In contrast to the ‘I’ll do what I want’ culture, developing self-restraint is a key objective during Ramadhan.
Fasting offers many merits or qualities that help the believer strengthen his taqwa. Here we highlight evidences related to the virtue of self-restraint which is particularly emphasised during Ramadhan.
Allah (swt) say:
O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint. [2:183]
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
Here Allah (swt) says in the Quran that fasting is made an obligation so that you may lean to control, limit, kerb or check yourselves. In a world where freedom of speech and freedom of expression are admired Allah (swt) extols the virtues of self-restraint with the days and nights in Ramadhan a means by which Muslims seek to develop self-restraint.
This is particularly apt with the recent riots in the UK. With the police unable to control the public disorder looting and stealing was widespread. Many stole simply because they could get away with it on the day. There was no self-restraint. No kerbing of ones survival instinct and no controlling of ones desires.
The process of fasting helps the believer build self-control. Indeed, fasting has been suitably described as a “shield” that protects the fasting person from sinning. The messenger of Allah (saw) says, “Fasting is a shield. Thus while fasting you must not use foul language or act like those of ignorance (screaming, attacking others, etc), or speak loudly”. (Bukhari)
Furthermore, the fasting Muslim is ordered not to retaliate if someone hurts him. The Messenger (saw) says, “And if somebody fights him or curses him he should say, I fasting twice”. (Bukhari)
Self-restraint includes controlling ones words and actions for Allah does not need the fast of someone who does not stop cursing, using foul language, harming people, talking nonsense. The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Whosoever does not stop saying and acting upon falsehood, Allah is in no need for him/her to abandon his/her food” (Bukhari).
In no month in the year except during Ramadhan does Allah (swt) open the Gates of Paradise and close the Gates of the Hellfire. The Messenger of Allah (saw) said “The gates of Jannah and the Heavens are opened. The gates of hell are closed and devils are chained”. (Bukhari). Chaining the devils means stopping the source of evil and Allah (swt) helping the believer to achieve self-restraint.
Thus, it is no wonder that many people return to Allah in this month after going astray.
Thus while the quality of self-restraint is inherent in every day Islam, Ramadhan is the month to help address any lapses and re-establish self-restraint within the limits of the Shariah of Allah (swt).