Once upon a time, there was a man who engaged with life to the extent that he has lost his soul in it. Maybe he seemed to know the purpose of life. Otherwise, he was going on as fast as possible to be in harmony with this materialistic life. The result was….admiring appearance and empty reality.
This was John, our miserable protagonist, until he came to a turning point in his life.
John decided he needed a break, so he traveled to (Amr), his Muslim friend in Egypt. He knew that Muslims are about to celebrate Ramadan, the most sacred month for them. He heard about it before and he was curious to know about it.
And so, John’s journey begins….
Here we will learn the following:
- History of Ramadan festival
- When did Ramadan start in the history of Islam?
- What was the origin of Ramadan fasting?
- Why did Ramadan start?
- How to start Ramadan fasting?
- Why Is Ramadan A sacred month?
- Why Is Ramadan A sacred month?
- The Night of Destiny – Laylatu-Al-Qadr
- Seclusion in the Masjid to worship Allah (God)
- Final thought
- On the way home
History of Ramadan Festival
While walking in the old streets of Cairo, John was mesmerized by the history and how old it was! Islam is rich in history! And when he saw the old buildings mixed with modern Ramadan decorations, he got curious…
John asked Amr about the history of Ramadan fasting.
When did Ramadan start in the history of Islam?
Fasting Ramadan Started by the year 2, in the Islamic “Hijri” calendar, that started dating from the migration of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and Muslims to “Al-Madinah Al-Munawarah”.
The migration was one of the most critical points in the history of Muslims. It was the first time Muslims had a city, state and a community. After they settled down in the first year, a Major pillar of Islam got reviled by Allah (God), which made fasting the entire month of Ramadan obligatory.
So, not only did Fasting start almost from the inception of the Islamic calendar, the timing of its revelation holds great insights on the wisdom behind it, and how it effects and elevates the community and the people.
What was the origin of Ramadan fasting?
The origin of Ramadan fasting is actually way older than 1400 years! History of Ramadan fasting is as old as the message of the prophets.
Allah (God) had ordered previous nations to practice fasting as well. It had different forms, durations and times, but fasting is a worship that Muslims –in the general sense of the word– has been practicing since the dawn of humanity.
Actually, fasting Ramadan is an extension of the long history of fasting.
Why did Ramadan start?
Ramadan started to increase piety, Awareness of God, and self-awareness.
It is easy to be swept by the fast pace of life and forget a lot of critically important things like our own selves, our community, and most importantly, our Creator. Changing the pace of our lives for a relatively long time like in Ramadan gives a practical reminder to us of what’s most important.
When John knew this he started wondering how his life was drifting away from him and every day is similar to the other, and how he often had forgotten about his creator in his days that were busy with pursuing of material wealth and hedonistic life.
Having a month every year where one makes big changes in his daily habits only for the sake of God, and endures all the hardship for Him, sure increases and elevates the levels of piety in the heart.
Amr gave his friend some references to read about benefits of fasting, as Islam is balance, it doesn’t ignore reason: Fasting is a Scientific Miracle.
Now, John asked his friend about fasting and how to do it?
How to start Ramadan fasting?
Amr Replied: Fasting in Ramadan is abstaining for God, from eating any food or drinking anything and for the married also abstaining from intercourse. This is from dawn –before sunrise– until sunset. So, abstaining –fasting– is done throughout the day, and once the sun sets, the fast is broken by either eating or drinking.
Prophet Muhammad was the most generous of all the people. He used to be more generous in the month of Ramadan. Gabriel used to meet him every night in Ramadan to study the Holy Qur’an carefully together. Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) used to become more generous than the fast wind when he met Gabriel.
Praying at night and complete the reading of Quran is also a major practice in Ramadan because of this.
Why Is Ramadan A sacred month?
As a practical person, John was really amazed by the compassionate part. –He suffered a lot because his soul was empty. But this sense of help and brotherhood that’s an integral part of Ramadan rally caught his attention.
