Subject of History
This article by the great Mujahid-scholar, late Dr. Ismail al Faruqi, discusses the purpose of a Muslim’s fast in a unique style. I wish to share this with you all. Read on…
Sawm should not be misunderstood as an act of self-denial, and an act of asceticism and, therefore, a renunciation of the world and of life, as an act of self-mortification. This life and this world are God’s creation, and are, therefore, good. He established them as people’s destiny enjoined upon him to seek and promote them. His Prophet, Muhammad, defined, the good, the noble, the felicitous person as one whose career adds a real plus to the total value of the universe, who leaves the world a better place than that in which he was born. But, sawm is definitely an abstinence from food, drink and physical intimacy. What then is its meaning?
Besides constituting another act of obedience to Allah, hence realising all values appertaining to obedience to and a communion with the Divine, sawm is an exercise of self-mastery. The instincts for food and physical intimacy are the basic ingredients of which life is made. They are the strongest and ultimate urges a person possesses. For their sake as ultimate goals, normal human life and energy are spent. Sawm addresses them. It does not deny them continuously and perpetually, but only during the month of Ramadan, and does so only between dawn and sunset. That is precisely what self-mastery requires: to deny and to satisfy, to deny again and to satisfy again, and so on for every day of Ramadan. Had denial been the consequence of condemnation, it would have been commanded for continuous observance. That is why the Muslim rejoices and celebrates at every sunset in Ramadan. For the sunset signifies his victory over himself during the day! This is why Ramadan is the happiest month of the year.
Sawm is, furthermore, an act of ‘retreat’ and self-stock-taking; an occasion for hisab or evaluation with oneself as to one’s whence and whither; a remembrance of and commiseration with the poor and hungry, the destitute and deprived. It is the prime occasion for every noble act of sadaqah or charity, of altruistic concern which is the opposite of egotism, and ultimately for all ummatic values. Its effect on the development of the human personality is capital and decisive. It disciplines a person and enables him to master the strongest urges raging within him. It trains him to subdue them to the nobler ends of the ethics of religion. It orients him – in his physical and psychic being – towards the Ummah, and, thus, makes him an effective executor and actualiser of the Divine cause in history.
Indeed, it prepares him, par excellence, to enter the arena of history, and there to fulfil the pattern of God. The true observant of sawm is a person ready to be the subject of history, not its object.
Islam: The Way of Revival, “Inner Dimensions of Worship“ – Ismail al-Faruqi, pp. 175, 176 (Through FridayNasiha)
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August 3, 2012 - Posted by MuQeet | Islamic Months: RAMADHAN | Evaluation, Fasting, Five Pillars, Islam, Ismail al Faruqi, Muslims, Purpose of fasting, Ramadan, Ramadhaan, Sawm, Worship, Write History
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