Reflections on Ramadan

Reflections on Ramadan

Reflections on Ramadan by Dr Ghzala Hassan Qadri

by Dr Ghzala Hassan Qadri (Member Supreme Council of MQI)

The blessed month of Ramadan is upon us again. Many families will be busy stocking up on ‘essential’ food items to ensure that a sumptuous meal is ready for iftar. For those that can afford to, an array of different starter dishes is presented to break the fast, which is then followed by an elaborate main meal to be eaten after Maghrib prayer. Many women (and some men I presume) will be spending hours in advance in the kitchen—frying, grilling, roasting and baking dishes, a fight against the clock to ensure all is ready before the adhan be heard on the TV during Ramadan special entertainment shows. There are then the endless iftar parties that one may be hosting oneself for families and friends, or attending multifarious invitations from others. What to wear coupled with what dish to bring, if any, can add more stress to already a busy time. Of course being hospitable to others and taking care of the needs on one’s family and friends is the Sunna of the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him). Yet it is important sometimes to take a step back and really analyse ones’ actions and family traditions. Are we truly embracing the month of Ramadan and practicing the essential spirit that this month represents? Almighty Allah states that the purpose of fasting is so that we may achieve piety [Q.2:183]. Yet it sometimes seems that rather than moving closer to Allah in our ‘ibada during Ramadan, we, in fact, move much farther away due to our own self-imposed cultural traditions and responsibilities. We should remember that during Ramadan, Allah Almighty opens the door to Janna and closes the doors to Hellfire [Sahih al-Bukhari #3103], meaning an ideal environment has been created to encourage us to increase our ‘ibada and remembrance of Allah Almighty. We should, in fact, become steeped in His dhikr, and block out worldly temptations during this blessed month. Indeed, the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) stated that fasting is like a shield and barrier, so do not engage in obscene or frivolous conversations; control your anger even if someone is rude and misbehaves. Instead one should just respond with the reply “I am fasting, I am fasting” [Sahih al-Bukhari #1795]. So this Ramadan, take a moment to remember that fasting does not comprise of merely refraining from eating and drinking at specified times, but involves the entire body and mind, the heart and soul. It is a time to take stock of one’s life, and to make those small changes in our lives that will stand us in good stead for the rest of the year. It is a time to fast, but not just of the stomach but to fast with the eyes so we do not watch anything corrupt; to fast with the ears so we do not listen to backbiting and gossip; to fast with the tongue so we do not hurt anyone with harsh and cruel speech; and to fast with our hands and feet so we do not engage in any unlawful activities. Once we are able to do this, only then will our hearts become empty of dunya and become pure and open vessels in which to receive Allah’s Blessings and Baraka. Throughout the year we indulge in so many frivolous activities, so I hope and pray this Ramadan we are able to partake many gifts that Ramadan has to offer. With these last words I leave just one of these gifts for you to remember and employ:

“A herald cries (on behalf of Allah) after the first third of every night, or the last third of the night: Is there no beggar who is begging me, for his plea will be granted? Is there no seeker of repentance who is repenting, for he will be granted his repentance? Is there no seeker of forgiveness asking for forgiveness, for he will be forgiven?” [Sahih al-Bukhari #1094; Sahih Muslim #168; Musnad Ahmad, 2:292 #7904]

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