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Fasting
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iandiali



Joined: 26 Apr 2003
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2003 6:00 pm    Post subject: Fasting Reply with quote

Hi,
I am newly married and I converted to Ismailism.

Could anyone explain the nature of our ritual fasting? I am unclear on what it means and what my obligations are.
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shamsu



Joined: 15 Apr 2003
Posts: 644

PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2003 7:34 pm    Post subject: OBLIGATION?---FREE YOUR SOUL. Reply with quote

IMAM SULTAN MOHD SHAH (SALWAT) OUR 48TH IMAM.

All the Farmans that are made to you, understand them. What are Haqiqat and Shariat? This is another matter. "This one" and "that one" can never become one, and will never be one. "This one" loves the Book, fasting, prayer and bandgi; "that one" aspires to freedom (azadi). These are two different things; the thoughts of the two are different. For Me, it is very difficult (Mara vaste ghanri mehnat tse).



"This one," who does not have the knowledge (beilmi), how can he be happy? He does not grasp the Haqiqat. He does not want the Haqiqat. The one who does not have the knowledge (ilm) forsakes the Haqiqat, but the one who is Haqiqati follows another path.



Like before Issa, Pir Sadardin, Nassir Khusraw, Pir Shams, Mowlana Rûmi, such men followed the path of Haqiqat. This path is very difficult for fools.
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iandiali



Joined: 26 Apr 2003
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2003 4:55 pm    Post subject: My bad!! Reply with quote

Sorry,

Seems I offended you with my use of the term obligation...not intended...perhap a poor choice of words. I am still interested in learning more if you or anyone else can share on the topic.
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shamsu



Joined: 15 Apr 2003
Posts: 644

PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2003 6:40 pm    Post subject: ISMAILI FASTING = PURE THOUGHTS Reply with quote

YA ALY MADAD to I AND I ALI

In Islam fasting is done for the entire month of Ramadan in order to thank Allah for the priceless gift of "Deen Islam"

As Ismailis we were released from all shariati binds by Imam Alazikhrisalaam approximately 1000 yrs ago.

48th Imam placed an even harder responsibility upon us.
Imam expects us to fast in a batuni manner by not having a single impure thought all year long.

Imam expects this from his Haqiqati Momins who are the only ones capable of having the Noorani Vision of the Imam.

Imam describes our faith as Ruhani (spiritual).

The body is a prison for the Ruh (spirit) and Ruh is never happy in prison.

Coming back to your point about fasting
Mowla Aly states
God prescribes...
.....fasting as a test of sincerity of character........

When we look at Imam SMS' Farman about pure thoughts Mowla Aly's Farman becomes easier to understand.

Read Farmans and invite them to live in you.

Wish you all the Best.

YA ALY MADAD


Last edited by shamsu on Tue May 20, 2003 2:21 am, edited 1 time in total
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Guest






PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2003 8:54 am    Post subject: fasting and shukarvaari beej Reply with quote

There is an interesting article at http://sun.ismaili.net/re/page58.html

perhaps this may shed a little bit of light on the necessity of the fasting done whenever Chandraat falls on a Friday.
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nagib



Joined: 01 Feb 2003
Posts: 295

PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2003 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are right, the Beej Fast [when New Moon is on Friday - about twice per year] is the only compuslsory fast in Ismailism.

Nagib
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Ali_765



Joined: 08 Mar 2004
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2004 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"As Ismailis we were released from all shariati binds by Imam Alazikhrisalaam approximately 1000 yrs ago."

Is this true...and if so, what for what reasons?

Fasting for the month of Ramadan is one of the pillars of Islam and is written in the Qu'ran, we are Muslims so why wouldnt we fast in Ramadan?
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kmaherali



Joined: 27 Mar 2003
Posts: 19685

PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2004 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ali_765 wrote:
"As Ismailis we were released from all shariati binds by Imam Alazikhrisalaam approximately 1000 yrs ago."

Is this true...and if so, what for what reasons?

