Posted on August 19th, 2012 | Filed under InterViews
As the Holy Month of Ramadan draws to an end, I would like to share my reflections on what we have learnt in the last four weeks where each and every one of us have been honoured students attending, as Tariq Ramadan says, 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 teaches 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 as we faithfully adhered to the precise time to stop eating and to break the fast; and as we performed prayers at the specified times; we must continue this discipline of precision and practice in all that we do.
At this school, 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. Therefore you ask yourself, “Am I here by chance? What do I do?” 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!”
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?
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 faith of 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...”
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 that we learn 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.
Use the opportunity you have been given during Ramadan to realign yourself with the dream. Work towards creating, developing and sustaining that dream. Each day, life will send you a window of opportunity, your destiny is defined by whether you 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.
For the benefit of the voiceless and the vulnerable, it is imperative not to lose the way by being driven blindly by appeasement, traditional practices, ignorance or by commercialization; remember that money is the unintended yet inevitable by product of a life spent helping others get what they want. It is no more that the payment rendered by the universe in return for the value you have added to others.
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.”