Dr. Issahaku Yakubu, Relationship Manager - Stanbic Bank Ghana

Islam is based on five core principles; adhering to these principles is essential for being recognized as a follower of the Islamic faith. These principles, also known as the Five Pillars of Islam, include Shahadah (belief in the oneness of God, Allah SWT), Salat (prayer), Sawm (fasting), Zakat (charity), and Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). These acts of worship, mandated by Allah SWT, define the Islamic way of life. Among these, fasting during Ramadan is obligatory for all able Muslims. Ramadan, the ninth month of the lunar calendar, is a period of piety and salvation—a time for liberation from worldly illusions and deep immersion into the sweetness of faith.

Ramadan serves as a divine blessing, showering Allah’s light and blessings on believers like torrential rain. It is a month of strict fasting from dawn to sunset, celebrated as the holiest month, marking the revelation of the Holy Quran to Prophet Muhammad. The fast begins the day after the crescent moon is sighted, indicating the start of a new month. Ramadan culminates in the global celebration of Eid ul Fitr, marking the end of fasting.

The month is characterized by a heightened commitment to prayer, daily recitation of the Quran, opportunities for learning about faith, and charity. Fasting teaches self-control, reinforces faith, increases mindfulness of God’s blessings, and is a means for seeking forgiveness for past sins. It also reminds believers of the plight of those less fortunate, fostering a sense of empathy and community spirit.

The deeper purpose of fasting is to achieve taqwa—God-consciousness. Taqwa involves being constantly aware of God’s presence and striving to live according to the ethics of the faith. Fasting enhances mindfulness of Allah, helping avoid unintentional offenses. The essence of this blessed month is about lifting the veil of heedlessness, reconnecting with our true purpose, and seeking forgiveness for past transgressions. By nurturing this consciousness, we can imbibe the essence and blessings of Ramadan fully.

Fasting is not only a physical abstention but also a moral and spiritual act. Allah SWT states in the Quran: “O you who have believed, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you that you may become righteous” (Al-Baqarah 2:183). This verse underscores that fasting is a pathway to righteousness, spiritual purification, and moral elevation.

A hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) reinforces the value of fasting: “Whoever fasts Ramadan out of faith and in the hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven” (Bukhari and Muslim). Fasting is thus seen as a form of spiritual purification and a testament to the resilience and fortitude of believers.

In addition to spiritual benefits, Ramadan is a time of physical and mental cleansing. It offers health benefits by allowing the body to detoxify and renew. The social aspect of Ramadan is also significant, as families and communities come together to break their fast and strengthen their bonds.

Ultimately, Ramadan is about more than fasting; it is a time for deep spiritual reflection, self-improvement, and devotion to Allah. It is a transformative journey that fosters gratitude, generosity, and empathy, enriching not only our spiritual lives but also our relationships with others.

Eid Mubarak to all Muslims as we reflect on the profound lessons of Ramadan and strive to carry these virtues forward in our daily lives.

As Ramadan concludes, the real test of Iman (faith) begins, prompting believers to maintain and extend the virtues nurtured during the holy month throughout the year. This sustained spiritual momentum is especially crucial as we approach significant events, such as elections, where the principles instilled during Ramadan can guide ethical and compassionate behavior.

Post-Ramadan: Carrying Forward the Lessons Learned.

1. Empathy and Generosity: During Ramadan, the act of fasting sensitizes one to the struggles of the less fortunate. This empathy should not diminish with the end of the month. Believers are encouraged to continue their charitable acts and compassion towards others, particularly the poor and vulnerable. The spirit of giving, reinforced by Zakat, serves as a powerful reminder of our duty to support, and uplift those in need.

2. Spiritual Vigilance and Continuous Worship: The intensity of worship and devotion to Allah observed during Ramadan should serve as a model for daily life. Continuous prayer, recitation of the Quran, and attendance at mosque should not wane but rather increase, reinforcing the personal connection with Allah and continual spiritual growth.

3. Patience and Self-Control: The self-discipline honed through fasting—resisting hunger, thirst, and temptation—provides a foundation for moral and ethical behavior throughout the year. This includes controlling anger, avoiding gossip, and abstaining from harmful habits. As stated in the Quran, “And seek assistance through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah]” (Al-Baqarah 2:45).

4. Community Harmony and Solidarity: Ramadan fosters a unique sense of community and togetherness as families and friends gather to break their fasts. This unity should extend beyond Ramadan, promoting peace and harmony within the community. Engaging in interfaith dialogues and community service can strengthen ties and enhance mutual understanding among different groups.

5. Reflection and Self-Assessment: The reflective nature of Ramadan encourages a thorough self-assessment of one’s deeds and intentions. This practice should be a continuous process, allowing individuals to evaluate their actions, make necessary corrections, and strive for personal and spiritual betterment.

Applying Ramadan’s Virtues in Broader Contexts

As Muslims navigate through the rest of the year, the virtues cultivated during Ramadan can significantly influence their conduct in broader societal contexts. For instance:

  • In Political and Social Arenas: The principles of fairness, honesty, and integrity should guide political engagement and civic duties. During elections or other civic duties, maintaining transparency, advocating for justice, and working towards the common good are essential traits that resonate with Ramadan’s teachings.
  • In Personal and Professional Relationships: Honesty, patience, and respect, reinforced during Ramadan, are crucial in fostering healthy personal and professional relationships. These virtues help in building trust and cooperation, which are fundamental for successful interactions and partnerships.
  • In Addressing Global Challenges: The global issues of poverty, inequality, and injustice require concerted efforts and a compassionate approach, much like the empathy and solidarity emphasized during Ramadan. By extending these virtues globally, believers can contribute to resolving conflicts and supporting humanitarian causes.

In conclusion, the spiritual renewal experienced during Ramadan provides a robust framework for believers to navigate various aspects of life with integrity, compassion, and a deep sense of responsibility. Let us strive to embody these virtues consistently, ensuring that the spiritual enlightenment of Ramadan leaves a lasting impact on our lives and the world around us.