‘Alhamdulillah! I made it’, would exclaim any believer on the first day of every Ramadan. It is indeed an incredible blessing to make it alive in sound health for this Holy Month. Alhamdulillah.
This year’s fasting began on a Monday, the day of Beloved’s birth. Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam. Nothing could get more auspicious than this to commence the spiritual cleansing process.
Ramadan is about restrain and refrain, from the permitted as well the forbidden ones. Therefore, as an additional measure of securing the spiritual attention in this precious getaway, I chose to temporarily do away with the dear social messaging apps. For, the smartphone’s beeps, rings, alerts and notifications have colonized our already ruined hearts.
Every day and hour of Ramadan counts. Correction. Its every minute and every second of devotional opportunity: To get a step closer to the Lord, to return to our true angelic nature and to do good to the creations of Almighty.
Of course, the first ten days of Ramadan is about mercy. One can ask as much of it from the Most Merciful. The right time to submit our bucket list with zero hesitation because the only limit is the size of your checklist.
Happy wishing. Happy Ramadan!
The fabric of Human relationship is woven with the gentle thread of gratitude. Appreciation and Reciprocation are essential for a strong bond between individuals and communities, both at the physical and spiritual domains. But gratitude should be fostered first on earth before it rises to the Heavens.
Ramadan has an inextricable relationship with the Holy Book, for both historic and spiritual reasons. Its magnetic verses are whole meal and drink for the believer undergoing hunger and thirst.
It is no coincidence that the only religious text certified by historians for its historic, if not religious, authenticity is the Quran. The very fact that there no two versions or editions of its Text, notwithstanding the 1000 and 1 sects among Muslims, is the greatest miracle of any known book in the world. And the whole of humanity is indebted to the earnest efforts of the Companions of the Prophet in this colossal service of its preservation. If not for no other reason, while there are plenty though, the preservation of Allah’s Book is suffice to enroll them as the best of Community of all times.
As we hold the Mus’haf, i.e. the compiled text, in our hand, we recall with gratitude the shy and modest Uthman bin Affan, the third caliph of Islam whose resolute dedication crowned the compilation process, which began during the times of Abu Bakr, the first Caliph, at the persuasion of the visionary Umar bin Al Khattab and the hearty support rendered by all those who had memorized the verses. May Allah be pleased with them.
“Whoever does you a favor, then reciprocate, and if you cannot find anything with which to reciprocate, then pray for him until you think that you have reciprocated him”, said the Holy Prophet.
We cannot travel in time to kiss the hands in gratitude of those noble souls of the past for their celebrated contribution. The least and the best we can do to return their favor is to pray for them.
Theologians say Iman, Faith, is a 24/7 phenomenon for the Believer. There can be no moment in his or her life when the bulb of faith would altogether get switched off. While that sounds spiritually romantic, there is a hidden danger of men and women falling into the trap of familiarity and thereby losing the spark in the ecstasy of Faith.
Unless the believer is extra watchful and vigilant, Ramadan too will innocently impose the ‘auto-pilot’ mode in the mind of the believer. The month-long affair of abstinence can automate certain repetitive acts of worship, which may kill the thrill of this Holy Month.
There is no devotional fun when mind is on the run. Mechanical movements of body parts cannot inspire devotional melody in the heart. Ramadan is the conscious swim against the mechanizing tide of our formulaic life. For, the greatest crisis in our lives today is the lack of conscious moments. We are no longer aware of our own existence.
Let this Ramadan be the re-humanizing experience for our mechanized minds.
In content and form, the book of ALLAH is full of wonders. Each drop of its verse and phrase in it can inspire oceans of ideas.
One of the verses which created a spring of thoughts was from Sura Araf, “To those who reject Our signs and treat them with arrogance, no opening will there be of the gates of heaven, nor will they enter the garden, until the camel can pass through the eye of the needle: Such is Our reward for those in sin.”
