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Ramadan Reflection: Part 2 –Setting objectives


Written By: Ajmal-Masroor
11/07/2013 21:12
Religion & Culture

Ramadan is not just the name of the ninth Arabic calendar month and fasting in this month is not just a cultural expression, it certainly is not a hereditary custom. Fasting is about developing and fine tuning conscience – the driver of all your actions. Fasting is all about developing excellent personality and character traits. Fasting ultimately is about submission and mirroring the divine instructions as found in the Quran. 

This is not the first time fasting has been prescribed or practiced. Anyone who has tried to become highly spiritual would have endured fasting as a gateway to God. However, when fasting was prescribed for the Muslims, at that moment in history, it had a deeper and a more momentous backdrop. Fasting symbolised a mark of gratitude for a prodigious favour. Fasting for the Muslims has always been the ultimate expression of their love for God. 

The entire humanity was at loss, on the verge of total moral and spiritual annihilation and they were saved from it. The colossal step God took to rescue humanity from certain self-destruction was manifested in the form of divine revelation. The answer to years of search, response to unending prayers and desperate quest for guidance finally broke heavenly silence – the Quran begum to descend. 

It was not an unassuming event. It happened at a moment of reflection, deep trance like meditation and total seclusion by the blessed Prophet Muhammad. An earth shattering experience gripped him in the middle of a cave in the mountains only few kilometers away from Makkah in Saudia Arabia. 

It was the year 610 and month of Ramadan. The Prophet had been meditating in the cave of Hira for days without a break. This was his longest period of total isolation. He was growing restless and was feeling the simmering frustration at the lack of solutions or answers to the hundreds of questions that was occupying his mind. He wanted to help his people, he wanted to reach out to the entire humanity and he was desperately seeking solace from the misery around him. 

He preferred the solitude of the mountains than the hustle and bustle of Makkah. He was forty years of age and had lived amongst the Arab people, who considered him as an extremely esteemed, honourable and trustworthy man. He was married to the richest and most noble Arab woman of his time. He had several children with her but there was a huge void inside him that needed a different response, certainly not the materialistic and earthly ones he was witnessing. He increasingly grew distant from the society. 

How are you feeling with all your material possessions, cars, modern gadgets and gizmos, wealth and property, positions and power and families and friends? Are you feeling content with it all? How will fasting make any difference? These possessions bothered the Prophets, do they bother you? 
He hated the predominant culture and lifestyle of the world around him. He loathed the hierarchy in spirituality that his people imposed on the society.

He found it ludicrous that there were people who he would claim to be God’s doorkeepers. He did not understand the multiplicity of idols that his people called gods. He often wondered, how could men shape a statue and attribute it divinity? To Muhammad that did not seem plausible. He questioned himself about the true nature of God but there were no satisfactory response emanating from within him or from any outside sources. He was both disappointed and frustrated. 

He disliked the unfair treatment of the weak and needy. He could not stomach the “might is right” culture in his society. He wondered how could human beings treat one another so pitilessly? How could those less fortunate in society be used and abused by those who were more powerful? What was it that made them so heartless? 

He detested the bloodbath and violence. At the smallest disagreement or dissent, scores were settled using sword and human beings would be cut down mercilessly. Innocent lives would be lost and generations would carry the hatred and seek to settle matters using further violence. The cycle of protracted and bloody wars exhausted the society; they were tired of fighting, suffering and loss but did not know how to bring this vile culture to an end. 

He did not agree with those who saw life as a mere game and lived to serve only their animalistic cravings. He did not agree with those who gave no value to human beings and found no purpose to their existence. He wanted to find higher purpose behind life and did not want to survive like the animals. He felt, unless human beings were prepared to make transformation in their character they were sleep walking towards total demise. 

One night the curtain was lifted and the universe witnessed the emergence of a ray of light that changed the course of human history forever. It was as if the mountains convulsed in awe and fear of what was unfolding. The animals held their breath, the wind stopped blowing, the leaves forgot to rustle; the whole world froze for a moment as the archangel Jibril (Gabriel) emerged from the heavens with five most profound sentences from the Divine. The journey of the Quran began right there and Muhammad became the Messenger of God.

