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We are thankful to Allah (swt) the Almighty for we are fasting in- yet another holy month of Ramadan.
Keeping fast since dawn till evening, sitting with our brothers at overflowing tables during Iftar, performing Taraweeh prayers in congregation, and rising at pre-dawn for Sahoor are some of the characteristics of the month.
But, Ramadan is more than that. It was the month in which the Holy Quran was sent down as a guide to mankind, and to distinguish good from evil.
By reflecting on hunger and thirst, we can better understand the plight of the poor, and the importance of helping them; and we strive to do good works, acquire Taqwa for the hereafter, and earn the approval of our Lord. Our lower selves are curbed, our moral values are improved, and the light of our eyes responsible for all these benefits- continues to illuminate our hearts.
With the month of Ramadan that Muslims spend in a festive air, the acts of observance that believers perform throughout this month bestow very much on their souls in spiritual terms. Their sincerity and religious awareness also grow in direct proportion.
In addition, believers who control their lower selves, and rein in their desires, are careful to avoid such behaviour as lying, backbiting, speaking evil, offending others, anger and lack of submission; but instead, always seek to exhibit proper moral virtues.
Certainly, one of the finest characteristics of this virtuous month furnished with such goodness and felicity- is the reinforcement of the bonds of love, and brotherhood among believers.
Our Prophet (sa) says this about this holy month, when feelings of mutual love, respect and compassion, fortitude and mutual aid come to the fore: “Oh people! A great month has come over you; a blessed month; a month in which is a night better than a thousand months; month in which Allah (swt) has made it compulsory upon you to fast by day, and voluntary to pray by night. It is the month of patience, and the reward of patience is heaven. It is the month of charity, and a month in which a believer’s sustenance is increased.” (Ibn Khuzaymah)
Another of the countless blessings of Ramadan, in which we receive material and spiritual favours from Allah (swt), and for which we long with a deep spirituality deriving from the joy of religious observance, prayer, the giving of alms, and Iftar and Sahoor each year, is that we become aware of the blessings we possess.
Someone who opens his eyes to the world so immaculately created by our Lord, and who gradually becomes used to the perfection in the functioning of its systems; and who becomes familiar with the marvels all around, may fail to appreciate the blessings bestowed.
This veil of heedlessness is removed from his eyes in the month of Ramadan. He becomes more aware of the blessings ordained for him by Allah (swt), and starts to better comprehend His might and greatness.
When he sees the blessings set out at the Iftar table, the many different fruits and vegetables with their delightful aromas and flavours that emerge from the soil; and the different products obtained from animals- his amazement in the fact of the artistry of Allah (swt) grows.
He better understands what a miracle it is that bright yellow melons, red apples or strawberries, whose aroma still cannot be fully replicated by modern technology, should emerge from the odourless soil.
When he sits down to break his fast after a period, albeit a short one, of deprivation of these blessings, he better grasps the value of the blessings in front of him.
With the month of Ramadan, he once again remembers that Allah (swt) could have created only a single form of sustenance for us- if He so desired; and that, it could have been bitter, tasteless and dull in colour- much like the soil that produced it- but that because of Allah’s (swt) compassion and love for His servants, all foods possess their own incomparable tastes and esthetic appearances.
In this way, his submission and humility in the face of the manifestation of the titles of Allah (swt) as the All-Merciful and Most Merciful also grow.
As we again experience this great joy of the month of Ramadan, a month that increases our powers of reflection, and enables us to acquire many spiritual delights; and that allows us to enhance our closeness to Allah (swt) and to show, in a determined manner, the love and passion we feel for Him in our hearts. We also remember our brothers in faith who are being oppressed all over the world.
We remember the innocent people of the Middle East rocked by strife and affliction, under siege and bombardment; we remember our brothers subjected to persecution, slaughter, and mistreatment; and the threat of genocide in Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Kashmir, East Turkestan, Pathani, Moro, Crimea and many other parts of the world.
We remember the importance of union, and unity- if they are to be saved. The images of innocent people wiped out by bombs, and machine guns, and of the bodies of children laid out in rows- never escape our memories.
We think of and pray for them at every Iftar meal; and once again, reaffirm our intentions to do all in our power to speed the coming of Islamic Unity in order that they may be saved.
Our wish is that our Almighty Lord will answer our prayers. As Muslims- with a passionate love of Allah (swt)- we fast with the love for Him, and break our fasts with the love for Him.
May He bestow salvation on our innocent brothers whom we never forget for a moment. May He make the Earth a place where the divisions and disputes of the Islamic world are set aside, and all Muslims embrace each other.
May the bloodshed cease- as quickly as possible; may the sufferings of the Ummah — and all mankind — come to an end; and may peace and security prevail. Ameen.