Every day there would be major gatherings in the Masjid (Mosque), everyone gathers to break their fast together! Humbles meals are provided for everyone while sitting together one ground or one table.
He was astonished to see volunteers in the streets giving dates and juice to the pass-byers to break their fast.
Mercy and compassion goes hand in hand with fasting and praying.
One Day, John decided he would join them for food, after he was invited by his friend.
While they were eating in the Masjid, John couldn’t help but ask
Ramadan is the most sacred month, because Allah (God) chose Ramadan to send down the Quran.
A crucial part of, why Ramadan is so sacred, is The Noble Qur’an (the Book of Allah). By reciting, understanding, and applying it, everything can change.
Not only did the Quran got revealed in it, but also angel Gabriel used to meet prophet Muhamed every night in Ramadan to study the Holy Qur’an carefully together. Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) used to become more generous than the fast wind when he met Gabriel.
Amr paused a bit then said: “Also Ramadan is the most sacred month because of what happens by its end”
John didn’t know what that meant, but he would soon find out……
Why is Ramadan important to Muslims?
Ramadan is important to Muslims for multiple reasons.
First and for most is obedience to Allah (God) and getting closer to Him, then its beneficial effect on Muslim society as a whole and the increase of bonds, mercy and compassion between Muslims, and last but not least its self-disciplining effect on the person himself and how it helps him elevate himself.
In Ramadan, fasting starts from the first day until the last day. –No days off, no cheats, as God can’t be cheated! This is the part where it brings us closer to God.
The shared experience enhances the sense of unity in the community. Ramadan encourages to renew relations and end disputes.
And lastly, the Challenge itself, changing our habits and our experience with it cultivates motivation and self-discipline.
The Night of Destiny – Laylatu-Al-Qadr
One day, before John was getting ready to return, he received a message from Amr saying “Sorry but, starting tomorrow I will not be able to accompany you to the airport”
When he called him, Amr explained that he decided to spend the last 10 days of Ramadan in seclusion in the Masjid. Amr said because rewards are doubled in these days and multiplied more in the night of destiny ‘ Laylat Al-Qadr’…..
But what is the night of destiny? John wondered to himself…
John decided that the last thing he would do before travel is to go and spend a day in the Masjid to know more about this night of destiny..
Seclusion in the Masjid to worship Allah (God)
The masjid was filled with people who came with their backpacks to spend these 10 nights there. They dedicated their time fully to reading Quran and helping each other by day, and when night came a lot more came and they kept praying most of the night!
Amr told John more about the night of Destiny, that people do all of this for.
That night is when the divine provision for the entire year gets set, it is also the night when the Quran came down, and it is the most blessed night in the entire year.
The night of destiny is better than a thousand month, so who would refuse such enormous rewards!
Its exact date is unknown but it is certainly one of these last ten nights. Muslims are following the example of prophet Muhamed in this seclusion for the last ten days and exhaust efforts in worship and prayer like that.
Seclusion in the Masjid for these ten days gives clarity and time to think about where we are in this point in life, and where we want to be. It is often where we can make clear decisions regarding where we want to go with our lives.
Choices, Decisions and changes often require clear head and fast resolve…
The talk was disrupted by the calling to prayer, which marked the fare well between Amr and John.
Amr went to join the prayer and John went out to go to the airport.
On the way home
When John was on the flight headed back home he was lost in his thoughts… Since he left the masjid he kept thinking, and now that he is on this long flight, all he can do is use that time to re-evaluate many things in his life.
He remembered that Amr said this is time for evaluations and decisions.
John was not satisfied at all with his life, even though he had all what he wanted, it never felt fulfilling. Fulfillment was something he saw many people had in Egypt, because of their strong bonding, sense of community and most of all, piety and connection to God.
He decided that he would do whatever he can when he gets back home to know more about Islam, find the truth and follow it.
Then the seatbelt sign turned on, marking the landing back home……