WHY ONLY IN RAMADAAN?
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WHY ONLY IN RAMADAAN?

A variety of piping hot savouries complimented by a variety of dips and sauces. Tender meats of choice cuts, spicy curries, roasted vegetables and delectable deserts. These are all an indispensable part of every Iftaar table. And then as the fast is excitedly broken, clattering cutlery amongst an array of voices fills the dining area of every Muslim home.

This is all too familiar for a Muslim family who busy themselves preparing for 'Iftaar' - the meal that marks the breaking of the fast at the end of every day.

During the holy month of Ramadaan, millions of Muslims from around the globe will embark on a physical and mental abstinence known as fasting. From dawn to dusk, Muslims will refrain from eating, drinking, partaking in sexual activity, speaking or acting in an obscene manner, or indulging the mind and heart in things other than the remembrance of Allah Ta’ala. In other words, for a period of 29- 30 days, Muslims will focus on devoting themselves to steady prayer and self-control. In a nutshell, every Muslim undergoes a spiritual overhaul which the non-muslim world has grown accustomed to witnessing Ramadaan in and Ramadaan out.

This period of self-denial requires an incredible force of will power, and yet millions of Muslims worldwide will rise to the challenge. The most addicted of smokers will give up their habits in order to comply with the rules of fasting. Others with a strong relationship to all things chocolate, will ignore the glistening shimmer of a glazed doughnut and wait patiently for sundown to indulge in sugary sweets. Even those with the occasional outburst of road rage will simply grit their teeth and mutter under their breathe without expressing their irritation and frustration vehemently as they usually do by showing a clenching fists to the reckless driver. And in so many other ways Muslims will hold back and restrain themselves in the month of Ramadaan.

Why Only in Ramadan?

This determination to better one's self as a Muslim and humanitarian is so strong that one cannot help but feel proud at the accomplishment. For 30 days we can experience the joys of belonging to a community who pray, fast and break fast in unison. We can sympathise with those who are less fortunate than ourselves by suffering as they suffer giving us a better idea what the pangs of hunger feel like. We can act on this sympathy by fulfilling our duty and parting with our wealth and time, providing a meal for people in need and physically making a contribution to assist others.

However all this only in Ramadaan! But WHY? Why should such accomplishments prevail only in Ramadaan? Why can't it be 'Ramadaan' all year round so to speak?

As I sit by my colleague, who nervously bends a paper clip in the hope of quashing his nicotine craving, I realise that as the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, ignoring the obligations of Ramadaan would cost more than the puff of a cigarette.

 

The spiritual blessings received during Ramadaan are so great that even those who are not practising Muslims throughout the year, surrender to the will of Allah Ta’ala and observe Ramadaan to the best of their ability in order to secure the blessings of this great month. Of course this calls for a great amount of self-restraint which is done very beautifully in Ramadaan by even those who outside Ramadaan battle to even show themselves of as Muslims leave alone practising Islam.

However in other months, almost every Muslim regardless of where on earth he lives constantly faces the challenge of being influenced by other cultures which often are antagonistic to Islam and its teachings. It may be choosing to live a lifestyle which is contradictory to the Islamic ideal. It may be the preoccupation with achieving a ' certain status' of importance in order to gain societal respect and acceptance and gain a voice within the wider community. It may even be as simple as changing the radio dial in one's mind - from highly focused on your duties as a good Muslim, to preoccupied with surviving a hectic day at work and home thereby attaching very little or no importance of maintaining the Islamic image. Whatever the choice, it is up to the individual to determine his or her priority in life, and fulfill it with only the fear of judgment by a higher power. Unfortunately this does not happen in other than the month of Ramadaan.

In Ramadaan all the above challenges seem to vanish and a new sense of duty and commitment towards Allah Ta’ala and His beloved Messenger Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam is born. Why is it so, is the big and burning question? Is the Allah Ta’ala that we so diligently and devotedly serve in Ramadaan not the same outside Ramadaan? Or is it that Allah Ta’ala is more vigil of our actions in Ramadaan (May Allah Ta’ala protect us from such) and in the remaining months it does not bother Him?

If in Ramadaan we can surmount these challenges then of course outside Ramadaan it would be much easier. If it’s done now despite the challenges of fasting and extra prayers it is sure to be much easier done without these!

Those who constantly focus on attaining that level of spirituality all year round should be applauded for their strength of character and responsibility towards Allah Ta’ala and His Beloved Messenger Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam. For choosing to live proudly without being ashamed of their identity Muslim in the least way. For being more concerned about how Allah Ta’ala perceives them rather than what others think of them and to succumb to external pressures from society. And most of all, for setting an example and inspiring all those who are trying their best to live as Muslims against all odds.

It is this which highlights the true beauty of Ramadaan - its ability to unite a community and people, and to encourage an attitude of peace and generosity. If excelling as a faithful believer and good humanitarian for 30 days reaps such rewards, then it would only be a disservice to ourselves to keep such behaviour dormant for another 335 days of the year.

So as in this Ramadaan, like every other past Ramadaan, when we begin living as practising Muslims once again and resist every temptation that goes against the wishes of Allah Ta’ala and His Messenger Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa sallam, let us resolve and commit that this self-restraint and ‘fight’ will not end with Ramadaan but we will continue till our last breathe.

This is the ‘brand’ of Islam that our Creator is looking for and will give rise and glory to this ummah once again!

May Allah Ta’ala accept every effort of ours to please Him this Ramadaan and make this Ramadaan the turning point in our lives, Aameen!

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