Ramadan by Husayn El-Hafidi

Ramadan as a Naqshbandi

I adhere to the Naqshbandi Tariqat of the Sufi order that is rooted within the Sunni tradition of orthodox Islam. The importance of Ramadan for this tradition cannot be understated, as it is seen as the month in where an individual is truly able to rid the shroud of ignorance and the ego. The ethereal dimensions of the Naqshbandi School of Thought requires one to undertake vigorous self cleansing through all manifestation of the self, to realize the hidden realities of Islamic teachings and gnosis. Therefore the inherent principle within this tradition requires the observation of remembrance (Yad kard), restraint (Baz gasht), watchfulness (Nigah dasht) and temporal pause (Wuquf-i zamani). Which we believe becomes heighten when one observes and practices the nature of Ramadan.

The observation as mentioned above is key to one realizing the hidden truth of Ramadan and as such the importance of remembrance (Dhikr) during this period is greater than any other month in the Islamic Calendar. The belief is that as one fasts and rids desires, only then the heart is able to truly engage in the process of Dhikr with both the tongue and the mind. This tradition unlike other Sufi orders argues that the mastery of Dhikr through the heart will result in an individual that is truly able to move beyond the confines of reality. This is usually done once a week in a group session on remembrance of Allah (Khatm-I Khawajagan) followed by Taraweeh prayers and supplemented by daily Dhikr throughout the holy nights. Subsequently one is able to open their heart to the hidden knowledge within the Quran, leading to a state in where one is able to continuously read over the holy text in a new light every time.

Once an individual has truly followed the repetition of Dhikr then, their heart is clear to allow the clarification of self-realization, which is a key component within this tradition.  This allows a person to realize what station they are on in their quest for spiritual development, and true reflection of the self. It is argued that the self is misguided about ones inner nature, as desires and wants falsify ones motives for their actions. Thus Ramadan is the perfect time in where a person can forget the desires of modern life, to rid the shroud of ignorance, to truly attain to the station, in where one realizes the underlining causes of reality.

The reason for mentioning this above in regards to Ramadan is due to the nature of traditional practices witnessed during this period, such as iftar in where the family tends to get together to break their fast. This I believe is an important attribute towards the realization of the self as mentioned above. Due to the process in where one clears ones heart of misguided falsehood, resulting in the appreciation of what is important in ones life. The daily repetition of breaking fast together leads one to reaffirm the truths as one witnesses the importance and specialness of the family unit. This concept of the collective is also shared during Taraweeh where the family evolves into an extended community of different ethnicities and Islamic traditions. Despite the differences one is equal to all in this moment of collective submission to the truth and single reality of existence.

The importance of Ramadan as seen by my tradition is not perceived through the individual lens, as this would be trapped within the prism of the ego. Rather one must witness the process of Dhikr as a tool to achieve unison with the collective spirit of the universe. This is not only applicable to our species as it is witnessed by all things that abode on this planet, and even within the universe the planets and atoms are following a strict rule of repetition of the remembrance of The Creator. Therefore the process of Dhikr is essentially to create a person who during Ramadan is aware that as one is fasting, it is not only one that has forsaken the worldly life for the next, but rather a piece in a grander system. That produces humility and modesty, attributes that are deem desirable for an observant Muslim. For we should ‘not think that the drop alone becomes the Ocean – the Ocean, too, becomes the drop’ (Mavlana Rumi).