There are many realities behind the veils. These realities are speaking or are seen to us via symbols. Therefore, after the article about the meaning of Ramadan, I felt the urge to write this article about the symbols of Ramadan and another perspective about why we celebrate Ramadan.
Ramadan is a holy month, a month of blessing, where if we are lucky, we could see many proofs and understand the symbols behind the veils.
Ramadan requires a ‘beginner’s mind’ as in Zen tradition. It requires the acceptance of what you know is limited. Ramadan is a blessing time of discovery and openings of the veils.
Taptuk Emre, the teacher of Yunus Emre-13th century Sufi poet and lover- gave to Yunus Emre as a mantra “I do not know”, which he was repeating all day long during a long time until he perceived and reached its meaning and embodied it.
So, let’s look what are the symbols of Ramadan, why it is holy, what proofs and symbols we will see, and why we need a beginner’s mind.
What are the symbols of Ramadan?
Ramadan is celebrated by Muslims all around the world. When you look to common symbols for all those celebrating Ramadan, some images are coming up; lanterns, prayer rug, dates, moon, five-pointed star, Ramadan drummer, and mosques.
What do lanterns symbolize in Ramadan?
Lanterns are one of the most found symbols of Ramadan. Lanterns symbolize the light, the hope. As you will find out more below, Ramadan is a journey to the unknown to find Unity and Love.
Looking from this perspective, the light of a lantern is the best thing a person would need in such an inner journey. The light of God who is always with us, wherever we go.
What do dates symbolize in Ramadan?
Prophet Muhammed was breaking his fast with a single date; therefore it is essential for people and many people try to break their fast with a date.
The date also symbolizes simplicity, having just what you need, not more. Ramadan is a month of austerity so that you can focus on what is important. Finding the Loved One in you.
What do the moon and five-pointed stars symbolize in Ramadan?
The five-pointed star reflects the Five Pillars of Islam which are central to the faith, and the crescent moon and stars are symbols relating to the greatness of the creator as mentioned here.
Moon is also the symbol of the feminine energy inside us. The moon appears at night. In the darkness, we stay in silence and start the search deep inside.
Bülent Rauf’s advice to students from Beshara School explains the symbols of the moon and the stars perfectly for me.
* Absolute: Existing by itself, independent.
He is talking about taking four pills, which are the basics of the five pillars of Islam. Once doing all these, it is time to be under the moon, to find yourself so that you can find the One.
What does the prayer rug symbolize in Ramadan?
The prayer rug symbolizes the meeting with the One and the surrender. If Ramadan is an inner journey, those times specially designed to meet in silence with Allah (God) are the most important ones.
Ramadan is a guidance month, whispering to you the main principles of your life. Maybe surrender is the most important one of that. Knowing and trusting that God is always with you.
What do mosques symbolize in Ramadan?
Ramadan is a place of aloneness as well as the community. Mosques symbolize this community and relationship with others. Because only in the existence of others we can see ourselves in the mirror and begin to know who we are.
What do drum players symbolize in Ramadan?
Drum prayer is the person who is playing his drum early in the morning to wake up people. It is the symbol of Ramadan as it is the only time you hear them with their drum in the streets.
Drums have an important role to provide a connection with the unseen world. Moreover, drum players symbolize being in the service for others, giving what you have, in the sense of what you are inspired to do, your talents, and your abilities.
So, in the light of all these symbols of Ramadan, then the next question comes:
Why Ramadan is called the holy month and what is the blessing of it?
It is the month, where we are guided to know ourselves so that we can know God. Ramazan is called the Sultan of the 11 months. It is the month when the Quran began to be revealed to Prophet Muhammed down from heaven which is called as Night of Power.
Night of Power is believed to be on the last 10 days of Ramadan, which is believed as being an especially blessing.
So, why it is that important that Quran has been revealed?
Quran is guidance, to perceive evidence.
Let us look at the first revelation of the Quran:
Via Quran God is guiding humans to read. Reading but what to read?
Maybe we can find the answer in this phrase of Haji Bektash Veli – 13th-century Muslim mystic, saint, Sayyid, humanist, and philosopher from Khorasan who lived and taught in Anatolia:
To see the relation of Ramadan, Quran reading, and humans, we can talk about the creation of humans.
As mentioned in Quran, God says that the human has been created to be in servitude, to adore, and to be in worship.
It is not that God needs the worship of humans. So, what does this mean for us?
The first step to being in worship is to know. One cannot worship without knowing.
So, God has created humans to know God.
As hadith also says;
Ibn Arabi also says:
Looking at the creation of the human from this perspective, knowing it, understanding it, and being aware of it, and act from this awareness is to be in servitude.
It is seeing the artist in the art while living.
How are Ramadan and Quran related then?
Ramadan is a month of guidance; it is a journey. You will receive guidance and proofs about reading yourself and learning the art of living life as a ritual.
You will receive guidance to begin to see God in everything so that you can start to live life as a ritual. Once you begin to live life as a ritual, your way of living as it is will be worship.
It is a journey to the unknown. You will receive light, proofs, and what you ask for in this journey. The guidance that you will receive in Ramadan will serve you all your life.
Are you ready to start this journey? To support you in this journey, I have created various posts to support you in this journey. You can see them here:
- Welcoming Ramadan! How One Can Be Preparing for Ramadan?
- How to Make Most of Ramadan: Things to Do During Ramadan
- 10 Activities of Ramadan for Ramadan Reflections & Blessings of Ramadan
We are human, created by God to discover God’s treasure. It is important to reflect on our collective journey as well as our unique journey.
Our ancestors who passed by before us left to us incredible guidance written with the inspiration of Love.
I want to conclude this article with one of those by the Turkish poet, Niyazî Misrî (1618-1694):
I LOOKED FOR A CURE
I was looking for a cure to my suffering, my suffering was my cure.
I was asking for proof of my essence; my essence was my proof.
I was watching right and left, to see the face of God*
While I was looking outside, God was the Soul inside my Soul**
I was thinking that I was separated, God is another and me another.
Since I saw and heard from me, I knew that God is.
Do not think that with prayer, fasting, and pilgrimage you are done, ascetic!
To be a Human*** what you need is the ability to sense, intuition.
Where is your road coming from and where you are going?
The one who does not know from where she comes and goes is the animal.
One needs a guide/teacher so that makes you notice of God by knowing****
For those who do not have a guide/teacher, what they know is doubt.
When a word comes, know that it is not hard it is easy.
All the universe is One, the one who sees the moment is the admirer.
Listen to the words of Niyazi, nothing can cover the face of God!
There is no other thing besides God, for those without eyes it is a secret.
* “Dost” is the word used here instead of God. In Sufi tradition, God is called a very dear fellow: Dost.
**Soul does not take the place of “Can” as in the poem. Can is the essence of all that is the same thing in all living beings.
*** In Islamic theology, al-Insān al-Kāmil, also rendered as Insān-i Kāmil and İnsan-ı Kâmil, is an honorific title to describe the prophet, Muhammad. The phrase means “the person who has reached perfection”, literally “the complete person.”
****In Islamic perception there are 3 levels of information:
Ilme’l-yakīn – the information you receive by the mind,
Ayne’l-yakīn – the information you receive by proof.
Hakka’l-yakīn – the information you receive by interior seeing and experiences with intuition and knowing. Here Misri is talking about Hakka’l yakin.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Ramadan Board!