Reflection No. 6:23 on Q 2:185 – The Month of Ramadan

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنْزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ
Shahru ramadānal-ladhī unzila fihil-qur’ānu 
hudan linnāsi wabayyinātin minal-hudā wal-furqān
The month of Ramadan is that in which the Quran was revealed, 
as guidance to mankind and with clear proofs of the guidance and the Criterion
(Sūratul Baqarah, No. 2, Āyat 185)

Believers are anticipating the arrival of the month of Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic calendar. It is a time about which the Holy prophet (s) has said: O People! The month of Allah (Ramadan) has come with its mercies, blessings and forgiveness. Allah has decreed this month the best of all months. This is a month in which you have been invited by Him (to fast and pray). Allah has honored you in it. (Sermon of the Prophet welcoming the month of Ramadan).

The month of Ramadan has many blessings for the believers. These include:

  1. It awakens us from our worldly stupor. Human beings become very busy with worldly pursuits. The world and all we need to do each day engulfs us and occupies our minds and hearts. The month of Ramadan slows that down and forces us to focus on our soul and the Hereafter.
  2. It helps us savor spiritual pleasures. Intense supplications and prayers of this month bring out the joys of spiritual pleasures. It allows us to taste how it feels to be connected to God and brings peace and comfort to the heart if done correctly.
  3. It relieves us of our burdens of sins and heedlessness. Human beings have many sins for which God has kept His door open for forgiveness. In this month He promises to forgive for His mercy rains down in it
  4. It brings us closer to our Lord. Each year this month boosts us spiritually and helps us gain closeness to God. The hunger and thirst of the day, the prayers of the night, the charity and compassion for the poor, the gratitude for His blessings, all combine to strengthen the relationship between the Creator and His servant.

It is important that the month be appreciated for its greatness. It is easy to get caught up in the physical discomforts of hunger and thirst, or lack of sleep. The month of Ramadan should not be about over eating, or even eating a lot of delicacies. Meal planning, healthy eating, lots of water between iftār and sahrī, daytime rest, are all key to help make this month more spiritual.

A beautiful Hadith of Imam Ali al-Ridhā (a) tells us exactly what to do to welcome the holy month: O Aba Salt, surely most of Sha‘bān has passed, and this is the last Friday of it. So make up for what you have missed from the days that have passed by making the most of the remaining days. Be inclined towards that which concerns you and leave that which does not concern you. Increase your supplication, and seeking forgiveness, and recitation of the Quran. Repent to Allah from your sins so that the month of Ramadan comes to you and you are cleansed for Allah.  Let there not be anything entrusted to you except that you have fulfilled it. Remove any dislike of a believer that harbors in your heart. Stop any sin that you may be committing. Be God conscious and rely on Him in all your hidden and open matters. Whoever renders his trust in Allah, He suffices him. Indeed Allah achieves His purpose. Certainly Allah has set a measure for everything (Q 65:2-3). (Shahrullāh, H. 232)

Recite this verse to remind you of the greatness of the holy month, and feel blessed at its arrival. It is a change to rise higher in the eyes of Allah at a much faster pace than on ordinary days.

Sources:
Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh;
Muhammadī Rayshahrī, Shahrullāh fil-Kitāb wal-sunnah.