Saturday, October 18, 2008

Raya Greeting: Who Deserves It?

Assalamualaykum w.b.t.

Meeting my brothers and sisters fillah again. The leaving of Ramadhan, we hope, has gifted us a vastly increased level of iman and amal insyaAllah. And today is the 18th day after Ramadhan left us. Actually I wanted to post this entry much earlier than this i.e. the first week of Syawal but we cannot accomplish something without the ‘approval letter’ from Allah S.W.T. We just plan and it is He who determines. I had been busy with a number of activities and events that required a deep commitment. What made me feel like writing this entry is still related with Ramadhan and Syawal. Maybe some have heard and digested enough the subject matter. But again, like I have been saying in my previous posts, let’s take this as a refresh button to our brain. Letting our brain flow is much better than letting it be stagnant. Probably, actively utilizing our brain helps prevent thrombosis of the brain vessels.

Now, what is the big deal about the issue I am trying to bring about? And I will begin with a fact that there are several misconceptions that many Muslims have with regard to Hari Raya. However, these are the flaws of views and thoughts. Such views are floated primarily due to the ignorance of religious value. Moreover, those are the people, on the forefront of such theories, who do not even fast during Ramadan, but are very ‘concerned’ about certain facts with regard to Hari Raya. And what are those facts?

The very first misconception these folks have is that, for them, Hari Raya is a festival akin to Christmas, Holi or Diwali or it is a national festival that is manifested as a symbol of unity for Muslims. However, Hari Raya (Eidulfitri to be exact) is essentially related to supplication that commences at the beginning of Ramadhan and culminates after the end of Ramadhan, by thanking Allah, with special Eid prayers.

There one more question is. And this is the main issue of this entry. Who truly deserves Hari Raya greetings? After necessary clarification on this subject, I extend my greeting to you and to all of my Muslim brothers and sisters. People who genuinely deserve the greeting of Hari Raya are those who fasted for the whole month of Ramadhan; who endeavoured to take maximum benefit from the instructions of Qur'an ; who tried to read, understand and take guidance from Qur'an and took advantage of the character-building exercise which Ramadhan seeks to impart to every Muslim. Qur'an explains only two primary objectives of the month of Ramadhan: firstly, Muslims should build their character. And secondly, Muslims pay gratitude to Allah for the favour He has bestowed on Muslims, in the form of revealing Qur'an, during the month of Ramadhan.

If there is one biggest favour Allah has done to the humanity, it is the revelation of Qur'an. This is the greatest divine blessing, because, you see, food and other resources, for instance, oxygen, water, food grains and similar sources of economy, through which man earns the bread, constructs house, provides clothing, though these provisions too are the blessings and kindness of Allah, but they are merely meant for the human body. Holy Qur’an is the blessing which is conceived for the soul of man, for his character and essentially for his real altruism, is the ultimate blessing. A Muslim can offer true gratitude to Allah only in a situation when he thanks on the food provided by Him and also on the gracious commandments which have been issued to him in the form of Qur'an. The most appropriate way to thank Him is not just verbal appreciation like ‘thank you Allah for giving us Qur'an’, rather the precise approach for doing that is to acknowledge Qur'an as the wellhead of guidance; recognize it as a true navigator and take practical advantage of its counseling.

Qur'an gives us instructions about our personal life that how should we lead a devout life. It forbids us from deeds that are harmful in shaping a character full life. It gives us guidelines, by pursuing which, our personality will develop in an upright manner and we could become an exemplary human being. It also provides extensive guidance about our collective life. How to shape our social life and our domestic life? What should be the outline of our culture and civilization? How should we conduct the affairs of our state? What would be our constitution? How should we manage the social life? What should be the avenues to earn our bread and butter? Where should we and should not spend our earned money? How should be our relation with Allah? How should be our relation with our own conscience? What should be the nature of our relationship and behaviour with other human beings, our spouse, our off-springs, our parents, our folks, members of our own society and the entire human population of the earth, even with plants and animals, and with various blessings of Allah? Qur'an gives us specific instructions about each of these aspects of life. The obligations of every Muslim is to accept it as real fountain head for guidance; turn towards it for counseling; truly recognize those instructions, directions and principles which it is dispensing. Muslims should reject all those beliefs and practices which contradict them, whatever is the source.

