24 September, 2018

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Commonalities Between The Ramadan & Uposatha

By Mass L. Usuf

Mass Usuf

There are several major religions and philosophical schools in this world. Billions of people follow one of these religions or philosophies.  There is a relatively smaller number of atheists and those not belonging to the idea of religion and God. The atheist does not believe that there is a God Creator. Here, God meaning the traditional definition of a God.  However, if one analyses, the atheist though does not believe in God Creator, he still believes in something. It is not that the atheist is bereft of any belief whatsoever. The atheist may believe for example, in Cosmic power or Nature as the source of creation. Logically, belief is present but the object of the belief is different. The atheist misses the point that even these beliefs cannot come into being by themselves. This is a separate discussion.

When examining religions (for convenience, this includes philosophies too) a common phenomenon that is found in all of them is that each exhorts its followers towards goodness. This goodness can be broadly classified into three in the theological sense. Goodness to one’s self. Goodness towards the others and goodness towards the Creator. If we compare Buddhism, it teaches the same thing except that it does not accept the concept of a Theist. The practise of mindfulness (sati) in Buddhism in its various formats serves the essence of the self and humanity (For example see: Satipatthana Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya 10).

In this context, fasting can be identified as one such common phenomenon weaving through several religious beliefs. In Islam fasting has been prescribed in the Quran.  It states:

“O you who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may attain tattaqūn (self-restraint, mindfulness)” (Chapter 2 verse 183).

Tanha

A salient feature in this verse is that it refers to fasting as having being prescribed to those people before Prophet Muhammed.  This is making reference to all those previous religions.  An interesting area for comparative research.  In the context of its extended application, fasting would include all the three classifications listed above viz. goodness to one’s self, goodness towards the others and goodness towards the Creator. With regard to one’s self the exercise is that of restraining and abstaining from everything that attracts a person. Buddhist terminology recognises this attraction as Tanha. Meaning: craving, hunger for, thirst, excitement, the fever of unsatisfied longing (Pali English Dictionary, Edited by T. W. Rhys David and William Stede). Tanha is one of the foremost obstacles according to Buddhism which stands in the path to liberation (nibbana). It is classified into three as: kama-taṇhā (thirst for sensual pleasures), bhava-taṇhā (thirst for existence and becoming), and vibhava-taṇhā (thirst for non-existence) (P. 29. What the Buddha taught by Walpola Sri Rahula).

The Muslim fast starts from dawn and ends at dusk every day in the lunar month of Ramadan. During this time, the Muslim not only keeps away from consuming food and drinks. Fasting also very strictly includes abstaining from all kinds of sinful thoughts and mental actions (Mano-kamma), verbal actions (Vacī-kamma) and physical actions (Kaya-kamma) – like foul language, backbiting, slandering, lying, listening to music, sexual relations, stealing, time wasting by watching movies, gossiping, etc.  During the month of Ramadan, Muslims undergo this training of controlling the tanha demonstrated by way of real practise. A Muslim has to strictly follow the rules of fasting. If not the fast is nullified. The Prophet Muhammed said that a person who does not observe the fast as it should be, had only remained in hunger. Meaning, he has not availed anything spiritually in the eschatological sense nor has benefitted mentally in the physical sense.

Tanha in the world of Buddhist thought, given a literal meaning, can be understood to be the result of attachment. Humans naturally have the tendency to like and liking creates attachment. Liking can include even loving something or someone. This attachment can lead to suffering which is dukkha. Therefore, it is said that the only way to end dukkha, that is suffering is by putting an end to tanha.

Middle-nation

It is interesting to note a difference in the Islamic philosophical view relating to attachment. Most importantly Islam recognises the fact that man has this innate quality to like and, or love. This is natural and, according to Islam, there is nothing wrong in having what nature has endowed on man.  Of course, it has to be lawful and correct. Branching off from this recognition, it does not look at liking or loving something or someone as necessarily the antecedent to suffering. It is not everything that a person likes leads him to attachment and consequently to suffering. A man may like to see a clear blue sky or he may love to hear the chirping of a particular kind of bird. This would not cause an attachment nor would it end in suffering.

However, Islam while recognising this natural inclination in man have clarified the limitations of the extent or intensity of liking or loving (tanha) in a general sense.  

“And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion.” 