An expression of matchless beauty to denote the ruthless impossibility of the deniers of truth ever entering the gates of heaven. A fearful warning conveyed via the simplest of human logic. While one may take modest effort to pass a thread through the needle hole, we can imagine how a camel would pass through the same gap! Denial of truth coupled with arrogance – both of which are misdeeds of the heart- are grave sins in the eye of Allah, perhaps greater than killing or robbery.
Perhaps, an intellectual sin is more evil in the sight of Allah than with our hands or feet.
It may not be mere coincidence that the same phrase of camel and needle is found in the Bible too. “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:23-26)
Ramadan is the month of Quranic quotient. One cannot tell for certain wherefrom its secrets are revealed and beauty unveiled…
The infallible and absolute Book of God is undoubtedly the handbook for the Adamic quest of everlasting bliss. Humanity’s spiritual success depends on their compliance to its commandments. And for the same reason, this mortal world, according to its text, is a passing phase of ‘play and amusement’. The real world, in form and value, is the Hereafter where immortality is the norm.
But surprisingly, even as Quran insists on the triviality of this earthly existence, it has set aside considerable verses, among others, detailing the distribution of inheritance, a matter which apparently has zero spiritual significance.
Quran, with its ruthless crispiness and compactness, has lavishly mentioned about inheritance in 6 instances, namely,
* Surah Baqarah, chapter 2 verse 180
* Surah Baqarah, chapter 2 verse 240
* Surah Nisa, chapter 4 verse 7-9
* Surah Nisa, chapter 4 verse 19
* Surah Nisa, chapter 4 verse 33 and
* Surah Maidah, chapter 5 verse 106-108
However, the astonishing part of this phenomenon is that the actual fine points of distribution are mentioned in Sura Nisa, the chapter named exclusively for Women! It is noteworthy, and newsworthy too in these feminist times, to know that there is no separate chapter named for Men, i.e. to settle the question on gender equality!
Yes. The Word of God, in its timeless message to humanity for all times to come, has generously mentioned each human relationship by name, including mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister while addressing the heirs of the deceased.
By placing the verses of inheritance in the chapter ‘Women, the Most Merciful has honored human relationships and the women in particular.
Education, like any other domain of human activity, is undergoing tremendous changes. The expectation and anticipation of parents and children from its books and buildings are also evolving.
In a random conversation today with a passionate educationist, who also happened to be my school friend, he mentioned about the dropout cases of handful of students from his language institute.
That they wanted to shift to another dance learning center was understandable. What is strange though was the justification given by their ‘loving’ parents. ‘Our daughters would get a good marriage proposal only if they were talented at dancing’!?!
You would be baffled further to know that these parents and children belonged to the Muslim community.
Languages are the foundation of any civilized society. But now that even marriage proposals are based on the dancing skills of the bride, I could begin to understand the reasons for the Muslims’ going out of tune from the march of knowledge and progress.
The majority of theologians recommend that a child should begin to fast and pray the obligatory from age of seven. Prior to that age, it is the age and stage of encouraging them towards devotional practices. After the age of ten, elders should intervene, if necessary, to implement these acts of worship.
The Most Merciful has made the spiritual exercises light on the younger souls and even made His Beloved decree that ‘those who do not show compassion to the young is not among his faithful fraternity’.
That being said, we need to open our eyes to the torture of our little children in the name of modernity. While the Compassionate Lord has exempted them from the obligatory prayers, including the dawn prayer, our kids are forcefully ‘evicted’ from their beds as early as 5am! They sacrifice their sweet sleep in the name of the sweet-coated torment called ‘education’.
While children deserve to live a burden-free life, they are forced to carry bags with almost twice their weight! The modern schooling bestow on them horrendous homework assignments and they are subject to round the clock hardship after hardship.
Children are children until the age of seven, at least. If Lord has exempted them from His worship, then who are we to torture them with studies?
Ramadan, the month of mercy, is the right time to think of our suffering little souls.
Time is as old as the world itself. Or may be earlier than that.
When the simple technology of wheel was invented, it improved a lot many human conditions across the primitive civilization. Paper, printing press, steam engine and telegraph too contributed to the betterment of humanity. One of the greatest benefits of these human inventions was their benevolent addition to the value of time. Man earned more time for his creativity and productivity.
