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Benefits of fasting

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

Muslims worldwide are two thirds through their fasting during the Ramadan month, and our bodies are slowly getting used to having no food, anything to drink or even engaging in smoking from sunrise to sunset. Allah states: "O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you that you may (learn) self-restraint." (Quran, 2:183)

As indicated in last week’s article, Ramadan brings out a special feeling of emotional excitement and religious zeal among Muslims because believers get busy seeking Allah's mercy, forgiveness, and protection from the Hellfire. This is the month for renewing our commitment and re-establishing our relationship with our Creator.  Muslims look forward to the opportunity to double their rewards from God and seek forgiveness for past sins by having to change their whole physical and emotional selves during these 30 long days of fasting. It is a very special month for various reasons.

‘The month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur'an was revealed as guidance for people, in it are clear signs of guidance and Criterion, therefore whoever of you who witnesses this month, it is obligatory on him to fast it. But whoever is ill or traveling let him fast the same number of other days; (Make up for it later) God desires ease for you and not hardship, and He desires that you complete the ordained period and glorify God for His guidance to you, that you may be grateful". (Quran: 2 : 185)


It offers every Muslim an opportunity to strengthen his faith and allegiance to his Creator, to purify his heart and soul, and to remove the evil effects of the sins committed by him in his daily life. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) Said, "Anyone who fasts during this month with purity of belief and with expectation of a good reward (from his Creator), will have his previous sins forgiven," "Anyone who stands in prayers during its nights with purity of belief and expectation of a reward, will have his previous sins forgiven."  The rewards for good deeds are multiplied manifold during Ramadan.

Fasting earns great reward when it is done in a ‘proper’ manner. This means that although fasting is obligatory, its observance is purely voluntary. If a person claims to be a Muslim, he is expected to fast in Ramadan. This is because every Muslim is required to make his worship perfect. Because of the intensive devotional activity fasting, Ramadan has a particularly high importance, derived from its very personal nature as an act of worship; there is nothing to stop anyone from privately violating Allah’s commandment of fasting if one chooses to do so by claiming to be fasting yet eating on the sly.

Yes there are some who claim to be fasting yet will eat in private. During this month, the blessings received for a good deed is equal to the blessings of a compulsory (fardh) act of any other month. This is the month of patience and the reward of this patience is Heavenly bliss in the Hereafter. This month also teaches the lesson of kindness towards others. In this month, the blessings upon a Muslim are increased.

In this month, the first ten days are to seek mercy, second ten days are to seek forgiveness and the last ten days are of seeking to be freed from Hell because there is a special night known as Laylathul Qadr (the Night of Blessings), whose blessings are better than 1000 months. In this month, the Qur'an was sent down to us. Allah revealed the Quran to Prophet Mohamed (pbuh) via the arch-Angel Gibraeel (Gabriel) during this month.

"The month of Ramadan is the month in which the Qur'an was revealed as a guidance for humanity, as a clear proof of that guidance, and as a criterion for distinguishing between right and wrong" (2: 185). This divine Book deals with the questions of our life in total: the creed, moral instructions, the manner in which we should conduct ourselves in our daily lives.  The Qur'an teaches us how to live our lives as complete human beings. It teaches us how to live with respect, dignity, honour, and love.

It further teaches us that the Almighty Allah is a divinity that embraces the concerns of all humanity. Ramadan is not only the month of fasting but also the frequent recitation of the Quran. Ramadan cannot be complete without a great deal of reading of the Book of Allah.
Undoubtedly the Quran is the most read book in the world, this is because it is so often read and memorised in its original form of Arabic. During this month there is a ‘longer’ evening congregational prayer that is offered after the breaking of the fast. During this prayer the entire Quran is recited over the course of the thirty days by a ‘Hafiz’, this is a person who has who has memorized the entire Quran, word for word, from cover to cover.

In addition, Muslims individually read the Quran during this august month of Ramadan.  By so doing the believer cherishes the privilege of directly conversing with our Creator, and, it also affords a believer a better chance of graduating to a higher spiritual level by getting closer to our Creator. One may ask what are the virtues of fasting? Firstly during the month the entire lifestyle of Muslims undergoes a dramatic change, it teaches us Taqwa (self-restraint, piety and the consciousness of Allah).

This leads to behaviour modification because a fasting person has to control or change his or her daily habits; fasting is that training ground. This is because high standard of self-restraint is considered as an act of self-discipline. Islam requires us to couple patience with voluntary abstention from indulgence in our daily physical desires.

Patience: Fasting helps in conditioning the heart, the soul, and the body on the virtues of patience, determination, and firmness in the face of adversity. Patience is the peak of self- control, discipline and spirituality. Patience is to turn the phrase "I can't" into "I can."
Social Benefits: Socially, fasting is an expression of solidarity with the poor, the family and the whole society.

This is a period in which those of us who are ‘better off’ because we can afford daily meals to have first-hand experience of what it is to be poor, the pains the poor and needy suffer in normal living conditions. A fasting Muslim can really sympathize with the starving people everywhere in the world and see the hardship that they go through every day of their lives.

Apart from the piety aspect fasting builds important Islamic values, such as compassion, consciousness, firmness, affection, fear of Allah, trust in Allah, and many other qualities such as developing good habits and suppress or eliminate bad habits Fasting establishes equality among the rich and the poor. It opens avenues to give alms to the poor and the needy.

Pay respect to your elders, have sympathy for your youngsters and be kind toward your relatives and kinsfolk. Guard your tongue against unworthy words, and your eyes from scenes that are not worth seeing and your ears from sounds that should not be heard. To those who have never fasted why not give it a try it could change your entire life.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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