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Ramadan: month of work and science or month of laziness?
Ramadan: month of work and science or month of laziness?

Ramadan: month of work and science or month of laziness?


This article is part of a book to be published in the near future, ‘This is What I Saw: The Adventures of a Refugee’.


Fasting is common in the ancient rites of all religions, in which God puts limits on material affairs, but not those beyond.


Adherents and detractors alike always ask, how can God create us and give us teeth, a mouth and stomach by which to eat and then tell us to fast? How can God create beauty and lust and then tell us to turn a blind eye and be chaste? Really?


Yes, it is reasonable! God gives us a horse to ride, not to be ridden; reins to lead, not to be led by; and our bodies are like the horse, to be governed and led, not vice versa; to manage and not be managed by our desires.


From here, what marks us as human is the control of carnal and bodily desires. The essential quality of what it means to be human is the ability to resist what we like and to bear what we hate, but if governed only by hunger and lust, we forfeit our humanity and become no better than an animal, living only for food, drink and desires. Did God create us for this?


To refrain from eating raises the spirit over the body: above mere matter. This is the wisdom of fasting, to take authority over the body. To lose control is to fall into a well of sin.


Fasting, as everyone knows, in every religion – even in pagan and primitive religions – is a means of training the body in order to make room for the spirit.


The true fast is a means of training in order to adjust the body’s behaviour and habits so as to learn in the space of one month to control the body’s urges in the remaining eleven months. Fasting is beneficial to us, and it is a blessing to fast without difficulty, as it prepares us for what it is to come: we measure our behaviour at every other time of the year against the period of the fast.


Fasting is a period of real repentance, and to ensure purity of heart, the man who denies his mouth food, or his heart sins, will avoid falling prey to human vanity. This sense of control allows us to make changes faster than ever before, and to change our lives for the better. But if you have fasted for years yet are the same as you always were, making the same mistakes, why are you fasting?


God created lust so that we climb ever higher to transcend it, controlling the animal lust for flesh in favour of a quest for beauty, only to climb beyond beauty to instead enrich the mind with culture, science and wisdom—and then climb to yet greater heights to perceive the truth itself. We seek it but die in the process.


However, Muslims today have allowed the pursuit of these intellectual and spiritual goals, the real purpose of the fasting month of Ramadan, to be replaced by the inaction of watching television and films, wasting time on things that have no value and sitting at home in fear of hunger and thirst.


This is what I witnessed with Muslims seeking asylum. I saw them refuse themselves the chance to learn the English language during Ramadan; to abstain from attending courses or activities at New Routes on the pretext of fasting; and if asked to accompany a trip to local rural charitable organisation The Grange for voluntary work, to decline on the pretext of Ramadan and fasting. I ask them, since they are Muslims, and believers, and they say they love the Prophet Muhammad and take Him as a role model in their lives, did they not read about His life?


The Prophet Muhammad’s defensive wars against aggressors took place during Ramadan: the Battle of (Badr) took place during Ramadan; the war with the Tatars’ who attacked Baghdad during Ramadan in 1258.The war between Israel and Egypt, which took place in 1973, also spanned Ramadan, and the soldiers still fought.


The month of Ramadan was the same as all other months: a month of movement, work and science. Ramadan involves fasting, not sleeping the day’s length or spending months in front of the television all night long, not being lazy in the morning and staying at home with stress and anger. God does not accept this type of fasting and returns it to its owner, who gains nothing from it except hunger and thirst. Rather, fasting means riding the horse (your body), working for God through good deeds, speaking good words with smiles, to become a worshipper of the truth and be closer to God. 


Best Regards, 

Salah Elnagar


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