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Getting closer to Allah and virtue in Ramadhan

By Rahmat Bin Haji Abdul Rahman


A man makes repairs to his home, with the Omar Ali Saiffuddien Mosque as a backdrop. Ramadhan is a month to frequent mosques as this is the month when Muslims are encouraged to enhance their religious activites. Photo: Rudolf Portillo

A father adjusts the "sinjang" of his son, all dressed up in traditional Malay attire. Muslim Malays would usually dress up in traditional attire when celebrating the Hari Raya festival that marks the end of Ramadhan. Photo: e.don

Tailors and dressmakers will be very busy during Ramadhan to cope with the increase in custom, especially as the Hari Raya festival - at the end of the Muslim fasting month - nears. Photo: e.don

Meaning of Ramadhan

Ramadhan is a special month for the over 1.3 billion Muslims throughout the world. It is a time for inner reflection, devotion to God, and self-control. Brunei welcomes the month of fasting month - after the Ramadhan crescent is sighted, and the Ramadhan announcement is officially made - with a 21-gun salute in the centre of Bandar Seri Begawan.

Soon after, Muslims will gather in mosques to perform the tarawih prayers.

The Ramadhan fast is the third "pillar" of religious obligation in Islam. Fasting teaches its observers self-control, and allows a measure of ascendancy to a person's spiritual nature, which means getting closer to Allah. Ramadhan is also a time for intensive worship, the reading of the Holy Qur'an, giving charity, improving one's behaviour, and doing good deeds.

For Muslims, Ramadhan is an opportunity to gain by giving up, to prosper by going without and to grow stronger by enduring weakness.

As a secondary goal, fasting is a way of experiencing hunger and developing sympathy for the less fortunate, and learning to be thankful and appreciative for all of Allah's bounties. Fasting is also beneficial to the health and provides a break in the cycle of rigid habits or overindulgence.

Who Fasts in Ramadhan?

Fasting in Ramadhan is obligatory on those who can do it. Sick people and travellers under certain conditions are exempted from the fast but must make it up at some other time in the future.

The Sighting of the Moon

While many Muslims sects insist on the physical sighting of the moon, there is no such requirement in the Holy Quran. The start of the month can now be based on the very accurate astronomical calculations. The end of the month is marked by the celebration of "Hari Raya Aidilfitri", a traditional practice, not a religious one.

From Dawn to Sunset

The daily period of fasting starts at the breaking of dawn and ends at the setting of the sun. In between -- that is, during the daylight hours - Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking, and sex. The usual practice is to have a pre-fast meal (sahur) before dawn and a post-fast meal (bersungkai) after sunset.

Devotion to God

The last ten days of Ramadhan are a time for enhanced religious devotion and good deeds when everyone tries to get closer to Allah, and seek the Night of Power (Lailatul-Qadr). The Night of Power is taken to be in the last 10 days of Ramadhan; the Holy Qur'an states that this night is better than a thousand months.

Food in Ramadhan

Since Ramadhan is a special time, Muslims in many parts of the world prepare certain favourite dishes during this month. And very often, Muslims invite others to share in their "bersungkai" meals.

The Spirit of Ramadhan

Muslims use many phrases in various languages to congratulate one another on the completion of the fasting obligation and the "Hari Raya Aidilfitri" festival. For example:

- "Kullu am wa antum bi-khair" (may you be well throughout the year)

- "Atyab at-tihani bi-munasabat hulul shahru Ramadhan al-mubarak" (the most precious congratulations on the occasion of the coming of Ramadhan)

- "Elveda, ey Ramazan" (farewell, O Ramadhan)

- "Kullu am wa antum bi-khair" (May you be well throughout the year)

- "Ramadhan mubarak" (a blessed Ramadhan)

- "Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, maaf zahir dan batin"


Source: Borneo Bulletin Sunday




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