This is Day Nine of the #30Days30Writers 2016 Ramadan series.
By Imam Fakhruddin Owaisi
Cape Town: Ramadan is one of God’s great blessings upon us.
What I personally love the most about Ramadan is that it brings the best out of Muslims. Even the corrupt become pious. The miserly become generous. The rude become polite. The cruel become kind. The heedless become conscious. The immodest become modest.
In short, Ramadan gives us hope. Ramadan proves to us that every person has the potential to be a saint. There is sanctity and goodness in all of us. But, it is often buried under heaps of worldly pursuits and selfish desires. Ramadan is the season to clean up that mess and be ourselves! Our free selves! Free from the control of vain passions and egoistic desires.
So, in Ramadan we restrict our bodily desires and connect to our Souls. To our origins; to who we really are and should be. We become conscious of our Creator and His purpose in creating us: to worship Him and serve His creation. And, the two are really the same thing.
God says in the Holy Book: “O You who have believed! Fasting has been prescribed upon you like it was prescribed on the nations before you, so that you may attain God-consciousness.” (Quran 2:183)
Fasting then is not merely a religious ritual or medical exercise. It is a means to create in us that God-consciousness, which makes us true humans, who account for every action, statement and thought of theirs.
And indeed, those who take account of themselves will not have to account to God. Their “sins are forgiven.” They washed it away themselves. Paradise is for the pure and purified!
Says the blessed Prophet (peace be upon him):
“Whosoever fasts the month of Ramadan with faith and accountability, all his previous sins shall be forgiven.”
Here are some suggestions then to take the maximum advantage of this blessed month:
- Fast properly: Fasting is not only protecting your mouth from food and drink for the whole day. It is more importantly protecting your mouth from all words that displease the Creator and hurt His creation. One is not fasting if one’s mouth does not stay pure of lying, backbiting, slandering and foul language. A hungry man can easily turn into an angry man. Many a fast was wasted by not protecting our tongues from hurtful words.
As our master Jesus said:
“It is not what goes in your mouth that matters. It is what comes out of your mouth that matters.”
Says the blessed Prophet (peace be upon him), “There are many who fast but gain nothing out of their fast but hunger and thirst.”
- Pray properly: If the days of Ramadan are for fasting then the nights are for prayer.
The tarawih prayers are the beauty and bliss of the nights of Ramadan. Millions of believers stand in rows for a good period of time, in awe of God and His Word.
The blessed Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever stands with the Imam in (tarawih) prayer until he is finished shall gain the reward of praying for the entire night.”
The recitation of the entire Quran in the tarawih prayers is in a way, a re-enactment of the revelation of the Holy Book in this month. In fact, the fast in the day purifies us in order to make us ready to stand up and “receive the Quran” during the tarawih prayers.
Besides, people tend to overeat after breaking their fast, even though it’s against the way of the Prophet (PBUH). What better way then to digest that food and burn those calories than the tarawih prayers?!
So let us not neglect this great Sunnah of the night prayer.
- Return to the Quran: Ramadan is sacred because the Holy Quran was revealed in it. We fast in this month in honor of the Quran. Almighty Allah says: “The month of Ramadan in which We revealed the Quran as Guidance for Mankind … so whosoever attains the month, then let him fast in it.”
The Quran is God’s direct message to mankind. It is full of guidance, light and wonders. Ramadan is the right time for us to return to the Quran, to recite and understand it. Traditionally, Muslims would read a part (Juz/Sipara) daily, in order to finish a complete recitation over 30 days. If one cannot do that, then one may read any amount daily, and complete the full recitation even after Ramadan.
I advise everyone to recite what they can of the Holy Book in this month, with some translation. The recitation of the Arabic will polish your heart, and reading the translation will illuminate your mind.
- Charity: Ramadan is the month of Charity! Ibn-Abbas narrates that the “Messenger of Allah (PBUH) was the most generous of all people, and he would be the most generous in Ramadan!”
Fasting and prayer are all useless if not complemented with charity. Throughout the Quran, prayer and charity are mentioned together. Even the smallest act of charity in this month may result in complete forgiveness, as the Blessed Prophet said.
So yes! Ramadan is here! And Ramadan will go! But what will it go with? What will it take from us to the Divine Presence of the All-Merciful?
That’s what matters.
Shaykh Fakhruddin Owaisi is a prominent Islamic scholar in South Africa and head of the Department of Islamic Studies at the International Peace College of South Africa (IPSA), Cape Town.