(Quran: Chapter 3 Verse 185)

“Worldly desires, wives, children, accumulated treasures of gold and silver, horses of noble breed, cattle, and farms are all made to seem attractive to men. All these are the bounties of the worldly life but in the life to come, Allah! With Him is a more excellent abode.”   (Quran: Chapter 3 Verse 14)

These are some of the numerous verses in the Quran reminding man about the delusionary (moha) nature of this worldly existence. Reminding man to look at these worldly possessions with a sense of reality and not in ignorance (avijja).  Anything in excess is frowned upon. It is a reality that man must like many things. If not, the world would come to a standstill. Thus, Islam propounds the concept of ummatan wasatan meaning: middle nation, a balanced nation, moderation. Effectively striking an equilibrium between extremities. Islam is a path between hedonism and ascetism.

“Thus, have We made of you a people justly balanced (wasatan), that you might be witnesses over the nations, and the Messenger a witness over yourselves… “ (Quran : Chapter  2 Verse 143).

It is within this framework that fasting in the month of Ramadan has to be understood. It is interesting to note that part of the rules of fasting to be followed in Islam has in it the ten precepts (dasa sila) in Buddhism. The dasa sila prescribed especially for the monks is an enhanced version of the eight precepts (ata sila) practised by the laity.

Uposatha

Reference is made to Uposatha, in the Uposatha Sutta (Anguttara Nikaya: AN 8.41).  Uposatha literally means ‘fasting’. This fast can be observed in Buddhism on the full-moon day, the new-moon day and the two days of the first and last moon-quarters. (Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines by Nyanatiloka).

In Islam, too, there is a fast each month for three days.  These are called the White Days (Ayyam Al-Beedh).  The white days refer to the 13th, 14th, and 15th of the lunar month.  The days are named as such due to the moon being full and the light it reflects is at maximum which makes the nights luminous. It is compulsory to fast in the month of Ramadan but fasting on these three days is optional.

The Uposatha Sutta lays down the following eight precepts of Uposatha:

1. Not to kill.  

2. Not to steal.  

3. Not to engage in sexual intercourse.

4. Not to speak lies.  

5. Not to take intoxicants.

6. Not to eat food between noon and the following dawn.

7. Not to sing, dance or watch entertainments, and not to use ornaments, cosmetics or perfumes.

8. Not to sit or lie on a large or high seat or bed.

For the monks there are ten vinaya precepts (dasa sila) whereas for laity it is eight (ata-sila).  The precept concerning entertainments is split into two parts (for the monks) and, one additional rule, that is prohibiting the handling of money, gold and silver.

Purpose

The Quranic verse mentioned above states the purpose of fasting: “that you may attain ‘Tattaqoon’.  The Arabic word ‘taqwa’ has a very deep and broad meaning.  ‘Tattaqoon’ is derived from the word ‘Taqwa’, and includes meanings referring to several qualities such as: ‘conscientious’, ‘forbearance’, ‘consciousness of Allah’ etc.  When one is mindful of these and exercise self-restraint, in both the material and the mental states, he disciplines his mind and body.  He is thus receptive to being good to himself, to the others and to His Creator – Allah.

A significant common factor in all religious teachings is man. Religions do not preach to the animals, trees or mountains.  It is also true that all that is taught to man has shared values of goodness and morality in it.  It is up to us as human beings to reflect on these and live a life accordingly.  Such a life will bring all of us joy and success both in this world and in the hereafter.

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Latest comments

  • 2
    6

    Well,

    Maruvanpulavu Sachithananthan, with his anti-beef eating campaign with the support from Shiv Sena and BBS, can make anyone to return back to their original path, instead of advancing with whirling wind speed, in the invented modern Arabian Hilmism.

    Now many Muslims wants to deny that they are Arabians decent, instead Sonahas,who lived in Ceylon at the time period of 2nd Century and who are mentioned in the Mahavamsa.

    BBS and Satchithanantham have achieved what the Sharia-Yahapalanaya government failed to do, the sincere unity. Thanks to BBS and Satchithanantham.

    • 1
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      Mass Usuf

      RE: Commonalities Between The Ramadan & Uposatha

      “A significant common factor in all religious teachings is man. Religions do not preach to the animals, trees or mountains. It is also true that all that is taught to man has shared values of goodness and morality in it. It is up to us as human beings to reflect on these and live a life accordingly. Such a life will bring all of us joy and success both in this world and in the hereafter”

      Thanks. Interesting comparison in self-restraint, and fasting. First 12 hours of fasting is glucogen storage being used and glucose, and beyond 12 hrs is ketosys.

