Ramadan is a month where members increase their chances of securing the divine affection needed to transform their lives. All manners of good behaviour are encouraged because it gives a sign that the basis for creating an equitable society is when everyone is fair and just.
Its philosophy and ecumenical focus justify Islam’s status as one of the leading religions in the world. Its flexible nature, argues many prominent clerics, underpins the commonly held fact that the religion does not erect rigid boundaries among people on the basis of class, political affiliation or racial identity. To believers, everyone is considered equal before the Supreme Being, and for this reason, people easily identify with the religion because Allah accepts them without discrimination.
O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).(49:13)
Apart from the fact that Islam provides both philosophical and ideological solidarity with its believers, it also dutifully creates an environment of peace to facilitate their interpersonal bond. Islam conceives people, irrespective of their cultural background, as figures who come from the same source and are dispersed by the Creator for the very purpose of exploration and expansion. On the basis of this thinking, Muslims across the world nurse the ambition of expanding their social and political tentacles to achieve the common objective, which is the proliferation of the religion’s beliefs and practices. Of course, the believers in the religion understand that the internal theological arrangement is meant to erect a system where both the moral architecture of the worshipers and their ideological understanding would work in a complementary manner.
And if two factions among the believers should fight, then make settlement between the two. But if one of them oppresses the other, then fight against the one that oppresses until it returns to the ordinance of Allah. And if it returns, then make settlement between them in justice and act justly. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly. The believers are but brothers, so make settlement between your brothers. And fear Allah that you may receive mercy.(49:9-10)
Peace is considered the common denominator in Islam, and because of the understanding that peace is fundamental to expanding socio-religious networks across races and boundaries, the religious identity emphasises the need for submission to the oneness of Allah as a creed to enhance peace among all human creatures. Islam maintains that man’s existence here on earth is tied to a divine agenda that the Almighty has programmed. This agenda ensures that humans understand and accept the supremacy of the divine, to the extent that they identify greatness with Allah, concerning creation and creatures. This orientation constitutes a broad philosophical spectrum that pushes man to deeper reflections about the world, the issues and ideas behind its creation, and the almost inelastic greatness of the brains behind the structuration of the world.
For example, animals prove, to a considerable extent, that God’s capabilities are limitless. Beyond this, inanimate objects reveal the boundless significance of nature and its awe-inspiring brilliance. The examination of the almost unending instances of God’s greatness propels the thinking that submission to the will and persuasion of the power behind these creatures is naturally important. This is why Islam reiterates submission as one of the most cardinal factors that determine membership.
O you who have believed, enter into Islam completely [and perfectly] and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.(2:208)
Meanwhile, submission to Allah predisposes humans to the cultivation of ideas that naturally bring the best of human culture, according to Muslims. It is generally believed that humans are naturally deficient in constructing morally acceptable ideas by themselves. This weakness is considered the product of human fallibility, resulting from their association with satanic ideas. Simultaneously, there has been a mapped-out plan for humans by Allah, which he designated His prophet, Muhammad, to communicate with the human populace to unlock their potential that would enable them to remain on the same pedestal with Allah’s ideals. However, humans seem to be inherently intransigent because their continued association has compromised moral credentials with the devil’s agenda. Therefore, to prevent the populace from being at variance with their Creator, Allah sent a Messenger and accorded Him the responsibility of spreading His words to humanity, so that His preaching about the oneness of God would receive the necessary attention and encourage humans to reorder their ways onto the right pathway.
And We sent not before you any messenger except that We revealed to him that, “There is no deity except Me, so worship Me.”(21:25)
To ensure this, Allah created five important philosophical agendas to enhance peace and restore divine intention to the people He created. To believe in Allah and His Prophet, prayers, giving alms, fasting and then embarking on a pilgrimage constitute the foundation upon which the religion is built. The logicality of these fundamentals is underscored by the understanding that they are interconnected in philosophical ways when performed as instructed. One of these pillars is fasting, and it addresses the question of keeping an intimacy between humans and God. Fasting in Islam, except in situations where they decide to perform the act to seek Allah’s mercy, is principally associated with Ramadan.
The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days…(2:185)
The implication of this is that there is a special time when it would be a universal engagement to observe fasting as an act of worship. Therefore, fasting in Islam takes two solidly important imports, as far as religion is concerned. First, it is considered as a means of connecting deeply with Allah, so that the individuals engaged in the act would present their spiritual agitations before God for divine intervention.
And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.(2:186)
Two, the period is seen as a time of deep and sober reflections. While they are doing this, they are simultaneously worshiping God because the crux of being a Muslim is that worshipers reflect on the oneness of God and consider His creatures as important signals of His greatness. It thus confirms the assumption that Ramadan is used as an instrument of communication between God and humans. The believers have shown how the religion connects them deeply with others because they have a higher propensity for inter-religious bonding during the Ramadan period.
To this end, the Ramadan period is considered a time for proper reflection, when individuals who identify with the religion extend their good hands of friendship to others and even show them unconditional love and affection. Although the line between the wealthy members of the political class and the underclass of society is spiritually blurred in the religion, Ramadan presents them additional opportunities to bond and support one another to develop a sense of belonging in people. When this is done, therefore, socialism and people-oriented ideas prevail and gain maximum patronage.
Islam is unpretentious about its obsession with human development. This is observed from how it makes strenuous efforts to facilitate unity among people. It is to reinforce its position about this bonding that another pillar of the religion, alms-giving, takes surprising precedence during the period of Ramadan. Technically called “zakat” in Islam, the condition of giving alms to the people is geared towards the empowerment of the underclass so that they can equally have opportunities to develop themselves. Perhaps in ways that cannot be understood by non-practitioners of the religion, encouraging people to give alms comes from the awareness that access to wealth is unequal in the society. Because of the socioeconomic conditions that result from inequality, it gives an undue advantage to those who have access to more, at the expense of those who do not.
The importance of Ramadan can only be understood when there is an understanding of the reasons behind it. As already indicated, it is meant to draw the people closer to their Creator, while simultaneously encouraging selfless services on their part to others. Indeed, such belief reiterates the place of sacrifice, selflessness, and service in the creation of a just society with strong institutions and structures that can bring about collective development.
Muslims worldwide accept the period when they are offered unending opportunities to redeem themselves and create a pathway to the enhancement of piety. Muslims jettison all acts of violence and hostilities, especially during this period, because it has been established to them that Allah condemns all sinful practices.
Ramadan is a month when the faithful increase their chances of securing the divine affection needed to transform their lives. All manners of good behaviour are encouraged because it gives a sign that the basis for creating an equitable society is when everyone is fair and just. Muslims are mandated to cultivate habits that would bring about instant turnaround where people would identify Allah as their Supreme maker and always desist from activities He condemns.
To ask questions about Ramadan and other Islamic practices, do please join us for a conversation with the National Missioner of the Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Imam Abdulrahman Ahmad, on
Sunday, May 2
5:00 PM GMT+1 (Nigeria Time)
11:00AM US CST (Austin Time)
Join via Zoom
Watch on YouTube
Watch on Facebook
Toyin Falola, a professor of History and University Distinguished Teaching Professor, is Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at The University of Texas at Austin.
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