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Holy Ramzan : Salvation

Month of fasting comes to recall humane dignity

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Abdul Muqit Chowdhury :
The Holy month of Ramzan is welcome in a very cordial manner in Bangladesh. As in other countries and regions of the Muslim world, the pious people become cheerful in self-restraints and sacrifice in fasting.
The Holy Qur-an reveals : "Ramzan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur-an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (signs) for guidance and judgement (between right and wrong). So everyone of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, ...  (Al Qur-an : Sura Baqara 2 : Ayat 185 )
The importance and status of this month stands on the zenith as the Holy Quran, the Code of life for mankind, was revealed in this golden period, which directed the right path of welfare and emancipation in this world and Salvation in the life here-after. This Scripture's humanitarian and universal spirit showers blessings not only on Muslims-its followers, but also on the mankind in general irrespective of Creed, race, caste and colour. The greatest personalities of history have appreciated the superiority of the Holy Qur-an in unequivocal terms. The history bears evidence of the contribution of the Qur-an, manifested in Islamic civilisation and can claim to be the best in the history. Revelation of the Qur-an makes the month of Ramzan the most important and significant for the culmination of virtuous deeds.  
According to the Holy Hadith, Ramzan is the month of Allah's infinite mercy, abundance and forgiveness.
Rasulullah (Sm) said, "From the beginning every Holy Scripture, which Allah revealed, came in the month of Ramzan."
The 'Sahifa' of Ibrahim (As), 'Tawrat' of Musa (As) and 'Inzil' of Isa (As) were revealed in this Holy month.
Fasting as a religious ritual comes down from the beginning of human history. It was observed by the other Ummats, before the advent of universal and eternal Islam finally and preached by the last and the greatest Messenger of Allah, Hazrat Muhammad (Sm). The Holy Qur-an reveals :
"O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint-(Fasting) for a fixed number of days ... . (AI Qur-an : Sura Baqara 2 : Ayat 183-184)
Some Mufassirs have mentioned that Hazrat Adam (As) was directed to observe fasting. In the reference of Ibne Kathir Mufassir Dahkak said, "In every age of the prophets from Hazrat Nooh (As) till the last Prophet (Sm) there was three days fasting in every month."
Fasting is a tradition of religious communities- the Hindus, the Buddhists, the Christians and the Jews, In the ancient lands of India, Greece, Egypt and Persia fasting was observed as a ritual. There is diversity in perspective, doctrines, rituals, and time in different aspects. The fasting as a religious ritual is observed universally :
The  Message of Islam on fasting: "Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties .... (Al Quran,Sura Baqara 2 : Ayat 185)
About fasting the Qur-an declares the Will of Allah that He 'intends' 'facility' and does not want 'difficulties.' It is transparent that fasting in Islam is presented as an easy and smooth observance and it is the opposite pole of any concept of punishment.
The Muslim Ummah has been ordained to be festive in the observance of rituals of fasting whole through the month to continue training of self-restraint to purify themselves and to build up character with the proper combination of '1man ' and 'Amol' for the welfare and emancipation-personal and social, worldly and unworldly life.
In the vocabulary of 'Shariah' 'Roza' or 'Siam' is called that process in which one has to abstain from having food and drink and not to response to sexual demands for the period from Subhe Sadeq to sunset. The word 'Ramzan' is derived from the root 'ramd'. Its meaning is heat, excessive heat, high degree of heat, burning. 'Roza' is a Persian word. It means 'fasting'. Its Arabic synonym is 'Sawm'. In plural it is Siam.  'Ramzan' popularly known as 'Ramzan', and 'Siam' bears the same significance to people. 'Siam' means 'abstaining from what breaks fasting.' Ramzan's spirit is to burn the bad instincts to purify ourselves. Siam appeals to refraining from misdeeds and makes our character crowned with virtuous deeds. So Roza or Siam, whatever we call it, it comes to purify our lives. Whole through its month-long training we don't take food, drink and keep ourselves free from sexual demands for a definite time daily and this process goes on, burns our inclination to enjoyments of worldly life and prepares us for sacrifice, presents human traits of character for self-welfare as well as social welfare. Avoiding physical demands has deep significance and teachings to get rid of destructive misdeeds, detrimental to human being either personally or socially.
Ramzan is the enrichment of one's self to human outlook. It is worth observing that any occasional ritual of Islam, Roza or other, builds up one's character by awakening up conscience to make one a responsible member of the society to contribute to self-welfare and welfare of humanity.
Any person, whom we take to be a responsible member of the society contributing to the human fraternity, must necessarily feel the sorrows of his fellow beings, sympathise with them and help them according to his capacity. Fasting prepares a person to feel the burring of hunger and thirst and thus he/she becomes able to perceive the sufferings of others who are poor and needy and often starve. The process of one month's self-restraint enables him/her to have an idea of the economic inequity in the society. Allah Rabbul 'Alameen  wants his created beings to sympathise with the helpless section and extend helping hands towards the needy.
In this particular context of fasting and its social appeal, we may have a glance over the general principle of distribution of wealth in Islam.
The Holy Qur-an reveals :
" ..... ,yea, give them something yourselves out of the means which Allah has given to you ... " ( Al Qur-an : Sura Noor 24 : Ayat 33 )
So, according to the elucidation of the Holy Qur-an wealth is created by Allah and in principle it is His property. The right of it, which accrues to man, is delegated to him by Allah, the Creator.
The Holy Qur-an reveals :
"And those in whose wealth is a recognised right for (needy)  who asks and him who is prevented (for some reason from asking);." (AI-Qur-an : Sura Ma'ariz 70 : Ayat 24-25 )