      There is medical evidence that fasting is very good for you, and the benefits stem from evolution. Is religion man-made? After-life, rebirth, no-soul etc. man made, because animals. including the primates with 48 chromosomes, have no concept except humans with 46 chromosomes.

      Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss w/ Jason Fung, MD

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9Aw0P7GjHE

      Why fasting bolsters brain power: Mark Mattson at TEDxJohnsHopkinsUniversity

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UkZAwKoCP8

  • 4
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    Just boring stuff

    • 4
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      Fathima: Are you a Wahabi or do you believe in next birth of yourself. Only way you can go to the Creator is beocme a virgin for a Jihadi

      • 3
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        LalJ:

        Only an idiotic Wahabi with belief in next birth can think of becoming a virgin for Jihadi. Your sex is immaterial to be a virgin for a manly Jihadi, need an application?

  • 6
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    ISlam is not a carnivorous religion when it is allowed to practice peacefully. At present ISlam is Saudi Arabian Desert culture.women and girl chidren are thrash as they not important for the war. Kill animals and eat because nothing else except Dates are avilable. Cover the whole body, because the sun’s heat is too much. PRey five times a day because the people and the environemnt are so hostile.

    • 3
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      Jim softy dimwit

      Why have you suddenly changed your name from Jim softy dimwit to JaL?

      • 1
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        NV – From “JaL”, “LalJ” and possibly “Jim Boar”. This dimwit can join Percy’s wagon!

      • 2
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        JaL = a Jerk and Lunatic

      • 2
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        May be he landed a job at Japan Airlines!

        • 0
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          No way, Jim Softy, can never get a job anywhere except SL state sector licky

    • 3
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      JaL:

      Ha..ha..this time it is my back laughing.. “ISlam is Saudi Arabian Desert culture” – So SL has sent over 6 millions of its innocent citizens over there to support corruption and world’s biggest charity organization in SL called State-sector?

      Please don’t give another reason to HR to crew SL.

  • 1
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    Mass L. Usuf looks for “Commonalities Between The Ramadan & Uposatha” and finds one or two.
    Why should the be “Commonalities”? Surely Ramadan & Uposatha should stand on their own merits!
    .
    Mass L Usuf’s view on atheists ~ “…………..The atheist does not believe that there is a God Creator……….The atheist may believe for example, in Cosmic power or Nature as the source of creation…..”.
    Certainly not Mass. “Life” as we know was an accident. Started with the formation of organic molecules which led to a self-replicating molecule. Evolution of evil-humans was inevitable. Rest is history!

  • 1
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    A very interesting article. Thank you.

  • 2
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    Maruvanpulavu Sachithananthan, emerged out of the blue, made a big noise on a trivial issue, what did he achieve?
    Where was he when innocent school girl ‘Vidya’ was cruelly raped & slaughtered worst than a cow by horrendous men belonging to Sachithananthan’s own community?

  • 1
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    Buddhist monks are also trained to abstain from consuming food during certain times of the day, at least for a shorter period of time than the almost 13 hours fasting period experienced by Muslims – sunup to sunset, (sometimes in excess of 20 hours at the North pole). But they (Buddhist monks) are also trained to abstain from worldly pleasures which are more outwardly, like shaving the head, always wearing the same clothing, i.e. the saffron robe, use of a begging bowl to collect food, abstain from sexual pleasures which includes marriage, having children and raising families, and many such like self deprivations, like even handling money and maintaining bank accounts, driving vehicles, etc., the list goes on, all of which go against the grain of living a normal natural life. By following this unnatural way of life, can anyone truthfully and sincerely claim, they conform or follow these rules to the letter. To me, it is difficult to believe that living this way is truly possible, without violating many of its precepts. Going even further, there are many sciences surrounding us which Buddhism does not address, like how did this universe come into existence (galaxies, planetary systems, etc.), how did plants and animals start life. Are we in control of our own destinies, or is it pre-ordained?

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      The precepts are self imposed. By training oneself gradually one starts to see the advantages in them, the freedom from wanting and not wanting, having and not having, hoping and regretting, elation and despair, faith and doubt. The ‘normal life’ that you write about is full of these problems until death. You have not mentioned meditation, the mental training that goes alongside the precepts. The restraints are there to help support mental development.

      Buddhism is silent on most (not all) Science because its purpose is to achieve the end of suffering here and now in this very life, not in some imaginary after-world. Whether the universe was created or not, whether the God exists or not, one thing is certain – we all suffer – the solution to which Buddhism offers, for our examination and testing (not our blind belief).

