Quran narrates history according to “events” and not according to dates and years. Ramadan has not been defined as a month of the calendar year that comes between Sha’ban and Shawwal, but as the month of revelation of Quran.
Quran not only uses the word unzila to mean “sent down” from a higher place, but also to indicate that the Divine Word of God has pervaded and penetrated the life of the receiving people. In fact, the revelation of Quran has elevated the relationship between Allah and humankind to the highest horizon possible.
Quran, in virtue of its clear signs is the guidance for human beings to achieve their vision and objective.“Guide to mankind, also clear signs for guidance.” [2:185]
Quran constitutes a frame of reference that transcends all human references in the form of charts, constitutions, customs, and traditions. Allah described it as “furqan” or “the Criterion” to judge between right and wrong, and differentiate between truth and falsehood.“In that night of revelation is made distinct every affair of wisdom.” [44:4]
Therefore, the revelation of Quran, as the most significant event in the history of humanity, has given the month of Ramadan its lofty value and status. Consequently, the month of Ramadan should be observed, and the best method to observe it is fasting.“Whoever witness that month should observe it in fasting.” [2:185]
To be a witness is to be present physically, mentally and emotionally; and to be conscious about the relationship between Quran and fasting. So instead of asking why Ramadan was chosen to be the month of revelation of Quran, we have to ask: Why do we have to fast the month in which Quran was revealed? What is the relationship between the revelation of Quran and fasting?
Allah described Quran as the ultimate reference for humanity to adjust its life according to Universal Truth, balance and equilibrium.“It is Allah who has sent the book in truth, and the balance.” [42:17]
“The word of your Lord does find its fulfillment in truth and in justice.” [6:115]
If the essence and the role of Quran are to bring balance to the life of the human being, it stands out as the best system that is mostly compatible with the essence of human nature in its state of balance or “fitra”. “So set your face steadily and truly to this religion, establish Allah’s handiwork according to the pattern on which he has made mankind: No change in the creation of Allah: that is the standard religion.” [30:30]
Fasting is a comprehensive model to restore the human life to its original state of “fitra” i.e. balance and equilibrium. The fasting believers are shaken for the whole month between fasting- the ability to separate and liberate from the world, and feasting- the ability to come back to the world, eating and drinking as soon as possible after sunset. Therefore fasting, as a reminder of balance, is the best environment to remember Quran and its primary function of bringing balance and equilibrium to the life of humankind.
Ramadan is amazing. It has a tremendous power to remind humanity in general and Muslims, in particular, of Quran every year. We find ourselves socially and psychologically more prepared in Ramadan to renew and strengthen our relationship with Quran. Prophet Mohammad was an excellent example in that regard. He used to study Quran every Ramadan with Gibril. This prophetic practice is a signal for all generations to look at Ramadan not only as an historical occasion for the revelation of Quran, but as an opportunity to renew their lives in the light and guidance of Quran.
Quran, as the reference for guidance does not take away from us our role. On the contrary, it facilitates our role. It teaches us to acquire self-determination, to make our own decisions, and to be fully conscious about our own actions including highly devoted actions like fasting.
By Dr Walid Khayr