Ramadan Fast: A Laboratory for Self-Disciple and Moral Governance


with Ali G. Macabalang

This column is giving way to a relevant piece contributed by Dr. Anshari P. Ali, a doctorate in Islamic Studies now serving as chancellor of the Mindanao State University-General Santos City campus, which I deem worth heralding to our readers, especially in this current fasting month of Ramadan. Dr. Ali’s piece follows:

“The observance of fasting during the Holy Month of Ramadan is one of the 5 pillars of Islam mandatory for every Muslim all over the Globe. It requires cleansing of the human body of its physical dirt and the spiritual sickness of one’s heart that involves the suppression of human desire and anger by making them submissive to the commandment of the Almighty God as enshrined in the Holy Qur’án and demonstrated by the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) in his sunnah (tradition).

Indeed, fasting during the whole month of Ramadan is a comprehensive training for self-discipline in order to acquire good moral character and righteousness that may preserve a person from committing error in making judgment and action in dealing with every aspect of life on Earth.

In other words, the month-long actualization of self-discipline within a person in which his/her soul is bound to control the operation of the five (5) external and internal senses as well as desire and anger is the basic foundation of Islamic moral governance.

In fact, Islamic moral governance is founded on the concept of Khilafah (Vicegerency) as stated in the Qur’ánic verse in which Allah says: Inni jailun fil ardhi khalifa (verily I will make a representative to the Earth).

While God is the King of the Universe, the soul is deemed as king over the human-body kingdom representing God.

Being God’s representative, the main task of the soul-king is to implement God’s commandment over human-body kingdom and then the affairs of the society which he will govern.

The first trial for moral governance of the soul-king is his leadership over his human body kingdom before governing the affairs of the society as his failure to institute righteousness over his human body kingdom is the basic indication of failure in providing ideal leadership over the affairs of the society that he will govern.

In the human body kingdom, there are entities, such as the five external senses and the five internal senses. The five external senses are the power of seeing, power of hearing, faculty of smelling, power of tasting and power of touching whereas the five internal senses are the power of common sense, power of thought, power of imagination, power of memory and power of judgment.

The desire and anger are also found in the human body kingdom in which the moral governance or leadership of the soul-king can be tasted. The desire is a faculty for anything (man or woman) likes or wants, while anger is the faculty for anything that he or she dislikes or hates. Desire and anger are common to all animals and inseparable part of human body instrumental in living happily on earth, but they need to be disciplined by the soul-king by placing each of them in their respective proper places as, otherwise, the soul-king who lost control of his desire or anger is vulnerable for dictation by his desire or his anger.

In the Holy Qur’án, Allah says: “ara ayta manittahada ilahahu hawahu,” Did you see the person who made his desire as god.” The basic duty of the soul-king is to institute discipline over his desire and anger by placing both in their respective places or by placing them under the dictate of reason and justice or Shariah. Each of them needs to be controlled or disciplined by the soul-king in order to make them submissive to the will and commandment of God so that the soul-king may be considered successful (naps al mutmainnah) in governing his human body kingdom. Such theory is called self-discipline which is the method of acquiring good moral character that preserves a person from committing error in making judgment and action.

The basic purpose of acquiring self-discipline is to produce a good man (salih) or good woman (salihah) who is considered good in his relation to God, to himself, to his parents, his family, neighbors, community, society, animal and his environment.

It is the basic requirement for actualizing moral governance in the affairs of the society where that person belongs. In dealing with the affairs of his society, he needs to actualize at least the five universal values, such as “Ihlas” (sincerity or commitment), sabr (patience or perseverance), side (transparency or truthfulness), amanah (trust) and adl (justice or fairness).

In short, fasting during the blessed month of Ramadan is deemed as a comprehensive training for self-discipline which is the foundation of Islamic moral governance. Happy Ramadan al-Mubarak to all Muslims across the globe.” AGM

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