Ramadan: Time to Get Real
By: Imam Zaid Shakir | Co-founder, Zaytuna College
The month of Ramadan will soon be upon us. During this special time, we should all reflect on the many blessings we have received from our Lord. Those of us who live here in the West have been blessed with material bounties that are unimaginable to many of our co-religionists in the East. The amount of food we enjoy, and unfortunately the amount food we waste, the expansiveness of most of our homes, our ready ability to own cars, trucks, and vans, our easy access to higher education, being able to marry at a young age; all of these blessings and many others are inconceivable to many Muslims struggling to live from day to day in far away lands.
Perhaps the greatest blessing we enjoy is that of security. This is a great blessing that many people take for granted. The ability to be safe in one’s home, to walk the streets without fear of assault, to travel freely down the highways and byways without fear of brigandage or harm to our person or loved ones, the ability to rest comfortably at night without fearing a sudden deadly intrusion, or a violent explosion as a projectile rips through the roof or walls of our dwelling visiting us with Hell on earth. Indeed, security is a great, expansive blessing.
We should never take this blessing, which allows us to enjoy all other blessings, for granted. It can be taken away at any moment, and we could be cast into the throes of terrible tribulation with sudden swiftness. One of the ways to perpetuate the blessing of security and the many other blessings we enjoy is to express our deep thanks for them. That expression of thanks lies in our being good productive citizens, it lies in our faithful devotion to our Lord and it lies in our demonstrating to people the good of our religion through our actions before we endeavor to do so with our words. It also lies in endeavoring to share our blessings with those who are less fortunate that ourselves.
The details relating to how we do these things are known to all of us and are as numerous as each and every one of our individual lives. Those details are made known to us by God when we endeavor to be sincere in our service, true in our devotion and honest in our conviction to assist our fellow human beings. Ramadan is an excellent time to start for those of us who have been limping down the road of life oblivious to the extent to which we have been blessed and lacking any consciousness of the obligations those blessings impose on us.
Ramadan focuses our appreciation for the food and other material blessings we enjoy by allowing us to experience at a personal level the reality of deprivation. Ramadan focuses our devotion to God by facilitating heightened levels of individual devotion through couching them in a communal manifestation. Ramadan focuses our sincerity to God, for it is centered around fasting, the one act of worship it is impossible to “show off” with before other human beings, for at the end of the day, God alone knows if we are truly fasting. Ramadan, if we allow it to do so, focuses our spiritual energies by reintroducing the great blessing of the Qur’an into our lives. Finally, Ramadan focuses our attention on the centrality of charity in a righteous life by encouraging us to engage in greater acts of giving, following the way of our Noble Prophet, peace and blessings of God upon him.
Let us translate the heightened focus on God, and our appreciation for His blessings into heightened levels of servitude to Him and service to our fellow humans. If we can do that as an entire community, with ample conviction, God will continue to shower His blessings upon us and to He will bless us to be secure in our lives and property, just as He has blessed us to be secure from material want. For those blessings to be real, however, our service to God and to our fellow humans has to be real. Beginning this Ramadan, let us get real.