Our experience this month is supposed to create gratefulness to God for what we have, and lead us to form some new resolutions for the remaining chapters of our life.
MUSLIMS all around the world are currently observing the month of Ramadan by fasting and performing ibadah or religious rituals, to gain the blessings and mercy of Allah.
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Hijri calendar. In this month, it is obligatory for all Muslims to fast from fajr (sunrise) to sunset.
Prophet Muhammad addressed his companions on the last day of Sha’ban (the month before Ramadan), saying: “Oh people! A great month has come over you; a blessed month; a month in which is a night better than a thousand months; a month in which Allah has made it compulsory upon you to fast by day, and voluntary to pray by night. Whoever draws nearer (to Allah) by performing any of the (optional) good deeds in (this month) shall receive the same reward as performing an obligatory deed at any other time, and whoever discharges an obligatory deed in (this month) shall receive the reward of performing seventy obligations at any other time.
“It is the month of patience, and the reward of patience is Heaven. It is the month of charity, and a month in which a believer’s sustenance is increased. Whoever gives food to a fasting person to break his fast, shall have his sins forgiven, and he will be saved from the Fire of Hell, and he shall have the same reward as the fasting person, without his reward being diminished at all.” (Narrated by Ibn Khuzaymah).
For many Muslims, the month of Ramadan offers countless blessings promised by Allah.
Fasting is one part of it because, through the act of fasting, we learn to appreciate God’s sustenance for us and at the same time empathise with those who are less fortunate.
Ramadan is mainly about purifying the heart and being closer to God. The act of fasting and other rituals related to it are ultimately to achieve that purity.
For the heart, when it is pure, is drawn to its Master. And when we make submission to God, the most valuable element of our existence on Earth, life becomes so worthwhile.
This experience is supposed to create gratefulness to God for what we have, and lead us to form some new resolutions for the remaining chapters of our life.
The heart that seeks pleasure from its Creator must first be sincere in its intention. From the Islamic point of view, sincerity acts as a foundation for all of our actions in life.
It is about focusing on desiring the pleasure of Allah in everything that we do as the basis of our intentions and actions.
Allah says in the Quran of those who are sincere:
They [are those who] fulfil [their] vows and fear a Day whose evil will be widespread. And they give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive, [saying], “We feed you only for the countenance of Allah. We wish not from you reward or gratitude”. (Chapter 76, Verses 7-9).
Sincerity of this kind will ensure that every action that is taken, is done out of the realisation that God wants us to do good deeds, possess high moral character and be kind towards the people around us.
Those who are sincere in their intentions are constantly observant of their actions and do not stray from the remembrance of God.
Genuine sincerity also does not demand any material benefits in return. When we are truly sincere, our actions become our point of satisfaction, and worldly appreciation and acknowledgements are immaterial. We will become respectful of others because we know that is what is required from us.
Someone who seeks to purify his heart would not let hatred, envy and anger take the best of him, as he knows that this would only bring him farther from God.
The heart or qalb as mentioned in the Quran is the starting point of all our intentions and actions.
As social beings, the way we treat others and the manner we conduct our daily dealings with people around us are also manifestations of what lies within our hearts.
Transformation of the heart through the purification process would mould us into becoming better human beings who seek the pleasure of God, and at the same time would reflect the God-consciousness condition into real good actions.
The world, in its present chaotic state, needs people with sincere and good hearts to improve its condition.
Therefore, Ramadan is indeed the best time to nurture such a personality in a person.
Fasting, prayers and other acts of worship that one undertakes to seek the pleasure of God will put oneself in a position of constant remembrance of Him.
The heart needs such a process to transform the person into becoming the kind of human being who lives his or her life in accordance to what is ordained by God.
Hopefully, hearts which are constantly in search of tranquillity would find guidance within the countless blessings promised by God in the month of Ramadan. nizahura Abdul Aziz is Senior Research Officer with Ikim’s Centre for The Study of Syariah, Law and Politics. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own. The STAR Home News Opinion Columnist 30 June 2015