According to certain verses there is the right of the people. Allah does not want that wealth becomes confined in some hands, depriving the others, who form the majority of the society; who are destitute, have-not's and cry for hunger. So, any sort of monopoly in acquiring wealth is restricted in the Holy Verses :
" … In order that it may not (merely) make a circuit between the wealthy among you ...." (Al Qur-an : Sura Hashor 59 : Ayat 7)
The Islamic standpoint and doctrines on the distribution of wealth is different from both Capitalism and Socialism. It is the midway and balanced economic system, unique in aspect, and far off from any negative approach to equitable distribution of wealth. As wealth is the 'property of Allah' Himself, being the Creator of wealth and bestowed in His Mercy to man the right to own, man is not altogether free to put property to any use according to his whims and caprices. He should abide by the Holy Commandments and spend the wealth under the obligations ordained. The Holy Qur-an has warned the person who does not submit to the orders :
"And there are those who bury gold and silver and spend it not in the Way of Allah; announce unto them a most grievous penalty-on the Day when heat will be produced out of that (wealth) in the fire of hell, and with it will be branded their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs-'This is the (treasure) which ye buried for yourselves : taste ye, then, the (treasures) ye buried!" (Al Qur-an : Sura Tawba 9 : Ayat 34-35)
Islam's humanitarian viewpoint is based on 'Haqqul Ibad' or the service to the creation. It has laid down the doctrines and principles for equitable distribution of wealth. Jakat, one of the five fundamentals of Islam, is thought to be the first in this sector. Its importance is next to Salat. It has a very wide range. So far as 'Haqqul Ibad' or socio-economic justice of Islam is concerned, it is very important. Hazrat Abu Bakar (Ra), the first Khalifa of Islam waged a full-scale war against those who refused to pay Jakat. Its obligation is directly linked with the masses.
The Holy Qur-an reveals :
"Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer (the funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer: (Thus is it) ordained by Allah, and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom." (AI Qur-an : Sura Tawba 9 : Ayat 60 )
There are eight heads of Jakat here (a) to help the poor (miskin). (b) to help the needy (faqir), (c) to pay for those who are employed to collect and administer Jakat, (d) to help the newly converted Muslim, (e) to free the slaves, (f) to help the debtor in repaying the debt, (g) to serve the Cause of Allah, and (h) to help the strangers stranded in the way.
The Holy Qur-an says, "Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, ... :  '(Ai Qur-an : Sura Nahl 16: Ayat 90 )
'Ushar is a form of Jakat, levied on land produce, which comes under the special category of 'Ushari lands'. It is spent on the same categories as Jakat. 'Kaffarat' (expiation money) is regular mode of transmitting wealth to the needy. It is compulsory  in some cases and voluntary in others. It can be discharged in the form of cash and also in the form of food and clothes.
'Sadaqat-ul-Fitr' is compulsory for those whose possessions come up to a certain specific quantity on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr. It should be distributed among the poor and the needy before going to Eid prayer. Everyone has to pay the fixed amount. It is a bright demonstration of brotherhood on the occasion of a collective festivity like Eid.
The Jakat, Ushar, Kaffarat and Sadaqat-ul-Fitr are intended to distribute wealth among the poor-the needy. In order to provide help to one's own relatives, there is the category of 'Nafaqat' (maintenance) and 'Wirasat' (inheritance). The injunction of maintenance of relations has a broad range of supporting responsibility. It is unique arrangement for the maintenance of the helpless and weak. The injunction of inheritance has a broad list of inheritors, prescribed in accordance with the degree of relationship which makes a very wide circulation of inherited wealth.
The Holy Qur-an and the Hadith of Rasulullah (Sm) are full of exhortation on 'spending in the way of Allah'. We should bear in mind these directions of Holy Hadith in the context of Ramzan. Allah, the Exalted says: "Fasting is (exclusively) for Me and I will reward it. (Bukhari, Muslim Sharif)
Imam Jafar Sadiq (R) has been quoted as saying :
"Allah made fasting incumbent to make equity between the rich and the poor. A rich man does not feel the pains of hunger to have mercy for the poor, since he is able to obtain whatever he likes. (By enjoining fasting) Allah wanted to put his creatures on an equal footing by making the rich taste the pain of hunger, so that he may pity the weak and have mercy on the hungry .... "
In the broad perspective of general Islamic principles on the equitable distribution of wealth and in particular, principles and injunctions for the month of Ramzan, the followers of Islam, the pious people devoted to fasting and the related rituals, should be conscious and alert to perform the responsibilities as a co-operating member of the society, Ummah and humanity in general. The fasting rituals should never be confined and concentrated to self-interest but should be extended to socio-economic welfare in order to bridge the gap of the well-to-do and needy section according to the Holy Sunnah.
The socio-economic welfare has two phases :
 At the present moment, the related activities are guided simply by the ordained ethical norms of Islamic viewpoint of the equitable distribution of wealth, not by any administrative step or pressure.
The other phase would have been an Islamic economic order under Islamic administration, which would make compulsion, where necessary, to impose the codes and principles to create a society of equality and thus of brotherhood.
At the present background, the personal feeling of responsibility for the fellow brethren is our resort. The second phase of both the government and the private owners' combined efforts to make the society a Heavenly abode of brotherhood, based on all humanitarian activities, is the destination of human society according to the Holy Qur-an and Sunnah.
Ramzan, as the month of self-restraint, sacrifice, social welfare. self-emancipation and Salvation, comes to remind us of our noble human responsibility and ultimate goal.

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