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BLOG: Ramadhan is a time to purify mind and body

Ramadhan is a distinguished period in the Muslim calendar whose main objective is to reform and purify bodies, minds and hearts through spiritual exercises such as praying, fasting and engaging in charitable acts towards the less fortunate.

The fasting period is a month of religious devotion where good deeds are highly encouraged and profane acts strongly frowned upon as they prevent a person from reaping the momentous bounties which come with the blessed month.

Fasting is a deep physical act of discipline that has the potential of positively transforming a person’s attitude and behaviours towards other people. It is training season for spiritual development that provides checks and balances in controlling emotional behaviour.

The fast helps to check the responses to anger and physical and emotional actions and this explains why Prophet Muhammad, in one his traditions, said God has no need of a person’s fast if he does not control himself and refrain from profane acts like lying and slander.

Conflict, anger and fighting are some of the inordinate actions which are having a negative impact on individuals and society in the modern world. The effect of anger and argument is a result of the stress which the body produces in response to emotional situations and Ramadhan is an effective antidote in controlling these feeling which, if not restrained, can spin out of control with disastrous consequences.

Prophet Muhammad taught how a fasting person responds to arguments and squabbles with a humble expression: “I am fasting” — a simple but powerful statement which has the capacity to cool down tempers.

To a Muslim,fasting not only means abstaining from food but also refraining from all vices and evil. For if one refrains from lawful foods and bodily desires, he will be in a better position to avoid unlawful acts during the rest of the year.

Ramadhan, therefore is a time when self-restraint and discipline should prevail over superficial desires, illusions and artificial appetites. It is essentially, a period when bonds are strengthened in promoting humility, patience and spirituality as well as enhancing love, peace and neighbourliness.

On the ongoing violence in today’s world, it is a matter of distress that some acts of violence are being associated with Islam, a faith whose cardinal teachings stress peace and harmony.

What should be clearer, though is that in this month, participating in haram (prohibited) actions which include harming other people and shedding the blood of the innocent is a more grievous religious violations and those involved in such acts are no doubt transgressing the bounds of Islam.

During his time, Prophet Muhammad was attacked and grievously harmed but at no time did he take his vengeance towards innocent people.

During this month of Ramadhan, the month of mercy, it is incumbent upon all Muslims to follow the Prophet’s example and become better humans through and nurturing peace and harmony within their families, society and the whole of mankind.

Abu Ayman is the editor of The Friday Bulletin, a weekly publication of the Jamia Mosque Committee, Nairobi.