By Basit Abdullah
With the appearance of the crescent for the month of Ramadan, we witness a total change around us in every domain of our lives. We see people turning towards Allah, seeking blessings of their Lord, guarding their prayers, donating huge sums in charity and seeking all goodness for this world and the hereafter. This magnificent month makes people humble, generous and caring for the neglected and underprivileged. Thus, this month provides us an opportunity to reconcile our relationship with our Creator and fellow human beings. A large scale shift in activities in the Muslim world makes people of other religions think about philosophy of Islam and the life of Muslims and thus we catch the attention of the whole world populace.
Now, as the blessed month approaches its end, we need to sit calmly and think about what is going to follow. We oftentimes see our society forgetting the message of Islam and the spirit of Islam and gradually falling in the same mundane routines where this month had lifted us from . People bid adieu to mosques, weaken their resolve for goodness, fall short of a standard Muslim life and forsake the purpose of this holy month. This should not have been the case as, in the words of Maulana Syed Maududi, “Every year, for one full month from dawn to sunset and from sunset to dawn, you, like a soldier in an army, continuously live a disciplined life, following certain rules all the time. You are then sent back to continue your normal duties for eleven months so that the training you have received for one month may be reflected in your conduct, and if any deficiency is found it may be made up the next year”.
Ramadan is the time to reflect on the purpose of this month, time to change and train ourselves to become a better person for the coming year. Ramadan is the test and training for Muslims to wash their sins and other unlawful desires and it should make us stronger in battle for righteousness and permeate piety in our hearts and minds and dominate our thoughts, intentions and deeds. Fasting, unlike other forms of worship is exclusively a private affair between man and his Creator and owing to its private nature , we should ensure that it strengthens our faith in Him and our conviction and resolve to lead a truly conscientious and righteous life.
Ramadan then is the season of flourishing of goodness and righteousness and during the month environment is filled with the spirit of collective goodness, virtue and piety-a desire arises in every heart to do more and better deeds, donate more in charity, feed the poor or help those in distress. The more sincerely and determinedly we find ourselves motivated to do all the good deeds during the month, the more we can sustain its impact for other months to follow.
During Ramadan, restraining ourselves from some human needs that are otherwise lawful should restrict us from unlawful in other months, but our post-Ramadan behavior suggests that we have not been able to avail the true blessings of the month as all those beautiful traits developed during the month are abandoned just once the month is over. Ramadan teaches us the ways to fight our desires and defeat them but unfortunately after Ramadan we are easily taken over by the same. We need to reconsider our position on whether the things that are prohibited in Ramadan are permitted in other months, and what we ought not to do can be just because the Ramadan is over. No, but the fact is we are less committed for a real and permanent change in ourselves.
If we really fast with zeal and the real spirit, recognize the real purpose of fasting and strive to achieve it, we would witness a definite sustainable change as individuals and society as a whole but perhaps we lack these and result is that amelioration of society witnessed in Ramadan decays right after the blessed month is over. Ramadan demands change and – a sustainable one-, for which we all need to introspect at our own levels and initiate the change with steadfastness. We need to shed the hypocritical attitude and come forward to submit to the purpose of fasting. Ramadan is like a spiritual training session for the rest of eleven months. We must then not forget the training we received and carry forward the same righteousness throughout and not return to the sinful deeds afterwards. Let this Ramadan be the reason of our permanent character transformation. And let us pledge to bring a sustainable change in ourselves this holy month.
—The author is studying economics at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He can be reached at: [email protected]