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City of Brass

City of Brass

ibadat in Ramadan – process as piety

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

There are a lot of articles written during Ramadan about what Ramadan means, about what we as Muslims should be “getting out” of Ramadan, what the benefits of Ramadan should be. But I think that these sorts of articles miss the point of ibadat. What does ibadat actually mean? The word connotes worship with submission – not just prayer, but acts of piety in which we submit ourselves to Allah. In a more technical sense, ibadat is the liturgical aspect of orthopraxy – physical actions that are prescribed by the faith. The purpose of ibadat first and foremost is to Do.

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Fasting is the singular act of ibadat that truly defines Ramadan. And there are certainly no shortage of analyses as to its effect – medical literature, Qur’an verses, poets, bloggers – fasting is such a distinctive ibadat that it is natural to want to understand it. All of these things boil down to “why should I bother?” But in truth – fasting is in a way an end in and of itself. The reason we fast is because we are commanded to. We entrust to Allah that there is a reason and that there are benefits and we are eager to seek and learn what those are. But that is not the reason we fast. We fast because we submit to Allah, as Allah commands (2:185). That submission is ibadat.

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The other great pillar of Ramadan is the Qur’an. In a very real sense, the Qur’an is the foundation of ibadat in Ramadan. Reading a translation of the Qur’an is useful for attaining insight into what the Qur’an teaches, and makes the message more accessible at a basic level to everyone. However, the Qur’an is not just a text containing information to be consumed or processed. It is also a divine revelation in a language chosen by Allah. There is simply no substitute for reading the Qur’an in Arabic, regardless of your comprehension. Sitting with the Qur’an and reading it aloud in the original Arabic is ibadat – you submit yourself fully to the rhythm and the music of the verses, as laid down by the Creator, exactly as given to the Prophet, during that first Ramadan. You needn’t be a master of the art of reciting Qur’an (Tajweed) like Husary – you can learn how to read Qur’an in Arabic quite quickly – there are even apps for Android and iOS :)

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to understand our faith or seeking meaning. But that is secondary. Ibadat is its own reward.

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Ramadan Pearls 03 – mystery

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Know that the goal in fasting is for the veil of appetite and anger to be lifted from the heart’s eye so that the heart may see the mystery of the dominion of heaven and earth.

(The Easy Roads of Sayf al-Din, as translated by William Chittick in Faith and Practice in Islam)

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Ramadan Pearls 02 – non-existence

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Fasting leads to non-existence, for, after all, the joys are there. God is with those who patiently persevere (2:249)

(Jalaluddin Rumi, compilation The Essential Rumi)

rumi

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Ramadan Pearls 01 – criterion

posted by Aziz Poonawalla
Qur'an 2:185

Qur’an 2:185

It was the month of Ramadan in which the Qur’an was first bestowed from on High as a guidance unto Man and a self-evident proof of that guidance, and as a Criterion by which to discern the true from the false; Hence, whoever of you lives to see this month shall fast throughout it; but he that is ill, or on a journey shall instead fast for the same number of other days. Allah wills that you shall have ease, and does not will you to suffer hardship; but He desires that you complete the number of days required, and that you extol Allah for his having guided you aright, and that you render your thanks unto Him.

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(translation, with thanks to Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Qur’an)

asad

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