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“The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it;” Quran: S/2─ V/185. Saha Ramdhankoum, fellow compatriots…

I would like to wish you my very best spiritual wishes, rather than to eat the tastiest food and drink the finest "charbat". In this 2018 Ramadan, I want to evoke the essence of the spirituality of the sacred month of fasting which, as you know, has not been only prescribed to Muslims. “O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.”(Quran:S/2─ V/183).  In fact, at Pre-Islamic Mecca, the Koraichites and the Meccans used to fast three days a month, even on Ashura Day, in solidarity with the people of the textbook who lived there. Among Christians, it is called lent. Certainly, these are not the same precepts as in Islam, but since the sixth century, there are Christianity's commandments that encourage fasting.

In the fourth century A.D., a certain Athanasius of Alexandria, who was bishop and patriarch of Alexandria, considered a great figure of ancient Christianity (or as an Orthodox), was already preaching at that time for the faithful to fast, by considering fasting as the commandment of Christianity . At that time, fasting was believed to cure diseases, prevent drought and repulse evil spirits. He can also purify hearts and sanctify bodies. Most importantly, it can ascend the faster to the throne of God. Fasting, as we can see, has been a spiritual act of the highest order since the revelation of the first Messengers of Allah, from Adam to Muhammad (Salla Allah Aalaihi wa salam). Unfortunately a deviation of the true commandments of fasting in Muslim countries, especially in our era, is still intriguing.   

The enthusiasm for "food" rather than for the spiritual has always amazed me. And yet, during the "Tarawih" prayer, the mosques are filled with Muslims. However, it must be recognized, they are open-handed for good deeds. But the preoccupation for good food far exceeds the behaviour of a Muslim who is in harmony with his principles. I have seen people buy, for a family of only four people, up to ten breads of different kinds. Why during Ramadhan we choose roll bread over French stick, "Charbat" to water and other drinks, "tchicha" over ordinary soup or the "Zlabia" on other delicacies? Upon which commandment did the housewives acquire the idea of replacing kitchen utensils when each Ramadan arrives? That's not all. Even the mass-media have their controversial "hidden-camera" shows.  Remember last year consequences. Algerians, to my knowledge, watch TV all year round, and perhaps more in the other months of the year than during the month of Ramadan, so why do TV channels persist, against all odds, in producing new programs ─ which are the major part of the time rushed ─ only for Ramadan?

Shopkeepers, meanwhile, see only the commercial aspect of Ramadan. This habit is quite noxious for the budgets of people who fast and family fathers. I recently read on the Internet an ad from a Canadian supermarket offering a 30% discount on all consumer products for the Muslim community during Ramadan. This act of kindness and solidarity is unimaginable among us (Muslims). 

What makes it incomprehensible is that we all know that all these "hedonistic" behaviours have nothing to do with fasting and Ramadan. Although they are to be proscribed, we nevertheless persist, out of habit and greed, in making it an untouchable rule. Of course, these actions, in moderation, can make an economic contribution to a certain extent. At a certain point, this fervent "food" passion will be a risk of destabilizing the balance between supply and demand and turning it into a means of all-out speculation.

The Ulimas may preach that only spiritual fasting is considered adoration and that everything else is only "bidaa" and false devotion. The Hadith of the Prophet may the prayer and salvation of Allah be upon him teach us with insistence: "There is certainly in paradise a door called Ar Rayan. The fasting people will enter heaven through it, and nobody else will enter it but themselves. When the last of the fasting men returns, this door will be closed. Whoever enters will drink and whoever drinks will never be thirsty. In another Hadith, it is said: "He who fasts during the month of Ramadan with faith and hope will have his sins forgiven". 

According to Abu Hurira, the Prophet, may the prayer of Allah and His salvation be upon him, was the most generous of men and the time when he was most generous was during Ramadan. (Hadith Reported by Boukhari). Everything is truthfully evident about the essence of fasting and the month of Ramadan. It is only spirituality, faith and good deeds. Anything else is on the other side of ignorance, the greedy, hedonistic nature of the human soul. And there is only one way to attenuate this fervour: being satisfied with God's gift. Not to mention to glorify Him in abundance and starvation. Whoever helps a person to survive is helping all men...

However, I am not going to conclude this chronicle, and notwithstanding everything that is going on in markets and kitchens, in the greedy instinct of some and others, without wishing all the Muslims of the world and in particular my Algerian fellow citizens a better Ramadan full of faith and that their fasting be rewarded by Allah. "All the deeds of Adam's son are for him except fasting. It is for Me and I am the One who gives the reward," says Allah in a Koudoussi Hadith.  Then we will live this sacred month through piety and faith while remembering our brothers and sisters in need by helping them with our good deeds to better endure the hardships of their difficult reality. 

But in recent years, however, there has been a kind of settling that is slowly beginning to take hold. People do not rush as they did a few years ago for everything that helps compensate for their long day of abstinence and mosques are crowded for prayer and invocations. With more awareness and awareness, souls become calmer and return to the essence. And the most important thing in fasting is an act of adoration to our Creator in thanksgiving for all the good things He has given us in our daily life. Ramadan can also be a way of communion among members of society regardless of gender, age or social status.

May Allah grant you all His Mercy and enlighten you, Inchallah, with the light of "Lay El-Kadr"...

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