On August 14, 2011, LiveDeen conducted a lectureshop at Marriot Hotel, Karachi, with their main lecture by Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Phillips, followed by a Q&A session, on the topic “Ramadhan Scriptual vs Cultural”. I felt that the topic was wisely chosen because we are too much driven and defined by the traditional/cultural perspective of fasting and ignore its true essence.
The first thing he cleared up was the mind set of fasting. It’s not just a ritual where you turn on your fasting mode when Ramadan comes and switch it off when it ends, but that it is also a mind set that we should continue that spirit of God-consciousness through out the year.
He also pointed out to look at the goal of fasting. Often, we go so deep into the details that we loose sight of the bigger picture. We are always stuck “fasting is to abstain oneself from food, drink and sexual relations between spouses”. That is true but the goal that we must try to understand is that while fasting in Ramadan if we are willing to give up things that are made Halal(allowed) for the rest of the year, only for the sake of Allah, then it should be easier for us to avoid the Haram (forbidden).
The topic though was very vast, he only elaborated on only one part of it, i.e. “Ramadan is about fasting NOT feasting”. He explained that our primary focus (in many countries) is on feasting not fasting. How can that be? Because there are special dishes that are only made in Ramadan! And this is prevalent in every Muslim community. It reminded me of P-heni made specially in Ramadan and those Suhoor and Iftaar deals on almost all restaurants specially “All you can eat” deals. Nowadays, people (in general) “live to eat” instead of “eat to live”. That is further supported by WHO’s survey which stated that,
Overweight and obesity are linked to more deaths worldwide than underweight. For example, 65% of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kill more people than underweight (this includes all high-income and most middle-income countries).1
“Cultural fast is like an animal fast”, he said. “Animals feast till they are full”, and same is true for us. Our test starts at Suhoor where instead of taking a light meal, we start off with a 3 meal course! The process of digesting takes around 12 hours and our stomach is just about to end its process, when we break fast and fill it up once again. This process continues the whole month. And people rather of losing weight in Ramadan, gain more weight! The purpose of fasting is already defeated!
Towards the end, he reminded to take Ramadan as a vehicle to Paradise and stressed that it can only be done if we “drive it the way Prophet(SAW) taught in Sunnah”.
Alhamdulillah, Islamic Online University was also promoted by the Shaykh himself, and by the volunteers present. Here are some photos:
You can get more information about upcoming seminars by LiveDeen here.
For more informarion about Islamic Online Univeristy please visit IslamicOnlineUniversity.com
- “Obesity and overweight”, [online] Available at : http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/