Ramadan is here again providing us the opportunity to reach out to Allah more than ever and ask Allah for His forgiveness and blessings. As Allah has singled out this month more so than others for showering His blessings and mercy, it is only prudent that we also use the opportunity to reassess our conditions, our purpose and direction in life, and accordingly make appropriate changes in line with His commands.
This Ramadan, as we look at the state of Muslims around the world in general, we see that Muslim suffering has reached levels it has never reached in living memory. In many affected communities and countries, Muslims are being subjected to torture, killings, persecution, and all forms of unimaginable suffering. With every passing day, their plight does not seem to be getting any better. Images of families with shattered homes, dead children, and faces traumatized from the horrors of rape, hunger, and persecution are plastered throughout the media channels. As Muslims, one cannot stop but wonder whether we are being punished for our doings or if it is a test of our faiths. We also ask if something can be done not only to alleviate the current sufferings but also to ensure that it does not spread to engulf other Muslim communities.
This Ramadan we ought to pause and reflect upon this condition of the people that share our faith.
We know both from Quran and Hadith that in times of hardship we should persevere with patience, prayers, and Dua. But it is also prudent that we inquire whether our miserable situations are also due to our conduct unbecoming of a Muslim. Such a conduct obviously tends to keep us preoccupied with the attractions of this world distracting us in turn from Allah’s remembrance and subservience. It then should come as no surprise to us that when we turn a blind eye to the divine truths and warnings, we forfeit His blessings and mercy and pay a price both in this world and the hereafter.
Relearn the Message of Quran
Let us then refocus at this Ramadan and read and listen a bit more attentively to those divine truths that Allah tells us in the Quran. With added devotion and dedication, we will be able to hear and understand the Quran’s verses and Allah’s wisdom in those direct messages to us. That will surely pave the way toward our transformation and open up Allah’s gates for His mercy, forgiveness, and kindness, which we need so desperately to be successful in this life and the hereafter. As we ponder over those messages, we will also relearn what is really good for us and that will enable us to reprioritize accordingly. Those messages will also remind us that a soul that is forgiven and less burdened with sins can bring more benefit to us than the one burdened with materialistic gains of this life. As Allah tells us in the Quran,
‘Say: “In the bounty of Allah, and in His mercy; therein let them rejoice.” That is better than what (the wealth) they amass.’ (Surah Younus, 58.)
Relearning and internalizing what’s good for us will also provide us with the spiritual fuel that we need to motivate ourselves to do more good and to bring the Quran into our lives rather than merely paying lip service to its messages and referring to them as if they were superficial maxims. After all, unless we truly understand what is good for us and how that relates to the truth, our purpose in life, and our lives in general, how else can we get spiritually motivated?
Our salaf (righteous followers of the prophet) clearly understood and internalized those divine truths and their behaviors clearly reflected that understanding. Imam Ahmad records Abu Dardaa as saying: “If only you knew what you will certainly see upon your death, you would never eat again a single bite out of a craving appetite, and you would never again drink an extra sip of water for the pleasure of unquenchable and insatiable thirst.”
Cleanse Our Lives of Sinful Behaviors
This Ramadan also provides us the opportunity to pause and pay heed to those hidden sinful behaviors that may have crept into our lifestyles. For many of us, despite our indulgence in those sins, Allah has given us the respite to wake up and change course. Let us not forget that Allah has told us in the Quran the following:
“And if Allah were to seize mankind for their wrong-doing, He would not leave on it (the earth) a single moving (living) creature, but He postpones them for an appointed term and when their term comes, neither can they delay nor can they advance it an hour (or a moment).” Surah An-Nahl (16:128).
So, let not the comforts of our lives fool us into assuming Allah’s acceptance of our sinful conduct. Instead, we should utilize our peaceful times and act with a sense of urgency by reforming our behaviors and turning to Allah in sincere repentance lest the time comes unexpectedly and we are held accountable for our actions both in this life and the hereafter by getting burdened with hardships.
Let us also remind ourselves that Allah has warned us that Satan who lurks in the shadows is our worst enemy and is committed to detract us from Allah and His message by making this life appear as an end all for our pursuits. Let us reflect, ponder and become more aware of how Satan tricks us into rationalizing our actions of bringing haram into our lives and by pushing us to compromise our values and ideals.
Worship Allah the Way He wants to be Worshipped
Let us use this month to manifest our faith by worshiping Allah the way He wants us to worship Him. We know from the Quran as well as prophet (s.a.w.s)’s traditions about the need to exert ourselves more – both physically and spiritually – to manifest that faith. We know that in this month the prophet (s) besides fasting during the day, prayed for longer hours at night, exerted more in Allah’s dhikr and remembrance, humbled himself in front of His Creator, and performed in a way that showed His love and fear of Allah and special reverence for this month. This Ramadan we, too, need to take the minutes and the hours from our schedules to exert more in that worship so it can also help train us to do so during other months.
Correct the Lies About Islam
This Ramadan let us also remind ourselves of the harsh reality that we live in a world infested with misinterpreted truths about Islam that are essentially just lies. Some of these lies have come about by the evil intentions of some and others have taken hold due to our inability to show the truth to others. Whether we have not taken the initiative to correct those misconceptions because we lack enough knowledge or because we choose to keep hiding in the shadows so as not to be “controversial”, we must realize that as Muslims we have a duty to correct those misconceptions. We can blame the evil mongers for spreading the lies but we are to be blamed for letting those lies lurk unchallenged. Once we strive to correct those misconceptions by educating ourselves more and by being bold, we will also learn the shortcomings in our behaviors, providing us with the opportunity to correct and improve ourselves.
Make Dua for Others’ Suffering
Going back to the suffering of the millions, let us do what we can this Ramadan to provide them whatever help we can to alleviate their suffering. At a minimum, we should make sincere Duas for the souls that are undergoing such trials. The prophet (s) had told us in a hadith that “The supplication that gets the quickest answer is the one made by one Muslim for another in his absence.” (Reported by Abu Daw’ud and Tirmidhi.)
Finally, let us ensure that we do not let this month go by without asking profusely for His mercy and forgiveness because if we received even a portion of that, it would be better than all that we accumulate in this world. To review the verse again, Allah says:
‘Say: “In the bounty of Allah, and in His mercy; therein let them rejoice.” That is better than what (the wealth) they amass.” (Surah Younus, 58.)
|Let us pray that Allah gives us the ability to do what He pleases and may He accept our worship and good deeds in Ramadan!