Reflection No. 222 on Q 2:185 – Exalting God at the end of Ramadan

وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
Walitukabbiru-llāha ‘alā mā hadākum wala‘allakum tashkurūn
That you exalt the greatness of Allah for guiding you and that you may give thanks.
(Sūratul Baqarah, No. 2, Āyat 185)

These words come at the end of a verse which talks about the holy month of Ramadan in which the Quran was sent. The verse gives the command for Muslims to fast in this month. According to this part of the verse, when believers complete the period of fasting two objectives are achieved. One is the exaltation of Allah which is done through the act of fasting in obedience to the command of Allah. Fasting announces the belief in the Lordship of Allah, the acceptance of His guidance through the Quran, and the submission of desires to the will of Allah. Fasting magnifies Allah and reveres the month in which the His guidance was sent down. The very act of fasting is a manifestation of the greatness of Allah.

The other objective that is achieved is gratitude to Allah for the guidance He sent during this month. This guidance gives believers the ability to know what God expects of them and allows them to distinguish between Truth and Falsehood. Through fasting, the believer conveys a sense of thankfulness for this month, and for the Quran that was sent in it for his guidance. It shows a respect for the month in which he received this great blessing from God.

The Takbīr (i.e. saying of Allahu Akbar) that believers recite on the night and day of ‘Eid is in answer to the objectives outlined in this verse. A part of this Takbīr says: Allah is great. All praise is for Allah for that which He has guided us, and for Him are thanks for what He has favored us.

Note that in the verse above God says that you complete the number of fasts so that you magnify Allah, and so that perhaps you may be grateful. According to Tafsīr, exaltation of Allah happens with fasting, regardless of whether the person fulfills all the spiritual conditions of fasting or not. Even if the fast is only an apparent (zāhirī) fast, not a true (haqīqī) one, the mere act of fasting and abstaining from all that is not allowed for  a fasting person, becomes an act of magnification.

The feeling of gratitude however comes only when the fast is sincere and fulfills all the spiritual conditions. It is an inner achievement, not just an outward act of worship. Gratitude here is an acknowledgement of the favor of Allah for having sent the book to deliver us from darkness into light. It does not come when believers think of fasting during the month as a difficult chore and are pleased when it is over. It comes when believers appreciate the month and what it stands for, and understand the worth of the message of Allah. Most people would achieve the first objective but only select people would achieve the second.

May the Almighty make us from among those who achieve both objectives, and whose fasts and worship are accepted!

Eid Mubarak. May it be a day full of blessings and mercy for the Muslim Ummah.

Source: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (editor), Tafsīr-e Namūneh.