Roza – All about being Disciplined

A couple of days ago, I was wondering as to how drastically the meanings of words of one language lose their essence when translated into another. For example, the word – “jootha” only means “contaminated” in English. The same goes for the words like “dharma” & “vrat”. The only meaning of the word – “dharma” in English is “religion” whereas the meaning of the word – “vrat” has been delimited to “fasting”. In Hindi, all these words have much deeper meanings to them.

In the same way, the Urdu word – “rounak” does not have an equal substitute in English and the word which is most likely to be associated with it is “gaiety”. Even the word “roza” merely means “fasting”.

As a result, people develop a very narrow outlook towards various religious practices because they do not understand the deeper meaning of certain words, the broader concepts that they imply and also the divine philosophical thoughts that are associated with them. It’s really a sad state of affairs.

According to the lunar calendar of Islam, the holy month of Ramadan is fast approaching. Therefore, I thought that it would be beneficial for everyone to understand the true meaning of roza and also the purpose behind observing it.

Muslims, all over the world, observe roza during Ramadan. But most of the people do not understand the real intention behind this religious practice. They think that all the staunch Muslims starve themselves and feel proud after successfully having done so. Many non-Muslims believe that some religious fanatics and religious clerics propagate only a blind devotion towards Islam because of which innocent people feel bound to follow whatever they are asked to, out of the fear of punishment after death for committing sins. But a very few skeptical people have a desire to understand the concept of roza rationally.

What does ROZA mean?

According to Islam, the beginning of the holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohd. in Ramadan. According to Shariat, the definition of roza is to make the intention to fast for the sake of God from the break of dawn to sunset by strictly abiding by some rules and regulations.

The Importance of Roza:-

Today, when many other religious holidays have undergone commercialization, Ramadan still remains steadfast in maintaining its spirituality and devotion. In contrast to many other religious holidays, the time of Ramadan is marked by self-altruism and daily canonical prayers.

Fasting is what is mostly identified with Ramadan, but there is a lot more meaning to it.

By fasting, a person is able to experience the same pangs of hunger and thirst that many people in this world experience. It also makes one self-disciplined as s/he, who observes roza, is expected to be patient and not to eat or drink till sunset despite her/his thirst and hunger. Thus, it does not let a person become gluttonous. It also helps one in building a good level of immunity by enabling the body to fight against small diseases and minor ailments on its own. It also prevents people from obesity.

It is not necessary for everyone to observe roza as the situations like travelling, pregnancy, breast-feeding, sickness, fear of being killed, any other difficulty recognized by Shariat or illness affecting sense are all reasons where missing roza is allowed.

If one is so hungry or thirsty that s/he is definitely sure that s/he would die or would lose sanity then s/he should not observe roza.

If an old person cannot observe roza during summers, due to the heat, but can observe roza during winters, then s/he can miss them in the summer.

With increased prayer, one feels closer to God and acknowledges his supremacy and his blessings that He constantly and abundantly bestows upon everyone in this world.

When a person becomes more charitable, s/he is able to develop her/his generosity towards others. If an old age pensioner, who is getting weaker day by day, does not have the strength to keep fast and will no longer be able to keep a fast, then it is allowed for her/him not to fast anymore, but it is expected of her/him to give the profit for every fast missed meaning to fully feed a beggar or a poor twice or do charity for that every roza that he could not observe.

Roza teaches people self-control successfully more than any other thing in the world. One learns to control the five senses of body while observing roza.

Roza also prevents people from lying, backbiting, yarn-spinning, swearing, talking blatantly and causing anyone harm. Thus, it is a kind of moral check.

It also makes people control their urge to have more sex, eat and drink more than required. It also teaches people to practice cleanliness as everyone is required to perform wazzuh (a ritualistic cleaning of one’s body parts with pure water) before offering namaz (canonical prayers). For observing roza, it is required of a woman to be clean from menstruation or bleeding after childbirth and the roza is not counted for a woman during mentruation or when she’s still bleeding after childbirth. This means that roza also teaches a person the value of personal hygiene very effectively.

Roza also condemns a person from consuming sedatives, alcohol, tobacco and smoking which is also good for one’s health if one earnestly observes roza.

Ramadan teaches a person the importance of unity, brotherhood and family. Daily attendance at family and ummah gatherings after one’s roza iftaar (opening of fast), strengthen one’s ties with her/his family members and also with one’s brothers and sisters throughout the Muslim community.

It makes one punctual along with being spiritual at the same time. All those who observe roza begin their day early and learn to unfailingly perform their daily exercises on time. In a way, a person learns to be true to herself/himself.

And who says that it’s necessary to be a Muslim for observing roza? It’s surprising but true that around 15 Hindus from Rabodi and 20 from Mumbra celebrate the month of Ramadan like their Muslim friends with the belief that God is one. They have proved the fact that one’s devotion and faith are above all religious boundaries. 40-odd people from the city of Thane, who in spite of being born in Hindu Maharashtrian families, observe roza as per the Islamic rules.

Owing to my birth in a Brahmin family, I’m a Hindu by birth; but when it comes to blindly following any religion, I’m a complete bohemian. Even as a child, I never felt like following the ritualistic aspect of any religion but things were forced upon me. I needed to know the reason behind everything. Even while humming or learning a prayer or hymn, I always expressed my desire to understand the meaning of it before proceeding further. And that’s why, today, I feel glad that the ones which I recite teach only ethical values in general.

I think, so is the case with roza. The people who observe it are benefitted both physically and spiritually. People with a scientific temper would not fail to realize the importance of observing roza. Despite being a Hindu, I’ll also observe roza. On one hand, my family is proudly advocating my religious beliefs, and on the other, I’m facing a scornful contempt of many people who live in the same community as I do. They do not like my being skeptical when it comes to something like religion.

I am very proud of being an Indian as India is the country where even a terrorist like Kasab was not denied of his religious freedom even when he was behind the bars. That’s why, this year, I would not just enjoy the liberty of celebrating Eid but would also honor the spirit behind its celebration.

I remember what had happened when I was admitted to a convent. I used to recite the prayers and hymns that I learnt there and easily understood the meaning of which. On seeing my sincerity while whispering a prayer in English or singing an English hymn, many of my relatives started fearing that if the same would continue to take place, then I’d soon embrace Christianity. But nothing of that sort ever happened, and today, I mock them all.

I believe in humanity, and most importantly, in God. I also believe in the Hindu Gods and Goddesses; in the Hindu, Christian, Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythologies, but at the same time, I feel free to imbibe whatever goodness that I see in other religions.

Aditi Swami

The author did her schooling from Sophia (2007) & graduation with honors in English literature (2010). She is a final year student of M.A. (English Literature). She is also an NGO worker at Akshar, Jaipur & teach English to underprivileged kids. Besides, she is a soft-skills & spoken-English trainer working with Jobs Train. She has been appointed to teach English to B. Tech. students at LNMIIT, Jaipur. She is a wannabe academician, an avid reader, an amateur poet, a freelance writer, an amateur photographer, an amateur sketcher & painter. She enjoys swimming, travelling and the simple pleasures in life.