Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Times of India | May 15, 2018
Shock is a kind of treatment adopted by nature. Throughout life, there are different kinds of shocks nature exposes us to and one among them is ‘hunger-shock’. Hunger and thirst is part of a shock treatment that reboots one’s ability to Self-realise. Roza, fasting, is a treatment of this kind.
Roza is prescribed in Islam on an annual basis. The Quranic verse in this regard is as follows: “Believers, fasting has been prescribed for you, just as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard yourselves against evil.” (2:183) This verse alludes to the fact that fasting was prescribed in all religions, in some way or other. Roza is not specific to Islam alone, but is a practice which exists in all religions.
The easiest way in nature to reactivate the human body system is by way of a hunger shock. Hunger is a reminder that food is an important part of life. We must preserve food and avoid its wastage. This is essential for sustaining life.
Roza is an annual reminder of the importance of food and water in our lives, in the absence of which, it is impossible to continue life on earth. Nature has produced food and water abundantly and because of this free supply, people take these for granted and lose sensitivity about it. Therefore, world over, people waste great quantities of food and water.
A study done by National Geographic in 2014, found that the annual estimated food wastage in the United States ranges from 35 million tonne to 103 million tonne. The surveyor, Elizabeth Royto, also remarked that in the US, food valued at $162 billion is annually wasted. Same is the case with many countries.
The most important purpose of annual fasting prescribed in Islam is to sensitise its adherents about food and water. Sawm, fasting, is prescribed once a year during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calender. The fast of Ramadan, lasts the whole month, beginning from sunrise and ending at sunset.
Roza literally means abstinence, where one refrains and abstains from dawn till sunset, from food and drink. Fasting in the month of Ramadan begins with the sighting of the new moon, and it ends once again, with the sighting of the moon of the next month of Shawwal. The following day is the day of celebration of Eid festival. Eid literally means ‘coming again and again’. This is the real spirit of Eid. It reminds man to replan his life by taking lessons from the past and applying it to the future.
When the fast is broken in the evening, at the time of iftaar, the first sip of water serves as a reminder of the supreme power of the Creator who created water by using two gases – oxygen and hydrogen – and then stored it abundantly in the ocean and preserved it, thereby inculcating gratitude and thankfulness.
Roza is a way of self-empowerment. It is a saintly method of self-uplift and fasting inculcates the spirit of self-control. Self-control is the other name of spiritual strength. The spirit of self-control is key to all kinds of success and one who can control himself, can control the whole world. Roza is a course of annual restrengthening of one’s inner personality.