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Muslim Views . June 2017

Fasting – where the wings of spirituality are developed for Eid-ul-Fitr SHAIKH ALLIE KHALFE

THE word ‘human’ in Arabic is ‘insaan’, and is derived from both ‘nisyaan’ (to forget) and ‘uns’, meaning ‘intimacy’. The blessed month of Ramadaan, a month in which we are reminded of our humanity, culminates in the day of fitrah, referred to as Eid-ul-Fitr. Ramadaan is therefore an institution capable of elevating the human being from a state of forgetfulness (nisyaan) to a state of intimacy (uns) with our Creator, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Eid means ‘to return’ while ‘fitrah’ has many shades of meaning but when linked to Ramadaan, it refers to a ‘return to our innate disposition (al-fitrah)’. It is a return to a condition of eating, drinking and intimacy with our spouses after a month of struggle, uncovering and realisation. Eid-ul-Fitr is a day of celebration when we hymn the praises of our Lord for once again re-injecting into our souls the value of the simplest things during Ramadaan. It is a day in which Muslims give the needy their right, and their right is referred to as their fitrah. On this blessed day, Muslims share their wealth with the needy so as to purify themselves from excess, thereby strengthening communities by spreading love and spirituality across the land. Eid-ul-Fitr is also known as ‘the day of freedom from the fire’ and ‘the day of celebration’ since tradition indicates that on this morning, ‘70 000 people are freed from

Shaikh Allie Khalfe conducting an afternoon class at the Islamic Text Institute in Surrey Estate, Cape Town. Photo SUPPLIED

the fire for each day of Ramadaan’. It is also referred to as the day of prize giving as recorded in the prophetic tradition: ‘When the month of Ramadaan is over and the night of al-Fitr arrives, that night is called the Night of the Prize (Lailat al-Jazaa). ‘In its early morning, Allah, Most High, sends His angels forth to visit all the towns and cities on

earth. ‘Once they have made their descent, they position themselves at the entrances of all the streets and alleys. ‘There, in a voice that is audible to every being created by Allah, apart from the jinn and humankind, they issue a proclamation: “O Community of Muhammad, come forth into the presence of a Noble and Generous

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Lord who will grant you gifts in abundance, and forgive your sins!” ‘Then, when the believers have emerged and presented themselves at their places of prayer, Allah, Most High, says to His angels: “O My angels, what is the recompense of the hired labourer, once he has done his job?” ‘The angels will reply: “Our God and our Master, You will pay him his wages in full!” So He, Most High, says: “I now call upon you to bear witness, O My angels, that I have conferred My acceptance and My forgiveness as the reward for their fasting (siyaam) and night vigil (qiyaam) during the month of Ramadaan.”’ Lexically, fasting (al-saum) means to abstain from something. Technically, it refers to a ‘specific abstention from food, drink and intimacy from the time of Fajr until the time of Maghrib’. The purpose behind abstaining from these acts, which are part of our innate disposition (fitrah) is clear in the Quran: ‘Perhaps you attain a heightened sense of Godconsciousness (la allakum tattaqun.’ (2:183) Ramadaan is the month in which the Quran was revealed as guidance (hudaa) to all human beings. It is a month designated for fasting, and may be seen as a huge farm where the farmer tills the soil and prepares the grounds. He can do one of three things: a) plant seeds and leave them to die, b) do nothing at all or c) nurture these

seeds by providing sufficient sunlight and water so that they bear wholesome fruits in time to come. This is what Allah, Most Generous, intends by ‘perhaps you attain a heightened sense of God-consciousness’. It is not a guarantee but rather a ‘perhaps’, in that God-consciousness could possibly become more alive in our beings. Ramadaan is the month in which we are afforded the opportunity to prepare for the rest of the year. It is a period in which we are driven toward the carpet of neediness before the One who is not in need of anything. It is a month in which we are gifted two wings, one of patience (sabr) and the other of thankfulness (shukr). Regardless of our social status, be it wealth or poverty, fame or obscurity, we are all brought face to face with our humanity and primordial state, which is that we cannot do without a sip of water for one day. In that way we are blessed with the wing of sabr during the day for abstaining, and with the wing of shukr at night when we eat. This is one of the many spiritual realities we celebrate on Eid-ul-Fitr: a return to uncovering and remembering our innate disposition of purity, with which we are all created. There is a serious need for us to re-inject our souls with the classical and more ancient understanding of what Ramadaan symbolises. CONTINUED ON PAGE 6

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