As the Holy Month of Ramadan draws to an end, let us reflect on what we have learnt in the last four weeks where each of us have been honoured students attending the ‘school of profound spirituality’ being inspired by the guidance and the teaching of the One who is ever present, The Most-High and The Most-Close.
At the heart of our consumer society, where materialism and individualism drive our daily lives, this Blessed Month of Ramadan should have broadened our horizons of introspection and meaning, reminding us of silence, restraint and remembrance. We should have reinforced within ourselves the importance of detail, precision and discipline in whatever task that we perform. Through Ramadan, God seeks to teach us that in the quest for spirituality and meaning, rules will have to be respected, consistency maintained and time mastered.
Just as we debated on the precise starting and ending day of Ramadan and faithfully adhered to the precise time to stop eating and to break the fast and performed prayers at the specified times, so must we continue this discipline of practice in all that we do.
At this school, we have been taught to read, to recite, to ponder, to reflect, to seek, to find and to learn in order for us to make crucial life-changing decisions as we align ourselves towards the Centre and the Meaning. You are indeed what you do with yourself.
So what are the responsibilities that we have to face up to?
- What are we doing with ourselves today?
- What have been our contributions to social justice, peace and liberty?
- How have we spread the message of human brotherhood, love and individual responsibility for change?
- What did we do to protect the rights of the poor and the disadvantaged people in society?
- How did we protect the rights of the most vulnerable like the sick, the elderly, the children and the women?
Just as these questions have been asked, and so the response is quite clear, inspired by the Qur’an and nurtured by Ramadan: God will not change anything for the good if you change nothing.
Hence we come to the main lesson of these past four weeks. The blessed month of Ramadan is a celebration of the faith of fraternal atmosphere shared with all brothers and sisters as we ‘serve humanity especially those in need; awaken our conscience in the proximity of the wounds and the injustices people face...’
And so we are taught that God’s favour lies with acts of kindness and humility to everyone around you, as narrated by the Prophet (Peace be upon him) of the story about the ‘thirsty dog which was on the brink of death, and of the passing prostitute who witnessed this, removed her shoe and used it to draw water from a well to give to the animal. For this small act, the woman was granted forgiveness for her lifetime’. The lesson that we learn is that our purpose of existence is to stand by justice and equity; to portray the humility and compassion of the Prophet (upon whom be peace) towards the downtrodden, the distressed and the oppressed.
For the benefit of the voiceless and the vulnerable, it is imperative not to lose the way by being driven blindly by appeasement, traditional practices, ignorance or by commercialization; it is imperative to come back to the very essence of the teaching: respect and love of human beings as a manifestation of the love for the Almighty.
So as the festive season dawns upon us, let us reaffirm to do our duties with discipline and consistency; let us master time and respect the rules; let us seek and learn; let us control our emotions; let us recognize our responsibilities; let us not waste; let us realize the rights of the poor and vulnerable; let us come back to the essential.
May the One, who loves you, guide and protect you; May there be peace and respite for all those who are suffering; May you spend time with your loved ones in an atmosphere of happiness; May you shine so brightly that at the end of your days, all will pause and say ‘there was one who lived life fully and completely’.
(The writer is Country
Director Muslim Aid, Sri Lanka Field