Fasting an especially sacred part of Islam faith, writes Maqbool Sheikh
Maqbool Sheikh – Ahamadiyya Muslim Jama’at phot
The spiritual journey of Ramadan will begin once again on May 6, as billions of Muslims around the world begin 30 days of fasting.
Each fast will begin at sunrise and break at sunset. Muslims then refrain from eating and drinking anything until sunset — not even water! While fasting is common among most faiths, including Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism, fasting during Ramadan is particularly sacred in the religion of Islam.
The main purpose of fasting in Islam is focused on achieving oneness with your creator, practising moral conduct, behaviour, speech and humbleness. In chapter 2 verse 184 of the Holy Quran (the Islamic holy book), it says, “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become righteous.”
The month is not only a time to starve our stomachs, but to starve our tongues and ego. The Prophet of Islam once stated, “He who abstains from food and drink during the period of the fast but does not restrain himself from uttering a falsehood starves himself to no purpose.”
According to Islam, falsehood, lying and deceit are just some of the undesirable traits we as a human race need to continually work to eradicate in ourselves. Muslims are reminded to avoid lying, quarrelling and backbiting. You are reminded to focus on being patient, tame the ego, practice humbleness, gratitude, love and being of service to others. The Prophet Muhammad taught that a strong person is not one who can wrestle others down. Rather, a strong person is one who keeps control over themselves when they are angered or provoked.
Science tells us it take approximately 21 to 24 days for a new habit to take hold. This annual exercise of fasting in the month of Ramadan is a yearly reminder to strengthen our own resolve and self-control.
Realizing each of us has a number of vices that we need to deal with, Ramadan becomes the annual training camp for us to get our moral conduct into shape and continually practice it through the rest of the year.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Canada has launched a national campaign titled “Fast with a Muslim Friend.”
Through this campaign, the community aims to share the experience of Ramadan with fellow Canadians. The community also hopes that this campaign will help remove any misconceptions about Islam, and bridge gaps that may exist among Canadians.
As part of this national campaign, Canadians will get to experience how to start, keep and break a fast, as well as learn about why fasting during Ramadan is a core tenet of Islam. Fasting during this holy month teaches self-control, discipline and inspires awareness of those who are less fortunate. Muslims are also encouraged to give additional alms during this month.
Locally, a free Iftar dinner has been organized for fellow Canadians to participate in breaking of the fast. The campaign consists of two options — stepping up to the “Ramadan Challenge” and holding fast with Muslims, or simply joining us for a delicious dinner as we break our fast at sunset! Please note that to participate in the dinner you are not required to fast.
To join us, please register today as seating is limited.
Do you have what it takes to participate in the Ramadan Challenge?
Maqbool Sheikh is a director of advocacy and public relations with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Canada. Follow him @thecndnmuslim.