Fasting for the month of Ramadan is one of the pillars of Islam and is written in the Qu'ran, we are Muslims so why wouldnt we fast in Ramadan?


I did refer you to my article on our interpretation of faith when answering your question about Namaz. Did it help in understanding the issues?

As I mentioned in it, our Sharia is not based on the Sunna, rather it is based on the Firmans of the Imam.

As mentioned elsewhere, HazarImam does not have to give a reason to change the practise of faith.
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Ali_765



Joined: 08 Mar 2004
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2004 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I understand that our Imam does not have to give us reasons for the changes he decides to make. In the Qu'ran it specificaly says that we must fast in the month of Ramadan, I dont see why the Imam would change what Allah wants. I have heard that the Imam never said that we are not required to fast, but I am being told the opposite here, which is why I would like to know when he did say such a thing.

[I did read your article, I understand what you were saying, but there are too many people saying different things of what we as Ismailis can or cannot do. I would like to know for myself, if these certain issues have been addressed by our Imam, or if they are just rumors that people make up so that they can do what they would like]

I appreciate the help/information you are providing...
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kmaherali



Joined: 27 Mar 2003
Posts: 19685

PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2004 5:44 pm    Post subject: Fasting - Imam's Firman Reply with quote

To my knowledge, Hazar Imam has never told us not to fast in Ramadhan. Many Ismailis do fast. If you feel the need to fast, you can fast. However he has told us that fasting is more than the physical fast. It is about not lying, keeping purity of eyes etc.
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shamsu



Joined: 15 Apr 2003
Posts: 644

PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2004 12:49 pm    Post subject: Fast Reply with quote

Imam has only said that if you tie up an animals mouth that animal will also fast by not eating.

Now if you want to starve yourself and you think you are doing something spiritual then you need to consult Imam's Farman of Baitul Khayal.

Our Faith is esoteric. Nowhere do our Imams describe our Faith as exoteric.

Look up esoteric in Imams Farman of Baitul Khayal

Ya Aly Madad

Shams
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alinizar313



Joined: 12 Oct 2003
Posts: 112

PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2004 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that the time will come when we will go to Imam and said that we want fasting or we want to offer Namaz or Haj and Imam will say okay. Imam SMS has already mention in his Firman "Tamaro deen roohani chhaiy ane bijao no deen jismani chhaiy. Roohani ane jismani deen ma ketlo badho faraq chhaiy te mukhi kamadia bacchao ne nahin samjave ane nanparn thi teone roohani na bol nahin marey to jismani din bachchao na dhiyan ma besi jeshaiy".It means your faith is esoteric and others have got exoteric faith. if mukhi kamadia will not teach the kids about the difference between esoteric and exoteric faith, then exoteric faith will be set in kids minds. Mowla said "amay daya keri ne tamonaiy ooper chadaviya chhiye pern teme chho ke potane nichaiy pari do chho". what can I say. One guy is saying that HI never say not to recite namaz , not to do fasting. What does it show, It shows Iman ni kamjori. WE want to recite dua and we also want to recite Namaz. It show duality. Dau kashti ka sawar hamesha doobta hai. yah fasting is farz on us but which one.
Listen this firman carefully if anyone want to do fasting. Imam SMS say " SAARI DOONIYA NI LIJJAT THI DUR RAHAIY EVO ROJO RAKHAIY TIYARE BATUNI AANKH TATHA KAAN CHHAIY TE KHULAY".
Please don't misguide or make confusion. Instead of going forward, we are going backward, Just imagine can we reach to our desrination?
One more firman "Sajda kerwa tatha rooku ma javoo a gharoon sehloo ane aasan kaam chhaiy, parn Haqiqat ni pervi ooper chalwoo a gharoon mushkil chhaiy"
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kmaherali



Joined: 27 Mar 2003
Posts: 19685

PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2004 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

alinizar313 wrote:
One guy is saying that HI never say not to recite namaz , not to do fasting. What does it show, It shows Iman ni kamjori. WE want to recite dua and we also want to recite Namaz. It show duality. Dau kashti ka sawar hamesha doobta hai. yah fasting is farz on us but which one.
Listen this firman carefully if anyone want to do fasting. Imam SMS say " SAARI DOONIYA NI LIJJAT THI DUR RAHAIY EVO ROJO RAKHAIY TIYARE BATUNI AANKH TATHA KAAN CHHAIY TE KHULAY".
Please don't misguide or make confusion. Instead of going forward, we are going backward, Just imagine can we reach to our desrination?


