The holy month of Ramadan has come again and millions of muslims worldwide count their blessings. They feel so fortunate that they are getting one more opportunity to rededicate their lives to God; another chance to reboot their spiritual orientation. For many Muslims, Ramadan is a boot camp for rituals. Pray more, play less is their mantra & so it so it should be.
Ramadan is the time when Muslims try to emphasize four activities – prayer, fasting, charity and remembrance. Remembrance of God is done through through prayer, through extended and frequent reading of the Holy Quran and the constant chanting of the ninety-nine names and attributes of God, such as The Most Merciful, The Most Benevolent, The Most Beautiful, The Most Wise, the True Reality and the All Knowing. The Quran itself teaches that the heart finds contentment in the remembrance of God (13:28).
Prayer is the simplest and the easiest way to constantly reconnect with God. Muslims are obligated to pray five times a day, and if they intend to fulfill this obligation, they will of necessity have to restructure their day to make it possible. Thus, in a way, their entire life becomes God-centered – if every day is planned around the prayer schedule.
Islam teaches that good deeds, especially charity and worship, are pathways to forgiveness and purification. An increased commitment to both is the best way to self-purification. An important characteristic of the spiritualized soul is sensitivity to forgiveness. Forgiving those who hurt us, and seeking forgiveness from God and others for our own transgressions, brings both softness and tranquility to the soul. Spiritual teachers describe this as the sweetness of faith that enriches the life of those who believe. The Quran often reminds us that God loves those who are constantly repentant and self-purifying (Quran 2:222).
The material world is a separation from the divine and the spiritual realm. It is both a test and a distraction. But when the material life is shaped by remembrance of God, then it becomes the bridge that connects to the ultimate reality, the final destination. Ramadan, when spent with an enhanced awareness of God, can be truly cleansing, spiritually as well as philosophically.
There is no doubt that worship in its ritualized forms is important. The Quran teaches that God created humanity only to worship him (Quran 51:56). But, worship can be understood in broader terms, particularly in the Islamic context where the term for worship and service is one and the same (ibadah). Ramadan, if Muslims wanted, could become a moment when they also reflect on their material and secular existence and restructure it to serve God and humanity and ensure that God-consciousness permeates through service to others.
What are you doing for Ramadan? Are you fasting or fundraising? Have you set yourself a particular challenge or are you doing something different this year? Share your photos, videos, stories and comments on our website for Ramadan.