By Ihsan Aslam
If there is one month that can
be designated the Islamic history month, then I
think it has to be Ramadan. Traditionally known
as the Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan is rooted
in Islamic history. It is the month for striving
against oneself and conquering one’s will,
but it is also the month marked by the most significant
external struggles and triumphs in the history of
Islam, namely the battle of Badr and the conquest
of Makkah (Mecca).
Ramadan’s significance derives primarily from
the fact that it is the month when the Qur’an
was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon
him). The Qur’an records the event: “The
month of Ramadan is when the Qur’an was sent
down as a guidance for mankind, with explanations
for guidance and as a standard”. Muslims recall
how Prophet Muhammad received the very first revelation
- “Read in the name of your Lord...”
- while meditating alone high up in the mountains
The verse that actually deals with fasting - “...fasting
has been prescribed for you, just as it was prescribed
for those before you...” - also reminds one
of the past (“those before you”). So
both the commencement of revelation and the order
to fast take one back to the very roots of Islam
and highlight the past that is sometimes forgotten
nowadays. The references to the past, to history,
are there in the Qur’an as constant reminders.
The Battle of Badr took place on Ramadan 17, 2 AH
(624 AD). For years Muslims had been persecuted
in Makkah and were still pursued, harassed and attacked
even when they had migrated to Madinah (Medina).
After two years this conflict culminated in the
Battle of Badr, named thus because of the locality
where the battle took place. Badr is towards the
south west of Madinah and lies between Madinah and
The Qur’an refers to the day of the Battle
of Badr as Yawm al-Furqan, the Day of Distinction
between belief and disbelief. It is also interpreted
as the Day of Testing for Muslims. Against all odds,
the meager Muslims defeated the strong non-Muslim
force on Ramadan 17. The nascent Muslim community
survived this crucial encounter and thereafter went
from strength to strength.
The second great Islamic event that took place in
Ramadan was Fatah Makkah (the conquest of Makkah)
on Ramadan 20, 8 AH (630 AD) when Muslims victoriously
entered the city after being forced into exile for
eight years and after 21 years of long struggle.
This event marked the ultimate victory of the Islamic
forces in Arabia and marked the beginning of a new
era in the history of mankind.
The conquest of Makkah takes one even further back
Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and his son
Ismael had purified and raised the foundation of
Bait-Allah, the House of Allah, the Kaaba in Makkah,
for the sole worship of God. Later, the people once
again degenerated into shirk (polytheism), associating
partners with God. The Arabs started believing in
hundreds of gods and goddesses, and kept stone idols
in the Kaaba.
With the historical conquest of Makkah and the return
of Islam to Arabia, the Kaaba was cleansed and purified.
As he entered the Kaaba and smashed the idols, the
Prophet recited, “And say, the Truth has come
and falsehood gone, verily falsehood is bound to
Ramadan is therefore more than just the month of
fasting or personal piety. The month recalls the
past, taking one to the very foundations of Islam,
and prods one to mull over the significance of historic
occasions such as Badr and the conquest of Makkah.
It is the month, therefore, for celebration and