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Did You Get the Lessons of Ramadan?

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Reflections On the Holy Month
By Amjad Mohamed-Saleem
Writer, based in UK
man-prays
At this school of Ramadan, we have been taught to read, to recite, to ponder, to reflect, to seek, to find and to learn...

As the Holy Month of Ramadan draws to an end it is now time to reflect on what we have learnt in the last weeks, individually and collectively. Where each and every one of us have been honored students attending the ‘school of profound spirituality’, being inspired by the guidance and the teaching of the One who is ever present, The Most-High and The Most-Close.

At the heart of our consumer society -where materialism and individualism drive our daily lives- this Blessed Month of Ramadan should have broadened our horizons of introspection and meaning, reminding us of silence, restraint and remembrance.

We should have reinforced within ourselves the importance of detail, precision and discipline in whatever task that we perform.  Through Ramadan, God has taught us that in the quest for spirituality and meaning, rules will have to be respected, consistency maintained and time mastered.

So just as we debated on the precise starting and ending day of Ramadan; and we faithfully adhered to the precise time to stop eating and to break the fast; and we performed prayers at the specified times; so must we continue  this discipline of precision and practice in all that we do.

At this school of Ramadan, we have been taught to read, to recite, to ponder, to reflect, to seek, to find and to learn in order for us to make crucial life changing decisions as we align ourselves towards the Centre and the Meaning.  You are indeed what you do with yourself. And what is it that you do?  Therefore you ask yourself, “Am I here by chance?”  The response you will get is “No, I am here for a purpose, and that purpose is to grow into a mountain and not shrink into a grain of sand”

So as the festive season dawns upon us, let us reaffirm to do our duties with discipline and consistency; let us master time and respect the rules; let us seek and learn; let us control our emotions...

Evaluate Your Own Experience

The ‘school’ should have taught us that achieving the ultimate goal of the fast will require sincerity, honesty, patience and above all the capability for self-criticism. As we are taught to master our emotions, equally we are taught to face up to ourselves, our fears and our responsibilities with confidence and assurance.

So what are the responsibilities that we have to face up to?

  • What are we doing with ourselves and our time today?
  • What have been our contributions to social our societies?
  • How have we spread the message of human brotherhood, love and individual responsibility for change?
  • What did we do to protect the rights of the poor and the disadvantaged people in society?
  • How did we protect the rights of the most vulnerable like the sick, the elderly, the children and the women?

Just as these questions have been asked, and so the response is quite clear, inspired by the Qur’an and nurtured by Ramadan:  God will not change anything for the good if you change nothing.  Be the change you wish to see in the world!!

Hence we come to the main lesson of these past four weeks.  The blessed month of Ramadan is a celebration of the fraternal atmosphere shared with all brothers and sisters, as we ‘serve humanity especially those in need; awaken our conscience in the proximity of the wounds and the injustices people face...’. This has been made apparent by the worst floods to hit Pakistan in its lifetime with millions of people affected.

And so we are taught that God’s favor lies with acts of kindness and humility to everyone around you, as narrated by the Prophet (Peace be upon him) of the story about the ‘thirsty dog which was on the brink of death, and of the passing prostitute who witnessed this, removed her shoe and used it to draw water from a well to give to the animal.  For this small act, the woman was granted forgiveness for her lifetime’. 

The lesson here is that our purpose of existence is to stand by justice and equity; to portray the humility and compassion of the Prophet (upon whom be peace) towards the downtrodden, the distressed and the oppressed.

Hence this is the purpose of our existence.  Collectively and individually we have committed ourselves to realize a dream and fulfill a covenant that was made with the One:  this dream is to stand by justice and equity; to show humility and compassion towards the downtrodden and distressed regardless of who they are, as we have been taught countless times before. 

Our covenant is to serve humanity; to be witnesses against the injustices that afflict them.  Because humanity has the right to have witnesses living among them, willing to defend the truth; willing to serve them, no matter how unpopular it is.  This takes determination and courage where courage is not the absence of fear but courage is to move despite your fear.  This is the dream that we aspire to.

Seize the opportunity

Thus Ramadan gives us an opportunity to realign ourselves with working towards creating, developing and sustaining that dream. Each day, life sends us windows of opportunity, and our destiny is defined by whether we open that window or not.

During this Ramadan we would have been encouraged to remember those less fortunate than us and give our Zakat and other charity freely to them as their right demands, not so as to keep them in a state of dependency that would maintain them in an eternal state of assistance, but more so with the intent to allow these deserving men and women to attain financial autonomy. We would have watched what we bought, ate and drank and how much was wasted in the knowledge that there are those who deserve more and better.

More than ever, benefiting from these simple lessons is vital as Muslims around the world are called to defend themselves and prove their innocence. More than ever Muslims will be tempted by the obsession to betray their responsibilities.

It is imperative to come back to the very essence of the teaching: respect and love of human beings as a manifestation of the love for the Almighty.

So as the festive season dawns upon us, let us reaffirm to do our duties with discipline and consistency; let us master time and respect the rules; let us seek and learn; let us control our emotions; let us recognize our responsibilities; let us not waste; let us realize the rights of the poor and vulnerable; let us come back to the essential.

May the One, who loves you, guide and protect you; May there be peace and respite for all those who are suffering; May you spend time with your loved ones in an atmosphere of happiness; May you shine so brightly that at the end of your days, all will pause and say “there was one who lived life fully and completely”.

Eid Mubarak!!

This article is republished after the kind permission of the author.
Related Links:
10 Hadiths on Ramadan Last Blessed Nights
Checklist – Ramadan's Last Ten Nights and Days
Share Your Laylat Al-Qadr Du`aa' and We Say Ameen

Amjad Mohamed-Saleem is a freelance writer based in UK. He was formerly the country director of Muslim Aid in Sri Lanka and he currently works with The Cordoba Foundation.

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