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In the Spirit of the Month

SubmissionWhen are we going to realize the true message of fasting? When will we stop complaining so that we can reap in the benefits of this month of Allah’s mercy? The more we continue complaining and not doing the extra recommended spiritual acts, the more we are missing out – not Allah.

SubmissionIt’s just like the spirit of Christmas we see in the West every year. But for us Muslims, the spirit of the Month of Ramadan is unexplainable. Everyone is a little happier (although some are kind of cranky), people are glad to spend hours and hours in the mosque or their centers, and people are ready to change their lives in minor and major ways.

We hear a lot about how we fast to empathize with the poor and needy all over the world, but unfortunately we still see Facebook status complaints about how hungry we are, and when we talk to our friend while fasting, it is almost as if there is nothing else to talk about except how hungry we are. It is natural to complain when you are hungry, but if we just try and focus a little more when the thought comes into our mind, before we say it to someone else, let us just ask ourselves, How would I live if this was my state every day? Then we can begin to see the beauty of fasting – making us realize our blessings.

The next time our friend says, “Man, I am soooo hungry!” we should reply with, “This is how some people feel all day, every day.” There are many other things we are supposed to take away from this blessed month, but even if this one change of not complaining about hunger can be done, it is a good change we have made in our lives.

This month also has a special spirit for the commemoration of our beloved leader and first imam, Imam Ali (peace be upon him). In this month his martyrdom helps us to remember his character and actions. The same Imam who used to go around to the poorest of the poor people at night and give food was martyred in the month that is dedicated to the poor and needy. What better lesson can be learned?

There is much work to be done to help the needy and poor in our own cities, states, countries, and even those of our Muslim brothers and sisters across the world in all different countries. With the recent natural disasters taking place – floods in Pakistan, landslides in China, etc. – what better time would there be to organize a clothing drive or a fundraiser? For those who are able, even organizing a group to go visit and deliver the goods and help yourself is a very moving and fulfilling experience. The possibilities are endless. In the spirit of this month, we should be motivated to help others, not just stay hungry all day and go about our business.

It is very common that all day we just wait and wait for Iftar time, for the minute we can put food in our mouths – and exactly “what” we are going to eat is usually the biggest topic of discussion all day. We need to make sure that we are not: wasting money on fancy Iftars, eating in excess, and wasting leftovers. Again, if we use the example of Imam Ali, he used to break his fast with a date, or salt, and eat simple food consisting of bread, which was usually very dry, and some water. Let us take a minute to compare our Iftar to those of our Imam. We complain that we do not have the full-fledged Iftars we used to get in Pakistan, Dubai, India, or Saudi Arabia, with the choices of fried meat patties, fruit, or other appetizers.

When are we going to realize the true message of fasting? When will we stop complaining so that we can reap in the benefits of this month of Allah’s mercy? The more we continue complaining and not doing the extra recommended spiritual acts, the more we are missing out – not Allah.

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