Ramzan: a month of training

Ramzan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is a month of multi-dimensional training. During Ramzan, we Muslims hold our bodily compulsions and instincts under strict control.

During Ramzan, fasting is obligatory for every able-bodied Muslim. The Holy Qur'an (2-184) says: "O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those who were before you in order that you may learn taqwa (piety)."

Taqwa is a spiritual aspect in the Quran and refers to a quality that keeps a believer aware of the unseen God all the time. Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him) said that during this month, all the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of hellfire are closed and in it devils are chained and in it is a night that is better than a thousand months.

The scriptures of Abraham were revealed on the first night of Ramzan. The Torah was revealed after 13 nights of Ramzan had passed.

Fasting during Ramzan is one of the five pillars of Islam. Fasting existed in every human society and was observed basically as a symbol of atonement for sins. In Judaism, fasting is observed on days of penitence or mourning. Roman Catholics fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Hindus observe fast on Ekadashi, Karva Chauth, Navaratri, etc. Fasting is also observed in Jainism, Buddhism, Bahaism and Sikhism.

Ramzan is a month of self-regulation to restrain oneself from doing evil. Fasting awakens the conscience as well as the spiritual aspects of an individual. Research has revealed that fasting helps control numerous illnesses like cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, asthma and digestive disorders.

The third pillar of Islam is Zakat (poor man's due). Muslims all over the world pay Zakat during this month. Every Muslim whose finances are above a certain specified minimum must pay 2.5% of their cash balance annually to a deserving fellow being.

It is important to create among people of all faiths the sense of being servants of the Creator, accountability on the Day of Judgement and our duties towards poor fellow beings. India has been a country that has accepted all faiths and cultural diversity. Let people belonging to different faiths observe fast and let there be peace and harmony in our country. This is the message of Ramzan for the whole mankind.

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