Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Ramadan a month of self reflection

June 6 — The Ramadan month is here again as it does every year. Every Sunni Muslim knows that fasting is required during the month of Ramadan, it is one of the five pillars of his faith. He knows how to fast, when to break fast and what to do during the fasting month so that his fast fulfils the requirements of the fast.
This is the time when Muslims undergo disciplinary training of abstinence from food, drinks, lust and management of emotions for the love of Allah. The month is also filled with nightly ritual prayer of terawih, a special prayer which is much longer than the normal five times per day prayers.
Correctly practised, Ramadan is capable of being a month that transforms the caterpillar into a butterfly, change of bad habits into good ones. It can cause the hijrah or migration of  a person from a lower state into a higher state, a poor character into an exemplary one.
Whether Ramadan serves the purpose of transforming a person into a better human being or it only serves as a mere religious ritual depends on many factors, primarily how the individual Muslim sees it. It will be a sad state if good character emerges only for one month to be replaced by poor character for the next 11 months.
One of the significance of the Ramadan month is that Muslims believe the Quran was first revealed during this month. The first verse revealed was said to be the following in Surah Al Alaq: Read (O Muhammad!) in the name of your Lord who created (96.1). He created man from a clot (96.2). 
“Read, and your Lord is the Most Honorable (96.3) who taught with the pen, (96.4) taught man what he did not know.’’
Hence, the month of Ramadan is also a month of learning and relearning. In line with the first verse of the Quran, Muslims can use this month to revisit the contents of the Quran and to reach out to its messages. To read in the name of the Lord who teaches humans what they know not. This will be the best opportunity to evaluate how far we may have moved away from the teachings in the Quran and accepted other teachings of men as divine.
To the believer, there are many pearls of wisdom in the Quran and guidance for mankind in many areas of our life, particularly how to be a human being useful to His creations and to ourselves. The most basic and fundamental teachings of Islam comes from the Quran.
If a Muslim takes the trouble to allocate a mere one hour a day in the month of Ramadan to study the Quran, he may emerge more knowledgeable about Islam as contained in the Quran at the end of the Ramadan month.
Reading sincerely leads to self-reflection and hopefully, leads us nearer to Allah in our actions and we become useful human beings on earth so that those who do have the benefit of the Quran can see its mercy through our actions of kindness and industry. 
Reading the Quran will make us aware that there are many approaches of peace that Allah has taught us when we are faced with potentially hostile situations.
Reading the Quran also teaches us to preempt potentially aggressive or hostile situations in our dealings with other fellow human beings. As I mentioned earlier, reading the Quran will lead to self-reflection which is very important in life, like spring- cleaning our house or our cupboard. There could have been many mental cobwebs and dirt that may need to be dusted in our minds and our hearts.
Allah has clearly stated in the Quran that he will not change our state until we change what is within us. In other words, He requires those who want to improve to take stock of themselves — their diligence level, their mindsets, their thirst and quest for knowledge and so on.
I would invite my Muslim brothers and sisters to look inwards at ourselves during this Ramadan and see whether we are responsible for the state and condition that we are in. I find that too often we are busy blaming everyone from the Jews to anyone else who does not sound like us for our woes.
The story of Prophet Yunus in the Quran is an excellent example to critically evaluate myself when things go wrong. More likely than not, I must have erred in some way for me to receive “negative” response from the world.
“And remember Zun-nun (Yunus), when he departed in wrath: He imagined that We had no power over him! But he cried through the depths of darkness. There is no God but You: glory to You: I was indeed wrong! 021.088. So We listened to him: and delivered him from distress: and thus do We deliver those who have faith.” (Al Anbiya 87 – 88).
Salam Ramadan to all and may you each be blessed with what you sow.

*Jahaberdeen is a senior lawyer and founder of Rapera, a movement that encourages thinking and compassionate citizens. He can be reached at
** This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Malay Mail Online.
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