Wednesday, September 03, 2008


According to the Quran, fasting is one of the obligatory acts for Muslims to perform, and by fulfilling this obligation the outcome is attaining piety (Taqwa).

AHLAN Ya Ramadan! Welcome O the Holy Month of Ramadan!

Muslims all over the world began the fasting month this week. In the Islamic tradition, the coming of Ramadan is greeted with joy and happiness, since this is the month full of blessings and rewards for believers.

According to the Quran, fasting is one of the obligatory acts for a Muslim to perform, and by fulfilling this obligation the outcome is attaining Piety (Taqwa). In other words, Taqwa is the objective of fasting.

What is Taqwa? It is reported in one of the conversations between Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab and one of the companions, when Caliph Umar asked him to elaborate on Taqwa, his companion gave a metaphor question as follows: “If you are walking past a bushy or thorny lane, what shall you do?” Umar replied: “I will walk carefully, raise my garments and try to avoid the thorns.” “Then, that is Taqwa,” said the companion.

Therefore, Taqwa is to be careful, extra observant of one’s act and performing tasks with utmost perfection. I prefer to use the phrase ‘Mindfulness in Action’ to describe what the companion had said to Umar.

To be mindful, means we need to be alert and fully conscious in our actions. We do something because we are willing to do it voluntarily; we know how to do it; and we know the effect and consequence of our act, and readily take full responsibility of the action. These are some of the characters of a Muttaqin (pious person).

Mindfulness in action is further elaborated as: a) being conscious of oneself in relation to himself; b) being conscious of oneself in relation to others: and c) being conscious of oneself in relation to Allah.

If we look at fasting, it is a form of training for us to achieve 'Mindfulness in Action.' Fasting urges us to be always conscious of ourselves in relation to our bodily needs.

We need to take extra precautionary actions so as not to break or void our fast. We have to be alert of the time, since we need to abstain from taking any food and drink from dawn (Fajr) to sunset (Maghrib). We also need to behave ourselves so as not to be involved in sexual intercourse or other acts that will void our fast.

Therefore, fasting helps us to be mindful of our actions.

Secondly, fasting also educates us to be conscious of our relation with others. We are not to insult others, either by tongue or actions.

Doing harm to others, inclusive of animals and nature, is also prohibited. There is a saying of Prophet Muhammad, indicating that if a person is fasting, but the others are not free from his harm and insults, he only gets hunger and thirst only from the fast, not the rewards from God.

Finally, fasting is to train us to be conscious in our relation to Allah. Fasting is the best method to train sincerity, since only the person and God knows if he had taken any food in secret (out of public view).

Fasting makes us realise that we might hide our weaknesses from public eye, but not from Allah. Realising that we are always under the watchful sight of God makes us perform our fast in full-consciousness.

This is the climax of integrity and sincerity, since one does not need any police or law enforcer to monitor and discipline us. His heart and mind are fully focused on Allah the Almighty. Fasting is performed only for the sake of obtaining blessings and rewards from Allah.

Let us make this fasting month our training period in achieving Taqwa or Mindfulness in Action.