Ramadan is the holiest month in which observing Saum is obligatory. It gives believers a golden opportunity to attain taqwa. So, Ramadan, saum and taqwa are closely inter-connected. Taqwa means to fear Allah (SWT), to abstain from, to protect oneself. In the terminology, to be afraid of the punishment of Allah and for this fear to lead life by saving oneself from all kinds of sinful deeds in pursuance of the directions of Allah and His Rasul (pbuh) is called taqwa.
Allah (SWT) is All-seeing and All-hearing. He sees and knows all the affairs of a human being. He Himself will take accounts of all deeds and then He will punish for sinful deeds. Fear of Allah means the feeling of Allah's presence always in every place and being afraid of standing before Him for giving an account of all worldly deeds. The person who gains this quality, s/he refrains from all sorts of misdeeds, injustice, obscene word, evil ideas and thoughts. This quality is defined as taqwa. Al-Qur'an states "The person who is afraid of standing before Allah and keeps himself/herself away from evil inclinations, Jannat will be his/her abode." (Sura An-Naziat: 40-41). A clear idea of taqwa has been given in this verse. The owner of the taqwa is called muttaqi.Taqwa is the most valuable asset in human life. It brings man honour, dignity and success in this life as well as in the hereafter. Mere riches and wealth, power and authority are not considered for dignity from Allah. Rather it is taqwa which is considered as the adopt of dignity in the sight of Allah. Almighty Allah says, "To Allah, the most honoured among you are those who are men of taqwa." (Sura al-Huzurat: 13).
Allah, the Almighty has bestowed the believers the most dignified month i.e, Ramadan so that they can attain the most valuable thing. Allah (SWT) says, "O you who believe! saum has been made farz (compulsory) upon you as it was done upon those who preceded you so that you can attain taqwa." (Sura Al-Baqara: 183). In this verse, it has been said that the main aim of making saum compulsory is attaining taqwa by Allah's slaves. The month in which observing Saum is farz is none but Ramadan. Allah (SWT) says, "The month of Ramadan in which the Qur'an was sent down as guidance for people, and as clear signs of guidance and the criterion (between truth and false). Therefore whoever of you is present this month, must fast therein." (Sura Al-Baqara: 185).
Ramadan is the proper time for attaining taqwa and saum is its helping material in many ways. A few of them are:
Saum is training for attaining taqwa: Suam and taqwa bring same meaning. Meaning of both is ‘to abstain from.' At the time of observing saum, a fasting person abstains from eating, drinking and sexual pleasure. This habit encourages him/her attaining taqwa. Especially when anyone observes saum, s/he does not take any food, drink in secret place though s/he has the chance of taking those inside any locked room. Nobody except Allah knows about his/her secret act of eating or drinking. It is the best training for taqwa. A man of taqwa practices this in every activity. S/he does not do sinful acts in secret place only for the fear of Allah.
Saum keeps all organs away from sin: When any believer observes saum s/he tries his/her best to control all of his/her organs of the body for better performance of saum. S/he keeps his/her tongue, eyes, ears, hands, legs etc. from all sorts of sinful use. Because s/he knows that not controlling these organs will harm his/her saum. Hazrat Abu Huraira (Ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, "Whoever does not give up false talk and action according to it, there is no need of Allah that he should give up food and drink." ( Bukhari). So, this habit of keeping away from sinful acts is helpful for attaining taqwa.
Saum guards believers: Saum is a firm weapon that guards the believers against evil deeds. As a result, it becomes easier for them to attain taqwa by saving themselves from sinful acts and by doing more ibadats. Hazrat Abu Huraira (Ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, "Saum is a shield. So when the fasting of someone of you comes up, he shall not utter foul words, nor shall he cry hoarse. If anybody rebukes him or fights with him, let him say I am a man observing fast." (Bukhari and Muslim).Ramadan is the proper time for attaining taqwa: In the holy month of Ramadan, devils are put in chains. So men can perform righteous activities without hindrance and they can attain taqwa easily. Hazrat Abu Huraira (Ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, "When there appears the first night of Ramadan, the devils and evil jinn are put in chains and the doors of the hell are shut up as no door therefrom can be opened, and the doors of paradise are opened up, so as no door therefrom can be shut up, and a proclaimer proclaims: 'O seeker of good come forward, o seekers of evils, cut short.' And for the sake of Allah, they are free from fire, and that for every night." (Tirmizi, Ibn Majah, Ahmad).
The willingness of doing ibadats increases in Ramadan: In the holy month of Ramadan Muslims are forgiven. Knowing if they perform more ibadats that helps them for attaining taqwa. There are many hadith regarding this. For instance: (i) Hazrat Abu Huraira (Ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, " 'Whoso fasts Ramadan out of faith and hopeful of reward, all his/her past sins are forgiven." (Bukhari and Muslim). (ii) Narrated by the same narrator that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, "Every good action of the son of Adam shall be multiplied to ten times like it up to seven hundred times.' The Almighty, Allah says, 'Excepting saum, because it is for Me and I shall Myself compensate it.'" (Bukhari and Muslim).
The month of the revelation of al-Qur' an: Ramadan is the month of revelation of al-Qur' an which is the guidance for men of taqwa. It is the month of reciting Al-Qur' an more and gaining much reward.
Lailatul Qadr, Etikaf and donation: In the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan there is a night that is better than a thousand months. Almighty Allah says, "Surely I have revealed this (al-Qur' an) in the night of Qadr. Do you know what this night of Qadr is? The night of Qadr is better than a thousand months." (Sura Al-Qadr: 1-3). The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) also said, "In this month there is a night which is better than a thousand months. Whoever is deprived of it, is deprived of all good, and none is deprived of its good except unfortunate man." ( Ibn Majah). Etikaf is also a very rewarding act which is done in the month of Ramadan. Sadaqatul Fitr, Zakat and other optional donation are paid more by the believers in this holy month.
Besides, Tarawih Salat, Tahajjud Salat, Sahri, Iftar etc. bring much sawab (reward) which are performed more in this month. After all, a holy environment prevails in all over the world in this month which is helpful for attaining taqwa.
The writer is an Assistant Professor in Islamic Studies of Rajuk Uttara Model College, Dhaka.