‚ÄúI was woken up at five in the morning by the sound of pounding on my door,‚ÄĚ said Omar Ezubeik, a Tripolitan. ‚ÄúIt was...
Syrian opposition leaders are calling for urgent international intervention in the besieged city of Homs, located 100...
From the Blog
The True Spirit of Ramadan: Beyond Hunger and Thirst
He told me that his calendar¬†was full for the month of Ramadan¬†as he was unable to join us for an¬†iftar with the poor and the needy¬†of the area. We thought, we would¬†have Ramadan differently this¬†year. We thought we would invite¬†some needy Muslim families at¬†our home and share with them the¬†meal that we eat regularly. We¬†wanted to invite the big sheikh,¬†the scholar, the knowledgeable,¬†and the one who is our teacher.
But he had already booked him for¬†the entire month to visit people‚Äôs¬†home so that he could bless them¬†and the food.¬†Every year in the month of¬†Ramadan, especially among a¬†majority of Muslim Americans,¬†Ramadan iftar parties have become¬†an attractive event. With 10¬†different types of snacks and 15¬†different categories of main entrees,¬†the parties offer a spectacle¬†of affluence, extravagance and¬†luxury. Why should it not be like¬†this? After all, we are told by our¬†scholars that if you help a Muslim¬†break his fast, you get huge¬†reward from Allah. So, all these¬†parties and functions are for Allah¬†as commanded by His prophet.
Our reward increases with the¬†presence of a Sheikh and probably¬†with the increase in the number of¬†dishes. The older and seasoned the¬†sheikh, the more profound is the¬†reward, and the better is the quality,¬†the quicker is the mercy.¬†But wait a minute? Most, I¬†mean all, of the people who come¬†to these parties are people who are¬†well off, affluent and can easily¬†afford to offer meals to others.
Didn‚Äôt the Prophet advice us to focus¬†on those who are less affluent¬†and less fortunate? Didn‚Äôt Allah¬†want the resourceful people to¬†share their fortune with other less¬†resourceful? Probably, Allah and¬†His messenger might have meant¬†that. But when we invite ordinary¬†people who are not of our status¬†and our class, we usually compromise¬†our positions in the community.¬†How can we, the affluent and¬†less affluent be equal? We worked¬†hard to earn what we have. We are¬†entitled to enjoy the way we want¬†to enjoy. Moreover, they are not¬†aware of the etiquettes to behave¬†in the company of the affluent.
This is how Ramadan is celebrated¬†in a majority of Muslim¬†homes who have been endowed¬†with resources. In¬†our Masajid, depending¬†on their size, the¬†situation is different.¬†Huge expenses¬†are incurred by¬†individuals and the¬†management for iftar¬†and meals. Many¬†people justify these¬†expenses saying that¬†Ramadan creates the¬†spirit of brother and¬†sisterhood and bring¬†the entire community¬†together. True!¬†People feel rejuvenated¬†and feel the¬†spirit of the month by¬†coming to Masajid¬†in large numbers, yet¬†the resources that are spent could¬†probably be used better. What if¬†masajid offer simple milk, water¬†and dates for iftar and individual¬†families bring extra food to share¬†with those who are unable to¬†afford it? It would require some¬†organization and some serious¬†efforts on the part of the management¬†and families, but it would¬†definitely create stronger solidarity.¬†Rather than throwing lavish¬†food parties at the masajid, if we¬†follow simplicity and offer nutritious¬†food supervised by nutrition¬†experts, ¬†probably, we would¬†utilize our resources better.¬†We do not have to wait for¬†these issues. Those who feel¬†that such practices are genuine¬†should follow them.
Let us look at the positive¬†aspects of the month of Ramadan.¬†For an entire month, we live in an¬†environment where we are conscious¬†of our creator every second¬†regardless where we are provided¬†we are fasting or aware of the¬†important of fasting. It is a month¬†we can train ourselves in some of¬†our behavioral aspects.
Some of our scholars remind us¬†that we should focus on offering¬†extra prayers and extra reading of¬†the Quran. But there are two other¬†aspects that were part of Prophet‚Äôs¬†behavior, yet ignored sometimes.¬†The prophet was very generous¬†in this month and he spent¬†long hours seeking the protection¬†and forgiveness of Allah.
Obviously, the Prophet taught us¬†that the month should be used to¬†evaluate our own behavior and¬†attitude towards ourselves and¬†others and seek protection in the¬†guidance of Allah. In other words¬†besides being generous, he taught¬†us to ensure that we control our¬†anger, egos, arrogance, and show¬†humility, politeness, kindness and¬†forgiveness to others.
The fasting demonstrates our¬†ability not only to conquer hunger¬†but also our capacity to control¬†psychological aspects of our¬†behavior, such as our reaction¬†to things that we dislike. If we¬†learned how to tame our ego, everything¬†that we do will multiply¬†in reward in our life and if we fail,¬†then regardless of the number of¬†nightly prayers and extra reading¬†of the Quran, our fasting would¬†not go beyond an exercise in controlling¬†our hunger.
Here are a few suggestions that¬†we can try to apply¬†in our daily Ramadan¬†life.
1. If we dislike any¬†thing, we would not¬†react immediately.¬†Rather, we would¬†take time and try to¬†respond in a calm¬†and polite manner.
2. We would¬†ignore those useless¬†talks that serve no¬†purpose.
3. We would¬†ensure that we do not¬†indulge in backbiting¬†or demeaning¬†anyone.
4. We would¬†ensure that we show¬†kindness to youngsters and respect¬†to elders.
5. We would not focus on food¬†and consume things that are not¬†nutritious because Allah asks to be¬†mindful of our health also.
6. We will control our anger,¬†egos, arrogance and rash talking.
7. We would not hurt anyone¬†and if we cross our limits we¬†would immediately apologize.
8. We would maintain quietness¬†most of the time.
9. We would greet everyone¬†with a sweet smile.
10. We would visit mosque with¬†our family at least once a week if¬†possible.
11. We would give our children¬†a feel of taraweeh prayers by praying¬†with them this nightly prayer.
12. We would invite the poorer¬†and the needy families to our¬†homes at least once in the month¬†of Ramadan to honor them.
13. We would be generous in¬†sharing our resources to the poor¬†and the neglected.
14. We would try to read the¬†Quran with translation and understanding¬†if we do not know Arabic¬†and with reflections if we know¬†Arabic.
15. We would spend sometime¬†alone to observe prayers and recite¬†the Quran and reflect on our life.
16. We would focus on some¬†of the suras of the Quran so that¬†we could either memorize them or¬†understand them in depth.
17. We would invite some non-¬†Muslim neighbors or colleagues to¬†our homes to share the Ramadan¬†spirit at Iftar time.
18. We would give the Zakat ul¬†Fitr so that the money could be¬†distributed in an organized manner¬†to the poor and the needy.
19. We would ensure that not a¬†single prayer is delayed.
20. We would give one book¬†on Islam to anyone who wants to¬†learn more about Islam.
21. We would hug our children,¬†our parents and our nearest ones¬†to thank them for their presence in¬†our lives and to remind ourselves¬†of the importance of family.
22. We would ignore the minor¬†or major behavioral issues of people¬†and treat them with patience.
23. We would ensure that we¬†would not visit internet sites that¬†are provocative or that promote¬†immorality.
24. We would help our spouses¬†in home chores and avoid criticizing¬†them for their mistakes.
25. We would always remember¬†that all that we are doing is to fulfill¬†our obligations to our Creator¬†who seeks our wellbeing in this¬†life and the life hereafter.