Fast forward, modern education has also rightly adopted many innovative technologies for furthering education. However, it is yet to be proved that the infusion of digital technology into the classrooms and education in general has been beneficial to the learning minds. And has the gadgets given our children more Time to be just children? Do our children have the time, and energy, to pick up social and moral skills after they reach home?
Experts need to come with answers. And parents need to pray!
Modernity has conferred on Man several fresh values and value systems compared to the past. He has learned to respect the rights of different domains: human, animal, plants and marine.
Cruelty to animals and uprooting of trees are considered grave crimes these days. Killing a gorilla to save a child’s life would have been considered an act of chivalry in the past. But a recent episode of such nature evoked an entirely opposite reaction of outrage from an overwhelming number of animal lovers. There are more campaigns and controversies in crimes against animal and plant kingdom than on human kind. Attack on endangered species provoke greater sympathy than murders of innocent men and women. And even in the case of human kind, scars on one color of skin is portrayed more barbaric than the other.
Yes, Selective Compassion is one of the sickness of our modern times. We fail to see all killings with the same eye. Our hearts and tears do not go equally for all human sufferings. That has to change. True Compassion should be color and race free. Only then does humanity attain its true meaning.
Technology has created tremendous opportunities in the world of professionals including doctors, engineers, scientists, carpenters, taxi drivers, politicians and even religious preachers.
Missionaries can stream themselves live to reach millions of faithful with very little effort. Whether the content of such bombarding ‘God streams’ have any intellectual stimulation in the devotee besides just ‘emotional incentive‘ is altogether another discussion.
In fact, the content of today’s religious media is more theatrical than theological. And for that reason, commoners carelessly play religious speeches even as they are mentally engaged in other business. It is a common sight these days to listen and watch devotional media played during noisy situations including iftar parties and in markets.
Inattentive listening is disrespect and disservice to both the speaker and the message. For, Religion has not seen a greater calamity than Religiotainment, i.e. entertaining the senses at the expense of soul.
If there is anything that Man has not yet overcome in this world, it is undoubtedly the claws of Death. Unfortunately the ruthlessly democratic Angel of Death does not differentiate a saint from a simpleton. The beginning of this universe may be vague and controversial, but its ending is ultimate and absolute. The certainty of Death and its inherent equality reinforces the spirit of equality between the sons and daughters of Adam.
Human existence is coined by the head of Life and the tail of Death. Therefore, Death is as much or a degree more truer than Life itself. Mercifully, Death can only erase our bodily existence, not our life purpose. And that is our moral score over its annihilating force.
The highest aim of every life should be to strive to become the most original, i.e., to elevate oneself so high that no other soul is capable of reaching its greatness. And they are the exceptional winners who welcome the Angel of death with an assuring smile.
It is true that Ramadan is the devotional fiesta for the believers. Prayers, prayers and prayers are what believers wish to accomplish 24/7. And that definitely should be the goal.
However there are a considerable amount of believers who cannot afford the luxury of leisure time to dedicate for extra voluntary prayers or recitation of the Holy Book.
Mothers with little infants, profesionals with hectic office deadlines, students with exams, activists with community intervention programs- most of these groups get very little or no time for devotional sittings.
The only answer to this dilemma is to continue what they are doing but with better and brighter intention. For, no act is less holy if done consciously for the sake of God.
It is intention which transforms the mundane to the divine. Action is the rose. Intention, its fragrance.
The most beautiful things in the world have to shared in the most beautiful manner. Rose, perfume, silk, nightingale and honey invigorate our eyes, nose, hands, ears and mouth respectively. These are among the most coveted sense stimulators in the world. And when we would gift them to anyone, it would undoubtedly be in the most presentable manner.
Rose has to be described in the most impressive language. Silk should be packed in wonderfully designed box. And so should be honey in a wonderful box.
The Word of God for the same, or rather better, reason should also be presented in the best of language. The faithful should use the best of language – fluent and flowery, soft and smooth, polite and poetic, civil and civilized when presenting matters of faith. And those passionate about graphical da’wa has to ensure their designs are artistic and aesthetic as well.
