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An historical address made to distinguished guests, VIP”s and members of the Ahmadiyya Community at the Inauguration of one of Europe’s largest mosques.

As we strive for excellence in our daily lives, the more obsessed we get with success in education, or in our careers, or even in pastimes such as sports, we focus on our goals and often do without other facilities such as food in order to concentrate. In the same w a y, for religious people, the actual goal of their daily lives is to get closer to their Creator and to gain spiritual excellence, and abstinence from food and water enhances that experience. In the history of religious experience, fasting has often been a vehicle for spiritual enlightenment. In November this year, millions of Muslims around the world will be fasting from sunrise to sunset, and con- centrating on spiritual activities such as prayer and contem- plation, charity and doing good deeds for their fellow men. To the inexperienced eye, fasting seems like a tortuous activity; for onlookers, the thought of missing out on coffee or lunch can seem d i fficult, yet for the person observing the fast, it feels much easier. The lack of food or water diverts the mind towards the real meaning of existence and he One who created food and water. And Fast is not meant to be a torture, as those that are too young or unwell are not meant to fast. Islam is not unique in using fasting as a means for self- purification (spiritual as well as physical). Christians of the past had observed a fast during lent in the lead up to Easter. Some Christian monks would even fast continuously for forty days and nights in their zealous pursuit. It was only in recent centuries that the fast has been relaxed to the modern form of abstinence from certain foods such as meat, chocolate or eggs for 40 days. It is from this recent form of fasting that Christian traditions such as Pancake Day have developed – pancakes are made with all the remaining eggs on the last day before Lent. 2 The Review of Religions – November 2003 Editorial S i m i l a r l y, many of the major festival days of the Jews involve some form of fasting or abstinence. The most notable is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement on which Jews confess and repent for their sins. On this day, they focus on prayer and forgiveness from their Creator, while at the same time abstaining from food, water and even bathing. They have other fast days such as Asarah be- Tevet. Many Hindus fast on specified days every month in order to purify themselves. Their day begins with ritual bathing and prayer, and then they endure 24 hours abstinence from food, but are allowed to drink. The devotees of Durga have 9 nights in which they fast. Buddhists debate the significance of fasting, but many of them do have seasons or days of fasting such as Sojong Day in Tibet. So as we have seen, fasting is observed by religious people of various faiths around the globe to achieve spiritual and physical purification. Islam is perhaps the only religion to have a common period of fasting observed by the great majority of its adherents. But people of most faiths are aware of the spiritual benefits that it brings. May God enable Muslims to benefit spiritually during the month of Ramadan. Ameen. Fazal Ahmad – UK 3 Editorial The Review of Religions – November 2003 NOTE: In this journal, for the information of non-Muslim readers, ‘(sa)’ or ‘sa’ after the words, ‘Holy Prophet’, or the name ‘Muhammad’, are used. They stand for ‘Salallahu alaihi wassalam’ meaning ‘Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him’. Likewise, the letters ‘(as)’ or ‘as’ after the name of all other prophets is an abbreviation meaning ‘Peace be upon him’ derived from Alaih salato wassalam’ for the respect a Muslim reader utters. Also ru or (ru) for Rahemahullahu Ta ’ a l a m e a n s the Mercy of Allah the Exalted be upon him