The best thing about the month of Ramadan is that it is a time of purification. And because of that I would like to make my point to in a pure, plain, and blunt manner. I hope that you will agree with me that certain issues must be dealt with head on, and that it makes good sense, sometimes, to talk and listen to one another in a way that shows we have the courage to stand our ground no matter how hard the consequences may be.
Ramadan is a time of abstinence from our everyday luxuries. But it is not only food and drink that I am referring to. As Ramadan approaches many of us, or so I hope, will resolve to do away with music and television and the stronger of us may even give up the internet except for what is seriously essential. Free from these daily distractions we have a hope of focusing our attention on the only thing that matters: becoming mindful of the Almighty and drawing closer to Him. We will watch our language and carefully guard our speech to avoid backbiting or lying. We will frequent the masjid and those of us who would otherwise miss prayer will become more heedful.
Our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) told that when Ramadan comes the gates of Paradise are opened and the devils are chained. We are told to fast for the sole purpose of gaining Taqwa (consciousness of Allah). Allah says in the Quran (what means):
“O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed upon you as it has been prescribed upon those before you, so that you may attain Taqwa.” [Quran, 2:183]
Ramadan is the month when our sins are forgiven, our prayers answered, our good deeds multiplied. One would be a fool not to take advantage of it.
But I’d like to present myself and my fellow young Muslims with a challenge this Ramadan. Rather, I should say, after this Ramadan.
Let me ask a few questions that I am sure have phased all of us after the conclusion of this month. Is our journey towards Taqwa exclusive to only one month of the year? After ‘Eed Al-Fitr passes, do we just no longer desire closeness to Allah? Are we so inescapably addicted to the diversions of this worldly life that we cannot stray from them for but one month of the year? This may end up being the case, but why must it be so? Ramadan is undoubtedly a special month. We are motivated to do good deeds during this period more than any other time of the year.
And so here is where the challenge comes in. We must continue our gracious struggle towards Taqwa throughout the year, indeed, throughout our lives. As Muslims, we practice our religion in every aspect of our existence, at every moment we live. Islam is not simply a religion we adopt once a week, or once a year. It is a constant effort to gain greater faith through all of our actions, day and night, Ramadan or not.
I ask my fellow brothers and sisters to not revive their mp3 collections on ‘Eed day, to not bring their televisions and computers back to life after a long month of fast. To continue watching their tongues, and being observant of their prayer. It will be a struggle, no doubt, but Allah promises help those who strive for His sake Saying (what means):
“As those who strive in Our cause, We will surely guide them in Our paths. And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good.”[Quran, 29:69]
A mission even as simple as “doing good” is extremely difficult at first, with Satan’s whispers deafening our ears and the worldly life’s pleasures blinding our eyes. But according to Allah’s promise, if we patiently persevere, Allah will guide us, thus making our paths easier. So as difficult as it may sound now, giving up the things that take us away from Allah will get easier every day, until it becomes natural. It is in man’s innate nature to seek Allah, so it cannot be so hard after all. Allah says in a Hadeeth Qudsi: “And if he (My Slave) draws near to Me a hand’s span, I draw near to him an arm’s length; and if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
If we continue to make an effort to reach Allah, He will make our sacrifices easier and reward us thereafter.
This year, let us make our Ramadan resolutions last a lifetime. Let us begin this blessed month with the intention of transformation. Let us struggle for the sake of Allah day after day. Let us chain Satan and work hard to keep our gates to Paradise wide open even after Ramadan. Let us give the fruits of our fasting a true chance to last more than a month, a chance of influence our everyday lives, and eventually our Hereafter.
Let us resolve to shape our lifetime and our eternity.