If I am honest with myself, then I would have to say that I haven’t always taken advantage of the month of Ramadan. My teachers oft remind me that the greatest struggle is the struggle against the self, the self that so desperately wants to live as it sees fit, to indulge itself in fantasies and lusts. It is that self that Satan strives to entertain, to motivate and to have the servants of the Divine turn their back upon their Creator at the expense of moments of illusion, temporary moments of bliss that only serve to remind you of how empty you are. Because once you’ve experienced that bliss you continue seeking it, hoping that like a glass of soda it will somehow have the same effect that a glass of cold water has on a sunny day.
Ramadan is a month in which the servant of God is at war with the self, and where God makes this war obligatory on us. When He gives His servants the key to winning these battles. Fasting, Prayer, and the Night of Decree. God created Satan from fire, and just like in the movies where the hero is surrounded by a wall of fire, which separates her from her freedom, Satan is that barrier. He threatens to scorch the servant of God if they dare attempt to subdue him, to defeat him and thereby subdue their inner desires. All praise be to God who sends His clouds of mercy in this month to help extinguish that flame.
Narrated Abu Huraira:
I heard God’s Messenger (ﷺ) saying regarding Ramadan, “Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from God, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.”
Why would the servant of God not prepare themselves and go into this month with passion and vigor? This is the chance of a lifetime, and for many, it may be their last. I often think, what if I don’t make it through the entire month? What if God takes my soul moments before the month begins? How sad it would be knowing that I could have had an opportunity to be in a month where hellfire was literally closed shut upon His servants. This beautiful month that is one of the pillars upon which this faith rests upon. The month in which the weighty words of God descended from the heavens from the Angel Gabriel down to the Cave of Hira to the Blessed Prophet of Mankind, Muhammad (May God’s peace and blessings be upon him). “The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. God intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify God for that which He has guided you [to]; and perhaps you will be grateful” (Quran 2:185).
This is the moment many of us have been waiting upon for the past year, seeking God’s forgiveness and mercy that He allow us to enter upon it. This is the moment of truth, the moment that servants are pulled from their places in the Hellfire and given Paradise. The moment sinners become saints, the moment liars become known as the truthful, thieves become restorers, the corrupt become the majestic people they were born to be. This month is when those who have strayed so far from the call of God finally decide to pick up the phone and answer, their hearts melt, their eyes tear, their knees buckle and they fall in submission to the Divine. “Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of God and what has come down of the truth? And let them not be like those who were given the Scripture before, and a long period passed over them, so their hearts hardened; and many of them are defiantly disobedient” (57:16).
For some, this month may just be about staying away from food and sex. For others it will be about putting away the pornography addiction or smoking, others may decide to begin praying, wearing the hijab, breaking up with their girlfriend or to place the booze away for 30 days, all of that is good and may they be rewarded abundantly for putting God ahead of themselves. But there is a rank higher than that, a rank that angels can never and will never reach. A rank of not only putting the lower self and desires to the side, but becoming so focused, so in love, so entrenched, and so blindsided by their love for the one who is LOVE. This month for some will be a month of losing the self like one who glances upon the beauty of cherry blossoms for the first time, and instead of taking a picture, they decide to soak in the scene. They are in awe of the beauty before them, and the self is no longer important, all that matters is the Glory of God.
Narrated Al-Abbas bin Abdul-Muttalib:
that he heard the Messenger of God (ﷺ) say: “Whoever is pleased with God as (his) Lord, and Islam as (his) religion, and Muhammad as (his) Prophet, then he has tasted the sweetness of faith.”
Some of us will taste that sweetness, and I ask the Divine that He facilitate all of us with the opportunity. How beautiful would it be if we all had that moment of realization, that moment when nothing matters aside from knowing that every sin, every distraction, every heartbreak, every divorce, loss of a child, moment where you knew not how the next bill would be paid, all of those moments of sheer depression prepared you for this greatest moment of jubilee, this moment when you realised you were chosen by the Divine, to enter into His garden and to live eternity with Him. This is Ramadan, this is why we stand, this is why we cry, and this is why we lose sleep, because we yearn for the greatest opportunity given to humankind.
Abu Hurairah narrated that:
The Messenger of God said: “There are two joys for the fasting person: the joy when he breaks his fast, and the joy of when he meets his Lord.”
The moment that the servant is able to glance upon the face of the Divine, may God give us that moment, and an eternity of moments like it, with Him, and may this be a reminder for those who believe.