RAMADAN FASTING LESSONS

With the holy month of Ramadan having commenced, it is high time for the people to focus on the lessons embedded in the holy fasting that are required to be followed not only by the Muslims but by others too because every religion teaches humanitarian principles and emulating the teachings of all religious cults is the essence of secularism in India which is known for tolerance and composite culture. In this regard Kashmir Valley struggling to get out of militancy phase had once been a role model emulated by the rest of the world. Ramadan fasting teaches to practice piety, self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, tolerance, justice and empathy for the less privileged people in the society and there is a need to reflect on these lessons during the fasting period that culminates on Eid-ul-Fitr. Ramadan is a month of holy festivity for all the Indians irrespective of caste, creed, colour or religion as the nation has a multi-religious composition and every festival finds participation of people belonging to all communities, upholding the ages old secular ethos in this region. These are not only the personal, family, and social occasions of commitment, fun and merriment for us, but also the occasions for prayer and worship for self realization, peace and prosperity among all the communities. As such during this holy month it is time to reiterate our commitment to austerity which is by any yardstick one of the greatest virtues of human beings and fasting is an age-old tradition of austerity acknowledged by almost all the religions followed in India. With the global scenario across the world being quite dismal especially in some nations of the Muslim world, there is a dire need to realize the real meaning and essence of Ramadan which is meant to cleanse the mind and purify the heart besides guiding us to follow the path of love, peace and mercy. Ramadan, in essence, teaches us a higher philosophy to conduct ourselves for the good of the society and the mankind at large. Islam that was born in Saudi Arabia in the year 622, the first year of Muslim calendar, literary means ‘surrender’ i.e. surrender to Almighty God. Islam has all along been a religion wedded to the Absolute Truth and Surrender to the Almighty Allah. Surrender to God makes Islam something Eternal and Infinite. However given the happenings around the world with the self styled Jihadis carrying out a campaign of mayhem and bloodshed in the name of religion there is a dire need to maintain a strict guard against the tendency, which prevents and keeps people away from progressive thoughts, trends, and times. There is a need for guard against those who supply irrational thinking and distorted interpretation of Islam as and when it suits their interest, least bothering about the interests of the common people among the community. Jihad stands for struggle for a prosperous and peaceful brotherhood and Nabi permitted fighting in the name of Jihad when the Muslims were compelled to fight in self-defence in Medina. The best Jihad is considered in a visit to Haj pilgrimage besides performing the acts of compassion and generosity like Zakkat i.e. donating for charity besides fulfilling all other religious duties. All that is needed to establish peace today is compassion, sincerity and a feeling of brotherhood and understanding which is going to decide the quality of our life and that of the future generations. So let’s all reiterate our resolve and commitment during this holy month of fasting to make everyone aware of the significance of rational thoughts besides denunciating religious obscurantism and mindless terrorism. Islam as known since its birth and even today preaches rational thinking and it is not anti-humanity or against any religion, nor is any other religion against any community, sect or human values. True Islamic teachings focus only on peace, unity and integrity for the larger good of the mankind. So during these auspicious days of Ramadan let’s pray that peace and harmony prevail across the globe especially in J&K which has experienced the trauma of terrorism during the past three decades. Amen!