A month of infinite blessings

Published March 16, 2024
Illustration by Sumbul
Illustration by Sumbul

Dear friends, here we are again in the blessed month of Ramazan. I am sure most of my young friends reading these lines must be fasting.

As soon as the moon of the holy month is sighted, a strange feeling of peace seems to descend on the hearts of all Muslims around the world. We exchange greetings with each other as we say ‘Ramazan Mubarak’ and pray that Allah makes fasting easy for us and accept our good deeds in this month.

Today, I want to share with you all something personal. After I crossed my seventies, and even before that, every year at the end of the holy month, I wondered whether that would be the last time I was witnessing these precious days. And then I would pray to the Almighty, “O Allah, if this is my last Ramazan, call me unto you with complete Imaan (faith), and if I have more time left, take me to the next Ramazan in good health, so that I can make the most of these blessed days.”

What is the month of fasting about? Have you ever pondered on, or asked anyone, this question? Does Allah need our thirst and hunger or He, in His Infinite compassion, gives us these days to improve ourselves? What do we learn from Ramazan and what changes should this month bring in us? These are questions you should ask yourself or discuss with your family and friends.

A month to revive our faith and piety

Ramazan is a month cherished by every Muslim. It draws us closer to Allah and reminds that we all belong to Him and should obey His commands without questioning. As soon as the month starts, we feel a natural desire to do good deeds, stay away from sinful acts and pray more than we do in normal months. Ramazan is the month when the Quran was revealed, so we should spare as much time as we can to recite the Holy verses, look up their meanings and ponder upon Allah’s Greatness, the universe and the purpose of our creation.

Do you know that the reward of obligatory prayers is raised manifolds during Ramazan and for nafil and sunnah prayers we are rewarded the same as the farz (mandatory) prayers during the rest of the year? Allah the Exalted says, “Fasting is for Me, and I will give unlimited reward to the one who fasts.”

A hadith quoted by Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim says, “The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: There is a gate to Paradise which is called Ar-Rayyan. On the Day of Resurrection, it will say: ‘Where are those who fasted?’ When the last [one] has passed through the gate, it will be locked.”

A training in patience

In my opinion, the month of fasting is a training of patience (sabr). The verbal meaning of sabr is to abstain or stop yourself. It means abstaining from your desires and submitting to Allah’s will with full humility.

In the Holy Quran, in many verses, the Almighty urges mankind to eat and drink from the bounties He has given us, but when we fast, we are ordered to keep away from these very things for a certain time period. Ramazan teaches us patience as we stay away from food and drink from sahoor to iftar (early morning before dawn to sunset). We may feel hungry or thirsty, but even if we have the opportunity we will not even taste a single morsel of food.

Ramazan teaches us punctuality

If you ponder deeply, you will realise that fasting teaches us punctuality and regularity. Would you even think of saying that since I find it difficult to wake up for sehar, I will start my fast two hours late and compensate this time by breaking my fast two hours after the designated time?

I know that you will laugh at the idea, saying that Allah has ordained a time to begin and end a fast. Performing your salah (prayer) as soon as you hear the azaan, is also a lesson in punctuality. In this month, as we organise our daily activities according to the fast and prayer timings, we learn time-management and how to make the most of our day.

Ramazan is a training in discipline

In a famous hadith, our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Allah has no need for the hunger and the thirst of the person who does not restrain from telling lies and acting on them while observing the fast.”

In the same manner, unnecessary squabbles, backbiting and wasting time are undesirable acts when you are fasting. We are often irritable due to hunger and thirst. Keeping your temper in control is also important during a fast. If someone tries to pick up an argument with you, just tell him that you are fasting and move away. Even if a sibling or a friend irritates you, instead of starting a heated argument, or running with a complaint to your parents, just remind yourself that such acts will diminish the reward of your fast.

Remember that during a fast, you are not only expected to abstain from food and drink. A faithful should control his eyes, ears, tongue and hands from deeds which are prohibited in Islam, so that you find yourself a better Muslim at the end of the month. Be sure to resolve to keep away from sinful acts even after Ramazan is over.

