The Islamic fast is unique and different from other types of fasting observed in other religions. It is obligatory, for a specific period of time from dawn to dusk, and in a specific lunar month called Ramadan.


It involves a voluntary renunciation of all appetites and desires of the flesh during that month for defined hours, with a cheerful and willing acceptance of this beneficial divine mandate.


Sunset signifies the achievement of one s victory over his self during the day.


This blessed month of Ramadan inculcates a spirit of fortitude and gratitude. The atmosphere of the month is such that positive thoughts are automatically invoked on a 24-hour basis. Such thoughts, which wish the welfare of one and all, Muslims as well as non-Muslims, including those who have wronged us!


A stable monotonous environment of eating three times daily tends to produce stereotyped reactionary patterns. Fasting gives a variable environment with rigid strategies and sufficient degrees of freedom to cope with the changing conditions.


Some of us may be habituated to a particular type of vice or wrong-doing – e.g. gambling, smoking, drinking, backbiting, fraud, hot temper, domestic violence, etc.


Whatever foul we are habituated to, becomes our routine and it becomes difficult to resist. Fasting helps to overcome such habits either gradually for some of us or immediately for those with a stronger will power, especially if supported by constant supplications seeking Allah s assistance. The usual antidote is to put an entirely opposite thought in the mind to displace the negative trend.


This act of self-restraint in Ramadan strengthens the will and hence, the will power. This extra will power helps to overcome obsessions and addictions. In fact, fasting also reduces a criminal s urge to commit dangerous crimes.


During the Islamic fast, every organ in the body that has been given to us as trust by Allah is put to a critical test.


A hunger strike is not an Islamic fast. We must not see evil, hear evil, utter evil nor act evil. This is a training session for us to develop Taqwa (God-consciousness) and piety, as well as to show gratitude for the great favor of the revelation of the Holy Qur an during the month of Ramadan in the night called Lailatul-Qadr.


Taqwa is the most valuable fruit of fasting. Just as plants have their own season of flowering, so is Ramadan the season of the year for blossoming of goodness, virtue and piety in the Muslim ummah (nation). Not one, but millions of people jointly water the garden of virtue in the same lunar month, all over the world.


The purpose of the Islamic fast is to obey Allah s command. Through this exercise, Muslims can develop a balanced personality and a strong sense of a community of believers. It trains all those who volunteer for service to Allah, before allowing them to take on the job of His vicegerency and establish Allah s message of mercy on Earth.


The fasting Muslim is continuously tied with rules and regulations for one full month and then released for 11 months to see whether the training has been adequate and effective, and if not, any deficiency found in the personality and will power could be corrected and made up in the following year s refresher course, in the Ramadan program. This is because Allah wants us to make the choice and behave well, when left alone and unattended. The personality develops when a person is free to do any wrong as he would like, but does not do it under unrestricted conditions; e.g. during the 11 months following the Ramadan fast.


If we have passed this first part of the examination, then as Muslims who adhered to the five pillars of Islam and fasted, we are entitled to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr (Feast of breaking the fast), also called Eid Al-Saghir (the Minor Feast).


Then Allah gives us two months and 10 days to prepare for Eid Al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice), also called Eid Al-Kabir (the Major Feast).


The Minor Feast will entitle us to climb up the ladder one step toward becoming mu mineen (believers), because we must now learn to sacrifice our time, money, leisure, pleasure, skill, along with other talents, God-given gifts and bounties, then be prepared to share them with our fellow human beings.


As believers adhering to the seven branches of iman (faith and belief) we must not only think of, but actually perform good deeds.


This in turn, will now prepare us for the second examination of higher spiritual achievement. And, if successful, we will be entitled to celebrate the Major Feast as believing men and believing women then go up one more rung on the ladder up Sirat Al-Mustaqim (the Straight Path).


During Ramadan, we get up for suhoor before dawn, then stop eating and drinking at the break of dawn, abstain from such and such actions during the day and take Futoor (break the fast) in the evening, at the exact time of sunset. This is precise timing. The month of fasting teaches us to respect time and be precise in our dealings and timings and to be punctual at all times.


The exact timing of initiating of the fast at the break of dawn and breaking it at sunset with the right countdown to the last minute, teaches us the limits between right and wrong, between halal (permitted) and haram (prohibited), which is so essential for the elevation of the soul to a higher level on the spiritual scale.