      • 0
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        Paul, I think good example are politicians, especially MR and his family who have found solutions from what Buddhism offers.

  • 3
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    In biology it has been found that a fasting animal is blood thirsty and ferocious. A fasting human being is the same and will never be conscientious or have forbearance. Look at the way how fasting Muslims behave. They curse and wait for the sun to set, and once it happens run to eat salivating and gulping as if they had never seen food in their lives. Fasting increases secretion of chemicals which make ones brain aggressive and irrational. This is why there is unrest among Muslims all over the world unlike other religionists who either do not fast or fast for six hours only. The explanation given for fasting is that a person who fasts understands the plight of one who is starving. A starving person goes without food for 24 hours a day unlike a fasting Muslim who goes without food for 12 hours and eats during the rest of 12 hours like a pig.

    • 4
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      Ha..ha… as if everyone in SL has proper meal for at least 2 times…and there is no choice…

    • 3
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      Al-faqurlah: Oh boy, had your low IQ father used condom properly, today you wouldn’t have to face all these, and we wouldn’t have to face dirty dumb worm too..

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      Al-fukka

      Fasting brings numerous benefits especially for your health and this is accepted by the international educated communities irrespective of religions. Yoshinoro Obsumi of Japan the noble prize laureate in Medicine says by fasting your body get many benefits. It is not irrelevant what they eat at breakfast and beginning of fast but starving your body for more than 12 hours without even a drop of water is really known as true fasting. How can a modaya like you with tree climbing genes can understand this.

      • 1
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        Ralli bin Balli, the stupid Islamic infidel, this type of idiotic procedure fits only desert minded Arabs. Look at the older civilisations in the world, do you find anyone of them resorting to this madness. Fasting for few hours everyday will bring benefits like how Buddhists and Hindus do, not fasting for 12 hours for one month and eating like pigs in the rest of the year. Don’t try to defend a barbaric ritual in modern world.

        • 0
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          See, now even MR / Gota will fast if Muslims ask them to fast, at least until the elections. It is just you, a son of low IQ father doesn’t seem to understand the logics of real world.

          Damn, your boorish father could have used a condom anyway….

        • 0
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          Al-fukka bin vaysi

          Fasting and the benefits biologically and spiritually gained was explained only by Islam. Like vaccine will keep away certain disease and everybody vaccinating, all Muslims fasting to gain its benefits. How can your barbarian religions know all these, so you modaya also don’t know about it.

    • 1
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      Al-faqurlah,

      It is all right to be ignorant, until you learn the facts and the truth.
      he Greeks and the Catholic church thought that the Sun goes around a stationary Earth, unreel it was shown by Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and Newton, that it was the Earth that spins and orbits the Sun.

      “A starving person goes without food for 24 hours a day unlike a fasting Muslim who goes without food for 12 hours and eats during the rest of 12 hours like a pig.”

      A starving person will go to ketosis after 12 hrs.
      A Muslim or anybody else, who eats all day long, not not ea for about 12 hrs will not, go into ketosis.

      How to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes Naturally

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAwgdX5VxGc

      Diabetes is a curable disease. As a dietary disease, it demands a dietary treatment. The principles are outlined here.

      Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that involves regular fasting.

      https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/the-5-2-diet-guide

      Similarly, there is ample data about the benefits of fasting, especially fasting for much longer than 12 hours, when degradation of glycogen (glycogenolysis) turns is replaced ketosis. This fasting is really good for diabetics, and fasting is one of the cures for a diabetic. On top they learn self-restraint and control, and feel how other who are hungry feel.The Quran says so in Quran 2;183-185.

      Gluconeogenesis

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluconeogenesis

      In ketosis, Gluconeogenesis is one of several main mechanisms used by humans and many other animals to maintain blood glucose levels, avoiding low levels (hypoglycemia). Other means include the degradation of glycogen (glycogenolysis)[1] and fatty acid catabolism.

  • 3
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    Mahinda, trying to win back Muslim friendship by breaking fast with them.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kA6VZhR_K_k

    • 1
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      Mullah,

      “Mahinda, trying to win back Muslim friendship by breaking fast with them.”

      Did Mahinda really fast, or is he breaking his “fast” after breakfast and lunch?

    • 1
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      Poor MR counting restaurant covers to measure to campaign success. But does not know that selfish Muslims never say “no” to food, and when the time comes measure the Vasi and say hi to heavier side.

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