The Quran has not been revealed because people will believe without due diligence and then believe in it and show their reverence by printing it in the form of a decorative
artwork, and then wrapping in velvet fabric would place it in an unreachable shelf close to the
roof, and occasionally recite without understanding the meaning to search the key to heaven. The real purpose of recitation is to
read, learn, and understand that should lead to implementation of the teachings of the
Quran in our full spectrum of life.
The time that is especially important for us to intimately understand the above-mentioned connection is the month of fasting. It is to materialize and practice the divine guidance we need
Taqwa. Yet, most of us are either not aware or caring about the link between fasting and
Taqwa. Even many of among us who are conscious of this connection neglect our responsibility to recognize and accept
Taqwa as the foundation of building our entire life in light of the Quran. Those who understand the triangular connection can also easily understand the consequence of ignorance about and negligence toward this connection.
In the context of the breakdown of moral and ethical fabric of the contemporary Muslim
society, it is important for us to recognize that the solution is intimately related to the functional link between
Taqwa and our moral and practical values. There is no hope for our true
liberation, both at the individual and the collective level, until we can bridge the gap between our words and action and solve our problem of lack of integrity of purpose and behavior. We need a fundamental overhaul of our values. It is not that we as Muslims are not familiar with such values.
However, a great deal of ignorance and misunderstanding exists in regard to the proper place of such values in our life.
It is also a basic failure of those among us who are educated and/or scholars, especially from the religious
viewpoint, to present this importance of the value and ethical system to our masses. This is evidenced by the fact that one can observe the contents and focus of the Jumuah Khutbah
(Friday Prayer Sermon) where so much is mentioned about prayer and other aspects of
Islam, but in my life I haven't heard one Friday sermon emphasizing the importance literacy or developing good relationship with everyone including
Let us ignore the case of those who are secular (in some cases, anti-religion). Ignorance of or negligence toward religion in general on their part is understandable. In different societies there are many types of people who are secular or even
anti-religion. Even in our Muslim societies, there are "secular Muslims" - that
is, essentially "anti-religion Muslims." It is such a ridiculous as well as pathetic situation. But we will deal with this aspect on another occasion.
The reality is that secularism, atheism, agnosticism, nationalism, socialism, or capitalism does not give us such as an
effective, balanced, comprehensive, and coherent framework of moral and ethical standard that in aggregate is beneficial for us. One can't escape in this context the question that how in the world then the Muslim societies are so messed up. Some may also raise the
question, what then is the secret of the dazzling success of the West? Is their ethical foundation and moral values ineffective or useless? We have to analyze these questions at two levels.
At one level we have to deal with those who either are not fanatical against a central role of religion in human life or do not have a strong position on this issue one way or another. They generally have a different perspective about religion. Then there are those who would like to see religion as central to human
life, among whom Muslims are supposed to be included. The discussion at the first level is
important, but its scope is different. Our focus in this article is the second group of people.
Those who identify themselves as Muslims have a well-defined set of ideals and principles as well as a framework of moral and ethical standard. There is no need for or room of blind faith in Islam. Islam doesn't recognize or dignify blind faith and that is why it educates us in no ambiguous terms that to believe in Islam means that we should embrace Islam based on knowledge and understand and in its totality
- that is, its philosophy, vision, values and laws. And if we do accept Islam, we should make a sincere and committed effort to organize our entire life according to Islam. We may have doubts or vacillation about it. Islam fully recognizes our liberty and invites us to the same effect to work toward removing such doubts or vacillation. If such doubts or vacillation cannot be overcome or
resolved, why should we accept Islam? What is really then the need to believe in Islam? What is the reason or benefit of such faith and identity? What is the meaning and value of being a Muslim with such
doubt, hesitation or ambivalence?
Therefore, we need to be clear and honest to ourselves that those who have such ambivalence about Islam neither they will benefit from
Islam, nor will they benefit the Muslims or humanity at large. Let us now briefly discuss the case of those who sincerely believe in Islam.
What is the reason behind the moral breakdown of our society, the majority of which are intimately identified with Islam. What is the explanation of the fragility and decadence of such society?
Whatever views we hold about the Western societies and whether we have any interest or not in engaging ourselves in a comparative
analysis, there is a clear criteria for us as Muslims to evaluate our problems, and that criteria is Islam.
Let us ask ourselves a few more pertinent questions? Why has our society become so unstable? Is there any solution of this in Islam? As Muslims are we facilitators or hindrance in this situation? What is the reason behind widespread
poverty, deprivation, exploitation and oppression in our society? Is Islam a failure in this case;
or, do we have these problems due to Islam; or, is it that it is because of us these problems persist? Why
corruption, bribery and violent conflict so rampant in our society? Should we place the blame for these as well on Islam? Should we ignore our worldly problems and cherish our success in the life hereafter by attributing these problems to destiny?
Why the control and authority in our societies in the hands of individuals,
parties, or groups that have absolutely no integrity? Is Islam's teaching unambiguous in these regards? Why the precious infants in various parts of the Muslim world have to die prematurely due to malnutrition or diseases? Why do we still bear the curse of illiteracy? In the context of all
these, what really is the power and benefit of our Iman (belief), Amal (action), and
Taqwa (God-consciousness)? Does Islam then teach us to abandon this world in favor the life hereafter? Do we really expect to represent Islam to the humanity while we are
humiliated, subjugated, dependent, or problem-ridden on one hand, and a laughing stock of the world as we seek the
aid, recognition, and status from the West? Let us ignore others, but is there really any effective answer from the vast number of pious Muslims
- who devoutly perform prayer and fasting - to all these problems?
Only God knows as to which month of Ramadan will be the last one in our life.
Yet, if we are to deal with the problems mentioned above, it is vitally important that we understand Taqwa's triangular connection based on the month of
Ramadan, fasting, and the Quran as the guidance. This connection should help us understand and motivate better that
Taqwa, Ramadan, and the Quran are not for a ritual-oriented life, but a value-based,
action-oriented life for us, which is also for the betterment of the humanity. Let us welcome this blessed month of Ramadan with that spirit and
awareness, and channel this Aakhirah-bound life to the desired direction by enhancing our
Taqwa that would help us build a dynamic Islamic life.
Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq is an
associate professor of economics and finance at Upper Iowa University.
The author welcomes volunteers who would like to translate this piece into
their native language.