Mes­sage of Ra­mazan

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION -

WE ob­serve Ra­mazan ev­ery year. Do we also lis­ten to it? Ra­mazan is the most im­por­tant month of our cal­en­dar. It is a tremen­dous gift from Al­lah in so many ways. In our cur­rent state of be­ing down and out, it can up­lift us, em­power us, and turn around our sit­u­a­tion in­di­vid­u­ally and col­lec­tively. It is the spring sea­son for the gar­den of Is­lam when dry grass can come back to life and flow­ers bloom. But these ben­e­fits are not promised for life­less and thought­less rit­u­als alone. They will be ours if our ac­tions are in­formed by the mes­sage of Ra­mazan.

The most im­por­tant mes­sage of Ra­mazan is that we are not just body. We are body and soul. And that what makes us hu­man be­ings and that de­ter­mines our value as hu­man be­ings is the soul and not the body. Dur­ing Ra­mazan we de­prive the body to up­lift the soul. This is all simple and fa­mil­iar. But we can un­der­stand its sig­nif­i­cance if we re­mem­ber that the mes­sage of the ma­te­ri­al­is­tic global cul­ture that has en­gulfed ev­ery Mus­lim land to­day — just like the rest of the world— is ex­actly the op­po­site. It says that body is ev­ery­thing. That the ma­te­ri­al­is­tic world is all that counts. That the great­est hap­pi­ness — if not virtue— is in fill­ing the ap­petites of the body. The mes­sage of the ma­te­ri­al­is­tic global cul­ture that has en­gulfed ev­ery Mus­lim land to­day is ex­actly the op­po­site of the mes­sage of Ra­mazan.

Ra­mazan is here to lib­er­ate us from all this. Here is a pow­er­ful mes­sage that it is soul over body. Take a break from the ma­te­ri­al­is­tic cul­ture. Re­dis­cover your in­ner self that has been buried deep un­der it. Re­ori­ent your­self. De­vote your time to the read­ing of the Qu­ran, to vol­un­tary wor­ship, to prayers and con­ver­sa­tions with Al­lah. Re­flect on the di­rec­tion of your life and your pri­or­i­ties. Re­flect on and strengthen your re­la­tion­ship with your Cre­ator.

The Holy Prophet (PBUH) in a Khut­bah about the month of Ra­mazan said, It is the month of Sabr (pa­tience), and the re­ward for sabr is Heaven. It is the month of kind­ness and charity. It is a month in which a believer’s sus­te­nance is in­creased. Who­ever gives food to a fast­ing per­son to break his fast, shall have his sins for­given, and he will be saved from the Fire of Hell, and he shall have the same re­ward as the fast­ing per­son, without the lat­ter’s re­ward be­ing di­min­ished at all.

The English trans­la­tion of sabr is pa­tience but that word has a very nar­row mean­ing com­pared to sabr. Sabr means not only pa­tience and per­se­ver­ance in the face of dif­fi­cul­ties, it also means be­ing stead­fast in avoid­ing sin in the face of temp­ta­tions and be­ing per­sis­tent in per­form­ing virtues when that is not easy. Over­com­ing hunger and thirst dur­ing fast­ing is part of it. But pro­tect­ing our eyes, ears, minds, tongues, and hands, etc. from all sins is also part of it. So is be­ing per­sis­tent in do­ing good deeds as much as pos­si­ble de­spite ex­ter­nal or in­ter­nal ob­sta­cles. Ra­mazan re­quires sabr in its fullest sense and pro­vides a train­ing ground for that very im­por­tant qual­ity to be de­vel­oped and nur­tured. Here is a recipe for the com­plete over­haul of our life, not just a small ad­just­ment in meal times.

Un­for­tu­nately, to­day another scene seems to be dom­i­nant in some parts of the Mus­lim world. Here Ra­mazan is the month of cel­e­bra­tions, shop­ping, fancy if­tars at posh restau­rants, en­ter­tain­ment and gos­sip. Peo­ple stay up at night but not for wor­ship; they while away that time watch­ing TV or wan­der­ing in the bazaar. Ra­mazan here is more a month of feast­ing than fast­ing. No one can take away our Ra­mazan from us; we just give it away ourselves. And if we re­alise the ut­ter blun­der we have made, we can take it back. — Cour­tesy: Al­bal­

Khalid Baig

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