Faith is beauty. It has to be presented beautifully as well.
This is the age of clash of ideas. Though military conflicts continue throughout, it is the battle of ideas that inflict the maximum damage on the victims, be it individuals and nations. Military aggression cannot guarantee sustainable results as much as an intellectual or a cultural onslaught.
True education has to prepare our children to face the world, both during and after our lifetime. And the latter is more crucial. Therefore, considering the dangers of the perverted perspectives preached by today’s godless culture, it is imminent for our children to be equipped with the right intellectual tools for their showdown with the d(ebauched) company. Studies in science, technology and commerce alone cannot assure a healthy critical mind. A pinch of Humanities would definitely add to the flavor.
We live in truly blessed times as we have the power to measure and quantify almost everything in life. Besides just the natural forces like air, water, wind etc., there are also techniques to measure human dimensions including blood pressure and neurotic activity.
However the flip side of the quantification story is that we unconsciously discount what is not measurable or alternatively consider only the quantifiable aspect of a matter. Education is one of the most pathetic victim of this calibration on the numeric table. Healthcare is the other martyr at the hands of this satanic statistics.
There are wonderful dreams and beautiful realities in life which cannot be reduced to numbers.
Life is quintessentially about quality, not quantity.
Diversity is to Humanity what shadow is to light. One eternally chases the other. The Holy month of Ramadan too is not free from this inseparable quality.
Each celebrate this blessed month differently. The introverted devout will retreat a step further into the ecstasy of private worship. The community activist will look for further opportunities of assisting the deprived. The preachers will bombard the believers with rocket-fire of unrealistic levels of piety. Media will schedule and reschedule their program charts to target pre and post iftar audience. The merchants will devise new strategies for adding additional zeroes to the right sides of his profit figure.
And there are some other lunatic and mindless thugs who also ‘celebrate’ this month to eliminate souls who they consider are ‘apostates’. Sadly, their madness is also in the name of this month of mercy, forgiveness and compassion.
God help us keep our senses, safe and sound.
Once during an Umrah pilgrimage few years ago, I happened to meet an Egyptian pilgrim. When he got curious about my country of origin, he asked if Indian Muslims were oppressed and killed. ‘Tell me a land where they aren’t?. Even in Muslim countries they are unsafe’, I replied in part sarcasm and in part disgust.
Ramadan 17 fires in a believer’s mind the chivalrous memories of the Battle of Badr, the first military self-defensive move in the history of Islam. On this day, the Lord decreed that believers under the leadership of the Holy Prophet could pick up the shield to defend from more than a decade of killings, humiliation, rape and torture of the unbelievers. The Ahl al-Badr, the members of the expedition, are the champions of both patience and self-defense. The former resulted in the latter.
Today, Muslim blood, honor and freedom have become extra cheap, especially in traditional Islamic countries than in non-Muslim ones. No one to ask, forget to act. Muslims are considered ‘write-off’ accounts on SuperPowers’ conspiracy books. And no one dare to audit the Mighty Right.
Fighting evil is not as easy as before, especially when Truth is mixed with the Falsehood and friends remains blurred among enemies.
The greatest enemy, however, lies within us. Our ‘badr’ is today against our own desires and impatience. If we win them, we may win over the rest of the world.
While the spirit, literally, of Ramadan is captured in the vessel and bottles of Muslims’ Iftar and Suhoor delicacies, there are hundreds of thousands of refugees across this very Islamic world who are suffering endlessly. They neither have the tunnel nor the light anywhere in sight. Their ‘fast’ does not break even at sunset nor later. They either live hungry or die from gunfire. They have no water to drink, forget bathe. They have nothing to eat, forget waste. No work to earn, forget to relax. No school for their children, forget parks for picnics.
When my water tap ran dry today morn, I thought of those souls.
May Allah make it easy for them. Forget them not in your duas.
Oure reliance and relationship with the Lord is a never ending tale. We ought to ask him for all our wishes and dreams. It is indeed an ecstatic experience to enumerate our big and small desires one by one in His presence.
