The Meaning of Ramadan

Since the past few days, a couple of (non-Muslim) friends have come up to me who know that I was keeping fasts, and asked about the significance of Eid-ul-Fitr. What they specifically wonder about, is that whether this festival after a month of fasting, is a day of eating. That whether us Muslims eat the whole day and go crazy about it.

That set me thinking. Though Eid is not specifically meant to commemorate eating, it is what we do mostly on the day. We mostly (and conveniently) forget the essence of Ramadan on the very first day!

So what exactly is Ramadan? Is it something we Muslims observe to show our devotion to Allah (another interpretation by them)?

In a nutshell: no. It’s a month which is there for Muslims to have a chance of going back to basics. It is a month in which Muslims are supposed to repent over their misdoings, ask forgiveness from Allah, condition our minds and bodies and generally strive to attain taqwa. It also reminds us what really being a Muslim means, and that we should not just go through the motions just because we were born in a Muslim family, rather than strive to become Muslims who have chosen to do so.

The festival of Eid-ul-Fitr then marks the end of Ramadan, and is generally a festival of happiness. A festival when you visit your relatives, help out the poor, forget differences and skirmishes and make sure that the world is a better place. It is there because Islam is a community-based religion, a notion that many non-Muslims don’t really understand, and on which I might talk about later.

So all of us who have really strived through the month of Ramadan to generally shy away from things generally not appropriate for a practicing Muslim, let’s hope that we do not forget all that we put in the month of Ramadan to be on the path of righteousness. Let’s carry over the discipline we learned during this month to at least a few months, if not until next Ramadan. For those of us who somehow missed or did not strive enough, it’s never too late to start.

With that, I wish everyone a very happy Eid. Eid Mubarak!