Ramadan: Learning from the builder of a nation

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Ma’ali bn Fudail said of the companions of the holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW), “They used to ask Allah, the Almighty, six months before Ramadan, to grant them long life so that they could reach Ramadan, and they used to ask Allah, the Almighty, six months after Ramadan, to accept their fasting.”

One of the greatest blessings of Allah on His slaves is His overflowing level of magnanimity. With the Creator, there is always another chance, another door of opportunity to make amends. One of such doors is the ninth of His lunar months, Ramadan. Our pious predecessors would weep of joy to herald the month and weep of sorrow to bid it farewell. Nothing elicited such disposition from them but the uniqueness of this month to transform hopelessness to fortune, ruins to renaissance and failure to success. Ramadan builds a complete personality, a peaceful community and a prosperous nation.

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The blessing of the month starts from the weight of the rewards which awaits an atom of good deed therein. Abu Hurayrah stated that the messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “every deed of the son of Adam will be multiplied between ten and seven hundred times. Allah (SWT) said: ‘Except fasting. It is for me and I shall reward for it. He gives up his desires and his food for my sake (Muslim).’”

Ibn Rajab explained that “the exception of fasting from the deeds that receive a multiple reward means that all good deeds receive a tenfold reward, up to seven hundredfold, except fasting, for the multiplication of its reward is not limited to that. Rather, Allah (SWT) may multiply it greatly without limiting the number. For fasting is a kind of patience, and Allah says only those who are patient shall receive their rewards in full, without reckoning.” The stage is, thus, set for a keen competition for the willing souls.

To clear all doubts, the Almighty, in His wisdom, chains the shaytan and his machineries throughout the period, to cut off any of their influence on the activities of man. Many have even lost count of the number of Ramadan they have observed, but they would affirm that the expected turnaround is not there yet. Perhaps, due to societal influence, or perhaps, due to ignorance or lack of personal determination, they have since failed to grant the month its due, and that has led to their inability to benefit from it.

Ramadan is a month of striving, a period of toiling and a moment of aspiration to higher heights. It was reported of Uthman bn Affan that throughout Ramadan, he would fast during the daytime, and involve in prayer and prostration at night. The month would neither benefit the indolent nor be a source of blessing for the weak. A wise practice of the righteous predecessors is to take count of each minute during the period and on which activity it has been spent.

So, the logic is to work and then reap, and this actually runs from the first to the last minute of the glorious month. For an individual or a nation, the way to positive heights is not in indolence but striving. “And those who strive in our (cause), we will certainly guide them to our paths.” (Q29 verse69)

We have been blessed with a month that builds social justice. Through fasting, the pains of the poor and the needy are felt and a sense of belonging created in the less privileged. A dominant feature of the Quranic message is the love and care for the poor, and in fact, the purity of faith of the believer and attainment of the pleasure of Allah are tied to this noble characteristic. “Have you seen the one who denies the recompense? That is the one who drives away the orphan, and does not encourage the feeding of the poor.” (Q 107 verse 1-3). An ideal Muslim life is one which incorporates the poor and recognises the underprivileged.

For the believer, the power to attain any fortune rests with the Creator and not the sole product of individual brilliance, bravery or tact. This breeds the concept of mutual respect among all people, regardless of status, race and influence. Indeed, the words of Allah are true: “O mankind, indeed, we have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you.” (Q49 verse 13).

This is the month which practically levels the barriers between the poor and the rich, allowing man to live the world of reality, in contrast to that deceit, self-centeredness and pride which characterize the yawning gap he has overtly and covertly created between himself and others. Here liesthe lesson for the human race at large. People in authority, especially, must be bold to collapse the walls of political, economic and social inequality that have become the hallmark of many societies today. They are only tools for exploitation, avarice, injustice and disorderliness.

Through the spirit of charity, which reaches the zenith in this month, the Muslim demonstrates a total submission to the will of his creator. The culture of giving to others, notwithstanding the meagerness of resources at one’s disposal, builds a personality of unrivaled level of benignity and philanthropy. This radiates love amongthe people and the society becomes good for it. The relative peace and reduction in crime during Ramadan is a testimony to the ability of man to turn new leaf given the right atmosphere.

Unlike the mundane theories of economics, Islam ties an increase in wealth to abundant spending. Allah has promised a minimum of tenfold reward for any act of spending. Abu Hurayrah has also related that the holy prophet said, “The Lord’s commandment for every one of His slaves is ‘spend on others, and I will spend on you”. Thus, through charity, the Muslim sows the seed of economic wellness and improved standard of living. This is a lesson in economic redistribution for those who yearn for a prosperous community.

Time management is a phenomenon to be guarded jealously during the month. No time should be allowed to stroll away without being tied to a righteous deed, and no time should be consumed on a non-productive venture. A time-table of daily activities would be a useful guide in this respect. To be frank, there is no alternative to becoming new personalities in this month, as this may be our last Ramadan on earth! Shall we not take time to reflect?

To reap maximally from the month, it is incumbent on Muslims to dedicate a wholesome of time to the activities lined up by the religion and demonstrated by the rightly guided predecessors. By using the day and night of Ramadan in adhkar (remembrance of Allah), salah (prayer), nawafil (supererogatory prayers), du’a (supplication), recitation of the Qur’an, seeking knowledge of the religion, charity, keeping family ties, among others, new personalities would emerge that would be pillars for the reconstruction of a new, desired society.

Adesina is the Imam, Ash-Shamsiyah Mosque, Kubwa, Abuja.