It may take from a moment to an entire lifetime for the prayer to realize. But the believer does not stop there.
After the wish is fulfilled, he or she will again raise her hand. And the angels may wonder for what again!
“My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to do righteousness of which You approve. And admit me by Your mercy into [the ranks of Your righteous servants.” [27:19]
We need Allah for our dreams to come true. We need Him again to enable us again to thank Him and show our gratitude. For, thanking Him for the blessings is as important as having them.
Hence, the above prayer of Prophet Sulaiman when he was amused at the talk of the little ant.
Believers have to wait for almost the entire thirty days to welcome eid. Till then they have to taste the sweetness of thirst and hunger and the iftar at sunset of course. The joy of Eid is, however, different. It is coolness and comfort for the elder, festivity and enjoyment for the young.
There may be only two eids in a year. But there is another eid of an entirely different nature. It is a lifelong celebration of love and affection. There may be different phases and challenges to it. But it is nevertheless not short of eid.
Parents. Children. They are eids for one another. When out of sight, each awaits the other like believers anticipate the eid crescent.
May Allah sustain our everyday eid.
Ramadan is the restless rush for rewards. Its booty and beauty are based on blessings upon blessings. Men and women walk and run that extra ‘spiritual mile’ to win His Pleasure sans any leisure.
Going by the traditional culture in Muslim world, the men earn the bread while the womenfolk prepare it to eat. Earning bread may vary from tedious outdoor labor to comfy office hours.
But Iftar preparation is almost the same for women in almost all homes. Different dishes calls for vigilant and meticulous cutting, blending, baking, frying, grilling, creaming, roasting, marinating, dressing and what not… before it is presented on the iftar table.
Buying the grocery may be a piece of cake for men compared to its preparation by their mother, wife or sister. Hence, most definitely it may be the latter crowd who would score higher on the spiritual scale than the males.
If the men were to get an individual reward for their fast, the women may be receiving the reward equal to the number of the pampered men at home.
“Whoever feeds a fasting person will have a reward like that of the fasting person, without any reduction in his reward.”
Everyone is talking of suppression, oppression and injustice everywhere. State and group sponsored violence rip off our peace of mind. We grumble and rumble about the unjust state of affairs taking place around the world, including our neighborhood.
However, there is another important area of repression, which we opportunely ignore and overlook for reasons known to our egos alone. It may not appear on the media, neither mainstream nor social.
Home. This is the abode of that ‘invisible injustice’ where tyranny reigns without a check. Domestic tyranny goes unnoticed and the concerned parties go untried.
If we fail to restrain home-grown tyrants, then we will continue to face oppression from the State-borne despots and terrorist outfits.
Justice should begin at home first. God will take care of the rest of the world.
It is only natural for man to lose sight of the pin in front of the elephant. It is always the big that catch our eye and capture our heart. But there is a beauty in little things as well.
The case of Ramadan isn’t different either. There are many small acts of virtue which bring in a monsoon of reward to the doer. Sunna, or the emulation of Prophetic practices, will add bliss upon bliss to the Holy Month.
There are many ‘bonus’ rewards in imitating the body language of the Blessed One including walking and sitting postures.
Sunna may be theologically optional for the Believer. But we should also not forget that anything related to the Beloved is dear to the Creator.
Ramadan is the month of seeking forgiveness. And the pursuit of pardon is applibable from the One in the Heavens as well as from those on earth.
It is quite possible that we may have hurt the feelings of some during the course our interactions with those around us.
We may be able to recall at least some of those embarassnig moments from our past where we hurt the dignity of our fellow beings. And that list may contain only grown-ups as far as we can remember.
However, there would be another section whom we our memory may not summon.
Children. They are a group who do not even know we have encroached upon their rights. They don’t know how to claim their rights either.
We need to start seeking pardon from the children at home first before all others. Children and their innocence are the source of all goodness from the Heavens. Their joy will attract the rain of Allah’s mercy.
