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Ramadan and Spirituality

If we wish to benefit from the Qur’an, we should also take the time study its commentaries and not simply make of its verses what we wish. Although personal reflection on the verses is very important, one must consult what the proper exegetes and scholars have said in order avoid any deviation and maintain accuracy in our views. One should also read the narrations of Ahlul Bayt and gain a greater understanding of the concepts mentioned within the Qur’an, whether it be Tawhid, jurisprudence, or ethics. We will of course benefit to a much greater degree in reading such verses if we explore their content within the words of Ahlul Bayt.

As we know, the month of Ramadan is a month for gaining spiritual proximity to Allah through reflection, self-building, and numerous forms of supplications and devotional practices. This article will focus on a few advices and practices which can help us come closer to Allah during this blessed month.

The first of these practices, and according to some narrations the best practice, is of course reading the Holy Qur’an. But how can one truly benefit from its recitation, beyond merely pronouncing its words and reading its verses?

The main aspect of benefiting from the Qur’an during the month of Ramadan is acting upon the very advice of the Qur’an to reflect over its verses and meanings. Allah Himself says, “Do they not contemplate the Qur’an or are their locks on their hearts?” (47:24) Hence, it will be essential for us to not rush through the Qur’an just to finish, but rather take our time and really reflect upon what Allah is attempting to convey to us. Simply reciting the Qur’an without any thought or reflection will produce very limited benefit and cannot even begin to be compared with reading the Qur’an and reflecting upon it, the rewards of which are endless. The Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them) have said many times that just one hour of reflection is superior to the formal worship of anywhere from one night to seventy years. How then will it be if we ponder over the Book of God throughout the month and avoid rushing through the recitation of its verses just for the sake of finishing it?

If we wish to benefit from the Qur’an, we should also take the time study its commentaries and not simply make of its verses what we wish. Although personal reflection on the verses is very important, one must consult what the proper exegetes and scholars have said in order avoid any deviation and maintain accuracy in our views. One should also read the narrations of Ahlul Bayt and gain a greater understanding of the concepts mentioned within the Qur’an, whether it be Tawhid, jurisprudence, or ethics. We will of course benefit to a much greater degree in reading such verses if we explore their content within the words of Ahlul Bayt.

In order to attain spiritual heights, we must also be very careful in regards to eating habits. Because we have become so hungry throughout the day, we tend to eat huge portions very quickly and end up overfilling our stomachs, which in turn creates a feeling of laziness and decreases our inclination to read Qur’an and supplications. It is perhaps because of this latter effect of overeating that the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) has reportedly stated that “man fills no vessel worse than his stomach.” What a shame it is if we refrain from food for the entire day and then turn right around and eat like beasts who have never tasted food before, thereby committing one of the most disliked (Makruh) acts in the eyes of Allah. What benefit is there in obeying His command and attempting to come closer to Him through fasting, only to turn around and commit an act which displeases Him?

Of course, there is no problem in enjoying good food and the bounties of Allah. But there is a problem in overindulgence and crossing the lines of moderation. The month of Ramadan is not one for complete deprivation, but it is one of self-discipline and, to a reasonable extent, denial of one’s desires and cravings. Imam Ali (peace be upon him) has a beautiful statement in this regard which is worth pondering over. He is reported to have advised us to “keep (yourself) light and overtake.” This is somewhat akin to the English saying “less is more.” What the Imam seems to be saying is that doing away with unnecessary worldly vanities and luxuries allows one to advance greater distances on the spiritual path and will have immense benefits in both this world and the hereafter, while the luxuries of this world can only produce pleasure for a limited time and will not stay with us at the time of death.

In conclusion, we must look at the month of Ramadan as a time for abandoning our normal habits and attempting to reach a greater degree of moderation. We must slow ourselves down and stop to reflect and contemplate to a greater degree, which will allow us to see this world and our purpose with clearer and more penetrating insight. A few small sacrifices on our part will certainly lead to an unfathomable journey to Allah which extends beyond this world and into eternity.

About Huda Jawad

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2 comments

  1. Wonderful article! The part on overeating is very important because many of us go from trying to relate to the hungry by fasting, to wasting enough food that wouldve fed a village somewhere!

  2. thank you for the reminder. we do often try to finish the quran in the month, and end up forgetting to look into it and contimplate. From here on in im going to try to eat less and ponder more! thanx again 🙂

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