RAMADAAN 1444 is on our doorstep, and we await its coming with eagerness and excitement.
All over the world, Muslims have been making certain changes in their lives as Ramadaan draws ever closer. The way we plan our days are beginning to change. We are more aware than before of the daily waqts, and (hopefully) more intent on performing our salaah in jamaah (congregation), rather than at home. For those who have slipped up in the performance of their salaah, thoughts of returning to making salaah are much stronger. The emphasis on salaah in thinking about Ramadaan is not accidental.
The most obvious idea about Ramadaan is that Muslims who are able to perform the fast will not eat and drink during the period between Fajr and Maghrib each day for the duration of the month-long period of fasting.
In addition, Muslims do not indulge in sexual pleasures between Fajr and Maghrib.
Along with not eating and drinking, and not engaging in sexual pleasures between Fajr and Maghrib, Muslims are aware of the need to stop lying, backbiting, cheating, defrauding and other negative human activities. The way this is written in this editorial column may make Muslims uncomfortable. It is important that this discomfort be felt.
Why should Muslims be open to the idea that we, too, lie, backbite, cheat and defraud others?
Because we are human, and we are as able to do bad things as is any other human being.
Ramadaan is our annual gift (among Allah SWT’s many gifts to us) from Allah SWT to re-think our lives and the way we live. We have an annual opportunity, with every other Muslim on the planet, to re-assess what it is that we are doing, and to work on correcting our faults. None of us are perfect, and this month of Ramadaan is an opportunity to correct those things in our thoughts and actions that we know should be changed.
One of the obvious things we need to change is the idea that having food and water each day is normal. It is not. Billions of people in the world wake up hungry, and go to sleep hungry. Millions die of starvation each year.
It is therefore important to feel the hunger and thirst during the month of Ramadaan. If we do not feel these pains of being deprived of the food and water that Allah SWT provides for us, we are missing a basic lesson of this month.
When we feel the hunger and thirst, we need to remember that at the end of the day, many of us will be lucky enough to have warm food and cool drinks available to us to end the feelings of hunger and thirst. For the billions of hungry people across the planet, there is no time limit that ends their agony. While we thank Allah SWT for our food and drink at Maghrib, billions are not able to do this.
This is where our salaah is so important. In sujood, we are the closest to Allah SWT that we can be. Increasing our salaah during Ramadaan will make sure that we bring the daily lessons of hunger and thirst into our prostrations before Allah SWT. We will be more conscious of our responsibility to re-think the way we think and act in the world.
Hunger, thirst and poverty can be ended. Ramadaan 1444 can help us become agents of this change.
This editorial comment was first published in the print edition of the March 17, 2023 print edition of Muslim Views.