This month, as in every June since 1989, Muslims around the world hold gatherings to mark the anniversary of the demise of Imam Khomeini, who died in Tehran on June 4, 1989, a decade after the Islamic Revolution in Iran with which he will always be as- sociated.Imam Khomeini emerged from a unique background and tradition in Iran. He was not a political leader in the conventional sense. For him worldly power was not an end but the means to something higher and more noble. The Imam’s approach to politics was shaped by his deep spirituality and attachment to God. The 28th anniversary of his demise, which has coincided with the month of Ramadan this year, is an appropriate opportunity to examine some of his views on fasting.
Imam Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, used to highlight the philosophy of divine feast during the holy month of Ramadan. He would insist on availing opportunities of self-training and self-purification during these divine days.
That the blessed month of Ramadan is a month in which one should strengthen himself/herself morally. There is a sermon from the Noble Prophet of Islam informing the people of the advent of the blessed month of Ramadan. One of the phrases of this sermon reads: “You have been invited to God’s feast.” The difference between God’s feast and people’s feasts is that when you go to a feast, you will have some items of food to eat and means of entertainment befitting your status. But God’s feast involves fasting on the one hand and spiritual training of the devotees on the other.
Fasting in the month Ramadan leads to a positive change in the attitudes of the believers towards the creation of God. Believers feel themselves to be the limbs of one body and this feeling strengthens the solidarity and friendship in the community.
Fasting teaches the rich, who normally consume good and nutritious food and never suffer from hunger to have sense of it. When they stay hungry and thirsty for a certain period of time they begin to think about the poor and feel empathy for them. The rich then desire to help the poor and needy, as fasting makes it possible for them to empathise with the poor and to see the hard and challenging conditions they live in.
On the other hand, the people who have persevered against hardships, such as hunger and thirst, and have thus trained their body and soul, can challenge and overcome every difficulty they may encounter in life. Hunger and thirst cease to be great threats for such people. Hunger can no longer hold them back from their ideals.
Such people can protect their self-respect and dignity at any cost. They will not beg for money or food, even when they are hungry. But those who have never fasted and have, thus, not immunised their body against hunger will most probably abase themselves and begin to beg for food in order to satisfy their hunger when they find themselves having to do without.
Imam Khomeini would elaborate that believers, as guests of God in the month of Ramadan, are invited as servants to the house of God, and to sit at the table of His blessings where they are to thank and to praise Him to the extent that their tongues and hands are able.
And he would also advise the believers during the month of Ramadan to purify their intentions, rectify their deeds, expel love of self and position from their hearts; the acts that ensure a high station for them in the hereafter. Undoubtedly, the above teachings of the late Imam were the fundamental reasons behind his success and popularity. – Embassy of Iran