Ramadan: Building the Character and Will of God Within

By Sultan Rahman Muhammad, Guest Columnist | Last updated: May 20, 2020 - 11:12:10 AM

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“The servants of the Beneficent are they who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, Peace!”— Holy Qur’an, 25:63

As we now approach the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan, some of us may find it easy to abstain from food and water, but to abstain from a dispute or a quarrel in the home or abroad may be a very, very difficult task. For many of us have stresses and oppression in life that cause us to be on the edge or be very quick to anger. It is in the fasting that Allah has given us a way to quell the fires of anger.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad in How to Eat to Live, Book 1 states, “… during this month, let there be no quarreling or disputing in our homes or abroad.”

Once the fast has begun and we are thoroughly within the practice of fasting, it becomes very difficult to become angry because much of our energy is lost from the depletion of food and our minds are focused on the remembrance of Allah. If we are able to maintain this state of mind, sawm (stillness or fasting), we will have achieved part of the major benefits and wisdom behind the fast of Ramadan. It is more difficult for most to control our attitudes and emotions than it is to control our stomachs. This is an exercise to gain control of mastery over self in addition to rising above emotion into the Thinking of Allah (God).

Imam Sultan Rahman Muhammad

During this month we are to heighten our acts of kindness and spiritual expression and devotion. Our daily reading and recitation of the Holy Qur’an is an act of worship in itself. We read daily 1/30th or one Juz’ (part) of the Holy Qur’an. If we read this part or portion of the Holy Qur’an every day, we will have completed the reading of the entire Qur’an over the course of the Holy Month of Ramadan in commemoration of the Month in which the Qur’an began to be revealed.

During the Holy Month of Ramadan, we are encouraged as much as possible to participate in the giving practice of feeding the poor and the help of those in need. Those of us, particularly, our family of Black and Brown that are oppressed in society, find a disproportionate reality of such oppression in our communities. Thus we should constantly, during this Holy Month of Ramadan, seek to feed the indigent; to find the poorest in our community; to seek out individuals that are in our communities that represent a sense of dignity by hiding their poverty.

There are unfortunately many among us that may dress well, may look well, may look like we are financially sound, but many of us are just “one check away from homelessness.” These are the individuals that we must seek out; that we must, not only, feed through charity and help with food or money, but feed with the Word of Allah (God) so that we may free the slave, free the mind that has been enslaved to these very societal constructs that have kept us in a state of poverty, particularly during this time of trial and uncertainty due to Covid-19.

During the Holy Month of Ramadan, it is the time of year in which we, dear believers, have an opportunity to change and re-tune ourselves to creation itself, for we are of the earth yet we have lost track of time. Through fasting, we become more in tune with the rising and setting of the sun, in addition to the natural calculations of the lunar calendar and the seasonal realities of the Earth orbiting the sun, as the month of Ramadan moves throughout the year and falls in different months of the fixed Gregorian calendar.

We are moving around the sun, yet we have lost the reality of time even though we have a watch or a clock. We ask ourselves at the end of the day, “where did the day go? What was I doing? What have I been doing with my life?” Our lives but are a moment. What are we doing with our lives? Are we abiding by the time? Allah Most High says in the Holy Qur’an: “By the time - surely man is in loss, except those who have faith and do righteous deeds and encourage each other to truth and encourage each other to patience.” As the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) once also stated, “fasting is patience.” Fasting, therefore, does one no good if his character is not improved by its observance of restraint from negative character traits and behaviors.

“He who does not desist (or stop) from obscene language and acting obscenely during the period of fasting, Allah has no need that he did not eat or drink,” Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), also stated. He also said that, “Allah has no interest in any person’s abstention from eating and drinking, if that person does not give up lying and dishonest actions.” Therefore, fasting is a revealing test of our faith and ability to build our will power for the betterment of self and society, while beautifying our character and purifying our hearts to adorn ourselves with the character of Allah (God).

We are to increase our prayer during this Holy Month. In addition to our five obligatory daily prayers and whatever Sunnah prayer or additional voluntary prayers that we may choose to make, during the Holy Month of Ramadan we are to wake up to perform what is understood to be the Salat-ul Qiyyam, or the standing prayer—the resurrection prayer. This prayer is for the Holy Month of Ramadan, moved back from what normally would be observed around a 2:00 a.m. time frame to after Salat-ul Isha, or the night prayer. The oft-emphasized night Wake Up prayer (Tahajjud), known as the Resurrection prayer (Salaatul- Qiyaam), was an obligation upon the Prophet (PBUH) and is considered an observance of the foremost in devotion among the Muslims.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad states in Message to the Blackman, “Prayer is at sunrise, noon, mid-afternoon, sundown and before retiring. On awakening during the night, another prayer is made. In fact, two prayers should be said during the night, making a total of seven prayers a day. There is no worship of a Sunday or Sabbath in Islam. All the days are worship days.” The Tarawih, which means ‘recreation’ or ‘to rest or relax,’ is observed in a communal congregation during the Holy Month of Ramadan. The Tarawih prayer is performed in pairs of two rakahs and ranges in cycles or steps (rakahs) between eight rakahs to twenty. Between each pair of rakahs, observers take a brief rest. The congregational observance of Tarawih has been suspended this month in mosques around the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This communal prayer has creatively been observed by many Muslims through online platforms, so that we continue to avail ourselves to observe it in order to build community and social bonds, for when we are prayerful with one another we begin to lose all of the trappings of the divisions that we may have as individuals or communities. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) states: “Whoever prays Qiyam during Ramadan out of faith and in the hope of reward, he will be forgiven his previous sins.”

This is a Sunnah, an aspect of prayer that is not an obligation and only observed once or twice historically in the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It is however, a recommended act for the believer during the Holy Month of Ramadan particularly during the odd nights of the last 10 nights of the Holy Month of Ramadan, in which we are seeking the observance of what is known as Laytal-al Qadr or the Night of Power. This is the time of Ramadan in which we retreat as a congregation to the mosques (masjids) to pray or make the Salah a communal recreational celebration. It is the goal of every Muslim to carry these heightened activities of worship and devotion into our daily lives throughout the year as a means of personal renewal and communal transformation.

Imam Sultan Rahman Muhammad is Student National Imam of the Nation of Islam and great-grandson of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. For more information on Ramadan, the Arabic language, Muslim Daily Prayers and to continue conversation at #RamadanReadiness2020, visit