What is the first thing which comes to your mind when you think about Ramadan? Tarawaeh (night prayers), Suhoor and iftar meals, Sadaqa (Charity), Quran, Itikaf (seclusion in the masjid) or the night of decree? Last year Ramadan was unlike any other and it continues to be different. The pandemic has changed many things related to Ramadan. Long tarawaeh (night prayers) in the masjid were replaced by mini jamaat (prayer gathering) at home lead by head of the family or our sons who have managed to memorize parts of the Quran. With no guests to entertain our iftar tables were mostly much simpler and easier to prepare. Needy didn’t have to travel to receive zakat. It was transferred to their account. We were hurt to be deprived of the opportunity to perform itikaf in the masjid during the last 10 days of the Ramadan. How we wished to see Masjid al haram packed with people performing umrah in Ramadan again! Some countries have relaxed restrictions this year. Still, the way we face Ramadan has changed. Yet from the day it was prescribed its essence remains the same! Why did Allah prescribe fasting upon us? These are common reasons one could think about: –
- Fasting makes appreciate and be thankful for the things we are blessed with.
- It encourages us to leave things which displease Allah.
- It enables us to control our desires.
- It makes us compassionate towards poor.
There is more to Ramadan. Let us see what Quran has to say about the purpose of the month of Ramadan.
O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous (adopt TAQWA). Quran (2:183)
The verse clearly emphasis on Taqwa. It is mostly translated as righteousness or fear. But there is more to it and it cannot be translated in English.
What is Taqwa?
Taqwa is like a bird flying to Allah. The body of the bird is ilm (KNOWLEDGE), the head is LOVE, the wings are HOPE and FEAR.
Ibn al-Qayyim (May Allah have mercy on him) stated: The heart, in its journey to Allah, Majestic is He, is like that of a bird: love is its head, and fear and hope are its two wings. When the head and two wings are sound, the bird flies gracefully; if the head is severed, the bird dies; if the bird loses one of its wings, it then becomes a target for every hunter or predator.
Taqwa is leading a conscious life as though one is walking on a path of thorns. It’s a shield of obedience (adhering to Allah’s commands) against Allah’s anger and punishment.
Qualities of people with Taqwa.
IN the very beginning of Suratul – Baqarah (2nd chapter: Quran) we learn that Guidance (through Quran) is for those who adopt TAQWA. The next few verses clearly mention the qualities of those who adopt Taqwa. These are:
- Those who BELIEVE in the unseen (Allah, Angels,) and keep up prayer and SPEND out (Zakat, charity, on family and relatives) of what We have given them. [Quran (2:3)]
- And who believe in (THE QUR’AN AND THE SUNNAH) which has been sent down (revealed) to you (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) and in that which was sent down before you [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel), etc.] and they believe with certainty in the Hereafter. (Resurrection, recompense of their good and bad deeds, Paradise and Hell). [Quran (2:4)]
These should be our criteria to test our self. Has our fasting led us to praying on time? Do we connect with Quran and obey it? Are we conscious of Halal and Haram? And don’t we ask for a blissful hereafter (heaven)?
What do we get from Taqwa?
The very next verse reveals it.
- They are on (true) guidance from their Lord, and they are the successful. [Quran (2:5)]
Guidance and Eternal Success is those who adopt Taqwa.
We fast as commanded by Allah with the ultimate goal to please Allah. And who is Allah is more pleased with? Of course, it’s the one with more TAQWA.
إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ
Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa. Quran (49:13)
Numerous verses in Quran start with, “fear Allah”. These verses command believers to be Patient, obedient (to Allah) and rely on Him. For those with Taqwa, there are many blessings. Here are some of the mentioned blessings:
Verily, for the Muttaqun are Gardens of delight (Paradise) with their Lord. Quran (68:34)
And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). Quran (65:2)
And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make his matter easy for him. Quran (65:4)
whosoever fears(taqwa) Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will expiate from him his sins, and will enlarge his reward. Quran (65:5)
O you who have believed, fear Allah and believe in His Messenger; He will [then] give you a double portion of His mercy and make for you a light by which you will walk and forgive you; and Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. Quran (57:28)
O you who have believed, fear Allah and speak words of appropriate justice. He will [then] amend for you your deeds and forgive you your sins. Quran (33:70,71)
Essence of Ramadan
I just mentioned very few verses. This Ramadan, pay special attention to verses about Taqwa. Acquiring Taqwa should be our goal in every Ramadan. This is the month when we get to charge ourself with taqwa. This should aid us to lead a life as ordained by Allah. May we not a live a headless life overlooking commandments of Allah. May we overlook our differences and enjoin one another to do good and forbid evil. May we lead life as though we are walking the path of thorns (Careful). May we be blessed with TAQWA.
رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّاتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعْيُنٍ وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا
“Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders of the Muttaqun.”