I think you have misunderstood my purpose behind saying that Ismailis can go to Masjid to say Namaz. It was only meant to be a taunt. I know of the incident when HazarImam was approached by some Ismailis who wanted to introduce Namaz in JK and HI told them: "If you want to say Namaz go to Masjid". I made the remarks with that knowledge at the background.

About fasting, I think I did qualify that fasting is not just physical it is more than that.

I hope that clarifies the confusion in your mind.
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farhatnoorali



Joined: 18 Feb 2004
Posts: 24
Location: USA

PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2004 5:38 am    Post subject: Fasting Reply with quote

this is the first time i am doing post...
I heard in one of the abuali's waaz that when he mentioned that all farman since Mowla ali (AS) and even prophets(PBUH) should be followed unless its cancel by precedding Imams... n I personallly never heard any farmans in which any of our Imam(AS) stopped us for ramadan fasting.. though i heard many ismaili muslim saying that we dont have to fast or Imam (AS) said not to fast...... yeah i agree to the point that we are followers of esoertic and what Imam SMS shah(AS) had said we should follow that but that doesnt mean that he told us not to fast in ramadan but Shukarwari Beej is mandatory for us icon_smile.gif if I am wrong any where do correct me .. Maula Bless us all Ammen
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nagib



Joined: 01 Feb 2003
Posts: 295

PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2004 10:14 am    Post subject: Re: Fasting Reply with quote

farhatnoorali wrote:
this is the first time i am doing post... I personallly never heard any farmans in which any of our Imam(AS) stopped us for ramadan fasting


Youi'll have to go through the farmans. Many Imams have done so. From Imam Hassan Ala'Zikrihis Salam on 8 August 1164 on Ramadan 17th when at noon he removed the burden of Namaz and Roza and celebrated Idd with a big feast at mid-day to many many farmans of Aga Ali Shah to Even Mowlana Shah Karim who hosted in Aiglemont in the middle of Ramadan in July 1980 for his leaders diner in his garden with his family.

Nagib
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farhatnoorali



Joined: 18 Feb 2004
Posts: 24
Location: USA

PostPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2004 9:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

first you can't compare Imam and noorali family... I didnt say its mandatory for us to do ramadan fasting...Maula Bless us allz
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kmaherali



Joined: 27 Mar 2003
Posts: 19685

PostPosted: Sat May 01, 2004 12:57 pm    Post subject: Ginanic Refernce to Fasting? Reply with quote

I have not come across any Ginan which refers to fasting in the month of Ramadhan. Is anybody aware of any? Ginans according to Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah are the Tafsir(interpretation) of the Quran per excellence. Therefore we must seek clues from the Ginans unless there is a specific Firman about an issue.
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shamsu



Joined: 15 Apr 2003
Posts: 644

PostPosted: Sat May 01, 2004 8:29 pm    Post subject: Ramadhan Reply with quote

I have heard that the word Ramadhan is also used to refer to Mowla Aly.

hence the meaning of the Ayat that the Quran was revealed in ramadhan means that the Quran was revealed in Mowla Aly.

Now if a person can understand this then the whole fact of fasting in ramadhan takes on a completely different meaning.

Living in Mowla Aly you are fasting from all else, since Mowla Aly is above all else.

