Burning Away All Sins

Ramadan Contemplates More Than Simply Fasting

Monday, July 7, 2014
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I woke up at 3:50 a.m. today. I did some prayers, ate a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats, and did some prayers again. I will not eat any food or water until sunset around 8:20 p.m. Muslims around the world — about 1.3 billion people — are following a similar routine for 30 days for the month of Ramadan.

There is a cool serenity at 3:50 a.m. that contrasts the long, hot day. This makes sense. After all, the root word, Ramd, in Ramadan means scorching heat. The body goes through a crucible that heals the body. Fasting allows the body to naturally heal itself in a controlled environment, analogous to when the body experiences a reduced appetite when ill in order to fight off the illness. Only recently have scientists and fitness experts extolled the benefits of intermittent fasting that was recognized by Islam 1,500 years ago.

Osaama Saifi

But this heat isn’t just physical, but a spiritual one as well. As Prophet Muhammad stated, “Ramadan has been given this name, for it burns away all sins.” After all, it isn’t all just about sacrificing food, as the Prophet Muhammad has also said: “the day someone of you fasts, he should not indulge in foul talk nor should he shout. And if someone abuses him or fights with him, he should simply say, ‘I am fasting, I am fasting.’” It’s one thing to purposefully sacrifice meals from your day, but something else to simultaneously sacrifice your ego as well. Islam attempts to create an atmosphere where you give justice not only to your body and soul but also to your fellow man.

Muslims, however, sometimes miss that point and commit injustices, nay, atrocities against their fellow man. Take the recent example of Dr. Mehdi Ali Qamar, an American cardiologist murdered in front of his wife and toddler son by a flurry of 10 bullets while on a humanitarian medical mission in Pakistan. His crime was being part of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a sect of Islam that is heavily persecuted in Pakistan and other parts of the Muslim world.

Pakistani state officials have yet to comment on Dr. Qamar’s death, and why would they? After all, Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have made it a crime to be an Ahmadi Muslim. Ahmadi Muslims can be fined or imprisoned if they call their house of worship a mosque, if they give a traditional Muslim greeting, if they are found reading the Holy Qur’an, and if Ahmadi Muslims essentially do anything that a Muslim would do. Pakistan is persecuting a Muslim sect whose slogan is “Love for all, Hatred for none.”

If Ramadan were spent just to starve our bodies, then we are missing the point. Muslims around the world need to ask themselves, are we giving justice to our fellow man? Are the governments we support doing justice to our fellow man? As I swallow my meal at 3:50 a.m., I pray that I may always be able to swallow my ego as well.

Osaama Saifi an award-winning member of the Muslim Writers Guild of America and a Santa Maria native. He received his bachelors of arts in Economics and Rhetoric, with honors, at the University of California, Berkeley. Saifi is currently pursuing a JD in order to combat blasphemy laws in countries such as Pakistan, ultimately to protect religious minorities throughout the world.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

This is something that perplexes me to no end, so many different sects to one religion that everyone of these sects implores they are the true Islam but hate each other none the less. Is this a Regional thing or something more sinister?

dou4now (anonymous profile)
July 8, 2014 at 6:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

dou4now, interfaith hostility isn't just an Islamic "thing", interfaith hostility is found in Christians, Jews, Hindus and yes, even Buddhists. About the only group spared this phenom are atheists, and I'm not so sure about them either.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 8, 2014 at 8:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

and INTRA-faith hostilities are often even bloodier: European religious wars between Catholics and Protestants in 1600s, obviously the current Shia-Sunni fanatic hostility in the new "Caliphate" [Syria/Iraq/Kurdistan], and look how evangelical Christians detest Mormons, and so on...
Peter Sloterdijk and others feel MONOTHEISM is partially the culprit and it's a good point... polytheism often much more tolerant.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
July 8, 2014 at 9:27 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Long before Mohammed became enlightened ca. 620 CE, the more ancient Hindus of Bharat [India] put forward the concept of "brahmamuhurta" -- the very best time for deep meditation/contemplation, i.e. between 3:30 - 5:30 a.m., usually meaning shortly before sunrise: see
Recent articles about "blue light" seem to confirm this intuition, and I can state from some practice that 3:30 a.m. to sunrise is a lovely space to relax and consider what's really REAL. Even on the busy Westside of SB!

DrDan (anonymous profile)
July 15, 2014 at 1:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Dr.Dan is so old he remembers this. If todays technology had been available then Dan would have been blogging thousands of years ago.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
July 15, 2014 at 5:55 a.m. (Suggest removal)

yes, I called it the Behistun Inscription then!

DrDan (anonymous profile)
July 15, 2014 at 7:27 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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