Ramadan is here again providing us the opportunity to reach out to Allah more than ever and ask for His forgiveness and blessings. As Allah has singled out this month more so than others for showering His blessings and mercy, it is only prudent that we also use the opportunity to reassess our conditions, our purpose and direction in life, and accordingly make appropriate changes in line with His commands.
This Ramadan, as we look at the state of Muslims around the world in general, we see that Muslim suffering has reached levels it has never reached in living memory. In many affected communities and countries, Muslims are being subjected to torture, killings, persecution, and all forms of unimaginable suffering. With every passing day, their plight does not seem to be getting any better. Images of families with shattered homes, dead children, and faces traumatized from the horrors of rape, hunger, and persecution are plastered throughout the media channels. As Muslims, one cannot stop but wonder whether we are being punished for our doings or if it is a test of our faiths. We also ask if something can be done not only to alleviate the current sufferings but also to ensure that it does not spread to engulf other Muslim communities.
This Ramadan we ought to pause and reflect upon this condition of the people that share our faith.
We know both from Quran and Hadith that in times of hardship we should persevere with patience, prayers, and Dua. But it is also prudent that we inquire whether our miserable situations are also due to our conduct unbecoming of a Muslim. Such a conduct obviously tends to keep us preoccupied with the attractions of this world distracting us in turn from Allah’s remembrance and subservience. It then should come as no surprise to us that when we turn a blind eye to the divine truths and warnings, we forfeit His blessings and mercy and pay a price both in this world and the hereafter.
Relearn the Message of Quran
Let us then refocus at this Ramadan and read and listen a bit more attentively to those divine truths that Allah tells us in the Quran. With added devotion and dedication, we will be able to hear and understand the Quran’s verses and Allah’s wisdom in those direct messages to us. That will surely pave the way toward our transformation and open up Allah’s gates for His mercy, forgiveness, and kindness, which we need so desperately to be successful in this life and the hereafter. As we ponder over those messages, we will also relearn what is really good for us and that will enable us to reprioritize accordingly. Those messages will also remind us that a soul that is forgiven and less burdened with sins can bring more benefit to us than the one burdened with materialistic gains of this life. As Allah tells us in the Quran,
‘Say: “In the bounty of Allah, and in His mercy; therein let them rejoice.” That is better than what (the wealth) they amass.’ (Surah Younus, 58.)
Relearning and internalizing what’s good for us will also provide us with the spiritual fuel that we need to motivate ourselves to do more good and to bring the Quran into our lives rather than merely paying lip service to its messages and referring to them as if they were superficial maxims. After all, unless we truly understand what is good for us and how that relates to the truth, our purpose in life, and our lives in general, how else can we get spiritually motivated?
Our salaf (righteous followers of the prophet) clearly understood and internalized those divine truths and their behaviors clearly reflected that understanding. Imam Ahmad records Abu Dardaa as saying: “If only you knew what you will certainly see upon your death, you would never eat again a single bite out of a craving appetite, and you would never again drink an extra sip of water for the pleasure of unquenchable and insatiable thirst.”