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A sacrifice for greater things

india Updated: Sep 26, 2006 12:00 IST
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My late mother once told me: "You need to sacrifice to achieve great things."

True, Ramadan fasting, to Muslims globally, is a reiteration of the same saying.

It was once said that the true meaning of fasting is to fast from anything that distracts you from remembrance of god.

They also know that they are supposed to stay away from not only food and drinks but from hypocrisy, covetousness, lies, dishonesty, backbiting and evil in all its manifestations.

Allah's blessings and mercy are so abundant in this month that anybody who truly repents in it becomes as free of sins at the end of the month as when he was born.

It is a glorious chance offered to us by the Almighty, a chance to cleanse and purify ourselves from the filth of sins and evil.

The Holy Prophet has advised believers: O people ... your back is breaking under the heavy load of your sins, so prostrate yourself before Him (in Ramadan) for long intervals, and make it lighter.

Ramadan also helps Muslims in their day-to-day situation in one other way.

No matter how bad the situation, they can look past it and say as the holy Koran does: "Life of this world is but an illusion." Once they have done their best, they should leave the rest to Him.

It is a proof of the love of the Almighty that each year he gives us a chance to clean our record and make a fresh start.

Contrary to those who think that Allah is strict and harsh, that He will punish us as soon as we err, Allah gives us many chances to undo the wrong we have done towards Him.

The month of Ramadan is the best of these chances. All the prayers for this month teach us to plead for forgiveness and deliverance from the punishment. One who recites these prayers sincerely, and is truly repentant, is assured of forgiveness.

It is a period when the faithful not only show piety and compassion but also try to send across a strong message of communal harmony among the compatriots and their poor brothers, especially in India.

In Ramadan, fasting from food, water and other things sets a context within which Muslims can try to establish god's presence in their soul.

They are able to achieve that to quite some extent. They can carry on for some months. I think it is like the fourth or fifth month after Ramadan that the spirit starts to slacken.

Truth is that a pious Muslim ought to spend all the days of his life as those of Ramadan!

If one is fasting, one should not use foul language, raise one's voice unnecessarily or misbehave.

If anyone reviles, uses foul language, fights or insults a fasting person, twice he should say: "I am fasting."

The one who is fasting is happy on two occasions: Once when he breaks his fast and again when he offers namaz.

Those who fast know that His boundless blessings will always work for their highest good, no matter how difficult it may seem at that time.

Whenever they would need god's help, He would come for them and oblige them.

Every time this faith has been proven true; as time passes this faith matures into conviction.

They hope that this conviction will translate in terms of action into the rest of their life and in every month.

(Firoz Bakht Ahmed is a commentator on religious and social affairs.)

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