Most people are under the impression that the word Ramadhan refers to the month and that is not true at all, hence the Ginans dont mention it as Ramadhan but as what it really is --- MOWLA ALY.
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amina1981



Joined: 23 Aug 2004
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2004 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fasting during Ramadan is a requirement for all Muslims, including Ismailis. Not only is this prescribed upon us in the Quran, but also look at Hazar Imam--he also fasts. Please unite with the rest of the Islamic community by taking part in this ritual. We need to do BOTH--spiritual and physical fast. To do only one portion is incomplete.
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ShamsB



Joined: 04 Aug 2004
Posts: 1118

PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2004 7:20 pm    Post subject: Namaz Reply with quote

Just for the record..we have folks here freely brandishing the word "namaz" around..
Namaz is a word never mentioned in the Qu'ran.
Namaz is a word used by Zorastrians for Fire Worship..
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nagib



Joined: 01 Feb 2003
Posts: 295

PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2004 4:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

amina1981 wrote:
Fasting during Ramadan is a requirement for all Muslims


I suggest that you revisit previous messages of this forum instead of making this kind of simplistic statments.

Anyone can say "this is compulsory and this is forbidden" like many Mullas do. This attitude is a rejection of pluralism and diversity which should be recognised in Islam and further this statment is not corroborated by our own History.

Where we have a strong community that can stand on external presure, such as in Syria and Tajikistan, Ismailis prefer to follow their religion which tell them NOT to fast and abstein from food for a month but which tell them to abstain from evil for 12 months a year.

When I see some of the happening in the Muslim world, I wish Muslim would learn the meaning of fast and fast 12 months a year.

Once an Ismaili in East Africa approached Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah and asked him why do we not do 5 namaz and roza in Ramadhan. Mowla asked him "tell me how do you feel about this?" He said "I feel we should do it". Mowla replied to him, "So, from today, I make it compulsory upon you to pray 5 times a day and do all 30 rozas on Ramadhan. You can go now."


Nagib
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shamsu



Joined: 15 Apr 2003
Posts: 644

PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2004 6:16 am    Post subject: Hah Reply with quote

Be careful what you ask for

you may get it.
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_thaillestlunatic_



Joined: 21 Jan 2004
Posts: 179

PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2004 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yep
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Taufiq



Joined: 25 Aug 2004
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 8:09 pm    Post subject: simplicity beyond lunacy Reply with quote

"Be careful what you ask for"?? In the Qur'an Allah proscribes that he wishes not to make our faith difficult, but it still takes dedication. For those on this site who mock those who fast by saying why do you starve -- shame on you. Those on this site who say Ismailis are concerned only with the Batini, and cast aside certain practices are negligent to the true meaning of Ismailism. Do we not say three prayers everyday? Do we not do chanto? Do we not have our own rituals? All of these are exoteric practices, and Ismailis are no different in that regard. What is different is that we emphasize the esoteric, and the inner meaning. When Sultan Mohamed Shah said that even an animal can fast if it is tied up, he did not wish to cast out those who fasted during the month of Ramadan, but to emphasize upon his murids to to discover the inner meanings, and spirutual significances of their practices. Are we Ismailis Calvinist? Do we sincerely believe that we are beyond reproach, and are simply pre-destined to enlightenment? Surely, if even Hazrat Ali fasted, we can understand the significance of such an occasion. Surely if Hazer Imam fasts we can understand its significance. Ramadan is a time of upliftment and greater spiritual awareness. It was during this time that the Qur'an was revealed, and it is proscribed for Muslims to have a greater sence of religion during this month. It is not to fast simply the body, but also of the soul, and of bad thoughts. It is to be united with fellow Muslims. It is a time to give greater to charity. It is a time when we can think about the less fortunate among our brothers and sisters. The esoteric is transcendent, but that does not mean that the exoteric is non-existent.
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nagib



Joined: 01 Feb 2003
Posts: 295

PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2004 3:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree that we have to keep a balance between the esoteric and the exoteric but we should never forget that zahir is zahir and batin is batin, not that shariat and haqiqat will never meet.

