Imam Khalil A. Akbar
The fourth pillar of Al- Islam is fasting in the month of Ramadan, which is the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar. In Arabic it is called “Sawm.” The word means “heat” or “burning” and indicates that Ramadan is a month of protection from our fiery passions and desires.
This month is considered sacred or a holy month for Muslims because firstly, it was the month when the Qur’an began to be revealed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Secondly, It has been designated as the month of obligatory fasting for all Muslims who are mentally, physically and capable of withstanding the rigors of the fast. Children are expected to fast when they reach puberty.
Fasting during this sacred month is more than an exercise; but like all the pillars of Islam it is a form of worship that brings the worshipper closer to Allah. It is a month of mercy, forgiveness and freedom from the hellfire as stated by our beloved Prophet (pbuh). That means that if we expect to receive Mercy, and Forgiveness from Allah, we must be willing to give the same to each other and human beings generally.
Ramadan is a month of discipline in which we abstain from lying, anger, fighting or quarreling and other negative activities prohibited b Al-Islam. This is given to us very clearly in the Qur’an in Sura Baqarah, Ayah 185:
O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those who came before you in order that you may learn Taqwaa (self-restraint).
In addition to the many Blessings we receive during the month of Ramadan, something occurs that makes the fraternity of our Ummah most apparent. The community of Muslims is united universally in the observance of this sacred month. This improves our social consciousness and care for each other. We feel the suffering of poor people abroad and in this country who, due to no fault of their own, are not fortunate enough to enjoy a healthy balanced meal daily. Muslims are together in this empathy which is reflected by their many charitable deeds in the month of Ramadan. The fast of Ramadan and its disciplines reminds us of our collective responsibility to humanity.
Therefore, a very important achievement is the unity of Muslims everywhere in observing the fast for the full month of Ramadan. If Muslim can unite as fraternity during this month, then it stands to reason that we can be united in every month and every year,