Ramadan is simply launching us for the rest of the year. This month should be an example of the life we live. Our life in this world is simply a “fast”. We need to make sure our actions and thoughts do not “break” us, but rather they make us. We are careful in this month about exchanging music CDs for Qur’an, or about going to the mosque/center instead of the places we usually go to. These should all become habits that we continue to live.
‘Tis the season to be spiritual. But why only this particular season? The benefits and blessings of being invited by Allah to this holy month are infinite. Reading one verse of the Holy Qur’an is counted tenfold, and extra prayers and supplications go a long way too. We tend to find ourselves reading more Qur’an – perhaps even completing the whole thing! – and reciting more supplications than the usual Tawassul and Kumayl, adding on Iftitah and the Munajat of Imam Ali (peace be upon him), just to name a few.
Let’s take a look at why our Imams (peace be upon them) and our scholars remind us that this month is a month for change and cleansing. No, it is not the first month of the Islamic year; but it is a month which allows one to prepare and cleanse oneself for the upcoming months of Dhil Hijjah and Muharram. Who can ever think that busying ourselves, getting more used to reading Qur’an and supplications, and gaining more spiritual knowledge is bad? Why would we want to stop doing those things?
This month is our “spiritual launch pad” – it is the time to realize that we need to get closer to Allah, and we take off to do so. It is the time to ignore those worldly desires, and go above and beyond our Nafs. This is the month for us to get ourselves into good habits, and to admit and accept that we can be good Muslims every day – not just 30 days out of the year. If we think that it is important only in this month to say our prayers and to read the Qur’an, how does that make us any different from “Sunday Christians”?
As our Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) has said: “It is a month in which you have been called to the Banquet of Allah.” (al-Iqbal)
What does that mean? Do we simply take from Allah’s table of mercy and blessings and leave? Or do we return the favor by acting as He has asked us to, all year round, every day of our lives? In this month we are careful of our actions: what we say, what we watch, what we read. Even if our friends may have accidentally said a bad word, we joke that their fast is broken, because every small thing counts.
This should be an example of the life we live. Our life in this world is simply a “fast”. We need to make sure our actions and thoughts do not “break” us, but rather they make us. We are careful in this month about exchanging music CDs for Qur’an, or about going to the mosque/center instead of the places we usually go to. These should all become habits that we continue to live. This month is simply launching us for the rest of the year.
We need to make it a team effort. Encourage our brothers and sisters to come to the speeches, and to eat Iftar together at the center or at someone’s house. Encourage recitation of the Qur’an – make a deal to split the Qur’an between a group of 3 or 4 friends so that you jointly complete one. Encourage Fiqh discussions through asking questions about fasting, so that it will gauge interest in other subjects of Fiqh as well. Think of others by coming up with projects to help them (fundraisers or food/clothing drives are just a couple of ideas), and those projects can continue all year long.
Ramadan is not just a month to be good and then carry on with our ways after its end. It is a month in which Allah has really called us and given us another chance. We get another chance to pray on time, another chance to stop our ears, eyes, and tongues from sinning, and another chance to remind ourselves that – although we are not supermen and women – we must make the effort to be the best we can. He remembers us all the time, and He hears us through our supplications which can change our hearts.
If we are still stuck on certain aspects of our lives, and cannot grasp the beauty and blessings of this month, there is one thing to remember as the guests of Allah in this month: realize that you may be fasting this month in this year, but nothing guarantees you an invitation next year. We need to work hard to earn our invitations.