185)
F i r s t P o i n t
The fast of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam; it is also one of the greatest of the marks and observances of Islam.
There are many purposes and instances of wisdom in the fast of Ramadan which look to both Allah Almighty’s dominicality, and man’s social life, and his personal life, and the training of his instinctual soul, and his gratitude for divine bounties. One of the many instances of wisdom in fasting in respect of Allah Almighty’s dominicality is as follows:
Allah Almighty creates the face of the earth in the form of a table laden with bounties, and arranges on the table every sort of bounty as an expression of “From whence he does not expect.”(65:3) In this way He states the perfection of His dominicality and His mercifulness and compassionateness. People are unable to discern clearly the reality of this situation while in the sphere of causes, under the veil of heedlessness, and they sometimes forget it. But during the month of Ramadan, the people of faith suddenly appear as a well-disciplined army: as sunset approaches, they display a worshipful attitude as though, having been invited to the Pre-Eternal Monarch’s banquet, they await the command of “Fall to and help yourselves!” They respond to that compassionate, illustrious, and universal mercy with comprehensive, exalted, and orderly worship. Do those people who fail to participate in such elevated worship and noble bounties deserve to be called human beings?
S e c o n d P o i n t
One of the many instances of wisdom in the fast of the blessed month of Ramadan with respect to thankfulness for Allah Almighty’s bounties is as follows:
As is stated in the First Word, a price is required for the foods a tray-bearer brings from the royal kitchen. But to look on those priceless bounties as valueless while tipping the tray-bearer, and not to recognize the one who bestowed them is the greatest foolishness.
Allah Almighty has spread innumerable sorts of bounties over the face of the earth for mankind, in return for which He wishes thanks, as the price of those bounties. The apparent causes and holders of the bounties resemble tray-bearers. We pay a certain price to them and are indebted to them, and even though they do not merit it are over-respectful and grateful to them. Whereas the True Bestower of Bounties is infinitely more deserving of thanks than those causes which are merely the means of the bounty. To thank Him, then, is to recognize that the bounties come directly from Him; it is to appreciate their worth and to perceive one’s own need for them.
Fasting in Ramadan, then, is the key to true, sincere, extensive, and universal thankfulness. For at other times of the year, most people whose circumstances are not difficult do not realize the value of many bounties since they do not experience real hunger. If their stomachs are full and especially if they are rich, they do not understand the degree of bounty present in a piece of dry bread. But when it is time to break the fast, the sense of taste testifies that the dry bread is a precious divine bounty in the eyes of a believer. During Ramadan, everyone from the monarch to the destitute manifests a sort of gratitude through understanding the value of those bounties.
Furthermore, since eating is prohibited during the day, they say: “Those bounties do not belong to me. I am not free to eat them, for they belong to someone else and are his gift. I await his command.” They recognize the bounty to be bounty and so give thanks. Thus, fasting in this way is in many respects a key to gratitude; gratitude being man’s fundamental duty.
T h i r d P o i n t
One of the many instances of wisdom in fasting from the point of view of man’s social life is as follows:
Human beings have been created differently with regard to their livelihoods. In consequence of this, Allah Almighty invites the rich to assist the poor, so that through the hunger experienced in fasting, they can truly understand the pains and hunger which the poor suffer. If there were no fasting, many self-indulgent rich would be unable to perceive just how grievous are hunger and poverty and how needy of compassion are those who suffer them.
Compassion for one’s fellow men is an essential part of true thankfulness. Whoever a person is, there will always be someone poorer than himself in some respect. He is enjoined to be compassionate towards such a person. If he were not himself compelled to suffer hunger, he would be unable give the person – through compassion – the help and assistance he is obliged to offer. And even if he were able, it would be deficient, for he would not have truly experienced hunger himself.