Going back to the subject, I would say if an individual has, during the month of Ramadhan, read through Qur'an and understood it from this perspective and has endeavoured to absorb its teachings and instructions, to the maximum possible extent, in his life and character, then he/she has offered true gratitude to Allah for this divine blessings – in the form of Qur'an. For this, he/she literally deserves the greetings that he/she has completely fulfilled the responsibility, which the month of Ramadhan placed on him/her.

An equally important objective of fasting, in the month of Ramadhan, for which it has been made mandatory is that we should lead a pious and righteous life. If we consider the reality of fasting, then we would know that righteousness and piety cannot be injected in a better and more effective way than this. And what is righteousness and piety? Righteousness is, essentially, to refrain from violating the commands of Allah and adhere to His guidelines. Fasting allows us to continuously practice this for a month.

Deeds which are usually permissible in our life, they too are forbidden during fasts, by the order of Allah, and continue to be so until they are again permitted by Allah only. Even water which is pure and permissible, during fasting when Allah instructs us not to consume this, then not a single drop can be swallowed down the throat, even if the throat begins to crack by thirst. However, the moment drinking of water is allowed by Allah, then we tend to rush towards it as if we were tied down and we have just been released. This process of caging and freeing persists, for a month, so that we are prepared for the total submission to Allah. You get used to stay away from those activities, which are banned by Him and undertake things, which are permitted by Him. We manage to exercise full control over our inner-self that it could not force us to carry out its unwarranted demands, against the will of Allah. This is the second real motive for which fasting is made mandatory for us.

If during the month of Ramadhan any individual has imbibed this spirit of fast, then he truly justifies the greetings of Raya. And the one who does not throw up this month-long training on the very first day after Raya, but keeps benefiting from this for the remaining eleven months of the year, he is even more worthy for Raya greetings. :-)

Let us imagine this analogy. Consider a situation where an individual eats highly lavish food, which is extremely nutritious for him, but immediately after feeding, he vomits it out by putting a finger into the throat. If it is so, then there will be no benefit of this diet, because he has not allowed the food to digest and translate into blood. On the contrary, if an individual eats and digests food and then blood is made which circulates in his body, then this the actual reward of eating which he has gained. Or thinking it similarly, eating and digesting simple food is better than eating very lavish food and throwing it up. This is the case of fasting during Ramadhan. The real payoff of Ramadhan can be gained only when, after Raya, we do not puke the vigorous training, imparted to us for a month. Rather, for remaining eleven months, allow its effects to work on our life. It one can achieve this goal from Ramadhan, then he truly deserves hearty greetings; that he has bagged a very precious blessing of Allah. :-):-)

And I hate to say this. Unfortunately, a large number of people among us are those who do not turn towards Allah even during Ramadhan. The holy month comes and goes but their homes do not indicate any sign that these are inhabited by Muslims, for whom this month has any special significance. Leave fasting, they do not even care to show any respect for this month. Their eating and drinking persists even during Ramadhan, like any Christian, Hindu or Sikh.

Let us imagine another analogy. This analogy I got from an article by Syeikh Al-Maududi. It says those who behave like this are akin or similar to a situation of a barren land that, even during monsoons, when every inch of land turns lush green and the crop blooms and flourishes, does not produce a single leaf of grass. The way monsoons are a season of cultivation and growth for land, similarly Ramadhan is an era of sprouting and flowering of the spirit of Islam. If Allah had issued the directive of fasting, giving an option to Muslims to keep 30 days fasts at their own convenience, then there would have never been this season-like feeling in our religious life. But, the direction of Supreme Sage has been that all Muslims fast together, in one particular month only. This move has created the feeling of a season. When the season comes, leave aside high quality fertile land, even those pieces of land which have limited level of fertility, buds of vegetable begin to sprout even in those lands. The bounty of season is such that land with even limited potential of growth is not deprived from its blessings. And the land that does not grow even a bud, during monsoons, is indicative that it is free from the faculty of growth. Similarly, Ramadhan is such a period that those Muslims having a ray of faith and a shred of Islamic emotions, comes this month and the deeply buried faith in them becomes restless, however, insensitivity has been their lifestyle during remaining eleven months.

And pray to Allah S.W.T that we are not and will never become one of them. Having said all these, have we refreshed enough our brain?