Illustration by Aamnah Arshad
Illustration by Aamnah Arshad

A month of compassion

In these times of high inflation, as a month draws to its end, we often hear our helpers complaining that they had no dinner or breakfast as their monthly rations had ended. Perhaps you may have also heard them telling your mum all this, and perhaps you had never thought about it so deep before. So my little friends, this is the month when you actually feel and understand what they are going through. Especially, when you are fasting and your stomach is growling with hunger just before the iftar, this is the actual time you realise properly what they have to go through, and that also often!

When the time for ending the fast comes near, check if the guards in your area have enough provision for a decent meal. Every household in a neighbourhood can easily spare a plate of the goodies prepared for iftar. If you and your friends go door to door to collect food for the guards, drivers or even a passer-by, you will get infinite reward from Allah.

The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “He who gives food for a fasting person to break his fast, he will receive the same reward as him, except that nothing will be reduced from the fasting persons’ reward.” Just imagine how Merciful Allah is. The fasting person will get rewarded, but if you arrange to give him something to eat for iftar, you will get an equal reward.

In Ramazan, share your blessings with the needy. Check your toys, books, stationary, clothes and shoes and giveaway what you find beyond your needs. Every day, spare an amount from your pocket money and also ask your siblings to do so. At the end of the week, you will be able to gift this money to your maid, driver or gardener, and ask them to cook a hearty meal for their family.

Allah is kind and wants us to be kind

When you come home after school, you feel drained out because you are fasting. Think about your mum and your household helpers. They toil without complaining, and though they are also feeling low, they do not let it show as they try to finish all chores as quickly as possible. Your mum wants to make sure that you have a hearty and nutritious meal when you break your fast. The maid wants to go home early so that she can cook for herself and her family.

If we practice a little thoughtfulness, we can do a lot to give them relief from their work burden. Helping mum in the kitchen, caring for a cranky younger sibling so your mother can take a short nap and clearing the table after iftar, give her a hug and thank her for all she does for you, will boost her energy level.

In the same way, you can help your maid by keeping your rooms clean and your belongings in order, so that cleaning becomes an easy job for her. Talking to her politely or giving her a word of praise for her hard work, will be an act of compassion for which you will get a great reward.

Ramazan is about fasting, not feasting!

Dear friends, you all are young and I am sure that you feel exhausted as the fasting hours draw to an end. Fast (roza) is not about having elaborate meals at sehri and iftar. No doubt, your mum is concerned about you and wants you to have nutritious meals so that you feel fit enough to keep fast.

Please remember that she is also fasting and has a number of tasks to do besides cooking. Do not frustrate her by demanding time-consuming and difficult to cook dishes every day.

Remember your brethren in Gaza

This Ramazan we all should specially remember the hunger and sufferings of the people in Gaza as the brutal siege of the Israeli forces continue. Their homes ruined to rubbles, businesses ruined, schools/universities bombed and destroyed, they have no place to go to. There is hardly a family there who has not lost a loved one during the war. My heart bleeds when I read about how the young and old are starving in Gaza. Reports of deaths due to starvation have started to come in.

Encourage your mum to keep the menu simple and cost-effective, so that the saved amount from the monthly food budget can be donated to the relief fund for Palestine.

Let’s celebrate Eid with simplicity this year

As a mark of respect to the thousands martyred in Gaza, we all should resolve to celebrate Eid in a simple manner. I know you all deserve new clothes, shoes and toys as a reward for the patience with which you fasted in Ramazan, but it is a fact that we often tend to overspend in our Eid shopping. After all, Eidul Fitr is the biggest Islamic festival, when we love to dress up in good clothes, go to visit relatives, exchange gifts and children are super excited as they count their Eidi amount gleefully.

By being compassionate to our Muslim brothers who are in very difficult times, this year we should cut down our Eid shopping and I urge my young friends to set aside some amount from your Eidi money and donate it to the relief fund for Gaza and other charities around you.

I would like to end with this hadith which says, “The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, Ramazan has come to you. It is a month of blessings in which Allah covers you with blessings, for He sends down His Mercy, decreases Sins and answers prayers. In it, Allah looks at your competition in good deeds, and boasts about you to the angels. So show Allah goodness from yourself, for the unfortunate one is he who is deprived in Ramazan of the mercy of Allah, The Mighty, The Exalted.” (Imam Tabarani).

May Allah accept your good deeds and fasts, Ameen. A very happy and serene Ramazan to my dear readers.

Published in Dawn, Young World, March 16th, 2024

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