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Sultana's Dream
September 2011

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The Meaning of Ramadan

            "O You who have attained faith! Fasting is ordained for you as it was ordained for those before you, so that you might remain conscious of God" 

"The Message of the Qur'ān”, translation by Muhammad Asad:
Surat Al – Baqarah (the cow) V. 183

Muslims often ask themselves: Why do we have to fast in this particular way?

If we look carefully at Surat Al Baqarah verses 183-185, we will find many reasons for our fast. Firstly, it brings us closer to God, we remain more conscious of Him throughout the whole month: we think of His qualities, His blessings, and through our daily reading of the Qur'ān we come closer to Him and to the teachings of Islam.

Secondly, fasting teaches us self-restraint, self-denial and compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves, so we are more motivated to share God's bounties with them. Patience, good deeds and gentle dealings with people are other qualities that we are expected to exercise. If we begin to lose patience, or become angry, we are instructed to remind ourselves: "I am fasting, I am fasting ... I must not swear, I should smile, I cannot tell a lie”, and so on.

Apart from the general aim of spiritual purification, fasting during Ramadān fulfils three other purposes:

  • to commemorate the beginning of the Qur'ānic revelation
  • to provide an exalting exercise in self-discipline that will serve us well throughout our lives and,
  • to make us realise how it feels to be hungry and thirsty: in other words to empathise with the poor and thus gain a true understanding of their needs.

As we break our fast at sunset, and food and drink passes our lips, we should not overeat: overindulging is not encouraged and is unhealthy. If we follow the 


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directions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and break our fast with a date, milk, water or soup, then perform the Maghrib prayer and afterwards return to finish the rest of the meal, we would tend not to overeat. The extra prayers ("Taraweh") performed during Ramadan increase our spirituality; they are a blessing after the first meal of the day, and the exercise aids our digestion before we sleep.

As well as spiritual rewards, fasting also confers physical and psychological benefits: our digestive system is given a reprieve, the body rids itself of accumulated toxic materials; and it helps lower our blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

At yet another level, families come together, while hospitality is also extended to people living alone to share, in a communal way—iftar—the sunset meal that breaks the fast; sharing, caring, and doing good deeds throughout this blessed month are all emphasised.

Only healthy adults are expected to fast; those suffering from medical conditions that need monitoring, like diabetes, are excused as are those undertaking long journeys. Pregnant and feeding mothers are also exempt and should not attempt fasting as it deprives the unborn, or young infant, of nutrition.  

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said "Al Siyāmu Junnah", meaning "fasting during Ramadan cleanses us from previous wrong doings." This Hadith is agreed upon by all narrators.

Ramadān Mubarak To All.

Aziza Abdel-Halim