The great month of Ramadhān is upon us; the month, during which the gates of mercy are wide open, the gates of hell are shut and the shayātīn are chained up. It is a month chosen by Allāh (Subḥānahu Wa Ta’āla) as a month of fasting; an act of ibādah that Allāh (Subḥānahu Wa Ta’āla) made special to Him. Allāh (Subḥānahu Wa Ta’āla) favored this month over all other months by making it the month of mercy and reverence for all the believers. This month is the most superior of months in which Allāh (Subḥānahu Wa Ta’āla) revealed the Qur’ān. Also, in this month were revealed the scriptures of Mūsā (ʿalay-hi salām), as well as the Zabūr and the Injīl.
It is natural within this month for the Muslims to increase their good deeds in order to gain the vast reward of Ramadhān and get closer to Allāh (Subḥānahu Wa Ta’āla). This is something that has occurred throughout history and is a positive sign that the flame of Islām still burns brightly in the hearts of Muslims worldwide.
All mature Muslims are obligated to fast within this month from dawn to sunset abstaining from food and drink. The hunger and thirst that is felt during the day is automatically connected in our minds to the reason as to why we are fasting, as a worship of Allāh (Subḥānahu Wa Ta’āla).
Unfortunately, for some amongst us, instead of being a month of increasing ones good deeds on top of the obligations we consistently perform, we find today that for many it is a month of only temporary change. Unheard of in the early days of Islām, today we have the phenomenon of the ‘Ramadhān Muslims’ – one who is Muslim in name but only Muslim in action for one month in the year.
The examples of such individuals are numerous, to the extent that it has become a norm amongst Muslims to find a contingent of ‘Ramadhān Muslims’ within them. These are Muslims who usually practice little of Islām but suddenly transform in this holy month into actively practicing Muslims. They begin to perform their Salāh, are careful of their speech, control their tempers, lower their gaze and increase their remembrance of Allāh (Subḥānahu Wa Ta’āla). On top of the obligatory actions, people even compete in the recommended ones such as tarawīh salāh and recitation of the Qur’ān, such that the mosques are full at many times during the day.
Harām (prohibited) actions are also avoided by many during Ramadhān, the talk of which also suddenly becomes taboo. Young Muslim friends would even shun talking to each other about ‘clubbing’, ‘spliffing’ or chasing after the opposite sex even though these are popular pastimes for the same people throughout the rest of the year.
Examples of the ‘Ramadhān Muslim’ can be seen amongst both the youth and the elders alike. Some of the elders put away their lottery cards, refrain from backbiting, and are much more controlled with their temper towards their children or spouses during Ramadhān.
And when Ramadhān ends on the day of Eid, it is unfortunately all too common to see all the good that was witnessed in the holy month to be rapidly reversed. The headscarves come off the women, the ‘rizla’ and the ‘weed’ comes out for many youngsters, the tempers flare, the mosques are again empty, the Qur’ān is left on the shelf, the clubbing, partying, tribal squabbles, and promiscuity restarts.
This demonstrates clearly that Ramadhān has not truly been understood by many Muslims. It is sad to see Ramadhān treated as people of other religions treat their religious occasions, in a manner which only temporarily alters their actions.
The True Meaning of Ramadhān
Allāh (Subḥānahu Wa Ta’āla) says in the mighty Qurʾān:
❝shahru ramaḍāna lladhī ʾunzila fīhi l-qurʾānu hudan li-n-nāsi wa-bayyinātin mina l-hudā wa-l-furqān❞
[Ramadhān is the month in which the Qur’ān was revealed, a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance and as a criterion (al-Furqān)]
― Al-Qur’ān, sūrah al-Baqarah (The Cow), Chapter 2, verse 185.
We should realize that the deen has come to regulate the dunyā. Allāh (Subḥānahu Wa Ta’āla) revealed the Qur’ān within this blessed month, so that it acts as al-Furqān, the criterion between right and wrong for all of our actions throughout the twelve months of the year.
Ramadhān should be a month for us to increase our remembrance of Allāh (Subḥānahu Wa Ta’āla), rather than a month of temporary obedience to His (Subḥānahu Wa Ta’āla) orders. Allāh (Subḥānahu Wa Ta’āla) says,
❝yā-ʾayyuhā lladhīna ʾāmanū kutiba ʿalaykumu ṣ-ṣiyāmu ka-mā kutiba ʿalā lladhīna min qablikum laʿallakum tattaqūn❞
[Oh you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you many gain Taqwa]
― Al-Qur’ān, sūrah al-Baqarah (The Cow), Chapter 2, verse 183.
Taqwa in essence means God consciousness, being conscious of Allāh (Subḥānahu Wa Ta’āla) in all our actions and affairs. Fasting should aid us in gaining taqwa, as it puts us in an atmosphere of obedience to Allāh (Subḥānahu Wa Ta’āla), every time we feel hunger during the fast or fatigue, we know that we are doing it for the obedience of Allāh (Subḥānahu Wa Ta’āla). It makes us realise our relationship with Allāh (Subḥānahu Wa Ta’āla).
To achieve taqwa and avoid the label of the ‘Ramadhān Muslim’ we must have a solid foundation. We must base our belief on conviction, clearly comprehending the fact that Allāh (Subḥānahu Wa Ta’āla) is the Creator of the universe and linking that realization to our actions. The existence of Allāh (Subḥānahu Wa Ta’āla) and the definitiveness of the Qur’an are facts to us just as we believe that fire burns. To achieve this belief we must apply the mind that Allāh (Subḥānahu Wa Ta’āla) has given us rather than just imitating others blindly without any comprehension.
The Qur’ān which we recite during this month is not a book like any other, written by men. It is a miracle proving beyond any doubt the truthfulness of Islām. Possessing an unshakeable belief allows the Muslim to accept his position as the slave of Allāh and enables him to submit completely to all the commands and prohibitions, thus attaining taqwa.
Islām should flow in our veins such that we think and feel according to it. This is what allowed the Muslims to stand firm in the battle of Badr in the second year after the Hijra. On a Friday, morning the 17th of Ramadhān, the Prophet (ṣall Allāhu ʿalay-hi wa-sallam) led the Muslims outnumbered 3 to 1, 305 believers defeated an army of over 900 kuffar. The Quraysh were humiliated and the Muslims were victorious.
Indeed the one who fails to benefit from the month of Ramadhan is one of the losers, and deserves to be distanced from Allāh (Subḥānahu Wa Ta’āla).
Remaining consistent post Ramadhān is the true test. As observing the Islāmic rules is much easier when the environment is Islāmic, when most people in your family and many of your friends are doing similar. However post Ramadhān, when things go back to normal, the atmosphere is likely to change. If one has truly based their belief on conviction and understood the significance and meaning of Ramadhān, he or she will remain steadfast and committed to Islām.
The soul searching process is a must for a Muslim who should be a consistent Islāmic personality as tomorrow may never come and who knows if we will live to next Ramadhān. So let us work against the tide, remain strong, embody Islām and be a light to guide others to the truth.
Jazāk’Allāh Khayr for reading.