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Sunday, September 24, 2006

SAUM:Its Impact on Economy and Social Development

By Bashir Abid

Saum or Fasting during the month of Ramadhan is
prescribed for Muslims to reinforce their moral and
spiritual strength so that they may be able to
discharge their responsibilities towards the society
efficiently. Its a month-long rigorous excercise of
abstinence and self-control. During this month Muslims
voluntarily refrain from eating food, drinking
liquors, indulging in sex and other immoral activities
while fasting from dawn to dusk.

When we study the relevant verses (2:183-188) in the
Quran carefully we find a number of disciplines which
if carried on in true spirit are very usefull not only
in building moral character and spiritual strength but
also boosting up the national economy and social
development. For example, fasting is prescribed for a
fixed number of days which have to be completed. In
case, anyone is ill or on a journey, the prescribed
number should be made up from days later. Similarly,
it is prescribed that fast must be completed from dawn
to dusk at fixed time everyday. These prescriptions if
followed in true sense are very helpfull in developing
the habbit of punctuality and regularity. The
importance of puntuality and regularity is well known.
These habbits play a key role in our day to day life.
All transactions, deals, appointments that are
conducted timely and methodically promote confidence,
increase efficiency, and make us trustworthy in
others' eyes.

The instincts for food, drink, and sex are strong in
the animal nature, and the temporary restraint from
all these enable the attention to be directed to
higher things. This is necessary through prayer,
contemplation and act of charity. The Quran says that
those who feel hardship and do not fast, for them is a
ransom - the feeding of one that is indigent. But he
that will give more, of his own free will, it is
better for him. This shows that the Muslims fast is
not meant for self-torture. Although it is stricter
than other fasts, it also provides alleviation for
special circumstances. Saving one meal a day means
saving tons of food during the month that can
alleviate the suffering of thousands of indigents for
a whole year.

Pakistan is a country of 170 million people whose 70 %
live below the poverty line and many of them can't
afford to have meal two times a day. We can feed one
hundred thousands of them if only 70 millions of
Pakistan's population go on fasting in its true
spirit.

The relation between sex and economy is well
understood. According to some studies the nations who
do not keep the sexual activity within limits their
culture and economy could hardly survive for three
generations. The Quran has well defined limits for
sexual activity. Abstinence during the fast is a good
reminder for self-control and to remain within divine
limits.

Another important discipline which is prescribed
during Ramadhan is "Aitekaf". According to this
practice some Muslims devote themselves and retreat to
the mosques for a couple of days in order to
contemplate on the Quran. They get guidance to resolve
intricate problems facing the Muslims in particular
and mankind at large.

Keeping the fast in its true spirit as discussed above
would certainly improve our behavior and give us great
moral and spiritual strength which ultimately help us
in the creation of a lively culture and vigorously
growing economy. In fact, God does not put
restrictions in vanity. These are meant to enhance our
ability and to give us necessary strength to live a
beautifull life here and in the hereafter.

Nowadays fast has become a ritual. Muslims, all over
the world are fasting just to please God. They do not
bother about how does the fast affect their behavior
and what impact it has on their culture and economy?
All that what God wanted to be accomplished through
fasting Muslims have defeated that by going
diametrically opposite to it. They should be punctual
and regular in discharging their duty and
resposibility; they should be frugal in spending their
wealth: they should be kind and generous towards the
needy; they should be contemplative in solving
intricate problems and they should be very fair and
just in all spheres of life. But, unfortunately, they
are far away from these virtues. Ramadhan makes no
difference to them in the practical life. Rather, they
become more spend-thrift and wastefull and they become
more negligent, careless and regardless during
Ramadhan.

I wish, as Muslim, we should welcome Ramadhan in its
true spirit and we should learn the right way to
please God.

THE END

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