Friday, October 20, 2006

Ramadhan For Me

Fasting is not supposed to be an easy task, yet so many Muslims accomplish it every year for an entire month. Since it is a difficult task, God makes it easier for us to achieve our various religious duties, e.g. praying, abstaining from spitefulness, avoiding alcohol, etc. (whilst fasting through this month). For example, a fasting person gains more reward from prayer than he would normally (i.e. outside Ramadhan). God is merciful to the extent that even sleeping while fasting is regarded as an act of worship. It seems that God facilitates our tasks, in knowledge of the fact that we are fasting. This is why the Quran mentions several times that Allah is most Merciful. Therefore, Ramadhan is a special month because not only more reward is on offer, but also it is easier to complete religious duties. The aim should be to continue these duties throughout the rest of the year, as opposed to simply performing them for a single month.

Personally, I consider Ramadhan to be a month of opportunity, in which one can become more disciplined and focused in life. It is quite different from the norm, not only for the reason that you cannot simply eat whenever you want. The moments before I break my fast, I feel as if I am the luckiest person in the world because I have food to eat. Although I might say this at any other time of the year, I can truly say that I would not really appreciate the value of the statement as much as during these moments. This is where my weakness (hunger) becomes my strength by making me feel more appreciative of what I have. This 'ME' is very different from the 'ME' that continually feels that life would be better if there was more money in the bank allowing me to buy more 'THINGS' that I perceive would make me happier. In other words, it makes you happy with what you already have, rather than always wanting more and feeling that you only have a little. This feeling may only last for a short while, but this does not reduce its impact. This emotion of satisfaction with what you already have is an important part of the spirit of Islam, and in many ways differentiates it from the principles of our society of today.

(Before reading the next paragraph: Please note that I am in no way against the education system, or gaining education in general - obviously it is one of the most important aspects of our lives and Islam encourages it very much. I am just providing an example of how we sometimes place too much emphasis on the life of this World).

Just look at the education system for an example, when you do your GCSEs you feel that this is everything and after you have done well, everything will be 'SORTED'. Then you go through the same thing for A-Levels, thinking that University life is going to be a 'CHILL'. Then you think that after you get a degree you have done it all, but then you have to work and earn money, but how much? You are only going to work till you have enough money, which depends on how much wealth you think is enough for you to survive and then for your kids also, so it carries on, you never really get 'SORTED'. Then the same things start again but this time it is about your children and how well they will climb up the ladder and reach the top. But you never really feel satisfied because there is always something inside you that makes you want more.

The reason is that you are looking for the wrong thing i.e. long-term satisfaction in a short-term situation (your life). This is one of the reasons why (in my opinion) Islam is being accepted by so many people all over the world, because it provides answers to the bigger questions of life, which we do not get anywhere else.

On the other hand, why are so many people reluctant to follow the Islamic way of life? I think that some people are not ready to sacrifice what they are currently doing, e.g. drinking, gambling, etc. or sacrifice what they have been believeing for so long (even though it may be wrong). Since they feel that following Islam will require a drastic change (and uncertainty), and it sometimes means letting go of things they have believed for so many years. They feel that why should they change? Consequently they do their best to keep themselves away from Islamic information (deen) in fear of being guilty that they are doing the wrong thing. It makes them feel that they are doing things their own way which is best for them. But they don't realise that mankind is far from perfect and that their way is not the best way of life. They are simply being ignorant and will make every effort to misguide those who are following the right path, so that they do not feel isolated. If only they knew that Allah is the most Forgiving and will help them so much only if they make a little effort.

I think fasting reduces arrogance from the individual whereby he acknowledges that he is weak since a lack of food can deteriorate him to such an extent. It makes us more understanding of poverty and encourages us to help those in need. In general, Ramadhan is a time of getting closer to reality and this can only be achieved by consciousness of our Creator.

Needless to say it would be almost impossible for me to describe the entire benefits of Ramadhan, instead I have made a modest effort to briefly describe what Ramadhan means to me. Muslims should do their very best to make the most of this month of opportunity and take it as a time to fine-tune their Islamic character so that it is enhanced for the remainder of the year. There is so much reward on offer (e.g. 1,500 good deeds per Sajdah of Taraweeh) that you simply cannot afford to miss out.

As Islamhelpline.com state:
Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allah’s Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.