Ramadan, the Month as a Celebration of the Qur’an
Ramadan is a special month of the year for over one billion Muslims throughout the world. It is a time for inner reflection, devotion to God, and self-control. Muslims think of it as a kind of tune-up for their spiritual lives. There are as many meanings of Ramadan as there are Muslims.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. More significantly, it is the month in which Muslims believe the Qur’an descended from God to the lowest heavens in preparation for revelation, in stages, to Muhammad, the final prophet of Islam. So, the month is a celebration of the Qur’an which is experienced by believers as a source of guidance and criterion for human life.
To celebrate this source of eternal guidance, Muslims are prescribed to partake in a fast primarily from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset every day of the month. The spiritual discipline is meant to train the human soul in deeper mindfulness and self-restraint. Fasting proves to us that we are, indeed, masters over our own passions and that we can reach for greater heights beyond our lower desires. The Prophet Muhammad taught his followers that God has no need for a person to fast from food and drink if they don’t fast from false speech and other greater sins. The spiritual sages of the Islamic tradition say that there is, in fact, a type of fasting that is required for every limb of the body from that which is unethical and immoral. These are teachings that are at the heart of Qur’anic spirituality.
The last ten days of Ramadan are a time of special spiritual power as everyone tries to come closer to God through devotions and good deeds. The night on which the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to the Prophet, known as the Night of Power (Lailat ul-Qadr), is generally taken to be the 27th night of the month. The Qur’an states that this night is better than a thousand months. Therefore many Muslims spend the entire night in prayer.
During the month, Muslims try to read as much of the Qur’an as they can. Most try to read the whole book at least once. Some spend part of their day listening to the recitation of the Qur’an in a mosque.
The discipline is also meant to teach us the invaluable lesson of gratitude to God for the immeasurable blessings and favors with which we have been bestowed. Through deprivation there is a greater appreciation for what we have. And part of this is inculcating a very personal empathy for those who don’t have, as we experience similar pangs of hunger and thirst that are felt unwillingly by people all over the world, every day. As such, Ramadan is a month that encourages charity, kindness and social justice on behalf of the poor and needy in particular. In this way, fasting connects us to the social message of the Qur’an.
The Qur’an reminds believers that “fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you” (2:183). Some form of fasting is found in every spiritual tradition. And, therefore, fasting and the great lessons we learn from it are meant to bind us together as human beings. Ramadan is a perfect time to build bridges and reconciliation with friends, neighbors, classmates, and co-workers – regardless of religion.
During Ramadan, every part of the body must be restrained. The tongue must be restrained from backbiting and gossip. The eyes must restrain themselves from looking at unlawful things. The hand must not touch or take anything that does not belong to it. The ears must refrain from listening to idle talk or obscene words. The feet must refrain from going to sinful places. In such a way, every part of the body observes the fast.
Therefore, fasting is not merely physical, but is rather the total commitment of the person’s body and soul to the spirit of the fast. Ramadan is a time to practice self-restraint; a time to cleanse the body and soul from impurities and re-focus one’s self on the worship of God.
Categorie:E07- Pratiche rituali - Ritual Practices