This title may be a “little” misleading, well at least to non Muslims, and without going into theological dissertations about Islamic jurisprudence, basically what I’m referring to is the spiritual and physical tight ropes Muslims walk during this blessed and holy month.
These are the last several days of Ramadan and one would expect by this time in the month the jihad or holy struggle required of us by fasting would be easy… Well it isn’t.
This struggle remains throughout Ramadan and the adherence to such becomes increasingly important even as we approach the “finish line”.
In my humble opinion, Allah (swt) rewards us throughout this month and the blessings are greater when the jihad becomes greater.
This wasn’t or isn’t intended to be a short kutbah or sermon, its more of an introduction about my Ramadan experience, particularly today’s experience.
Today’s fasting was especially difficult for me. It’s actually my fault to begin with. I have a major certification class, in which I started typing this entry during our lunch break, and I was reminded of my jihad.
My rememberance of jihad came quickly today because of several “misteps”…well, I didn’t go to sleep until 1 am, the baby woke up around 4 am, stayed that way until 7 am when I left home, and my sahoor (breakfast before sunrise) wasn’t that great, because I was too sleepy to eat.
Most Muslims and even non Muslims in general can see the suicide in this.
Well, I get to the class, and the people to my right and left are drinking coffee and eating pastries. We all know that must have been a great joy for me to witness…
Actually it wasn’t that bad, because class was an hour or two after my sahoor.
Now the reason behind this post:
Given the circumstances (being dead tired, hungry, etc), I cannot even begin to fully disclose how difficult it was for me to sit through lunch while my classmates ate catered foods.
And that explains my jihad: I’m weak from my hunger and fatigue and I have to witness eating and drinking all around me. Not to mention like most lectures of this calibre, it was kinda long and dry and needless to say I wasnt the spokesperson for Red Bull today. Add to that my self imposed “condition” and you have a recipe for certain disaster.
However, even with the great temptation of breaking my fast, I maintained it. Not because I wasn’t hungry, thirsty, or just plain out tired and could have used the carbs, but because I refocused and remembered why I was fasting in the first place.
Oftentimes, as Muslims or just religious people in general, we get into the “habit” or “routine” of just practice. We become so mechanical in our worship, that we forget why we are even practicing in the first place. Like when I was a “Christian”… There was a song called “Jesus is the reason for the season” this song came about because people celebrated Christmas, but rarely used it as a time of reflection to remember the one whom they namesake the holiday.
My point is whether your a Muslim, Christian, or Jew, no matter your “religion” is, oftentimes we get so caught up in tradition or practice, we forget all about principle. This can happen in many and varying forms, not just fasting, but praying, charity, etc.
So, I began to reflect on Ramadan and what it truly means in essence. Granted, I haven’t even really discussed Ramadan at length this month, primarily, because there is a wealth of blogs that already do that, and many of them I read anyway, but I wanted to add my 2 cents today, because it all came full circle for me.
Ramadan is not just about fasting because this is the month in which the Prophet(saw) received the revelation of the Koran. Its not just a time to be better Muslims, adding extra prayers, paying zakat, or whatever we do to be closer to Allah (swt) so that we may receive blessings and forgiveness.
Ramadan is about the jihad that we face throughout this sport and play we call “life”. Ramadan exemplifies the concept of jihad moreso than at anyother time because it forces jihad to be real for every Muslim.
Jihad as we know, is the holy struggle that one must face daily between doing what is righteous and what is not. Everyone doesn’t sin everyday, contrary to some dogma’s out there, so in truth everyone’s jihad is not the same. In fact, for some Muslims, Jews, and Christians their jihad is a breeze more often than not, I happen to know some people like this, we tend to call them “true” believers.
Everyone doesnt sin daily, however, everyone surely eats and drinks something right? Allah (swt) uses Ramadan to put every believer on equal footing, by prohibiting those things that are normally allowed, in this case food and drink. It’s a lot easier to deny and prevent fornication, lying, stealing, etc. than it is to deny and prevent food and drink, especially for a month.
So Allah (swt) uses this as a test to show us that we have potential. If we can deny the physical need(s) for a period of time, surely we can deny the physical want(s) many of which are carnal and oft forbidden anyway. This is a time of discipline and spiritual training. This is when we find out if we have what it takes to actually be “Muslim” one who submits himself or herself to do the will of Almighty God, Allah (swt).
So this “talk” is every bit as much a writing to encourage the believers of all religions, as it is a reflection on my behavior and my ability to call back into focus those higher principles which are greater than my physical reality.
Nevertheless, I maintained and in truth I took a glance at the food and thought of every “out” clause in the Islamic lexicon like feeding the poor, or making up a day, etc. However, once I called into remembrance Ramadan and its many blessings, those desires to eat faded away.
Situations such as the one I faced today are what Allah (swt) allows to happen to make us better believers. We are constantly in an evolution process that involves testing, for surely this it what separates those who will enter paradise from those that will enter the hellfire. Allah (swt) is the blacksmith and we are the steel. He tests us with the fire, then the pounding, then relieves us with the waters, just to start the process all over again. If we accept these tests and persevere, we become the sayfuldeen or sword of religion, that Allah (swt) desires for us all.
In the end I praise Allah (swt) for giving me this test and the blessing of today, not only will it make me a better Muslim because I remained steadfast to my submission, but also, I learned to be better prepared to face the fire when it comes. For instance, I’m going to bed early tonight and have a hearty sahoor tomorrow. 🙂
9:126 Are they, then, not aware that they are being tested year-in, year-out? And yet, they do not repent and do not bethink themselves of God;
أَوَلاَ يَرَوْنَ أَنَّهُمْ يُفْتَنُونَ فِي كُلِّ عَامٍ مَّرَّةً أَوْ مَرَّتَيْنِ ثُمَّ لاَ يَتُوبُونَ وَلاَ هُمْ يَذَّكَّرُونَ
20:131 And never turn thine, eyes with longing towards whatever splendour of this world’s life We may have allowed so many others to enjoy in order that We might test them thereby: for the sustenance which thy Sustainer provides for thee is better and more enduring.
وَلَا تَمُدَّنَّ عَيْنَيْكَ إِلَى مَا مَتَّعْنَا بِهِ أَزْوَاجًا مِّنْهُمْ زَهْرَةَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنيَا لِنَفْتِنَهُمْ فِيهِ وَرِزْقُ رَبِّكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَى
67:2 He who has created death as well as life, so that He might put you to a test and thus show which of you is best in conduct, and make you realize that He alone is almighty, truly forgiving.
الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفُورُ