Ramadan and purification

The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is a month of myriad blessings. A time when Muslims are focussed more on self-reformation than on the hum-drum of their daily lives, it is a time of spiritual cleansing, enlightenment, and of linking themselves with the Divine through fasts, prayers, supplications, charity, and even simple acts of kindness.
That Laylat al-Qadr  (or the 'Night of Power') falls during Ramadan further adds to the uniqueness of this month. This night - considered the most holy night of the year - is the night in which the Qur'anic revelation commenced upon Prophet Muhammad, on whom be peace. Sincere prayers and supplications made in this night stand equal to years of the same on other days (cf. Qur'an, 97: 1-5).

The days of Ramadan are to be spent in fasting from dawn until sunset, quite in keeping with the spirit of the Qur'an where it says: 'O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become God-fearing.' (2: 183). Fasting is not merely to abstain from food and drink, but also to keep one's ears, eyes, tongue, hands and feet - and other organs of free-will - away from sin.
Indeed, fasting is perfected when the mind is freed of unworthy concerns and worldly thoughts, and focus is on little else but devotion to God.

All days of Ramadan spent thus in fasting, and in keeping a tight vigil on all our thoughts and actions, are followed - after the breaking of the fast in the evening - by special night prayers in congregation where the Qur'an is recited more than usual.
The effect of this exacting act of deep, personal piety is, at once, both spiritual and physical.

 Spiritually, it leaves one with a raised awareness of proximity to God that lasts even after Ramadan.

Physically, it clears the system of toxic elements, residues of indiscriminate diet, besides treating ailments like high blood pressure, anaemia and the like. Clearly, then, great benefits await those who observe this Ramadan in reverence and in gratitude, and in the manner in which it should be observed.

As for the heedless, they are those who, in the words of Prophet Mohammed, 'gain little by fasting except hunger and thirst.'

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