“READ in the name of your Sustainer, who created
Created humans out of a germ cell
Read - for your Sustainer is the Most Bountiful One
Who has taught the use of the pen –
Taught humans what they did not know!” (96:1-5)

This was a call for enlightenment, faith and certainty. From the depth of darkness emerged the words of reason, rationale and hope. Muhammad had his first encounter and introduction to God.

They were encouraged to think independently. They were challenged to unfold the mysteries of the universe. They were called to true enlightenment. They were called to witness the truth based on knowledge. They were invited to questions and reflections. They were cheered to think independently. They were challenged to unfold the mysteries of the universe. They were called to true enlightenment.

Thus human beings are asked to fast to show gratitude for the profound guidance, without it societies would have witnessed anarchy, chaos and an eventual end! Humans were gifted through fasting the opportunities to develop the inner capacity to benefit from the wisdom contained in the revelation and to attain perpetual state of awareness of God’s omnipresence. 

The capacity to absorb and live according to the revelation is known as “Taqwa”. This is the ultimate objective of fasting as expressed by God in the Quran – “fasting has been prescribed to you, like it was prescribed to those who came before you, so that you may attain Taqwa” (2:183). This was accorded to the believers with promise of mercy, blessings and forgiveness from God in abundance. Thus the month of Ramadan became knows as the most magnanimous gift from God so believers would find the perfect environment to connect and correct. 

Over the next 23 years the Prophet shaped a society full of people whose primary objective was to attain the state of Taqwa. His companions meticulously followed every words of the Quran and emulated the life of the Prophet, as he was the living manifestation of the divine will.

The Quran still remains with us, totally intact and uncorrupted. The teachings of the Prophet are with us too, in fine details. How will you shape your Ramadan this year? How will your fast reflect the teachings of the blessed Prophet? 

This is your second day of fasting. It is a good time to assess your knowledge of the Quran. Do you understand the significance of the revelation? Do you understand what role the Quran plays in the inner dimensions of fasting? Do you see the connection between fasting and the Quran? Do you have a relationship with the Quran?

It is a good time to evaluate your personality against what the divine wisdom demands. One way to do this is to reflect on the following basic questions:
Have you ever evaluated yourself by the Quranic paradigm? 
When you take a deep look at yourself do you see the presence of the Quran? 
When you unpack your attitude and mindset, does that resemble the Quranic personality traits? 

Fasting is not at all about abstaining from eating and drinking; it is most certainly about realignment of your core being to fit the Quranic narrative. Many people fast but they constantly contradict the essence of the Quran. When they speak they lie, when they make promises they break and when they are trusted with something they violate the trust. They treat their fellow human beings with disdain and dishonour. 

A person who fasts would mirror the Quranic personality trait – that they would be honest, decent and truthful. They would be kind, caring and compassionate. They would thankful, grateful and humble. 

Once Umar bin Khattab asked Ubay ibn Kaab about Taqwa. Ubay said, "Have you ever walked on a path that has thorns on it?" Umar said, "Yes." Ubay asked, "What did you do then?" to which Umar replied, "I rolled up my sleeves and struggled." Ubay said, "That is taqwa, to protect oneself from sin through life’s dangerous journey so that one can successfully complete the journey unscathed by sin.

These are the true demonstrations of Taqwa. It may seem too idealistic for some but in all honesty these human traits are inherent in our biological makeup, we simply have to reach them from within, nurture them and take time to remain unswerving and consistent in them.

Finally, ask yourself the following questions: 
Do you feel that you have Taqwa? 
Does your Taqwa manifest the Divine will? 
What will be your ultimate gain in this month of Ramadan? 
Will you attain truly achieve your objectives?


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Ramadan Spirituality Islam 


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About Ajmal-Masroor

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  • Name: Ajmal Masroor
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    Ajmal Masroor is an Author, Broadcaster, Relationship Counsellor , Politician and Imam based in London, UK. His facebook profile can be followed https://www.facebook.com/AjmalMasroor

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