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Enthusiasm for the Divine Banquet - Part I

Once again a pleasant call invites us to a great banquet, and amidst the chaos of daily life, it guides us toward the eternal truth. It is the start of the month of Ramadhan when God spreads out His spiritual banquet for mankind. It is a month in which rewards abound. So let us all thank Almighty God for once granting us the opportunity to partake of His Mercy. Let us contemplate on the purpose of creation and the meaning of life.

The Almighty’s Last Messenger to mankind, Prophet Mohammad (blessings of Allah upon him and his progeny) has termed blessed Ramadhan as the month that opens the gates of heaven for the creatures of God.
Fasting has been prescribed for us from dawn to dusk during this month, so as to enable us to achieve the highest spiritual benefits. But attaining these spiritual pleasures requires conscious efforts. In part of his famous sermon on the advent of the blessed month of Ramadhan the Prophet said:  "O People! The month of Allah has come with His mercies, blessings and forgiveness. God has decreed this month the best of all months.
Its days are the best of all days, its nights the best of all nights and its hours the best of all hours. In this month you have been invited by God to fast and to pray. Every breath you take is has the reward of glorifying God, your sleep is worship, your good deeds are accepted and your invocations answered.
Therefore, you must invoke your Lord in right earnest with hearts that are free from sin and evil, and pray that Allah may help you to keep fasts, and to recite the Holy Quran. Indeed, miserable is the one who is deprived of Allah's forgiveness in this great month. How unfortunate are those who deprive themselves of the mercy of God and forgiveness in this month. It is related that among the Israelites was a man who for years habitually disobeyed God and violated every divine commandment.
One day Prophet Moses (PBUH) went to Mount Sinai and on the way saw the sinner. The man sarcastically said to Moses: O’ Moses tell your God that I have no need of Him and I do not want His sustenance. Moses went to Mount Sinai but felt ashamed to convey the disobedient man’s blasphemous message. When God the All-Knowing and All-Hearing asked Moses why you have not conveyed to me the message of sinful servant? Moses said: "O God! You know better what he said." God replied: "O Moses! Tell him if he is ashamed of acknowledging me as God, I am not ashamed of having a creature like him. And if he does not want My sustenance, tell him that I give sustenance regardless of his desires." Moses on returning from Mount Sinai conveyed to the sinner the message of God the All-Merciful. The sinful Israelite on Moses’ statements got very ashamed of himself and began to cry. Then he said: "O Moses! I did not know that your God is so Kind and Merciful. But it is of no use since I have squandered away my life. I want you to teach me your beliefs. Moses who was amazed of the wisdom of the Almighty’s words guided that man to the divine religion. The man beseeched God for forgiveness and thanked the Almighty till the end of his life. What a wonderful lesson, isn’t it.
Thus it is prayers and fasting that build in us self control and restrain from wanton desires. This beautiful act of worship makes us feel the pangs of hunger of deprived people. Fasting prevents us form committing sins and abstinence from all evil.
Ramadhan inculcates in us urge to do good and serve humanity. The Prophet’s first infallible successor, Imam Ali (as) says concerning the blessings of Ramadhan: Pray and ask forgiveness as much as you can. Prayers and supplications keep calamities away from you, while forgiveness cleanses you of your sins.

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