Reflection on Ramadan, fasting and al-Alaq – a non-Muslim view

Reflection on Ramadan, fasting and al-Alaq – a non-Muslim view

PUCHONG: May 6, 2019 is the first day of Ramadan in the Hijrah year of 1440. Muslims worldwide abstain from food and drinks from sunrise to sunset for a month before they celebrate Aidilfitri in the month of Syawal. 

Fasting, also known as sawm in Arabic, is one of the five pillars of Islam.

Ramadan itself has a larger significance than the fulfillment of one of the five pillars of Islam.

It was in the month of Ramadan that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) learnt the first chapter of the Quran through Archangel Gabriel from Allah.

It was the chapter on the clot with 19 verses.

The first verse in Surah Al-Alaq reads as follows: Read: In the name of thy Lord Who createth, (Pickthall).

As for fasting, the act of fasting is not limited to refraining from food and drinks. It also includes controlling one’s thoughts and words and actions.

In Malaysia, the act of a Muslim breaching the fast is a Shariah offence.

Section 15 of the Federal Territories Shariah Criminal Offences Act 1997, for instance, states that those convicted can be fined RM1,000 or imprisoned for six months or both for a first-time offender.

Repeat offenders who are convicted can be fined RM2,000 and imprisoned for a year.

Every state has similar shariah provisions.

So, what is a non-Muslim like me doing writing about the practice of my Muslim brethren?

For one, I am glad the shariah enactments cannot enforce the entire aspect of fasting. Fasting is inclusive of the act of consumption, action and thoughts.

The shariah laws are incapable of controlling one’s action and thought. Only Allah has the powers to determine whether one’s actions and thoughts are controlled in accordance to the teaching of the Quran.

Another aspect of Ramadan that I favor is Chapter 96 that was mentioned earlier.

The chapter tells Muslims to read but unfortunately it does not seem the case today. 

Instead of reading and seeking knowledge on their own, they rely heavily on ustazs and ustazahs (religious teachers) to simplify the messages.

They also rely more on photos, videos and other mediums instead of reading even though the message is most in depth in words.

This also perhaps explains why the campaign by international terrorist group, Islamic State via Youtube appears to be more effective.

The failure to read also curtails the growth of independent reasoning otherwise known as ijtihad.

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