“If one has wronged his brother’s dignity or assaulted his assets unrightfully, he must have himself forgiven before the Doomsday where there is no gold or silver to pay. Otherwise, some of his good deeds (equal to the rights of that person) will be taken away from him and given to that person. If he has no good deeds, then the sins of the wronged one will be given to him. “ (Bukhari)
Diversity of human appearance is among the most magnificent signs of the Creator. And by appearance, it is the generally the faces that come to our mind.
While is true that face is the foremost recognizable identity of the Adamic offspring, there are also other aspects which are unique to each individual.
We will immediately recognize an acquaintance if we see them from back or sides. That is because their head and shoulders are also part of their ‘universal identification code’. We may even identify a person by their manner of walking or even sound. And this is unique to billions of human beings who have eaten the fruit of earthly existence.
Humanity is the celebration of Allah’s creative glory and magnificence. And Ramadan is the time to celebrate it in full color and vigor
Son: Pa, What is this Lalilathul Qadr all about?
Dad : This is the night of Power in which Allah will grant anything which you ask for. There is nothing too big for Him to grant you. He never gets tired of your wants and in fact He loves the more you ask Him.
If you were to keep asking me continuously for buying your toys, I may get irritated after some time. But with Allah it is not so. You can ask Him as much as you want and He will love to grant you more. It is the same with Him if you were to ask for a cycle or for a Ferrari. Nothing is too much for Him.
Therefore never waste a single minute of this day and night. We can’t say when the moment will be. Make the best of duas for your studies and your parents and grandparents. Recite your Quran surahs and ask for paradise’.
The ‘Night of Power’ is powerfully observed across the Muslim world with millions of participants. Believers flock to their favorite masjid where their dear Qari would fervently and fluently recite from the eternal verses of the Holy Book. Their tears will wet the masjid floors and their cries will mesmerize its minarets. Angels would once again recall why the Lord had asked them to prostrate before Adam.
Behind all the veneration and devotion happening during that night, there is a group of unsung heroes who work day and night to ensure the smooth saintliness for the believers. They let go their moments of spiritual ecstasy in favor of others. They defer food and drink so that their brothers and sisters can sustain their health for the worship. They serve the devotees of God as if they were lesser creatures with no spiritual cravings.
May Allah accept the spiritual labor of the Ramadan volunteers.
Every manufacturer has a right to recall or dissolve its products. The ultimate ownership of a thing is with its maker.
The owner or maker can do what one likes with his or creations. A painter does not have to justify why the painting was thrown into the bin nor a poet need to rationalize why the poem was torn apart. We generally call it a wrong only if one harms a thing which belongs to someone else.
Verily, this whole universe belongs to Allah. Hence, He cannot wrong anyone no matter how He deals with his creation. No one has the moral or logical right to question whether He choose to reward or redress His slaves. He is not bound to justify His justice to our the logic of His creations.
Our salvation is by His Mercy alone. Hence, the last thing you want to ask for is His justice!
A soul who claims to be from the human race has invoked hell near the vicinity of paradise on earth. No sane soul, including the accursed Iblis, will have the courage for creating such havoc in a place where Allah unequivocally warns His creations not to even ‘raise their voices’. Let alone a suicidal carnage which sent shock waves across the world, notwithstanding the sanctity of the Holy Month.
Sigh! What was that shameless soul even thinking, that is even if he had an organ for it.
Believers’ hearts and souls, hurt. Their eid, eclipsed. Pain and panic, proliferated.
Nevertheless, as helpless believers in these troubled times, we need to remember that ALLAH hasn’t entrusted the billion plus ‘pile of dry leaves’ to watch over the abode of His Beloved. HE has marshaled angelic Forces for that mission. Forget these lunatic sociopaths, even the Anti-Christ will not be able to touch a brick of that ‘White Palace’.
Hence, hate mongers take note, don’t mess with Madina, the city of love and compassion.
Having completed the transformational thirty days of refrain and restrain, the challenge for the Ramadanian candidate is now to re-live the that culture of generosity and piety.
Given the human’s natural weakness of haste and heedlessness, this wont be an easy ride. But it is Man’s love for the impossible which raises man higher than the angels in the spiritual skies.