Ramadan: Purification and Emptying Out

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As this most sacred of months, Ramadan, continues, we think about what its true meaning is. It’s about more than fasting from food and drink, because one must also abstain from bad behaviors, such as lying, slander or profanity, and obviously from committing any crimes, or from acting with cruelty to others such as bullying or mocking others, in person or online, openly or in secret. Not only must one abstain from sexual activity of any kind (and one considers that for Muslims this will be marital, lawful), but refrain oneself from any sexual thoughts or innuendos or behaviors that approach this area, including viewing sexually explicit materials online or elsewhere. Even excess anger is prohibited. One strives, in other words, to be a truly good person, thinking about it, being aware of Allah. So it is a kind of emptying out of those things of this world that lead us away from thikr Allah, actively remembering Allah and calling upon Him and invoking His name while alert. It is a kind of purification of the heart. We also strive to be compassionate and kind and thoughtful to others. So it is an emptying out of the selfish part, our tendency to be driven and moved by our selfish desires.
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Ramadan 1: The Meaning of Ramadan

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One could say Ramadan commemorates the tanzeel or sending down of the Qur’an, which occurred on the “Night of Power” or Laylat-ul-Qadr, a night the Quran describes as “better than a thousand months.” One fasts from the first thread of light of dawn until what the Qur’an mentions as “layl” or night, but which is usually interpreted as the first darkness, or sunset, although some wait longer to be sure it is really night. The fast includes not only food and drink (including water), but also abstention from profanity, smoking, sexual relations, and any other “impiety” such as lying, stealing, or fighting. War is prohibited except in actual self-defense. It is a sacred month, one of four, and the most sacred of all. Continue reading