This said, we Ismailis have our own shariat to follow and that shariat is defined/proposed/accepted whatever by our Imam. What we are saying is that we should follow our sharia , not the sharia of the past or the sharia of Mullas.

We have own own Fast, that is the fast of Beej.

Nagib
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kmaherali



Joined: 27 Mar 2003
Posts: 19685

PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2004 5:39 am    Post subject: Re: simplicity beyond lunacy Reply with quote

Taufiq wrote:
Surely, if even Hazrat Ali fasted, we can understand the significance of such an occasion. Surely if Hazer Imam fasts we can understand its significance. Ramadan is a time of upliftment and greater spiritual awareness. It was during this time that the Qur'an was revealed, and it is proscribed for Muslims to have a greater sence of religion during this month. It is not to fast simply the body, but also of the soul, and of bad thoughts. It is to be united with fellow Muslims. It is a time to give greater to charity. It is a time when we can think about the less fortunate among our brothers and sisters. The esoteric is transcendent, but that does not mean that the exoteric is non-existent.


While I can understand why MHI would fast given his position within the Muslim Umma and his need to have a cordial relationship with the Muslim leadership, we should NOT take this as a signal that we should also fast! We should not do what he does but what he tells us to do.

While there is a need to promote pluralism and respect for other interpretations, we should not compromise our interpretation. We have our own Sharia which we need to adhere to. Being true to our own traditions will in itself take us a long way towards building bridges with other communities.
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kmaherali



Joined: 27 Mar 2003
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 12, 2004 12:02 pm    Post subject: Universality of Islam Reply with quote

"Of course there are many different interpretations. But the differences in interpretation is not a problem in Islam. I would even go so far as to say that Islam is a very broad religion. There's a very famous line by Allah in the Quran: "I have created you from one soul." With that line, he meant all of humanity." (Deutsche Welle 12 September Interview conducted by Günter Knabe )

I feel the above statement made recently by MHI is very significant and we need to reflect upon it in light of our discussion on fasting, namaz etc. In my opinion it says a great deal about his vision for the future and perhaps his 'Zahurat".

I would like to share the following definition of a Muslim which I feel is the most enlightened that I have come across and which echoes MHI's statement above. It is taken from Lex Hixon's "Heart of the Koran".

"To be Muslim in the universal sense is to be one who longs to turn completely toward the ultimate Source, in Arabic called Allah. Who is and who is not truly Muslim is a secret known only to Allah Most High. No human being can judge another concerning this most intimate experience of affirming and returning to the One Reality. The question of where a person stands along the exalted way of Islam, of whether one practices the five times daily prayer, or even which prophet one follows among the many sent by Allah, can only be a subject for dialogue between the soul and its All-Merciful Lord. There can be no compulsion or persecution in authentic Islam. Whoever affirms and longs to return to the ultimate Source of the universe is the beloved spiritual sister or brother of the true Muslim. Since every soul is a ray from the Divine Light, this longing to turn and to return is the secret essence of each person. Thus all humanity, even all creation, is Muslim".
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kmaherali



Joined: 27 Mar 2003
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2005 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OH Muslims! Come Let’s Go ‘Beyond the Milk’

(The Muslims Need to Go Beyond the Day to Day Rituals & Start Applying Islam to All Aspects of Human Life to Enjoy its True Benefits)

Month of Fasting OR Month of Feasting

“O You Who Believe, fasting has been prescribed upon you as it was prescribed upon those before you, so that you may learn Self-Restraint”. (Al Quran – 2:183)



Unfortunately in many Muslim societies the restrain does not seem to be practiced. Some of the things that go on during this Holy Month are to say the least not in the spirit of its meaning.



