Ramadan....What is it?

Ramadan is derived from the Arabic root word ramida or arramad intense
scorching heat and dryness, especially the ground.  From the same root
there is ramdaa, sunbaked sand, and the famous proverb: "Kal Mustajeer
minar Ramadaa binnar" - to jump out of the frying pan into the fire.  And
in a hadith the Messenger of Allah (saas) said : "The prayer of repenters
is due when the young camel can feel the sun's heat early in the morning."

Thus, the Ramadan is so called to indicate the heating sensation in the
stomach as a result of thirst.  Others said it is so called because Ramadan
scorches out the sins burns the ground.  Some said  it is so called because
the hearts and souls are more readily receptive to the admonition and
remembrance of Allah during Ramadan, ad the sand and stones are receptive
to the sun's heat.  The framers of this beautiful language may have been
inspired by Allah (SWT) in naming this month Ramadan.  Otherwise, the
relation between the heat and its properties is miraculously similar to
that of Ramadan.  While the heat represents the matter that helps shape,
form, and mold virtually every matter, from metal and plastics, to plants
and living cells-Ramadan undoubtedly helps a serious believe remold,
reshape, reform, and renew his physical and spiritual disposition and


Fasting, siyamm, has two meanings.  Generally, siyaam or sawm, is derived
from the root sama, to retrain from normal things, such as eating,
drinking, and talking.  If an individual refrains from these things, he is
considered saaim, the observer of fast.  Al-Qur'an uses the word generally
when it revealed the conversation between the angel and Mary, the of Jesus,
as the angel instructed her "And if you do see any man say, "I have vowed
to remain silent for Allah".  (Al-Qur'an 19:26)

The phrase "to remain silent," is the interpretation of the Arabic word
"sawm".  The reason for this interpretation is that "sawm" cannot mean
fast, i.e. restraint from food, because Mary had just been told to eat from
the palm tree.  This general meaning is common in the Arabic language.

In the Shari'ah (Islamic law) the "sawm" means and implies a specific act ,
which is, "to worship Allah, abstaining, with intention to please Him from
fast breakers, such as physical nourishment, food, drink, and sexual
intercourse a lustful discharge of semen from the period between the break
of dawn until sundown."

As this definition implies, the Islamic fasting is total abstinence from
any food, particles passing through the mouth or nose, as well as drinks of
any kind - water, milk, juice, etc. - along with abstinence from sexual
association during the day that commences from the break of dawn till

Although the definition indicated restraining the stomach and private
parts, the tongue, eyes ears and other limbs are equally obligated to be
restrained if the faster want to gain the total rewards of fasting.  This
is why the Messenger of Allah (saas) has been reported as saying in hadith
by Abu Hurairah:  "He who does not desist from obscene language and acting
obscenely (during the period of fasting), Allah has no need that he didn't
eat or drink." (Bukhari, Muslim).  In another hadith by abu Harairah (raa),
the Prophet (saas) said: "Fasting is not only from food and drink, fasting
is to refrain from obscene (acts).  If someone verbally abuses you or acts
ignorantly toward you, say (to them) 'I am fasting; I am fasting.'"(Ibn

Indeed, these two reports imply fasting will not be complete until one
observes three elements:

1.      Restraining the stomach and the private parts from the break of the
fast food and drinks.
2.      Restraining the jawarih, the other body parts, which may render the
fast worthless despite the main factor of hunger and thirst; so the tongue,
for instance, must avoid backbiting, slander, and lies; the eyes should
avoid looking into things considered by the Lawgiver as unlawful; the ears
must stop from listening to conversation, words, songs, and lyrics that
spoil the spirit of fasting; and,
3.      Restraining of the heart, and mind from indulging, themselves in 
other things besides dhikir Allah (remembrance of Allah).
As'Salaam News; December / January 97
P.O Box 711
Baltimore , MD 21203
Tel 410-832-6543


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