A person who can rule his/her desires and make them function as he likes, has attained true moral excellence! A 425-hour of intensive study in any particular subject of one s choice in any university would qualify one in that particular subject.


Similarly, 425 hours of intense devotion in Ramadan should certainly uplift a practicing Muslim to a state of higher spiritual achievement and earn him a reward from Allah.


During Ramadan, we also learn to inculcate in ourselves the art of patience. This, together with lessons and reminders to forgive all those who wronged us, add their own quota of enhancing our personality and outlook on life, with multiple benefits, not only in this life but also in the Hereafter.





Salman Awdah


Jihad is the summit of Islam. Its virtue is countlessly high, as mentioned in many places of the Koran and Sunnah. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:


“Verily, there are one hundred degrees in Paradise which Allah has reserved for the fighters in His cause. The distance between every two degrees is like the distance between the sky and the Earth, so if you ask Allah for anything, ask Him for the Firdaus, for it is the last part of Paradise and the highest part of Paradise, and at its top there is the Throne of Beneficent, and from it gush forth the rivers of Paradise”.




The month of Ramadan in the life of the Prophet (pbuh) and the righteous ancestors was a month of forthcoming. The greatest battles during the lifetime of the Prophet (pbuh) occurred in this blessed month, the month of jihad, zeal and enthusiasm.


The first battle in the history of Islam was the battle of Badr. This event became a dividing line between the era of humiliation and weakness, and the beginning of the era of force and revival of the case of the Prophet (pbuh) and the believers. This day became a turning point in the spreading of the call of the Prophet (pbuh).


In Badr, the Prophet (pbuh) raised his hands to the sky and began to solicit Allah in a way that his cloak fell off his shoulders. The supplication of the Prophet to the Lord was:


“Oh Allah! Thy help which Thou hast promised me! Oh Allah! I adjure thee Thy promise. Oh Allah! If this company is destroyed, there will be none left in the land worship you”.


He repeated this until Abu Bakr came into his tent and stopped him, throwing his cloak over his shoulders and turning to him:


“O Messenger of Allah! Do not overdo in your beseeching your Lord, for He is sure to fulfill what He has promised you”.


Allah said:


“And already had Allah given you victory at [the battle of] Badr while you were few in number. Then fear Allah; perhaps you will be grateful”.


(The Holy Quran, Surah 3. “The Family Of ‘Imran”, verse 123)


The second battle of this month was the conquest of Mecca. It is also one of the most important battles in the life of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). Mecca was a political and cultural center of the Arabian Peninsula, which made it strategically important.


Idolatry, in the eight years after relocation of the Prophet (pbuh) in Medina, was constantly opposed to the cause of Islam. It came so far that pagans decided to ban the rites of Hajj to the Prophet (pbuh) on the day of Hudaybiyya. Mecca was captured in the eighth year of Hijra, which marked a turning point for the rest of the Arabian Peninsula. The result of this had not taken long to appear. Next year, messengers with a desire to accept Islam hauled from all parts of Arabia.


The capture of Mecca marks a time period when we can say that Islam ceased to be something new in the life of Arabs, and it began to play a predominant role in a life of the entire Arabian Peninsula, because the ideology of idolatry was completely defeated.


The history of Islam is full of other examples of great battles in the month of Ramadan. For example, the battle of Ain Jaluit, where Allah helped Muslims to gain the upper hand over wild hordes of Mongol-Tatars. Their defeat was tremendous.


We are to consider stories about the jihad in the month of Ramadan from two positions:


1. In the minds of many Muslims, Ramadan is not associated with great achievements, incredible activity and enthusiasm. It is rather perceived as a month of laziness and idle pastime and frequent sleeping. Undoubtedly, these are false ideas about Ramadan. It is necessary to change these concepts into right ideas and encourage Muslims to be active both during the entire month of Ramadan and at other times.


2. The concept of jihad is interpreted broadly. It includes many activities: fighting with weapons, with property, sermons, appeals for good and retention from evil, studying, spreading of the call etc.


Everyone knows that in many parts of the world, Muslims are fighting with weapons against oppression and colonialism – Afghanistan, Palestine, Yemen, the Philippines, the Caucasus, Kashmir and other Islamic countries. In all above-mentioned countries, Muslim groups oppose infidels, Christians, Zionists, Communists and other enemies of every color. These Muslims deserve help from their brothers who live in other places at least by praying Allah for them. After all, who knows, maybe, what affected the other yesterday, could affect you today.


And help from Allah.