In some Muslim majority countries the businesses dealing in food products post record sales during this month. The day before the commencement of the month of fasting is regarded as the day to post the “Record Sales for the Year” by many Food Stores. These Stores leave no stone unturned to make sure that they achieve this target. Some Non Muslims derogatorily call Ramadan the “Month of Feasting”. Perhaps someone could explain to me why the food bill should go up during the month of Ramadan. But please don’t tell me that the reason why the food bill goes up is that the well to do people feed the poor more during Ramadan than in any other months.



In some Muslim majority countries the Non Muslims avoid driving on the roads close to Iftar. It is a common sight to see many Muslims breaking all road rules in their attempt to get to their families for Iftar. For God’s sake if you want to be with your families for Iftar please start early.



Another thing that happens in some Muslim majority countries is the reduction in the no of working hours in offices & schools during Ramadan. Sometimes we Muslims tend to forget that developing ourselves materialistically as long as it is within the framework of Islam makes the Muslim Umma stronger. Some may argue that the reduction in the no of hours helps the people to spend more time at prayer. But I would say that there is plenty of time between Iftar & Fajr for prayers. What is required is the starting time of offices & schools to be brought forward by 1 hour or so & with no lunch breaks. This will enable the people to reach home on time for iftar with their families.



Some Muslims think the best way to spend their fasting is to sleep from Fajr to Asr. Some others grow a beard during Ramadan & take it off after it ends, Some Non Muslims aptly call it the “Ramadan Beard”.



Note:

I know that I am going to raise many eyebrows by making these comments. I hope it will be taken in the spirit in which it is intended. Sometimes it is very important that we need to look inwards & see the social problems that the Muslim community is facing. It is no use blaming the Non Muslim world for all our ills.



AB

Withheld62@yahoo.com



"For to us will be their return; then it will be for us to call them to account." (Holy Quran 88:25-26)

Copyright © 2005 by AB

Those wishing to reproduce the above article are most welcome.

But please reproduce it in its entirety lest the message will get blurred.
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kmaherali



Joined: 27 Mar 2003
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 4:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In his interview given to the Sunday Times, Dec 12th 1965, MHI stated the following on the problems of economic productivity that fasting and five times prayer poses in Muslim countries.

Q:You've told me the ways in which your faith makes it easier to come to terms with the modern world. Are there any ways in which it is more difficult?

A:"Islam is a way of life, much more than Christianity. That's is an old, boring thing to say, but it's true. Now if we are to modernize our society we have to come into contact with totally different traditions. Basically the Ismaili Muslims have a choice between the Communist East, which would prevent us teaching our children the Faith, and the West, which has a set of materialistic and religious standards which are often at variance with ours. Imagine our difficulties seeing a civilization which is at least twenty years a head of us in roads, hospitals, and standards of living, but which if we imitate too closely will obliterate the reality of our Faith. Sometimes we are faced with the choice of either accepting habits and customs which have proved economically successful in the West, but go against what our Faith tells us to do, or continuing in our old ways, thus jeopardizing our economic development. "I will give you a simple example. One of our factories making jute, for instance, in East Pakistan. In a Western society a factory like that is working 24 hours a day, six days a week all year round. But in an Islamic society that factory can work 24 hours a day, yes, but with five breaks for prayers and a complete break in the month of Ramadhan, when the working force is reduced to less than half by fasting.
"This is a terrible practical problem. Even among Muslim States they do not agree whether or not to work full time during Ramadhan."
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kmaherali



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ABOUT RAMADAN :

A Profound Faith Married to a Profound Critical Intelligence

3 October 2005

par Tariq RAMADAN







Most of the classical religious teachings regarding the month of Ramadan insist on the rules being respected as well as the deep spiritual dimension of this month of fast, privations, worship and meditation.





While thinking about it more closely, one realizes that this month marries apparently contradictory requirements which, nevertheless,


together constitute the universe of faith. To ponder over these different dimensions is the responsibility of each conscience, each woman, each man and each community of faith, wherever they are.





