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4 I GUIDE POSTS I OBJECT OF FASTING (Bashir Ahmad Orchard) God has revealed that the primary object of fasting in the manner prescribed by Islam is the acquisition of righteeusness: “0 ye who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed before you, so that you may become righteous.” (Quran 2:183) This should be the foremost desire and aim of a M uslim. Through self-analysis he should always be aware of his shortcomings and weaknesses; and at the same time he should be ever anxious to overcome them and to make constant progress towards his cherished goal – righteousness and self-purification. He should never be satisfied with his present spiritual condition. Elsewhere in the Holy Quran God says on the subject of righteousness: “Verily the most honourable among you in the sight of Allah is the one who is most righteous among you.” ( 49: 14) “The best provision is righteousness.” (2: 198) “0 ye men worship your Lord who created you and those who were before you that you may become righteous.” (3:52) It is perfectly clear that the paramount aim in the life of a Muslim is to acquire the mantle of righteousness which again is emphasized in the Holy Quran: “The best and the most elegant dress IS the raiment of righteousness.” (Quran 7:27) The holy month of Ramadhan is now upon us and we should take full advantage of this wonderful opportunity to derive as much spiritual benefit from it as possible because God has promised immense heavenly blessings for those who observe the month with earnest devotion. How is fasting a means to enable one to become more righteous? At the outset one should possess a strong desire to improve in righteousness. If one is indifferent or not much concerned GUIDE POSTS 5 about this matter then one is unlikely to undergo much of a spiritual change for the better. Fasting itself does not produce automatic holiness. One should be imbibed with the true spirit of fasting. The Holy Prophet has said: “He who abstains from food and drink during the period of fasting but does not strive to safeguard himself against moral lapses, starves for no purpose.” (Bukhari) Some essential points which should be kept in mind and observed while fasting now follow: THE HOLY QURAN While the reading of a portion of the Holy Quran should be our daily practice, we are well advised to study it more diligently during the month of Ramadhan and so fill our minds with its divine and holy truths. Where there exists a congregation of the faithful they usually get together to listen to a commentary and explanation of a portion of the Holy Quran daily. Whether or not one is able to attend these instructive sessions one should at least make time to read and study the Holy Book in one’s own home or elsewhere. The Holy Quran is a revelation of Divine truths and a cure for all spiritual ills. PRAYERS As a devout Muslim one should be regular and strict III the observance of daily prayers every day of one’s life; but during Ramadhan one should endeavour to pray with greater fervour and pathos because God has said that during this holy month He answers prayer more than ever. Special value has been placed on Tahajjud prayers (voluntary pre-dawn prayers). At all times these prayers are very efficacious especially during Ramadhan when God rains down His blessings and succour profusely upon sincere and devout supplicants. PERSONAL CONDUCT One should pay particular attention to one’s personal behaviour including one’s manner of talk. One should guard one’s tongue very carefully against quarrelling, backbiting, sarcasm, rudeness and, infact, every kind of unpleasant behaviour. One should strive to adopt a pleasant and loving nature and endeavour to be patient with everybody whatever may be their mannerisms or defects; and resolve that this attitude should become a permanent feature of one’s character for ever after. 6 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS CHARITY During the month of Ramadhan one is exhorted to be specially charitable towards others. While fasting one is able to realize and symphathise to a greater extent with one’s less fortunate bretheren who suffer by the millions from lack of sustenance and even starvation. One is urged to help them and, at the same time, one feels grateful and proffers thanks to God for the good fortune one enjoys. Charity means practical kindliness which is not limited only to financial and material donations. It covers all kinds of good works for the betterment of mankind. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) said: “Every good work and every kind deed is charity.” A kind word, good deed, helping hand, tenderness, sympathy, cheerfulness, friendliness are all practical demonstrations of charity. God says in the Holy Quran: “Hasten to vie with one another in good works. “(3: 15) “And slacken not in your zeal for the sympathy of your people.” (4:105) Charity is the noblest employment. It is righteousness in action. AVOIDANCE OF SIN Sin is the violation of a Divine commandment of one kind or another and is usually caused by submitting to temptation. Fasting aids one in self-control and self-restraint which one is able to apply in resisting temptations when they arise. Fasting strengthens one’s power of self-mastery which is a priceless weapon against the forces of Satan along with the efficacy of prayer. Furthermore while fasting one is reminded how much more important it is to avoid sin than it is to avoid daily nourishment for a period of time. Fasting is a potent spiritual exercise for the development of righteousness which is the ultimate object of fasting. JEWEL OF RIGHTEOUSNESS “Wonderful is the jewel the name of which is righteousness. Blessed is he who practises righteousness. So 0 ye Muslims! perfect your righteousness.” (HAZRAT MIRZA GHULAM AHMAD)

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