In the Qur’an, God says:
“You who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may be mindful of God.” [2:183]
The month of Ramadan was a month that was prescribed for fasting for the community of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The word used for “mindfulness of God” in Arabic is taqwa (pronounced: tuq-wa), which comes from the same root as the word wiqaaya which means a shield. It’s meant to increase our spiritual awareness of our actions and speech. When we focus less on what we put into our mouths, we tend to focus more on what we are doing with our limbs. It helps us to be hyper-aware and sensitive to our actions, and focus on our relationship with God. This is done via individual and communal ritual worship as well as service-oriented worship.
"He who observes optional prayer (Tarawih prayers) throughout Ramadan, out of sincerity of Faith and in the hope of earning reward will have his past sins pardoned." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Muslims are encouraged to increase any acts of good, be it ritual worship, prayers, recitation of the Qur’an, acts of kindness, charity, etcetera. They take on and fulfill this religious duty to their utmost while fulfilling their normal day-to-day obligations. It makes regular physical and mental tasks a bit more difficult, but it’s all part of the 5-pillar package of Islam.
Muslims come together during Ramadan to communally break their fast and offer extra congregational prayers at the mosque during the night. Due to our inability to congregate as physical communities in our homes of worship, for those with family members in their homes, they will congregate together and pray together as families. Although people may be physically distant from one another, that does not mean they are alone. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “The example of believers in regard to mutual love, affection, fellow-feeling is that of one body; when any limb of it aches, the whole body aches, because of sleeplessness and fever.”
As the Muslim Chaplain with and for the Muslim Student Association are putting together continued programming for Ramadan, anyone is welcome to join. Throughout the month, I will be covering a series of topics primarily aimed at spiritual development. Those interested may sign up via the following link.
Click here if you are interested in reading more about Ramadan and extra resources.