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Ramadan – An Archetype of Islam

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By Yaseen Kippie

The month of Ramadan is a festive period for all Muslims, whether rich or poor, young or old. It brings a sense of heightened consciousness of Allah through fasting together as a community. This is an archetype of what Islam really stands for. This consciousness, or Taqwa, is the very purpose of Ramadan. As Allah says in the Quran, “Oh you who believe, Fasting has been prescribed upon you as it has been prescribed upon those before you, so that you may attain Taqwa.”

With the constant news of the misrepresentation of Islam by fundamentalist extremists, it is becoming more and more difficult to focus on Allah by oneself. Ramadan brings our focus back into frame.
The time of Ramadan is one of renewal, whether by those who are always fervent on their practice of Islam, or by those who find it difficult to always fulfil the rituals. The challenge, more often than not, is not the fasting itself, but everything that goes with it. For those who hardly pray Salah, it is a time which pushes one to do so.

But this is what Islam is all about. Islam does not ask of us to be the holiest of peoples by sitting the entire day and night on our Musallah making Dhikr, it is about how the rituals transforms us spiritually.  We are souls, before we are Muslims. And when a person decides to fulfil certain obligations along with fasting during Ramadan, it is completely unwarranted to label them as ‘Ramadan Muslims’, or even worse yet as a Munafiq – a hypocrite.

It is upon us, collectively, to embrace the true spirit of Islam as represented in the sacred days of Ramadan, and be means for people’s renewal. Because if we do not, we are simply being non-violent extremists, and not all that different from violent ones.

It is through fasting that we attain this heightened sense of consciousness. This is because Ramadan is a Madrassa. The meaning of ‘Madrassa’ is much more than an institution, it is a place of removal. It is the removal of negative qualities from our hearts. Vices such as malice, envy, hatred, illicit desire and covetousness. And it is, at the same time, the place of adornment, of positive qualities, such as a heightened consciousness of Allah, compassion, love and appreciation.

Appreciation, or Shukr, is the key to increase. Allah says, “If you are grateful to me, I will increase you.” Remaining without food, drink and intimate relations, puts us into a mood that allows us to ponder whether we are subservient to these things by always indulging in them way more than we actually need. Once we realize the immense blessing of Allah upon us, in all circumstances, of things we know and do not know, we should show thankfulness. And at the same time, ask ourselves, “What can I do for my Lord?”

This question seems unanswerable, but it is actually not. Despite our feeling of incapacity to do things for Allah, we can do amazing work that equates as ‘helping’ Allah. Allah says, “If you help Me, I will Help you.” Does this mean we can benefit from Allah? No. It means that we can help Allah’s Deen, through benefitting His creation. Support initiatives to feed, clothe and teach people. Invite non-Muslims for iftar and taraweeh. Show them the love we are instilled with through Ramadan, so that we can be a strong antidote to the religious distortion by fundamentalist extremists.

Finally, in order to continue with the spirit of Ramadan, we must realize that the Lord of Ramadan, is the Lord of every other month. And that while we may have struggled before to fulfil what Islam asks of us, Ramadan has given us that training, to build habits, to build sacred monotony. VOC


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