The following post is not just for my Muslim brothers and sisters, I welcome everyone to read it.
Parts of this post have been inspired from Brother Mufti Ismail Menk’s lectures.
These are reminders for me first and then for others. Writing this does not make me any better.
Ramadan, the month of fasting, the 9th month in the Islamic lunar calendar, is the 4th obligatory pillar of Islam. The Quran was first revealed to the Prophet (PBUH) in this holy month. As it approaches, us Muslims all over the world are gearing up for it. It is no doubt a month of spirituality, a month of getting closer to your Creator and also a month of making amends. A month where you try to make positive changes in your life that will hopefully be changes for life.
We fast during this month as it is commanded to us from Allah. Allah says in the Holy Quran (Chapter 2) –
Verse 183 : “O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous -“
Verse 184 : “[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] – then an equal number of other days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers good [i.e. excess] – it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.”
Verse 185 : The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criteria. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.”
As Ramadan dawns on us, the heart is automatically at ease, the mind unclutters and the nights become calmer. Your soul awakens and you open your eyes to pay attention now to the things in life that actually matter. Such a beautiful month is this that one demonstrates the highest degree of obedience to Allah by willfully submitting to keep oneself away from lawful food, drink, and sexual relations from sunrise to sunset. You begin to control your carnal self, tame your physical appetites, overcome your greed and lust and thus elevate your consciousness from the physical to moral and ultimately spiritual realm.
It is the month of ‘Forgiveness’. The main aim of Ramadan is ‘Forgiveness’. It is the month when Allah welcomes us even more towards Him and a month for us to seek forgiveness. As predicted by the Prophet (PBUH) as a sign of the nearing of the end of time, time nowadays seems to fly by faster than ever. As time goes by we are ever so busy in our lives that as we go through it we are hurting our near and dear ones, at times unintentionally and also intentionally. So when we seek forgiveness from Allah, let us also make amends and seek forgiveness from our loved ones who we may have intentionally or unintentionally hurt. Let’s resolve our relations with them and ask Allah for forgiveness by saying the duaa (supplication) : “O Allah, You are the forgiving, You love to forgive, so forgive me.”
It is the month of ‘Blessings’. The month where Allah abundantly showers His blessings on us and increases our sustenance. Those of us who are more blessed than the others let’s make more and more efforts to share our blessings. Yes, in this month we will be giving our obligatory Zakah (charity), but in this month please look around you. Go beyond just giving the obligatory Zakah. Look for those who shy away from asking, look for those family and friends that own up and do not ask. Give to such willingly and in such a way that does not hurt the receiver. Give to such people through other family and friends, if necessary. But remember to do it solely to receive the blessings of Allah and nothing more.
Remember that in this month, the one that has the most blessings in his bag is the one who deserves the Eid more.
Engage in what is called ‘Muhasaba’. It is a time where one sits and meditates or introspects into oneself. Think about yourself, your deeds. Sit for a while alone everyday, introspect..Who am i? Why am I here? Where am I going? and What should I be doing? It is very important to sit and think, this is what will wake us up from the depths of darkness. One of the sahaba (followers), Abu Darda used to say that “Me sitting and pondering over my weaknesses for half hour is much better than me engaging in an act of worship for that half hour because this is what will lead me to worship Allah correctly. “So let’s ask ourselves, how can we improve? How can we become a better person? Let’s cut our bad habits.
One of our most common bad habits these days is our smartphone. We are so engrossed in it, so much so that even when important people like our family are sitting next to us, we are still engaged in that smartphone. Aren’t those people who are next to us more important than those people who are far away from us, people who we may not even know. And almost all the time we aren’t even trying to connect, we are just hitting likes and sharing. Let’s ponder over this bad habit and cut it.
We might miss many Salah (prayers) over the year. In this month, let us learn to say “Oh work I have Salah”, instead of what we may very often say “Oh Salah I have work.”
It is the month of ‘Kindness’. The month where Allah is extremely kind to us by doubling the value of our good deeds. Let’s move forward this kindness and be kind to the people in our lives and the people around us, for the sole purpose of gaining good deeds, seeking Allah’s happiness and for improving our character. Let’s be so kind that the people around us remember us always for our kindness and make duaa (supplication) for us.
Let’s become beautiful people. The way we talk to each and every person around us makes a huge difference. Let’s speak to everyone with respect and kindness. Improving our tongue is of utmost importance. May Allah guide us and help us in this. A department where me, you and everyone need to improve.
Ramadan is the month of ‘Mercy’. When Allah shows His mercy on us continuously and even more in this month, let’s forward this mercy to our parents. If our parents are old (or otherwise), let’s serve them to attain their blessings and to attain Jannah (Paradise). Let us pray for them with the duaa (supplication) : “O Allah have mercy on them, they are the ones who looked after me when I was small, they were the ones who showed mercy to me.” Let’s serve our parents and do not expect it to stop. May Allah bless all our parents with a long and healthy life (Aameen).
Men, have mercy on your women. Your mother, sisters, daughters. Watch out how you treat your women.
Women, have mercy on your men. Your father, brothers, sons. Watch out how you treat your men.
Ramadan is our training ground for the rest of the year. If we can control ourselves from Halal (lawful) food for this month, then to stay away from the Haram (unlawful) will be very easy. If we can pray so much more in these nights, let’s try to increase a little in our Salah (prayer) the rest of the year. When we can read so much Quran in this month, let’s continue it for the rest of the year. Let’s plug in sufficiently this Ramadan and charge our soul well for the rest of the year and come out of this beautiful month as better people.
Remember that change has to come in the month of Ramadan. If change does not come in this month then I don’t know when it will. This might be the last Ramadan that I and you may witness, so let’s make this month a month of good change. Let’s not allow ourselves to be caught on the wrong side.