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     Volume 4 Issue 19 | October 29, 2004 |

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There are over one billion Muslims in the world. For them the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is especially significant because it was the month in which the first verses of the holy Qur'an were revealed to Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). It is a time for inner reflection, devotion to Allah and self-discipline.

In the holy Qur'an Allah subhanu wa ta'ala says, "O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint, (fasting) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (with hardship), is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent. But he that will give more, of his own free will, it is better for him. And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew." (Surah Baqara, verse183-184)

"Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful." (Surah Baqara, verse 185)

The holy Prophet (pbuh) said: "It is Allah's own month.

"O People! In this month, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the doors of everlasting bliss and happiness are thrown open… In this month you are the guests of Allah, enjoying His hospitality, you are among His favourites, your breathing is 'praise of Allah', your sleep is His worship, your prayers receive His approval, your invocations are sanctioned. So, sincerely, free from evil and sinful thoughts and actions, with clear conscious, pray and request that He may give your heart and confidence to observe fast and recite the holy Qur'an and dua'a throughout this month."

Rebecca Johnson, a converted Muslim writes, "The first time I fasted for Ramadan was two years ago - about six months before I actually converted to Islam. I was studying for my finals at University at the time, and I didn't tell any of my friends in case they thought I was going crazy! It was a private and special experience which brought me much strength, peace and clarity.

"My second Ramadan, however, was an entirely different affair. By then I had become part of the local Muslim community, mainly through working with other Muslims from various backgrounds. This time Ramadan was more chaotic and exhausting - but also a lot of fun as I was surrounded by people enjoying the same experience as me."

According to Jim Quraishi, "In Ramadan, fasting from food, water and sex sets a context within which I can try to establish God's presence in my life. I also know that we are not supposed to only fast from food, drinks and sex, but from all lust, all hypocrisy, all lies, all dishonesty, all backbiting and all evil. To my surprise, I am able to achieve that to some extent. I can carry that for some months. I think it is like the fourth or fifth month after Ramadan that it starts to slacken.

"It was once said that the true meaning of Fasting is to fast from anything that distracts you from remembrance of God. I have loved that ever since I first read it. I think this became a shortcut for me to evaluate every situation before I get involved."

Another surfer on the net, who goes by the name Junaidi writes: "Food, when you break your fast, tastes all that much better and you appreciate what God has given you. And because it is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar I guess I think more about God and go to the mosque often and enjoy it. They say the devil is locked up during Ramadan, the gates of hell closed and gates of heaven wide open -- that's how significant this month is. Ramadan is also the only time when my family gets together to have breakfast and dinner together on the table. Outside of this time we eat at different times and I usually eat in my room."

"It is the month during which every Muslim is urged to multiply his acts of ibadah (worship) and reinforce his faith. On the spiritual and moral level, it means struggling to develop self-restraint, God-consciousness and piety. Muslims strive in this month to curb all detrimental desires and negative or uncharitable thoughts, and to nurture love, patience, unselfishness and social consciousness. A greater sense of generosity and forgiveness is also characteristic of this time." (Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura)

May He grant us the rewards of this month, forgive us our sins and protect us from all evils.


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