Ramadan Al-Islam and Freedom
The Blessed month of Ramadan is the month that the Holy Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (prayers and peace be upon him) by way of the Angel Gabriel (Jabril). This revelation would continue for a period of over 23 years until the entire 114 chapters of the Qur’an were completed. The Qur’an is considered a Book of Guidance not only for Muslims readers, but for all of humanity. Muslims around the world fast the month of Ramadan for a period of 29-30 days, depending on the sighting of the new moon. Muslims who are in good health, abstain from all food, drinks and intimacy with their spouses from sunrise to sunset each day. Children who have yet to reach the age of puberty, women who are pregnant or are on their cycles are exempt from fasting. Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar calendar. Once the new moon of the following month of Shawwal is sighted, the month of Ramadan ends. Muslims will celebrate for a period of three days by sharing food and gifts with their families, friends and the needy. This celebration is called Eid al Fitr meaning a “reoccurring happiness”!
There are many benefits relating to fasting the month of Ramadan but none supersedes the main purpose of fasting which is for Allah (G-d). Imam W.Deen Mohammed often highlighted during Ramadan that Muslims are to be reminded of the “suffering and hunger” of the needy. During Ramadan, Muslims become more conscious of their duties of being charitable and to performing good deeds. Muslims aim to grow in their regardfulness, while strengthening their relationship with G-d. Knowing that Allah (G-d) is the only One who truly knows if you are keeping your fast.
A glance at Prophet Muhammad:
The Qur’an was revealed upon the heart of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) at the age of 40. He had lived a life time amongst people who practiced idolatry, tribalism, promiscuous behavior; lawlessness, oppression etc. this period of time was referred to as the “days of ignorance” or in Arabic term “Jahiliyyah”.
Despite living in this environment Muhammad (pbuh) never engaged in the folly of the people. He was known as being trustworthy and honest and was giving the names (El-Amin & Saadiq). His benevolence and treatment towards seniors, women, youth and any who were disenfranchised was well established in Mecca. Muhammad (pbuh) was orphaned at an early age losing his father before he was born, his mother at age of six and his grandfather who took care of him at eight. His uncle Abu Talib raised him. As a boy he was a Sheppard and learned business by traveling with his uncle. By the age of 25 his business skills were so impressive that a very successful business woman and widow “Khadijah” proposed marriage to him. Khadijah was 40 years old at the time and highly respected. She was his first and only wife for 25 years until she passed just days apart from his beloved uncle Abu Talib. This is known in Al-Islam as the “year of sorrow”. Not only did Muhammad lose his wife and dear uncle, Muslims were being boycotted of food/shelter/services and isolated by their entire fellow tribesman. Muslims were oppressed and attacked for nearly 12 years. Fearing for the lives of his followers the Prophet planned for some of the believer to migrate to Abyssinia (now known as Ethiopia) where he heard there was a good Christian King “Negus”. King Negus after hearing of the plight of the early Muslims and the words from
The Qur’an would become the first to offer refuge to Muslims. The enemies of Al Islam who were in hot pursuit to kill the Muslims tried to persuade the Christian King that the religion of Al Islam was against Christian teachings. The Christian King drew a line in the sand and said “the difference between our religions is no more than the width of this line” and offered the Muslims protection. King Negus still holds a special place in the hearts of all Muslims for this historical event. The early Muslims would eventually continue their migration and settle in Medina. The enemies of Al Islam did not relent and continued to pursue and attack Muslims, igniting several wars. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) at age 60 would eventually lead Muslims successfully back to Mecca during the month of Ramadan with no bloodshed. Despite all the attacks on Muslims and the slaughter of even his own family members, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) did not seek revenge on the tribes in Mecca. He offered forgiveness and ransom to educate Muslims. At the age of 63 prior to his passing Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) offered a farewell address where he highlighted that he is leaving behind the Book of Allah (The Qur’an and his traditions.) He spoke about the rights of women and fair dealings. For example his last address re-established that no Arab has any superiority over a non Arab and no non Arab has superiority over an Arab or a white over a black or black over a white. He reminded the people that all will have to appear before G-d so do not stray from faith after he is gone. The Prophet was succeeded by his close companions Abu Bakr, Umar, Othman and Ali. NEXT WEEK: “THE IDEA OF FREEDOM IN AL-ISLAM”
The idea of freedom in AL Islam-
The Qur’an states that there is no compulsion in religion. Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said that “every one of you is entitled to his/her opinion.” The Prophet also expressed that “there is nothing with greater use than the human brain.” Religion in Al Islam should not be practiced just in spirit or emotions. Although the Qur’an was revealed upon the heart of the Prophet the brain serves the heart. The brain should also serve the family and the community. The superiority of the human being above all other creation is due to the human brain. Education allows you to think, make good decisions, and develop good character. The use of the brain allows you to understand that man is no comparison to G-d and that G-d has no partners or associates that can compare with Him. This allows the human being to have freedom in his servitude to G-d and not to become a slave to anyone or anything.
The Blessed month of Ramadan is a cleansing of the heart, spirit, body and mind. Before the words of G-d can be planted you have to first cultivate your garden. If someone plants a garden amongst weeds, shrubs, bushes etc. what type of crops would it yield?
Freedom helps your consciousness to be genuinely concern about the welfare of others because you can recognize the negative effects and oppression of slavery. We pray that The Blessed month of Ramadan will yield better character of all those who participate and that all will pledge to make better contributions to humanity. This year Ramadan is anticipated to start June 6th depending on the sighting of the new moon. Ramadan Mubarak! Blessed Ramadan to you all!