Dr. Yogendra Yadav
Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, M.S.
Contact No. – 09404955338
Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi about Ramzan
Ramzan is the ninth month of Islamic Lunar calendar. Ramzan is derived from the Arabic word 'ramida' or 'arramad' that means intense scorching heat and dryness. So it is called to indicate the heating sensation in the stomach as a result of thirst. It scorches out the sins as it burns the ground. Some believed that hearts and souls are more readily receptive to the admonition and remembrance of Allah during it.
Also when one is fasting and feels hunger and thirst he has to remember other people in the world who do not have food and water. Charity is one of the extremely recommended acts during fasting. Muslims are required to give minimum of 2.5% of their annual savings as charity to poor and needy people. Also there are various sayings of the prophet where he has said that any charity made in Ramadan is multiplied up to 70 times. If some people are poor and cannot afford to give money then even a smile is an act of charity.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “We offer Id greetings to our Muslim readers. Man hopes for many things, but he cannot get everything he wants. In like manner, though we wish a happy Id to all our Muslim brethren, so far as we know, it is the divine law that the Id will bring prosperity only to those who have observed the Ramzan month properly. We have gathered that merely keeping the fast cannot be considered sufficient for a proper observance of the Ramzan. The fast is a discipline of the mind as well as of the body. That means that, if not all through the year, at least during the Ramzan month, all the rules of morality should be fully obeyed, truth practiced and every trace of anger suppressed. We assume that our greetings will bear fruit particularly in the case of those who have done all this.”1
Ramazan begins after the month of Shaban, after the new moon has been sighted. This month lasts for 29 or 30 days depending on the sighting of the moon. If the moon is sighted on the night of 29th fast then the month of Shawwal begins from tomorrow and it is over. The 1st of Shawwal is the Eid also known as Eid-ul-fitr. Mahatma Gandhi said, “We seem to think that the observance of Ramzan begins and ends with abstention from food and drink. We think nothing of losing temper over trifles or indulging in abuse during the sacred month of Ramzan. If there is the slightest delay in serving the repast at the time of the breaking of the fast, the poor wife is hauled over live coals. I do not call it observing the Ramzan, but its travesty. If you really want to cultivate non-violence, you should take a pledge that come what may, you will not give way to anger or order about members of your household or lord it over them. You can thus utilize trifling little occasions in everyday life to cultivate non-violence in your own person and teach it to your children.”2
Mahatma Gandhi told, “It has touched me deeply and also humbled me to find that at a time when, owing to the Ramzan fast, not a kitchen fire was lit in the whole of this village of Mussalman homes, food had to be cooked for us in this place. I am past the stage when I could fast with you as I did in South Africa to teach the Mussalman boys who were under my care to keep the Ramzan fast. I had also to consider the feelings of Khan Saheb who has made my physical well-being his day-and-night concern and who would have felt embarrassed if I had fasted. I can only ask your pardon.”3
Ramazan is the month in which the Quran was revealed. The Quran clearly says "O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you many learn piety and righteousness" - Al Baqarah, 2:183. Fasting is to be done by all able bodied men and women and children who have reached puberty. If a person is sick or has some medical reason or if a women is pregnant then they are waived from fasting. Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I suppose you know that the Ramzan is truly observed by him who kills his anger and behaves rationally.”4
During Ramazan the people who fast are not allowed to eat or drink anything from dawn to after sunset. Also one has to restrain other body parts, which may render the fast worthless despite the main factor of hunger and thirst; so the tongue. Mahatma Gandhi said, “This is the last day of Ramzan. Remember what true Ramzan is. Be firm of resolve and make your body as strong as steel.”5 Some people think that one month of fasting is too much while others feel that it’s only one month where they can get their sins forgiven and get their rewards increased. May Allah bless us all and forgive all our sins and make us good Muslims and good human beings.