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The spirit of Ramzan

Ramzan is the holy month of the Muslims during which the holy Quran was delivered. It is a month of fasting and prayer. Sami Rafiq writes.

india Updated: Aug 03, 2012 00:35 IST
Sami Rafiq

Ramzan is the holy month of the Muslims during which the holy Quran was delivered. It is a month of fasting and prayer.

But the Muslims are not the only ones in India to spend some time of their lives in prayer, fasting and charity.

Similar periods of fasting and closeness to God can be found in other religions too. Such periods of prayer, fasting and charity are essential for self realisation and evolution.

The spirit of fasting enjoins not just abstaining from food and drink but reaching out to the lesser priveleged and feeling their sense of hunger and deprivation.

Fasting means controlling just not the intake of food, but controlling all the senses like hearing, vision, feeling and voice.

So a real fast means purifying one's soul by putting aside desires for food and gratification of the senses. By doing this, one learns to rise up beyond concern for one's own survival and interests to understanding others needs and problems. It is not prayer and fasting as a ritual that takes a human being above the level of the animal, it is an act of love and empathy towards others that helps in self realisation.

A friend remembers a disabled jhuggi dweller had approached her for money to cover her hut with a tarpaulin.

Although my friend was distrustful of her as she thought that she might actually squander the money elsewhere, yet she gave her the money.

One day it rained heavily and my friend looked out at the flooded huts nearby. She wondered how the people there would survive.

Then she suddenly saw a hut with a brand new tarpaulin and a light burning inside. It glowed warmly in the dark night and through the curtain of rain.

She recognised the hut as the one she had helped build. My friend says that was the happiest day of her life. It made her understand that prayers and fasting are meaningless if they do not help us feel the pain of others.