We can never emphasise enough the importance of this "return to oneself" required during this period of fast. Ramadan is a month of abrupt changes; this is true here more than anywhere else. At the heart of our consumer society, where we are used to easy access to goods and possessions and where we are driven by the marked individualism of our daily lives, this month requires from everyone that we come back to the centre and the meaning of our life. At the Centre there is God and one’s heart, as the Qur’an reminds us: "...and know that [the knowledge of] God lies between the human being and his heart." At the Centre, everyone is asked to take up again a dialogue with The Most-High and The Most-Close.. a dialogue of intimacy, of sincerity, of love. To fast is to seek.. with lucidity, patience and confidence.. justice and peace with oneself. The month of Ramadan is the "month of the Meaning".. why this life? What about God in my life? What about my mother and my father.. still alive or already gone? What about my children? My family? My spiritual community? Why this universe and this humanity? What meaning have I given to my daily life? What meaning am I able to be consistent with?





The Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) had warned Some people only gain from their fast the fact that they are hungry and thirsty. He was speaking of those who fast as mechanically as they eat. They deprive themselves from eating with the same unawareness and the same thoughtlessness as they are used to eating and drinking. In fact, they transform it into a cultural tradition, a fashionable celebration, even a month of banquets and "Ramadan nights". A fast of extreme alienation.. a fast of counter-Meaning.





As this month invites us towards the deep horizons of introspection and meaning, it reminds us of the importance of detail, precision and discipline in our practice. The precise starting day of Ramadan that must be rigorously found; the precise hour before dawn on which one must stop eating; the prayers to be performed "at determined moments"; the exact time of the break of fast. At the very time of our profound meditation with God and in our own self, one could have thought that it was possible to immerse oneself into one’s feelings because this quest for meaning is so deep that it should be allowed to bypass the details of rules and schedules. But the actual experience of Ramadan teaches us the opposite: no profound spirituality, no true quest of meaning without discipline and rigor as to the management of rules to be respected and time to be mastered.





The month of Ramadan marries the depth of the meaning and the precision of the form. There exists an "intelligence of the fast" that arises from the very reality of this marriage between the content and the form: to fast with one’s body is a school for the exercise of the mind. The abrupt changes implied by the fast is an invitation to a transformation and a profound reform of oneself and one’s life that can only occur through a rigorous intellectual introspection (muraqaba). To achieve the ultimate goal of the fast our faith requires a demanding, lucid, sincere, and honest mind capable of sane self-criticism. Everyone should be able to do that for oneself, before God, within one’s solitude as well as within one’s commitment among one’s fellow human beings. It is a question of mastering one’s emotions, to face up to oneself and to take the right decisions as to the transformation of one’s life in order to come closer to the Centre and the Meaning.





Muslims of today need more than ever to reconcile themselves with the school of profound spirituality along with the exercise of rigorous and critical intelligence. Particularly in the West. At a time where fear is all around, where suspicion is widespread, where the Muslims are tempted by the obsession to have to defend themselves and to prove constantly their innocence, the month of Ramadan calls them to their dignity as well as to their responsibilities. It is urgent that they learn to master their emotions, to go beyond their fears and doubts and come back to the essential with confidence and assurance. It is imperative too that they make it a rule for themselves to be rigorous and upright in the assessment of their conduct, individually and collectively: self-criticism and collective introspection are of the essence at every step, to achieve a true transformation within Muslim communities and societies.





Instead of blaming "those who dominate", "the Other", "the West", etc. it is necessary to make ours the teaching of the month of Ramadan: you are, indeed, what you do of yourself. What are we doing of ourselves today? What are our contributions within the fields of education, social justice and liberty? What are we doing to promote the dignity of women, children or to protect the rights of the poor and the marginalised people in our societies?





What kind of models of profound, intelligent and active spirituality do we offer today to the people around us? What have we done with our universal message of justice and peace? What have we done with our message of individual responsibility, of human brotherhood and love? All these questions are in our hearts and minds.. and there is only one response inspired by the Qur’an and nurtured by the month of Ramadan: God will change nothing for the good if you change nothing.












Tariq RAMADAN
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