Dr Tauseef Ahmad Parray
Ramadan is the blessed month in which the holy Qur’an was revealed and fasting prescribed. The Holy Qur’an, in Surah al-Baqarah, proclaims: “You who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may be mindful of God. …It was in the month of Ramadan that the Quran was revealed as guidance for mankind, clear messages giving guidance and distinguishing between right and wrong” (Q. 2: 183, 185).
These verses make it clear enough that it is month of Ramadan in which Sawm/ fasting is prescribed for the Muslims so that they may be mindful of God, or achieve Taqwa. These verses also clearly state that the Holy Qur’an was revealed in this very month, as well as state what the Quran is all about: a guide to mankind with clear (signs) for guidance and a criterion between right and wrong (al-Furqan).
In verses 183-187 of Surah al-Baqarah, it states in detail, about fasting in Ramadan, its terms and conditions: in Q. 2: 183, it states that fasting is a prescribed duty on Muslims, and the purpose is “so that you may be mindful of God”. Later, it says about its ‘number of days’ and who are exempted from the fasting: “Fast for a speciﬁc number of days, but if one of you is ill, or on a journey, on other days later. For those who can fast only with extreme difficulty, there is a way to compensate—feed a needy person. But if anyone does good of his own accord, it is better for him, and fasting is better for you, if only you knew” (Q. 2: 184). In the next verse, Q. 2: 185, it is mentioned that noble Quran, which is Guidance for mankind and is al-Furqan, was revealed in this very month.
Thus, one notes that the importance of the month of Ramadan is the advent of the Revelation of the Quran, and it is through understanding followed by action, of the commandments in this blessed Book, that we are to achieve Taqwa (Righteousness or God-consciousness). The Qur’an clearly states, in surah Az-Zumar, 39: 28: “[It is] an Arabic Quran, free from any distortion—so that people may be mindful”.
Taqwa—rendered into English generally as Piety, God-consciousness, Righteousness, Good conduct, or Fear of God or God-fearing (which comes from the awe of Allah)—is very frequently enjoined, directed and commanded in the holy Qur’an: for instance: “In God’s eyes, the most honoured of you are the ones most mindful of Him: God is all knowing, all aware” (al-Hujjurat, 49: 13).
The Quran repeatedly commands and orders the people to have Taqwa, and the implication of the term is that one protects oneself by always keeping Allah in view. In other words, when we say something or do something, we do it as we see Allah and we are very careful, vigilant and cautious about this, because we know that Allah sees not only our actions and dealings, but also knows our thoughts and intentions, what we conceal in the inner of our hearts. Holy Quran says: “if you do good and are mindful of God, He is well aware of all that you do” (An-Nisa, 4: 128); “Be mindful of God: God has full knowledge of the secrets of the heart” (Al-Maidah, 5: 7).
Thus, to put it precisely, a very important trio of bliss, delight, and gladness is seen here: fasting in Ramadan, the Quran, and (achieving) Taqwa; and this blissful connection is possible, at its highest level, only in the month of Ramadan.
[P.S. All the English Translations of the Quranic verses are taken from M. A. S Abdel Haleem, The Quran: A New Translation (Oxford, 2004)].
—The author is Assistant Professor, Islamic Studies, at GDC Pulwama. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org