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Pillars of Islam
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ummziba
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Quote ummziba Replybullet Topic: Ramadhan journey
    Posted: 22 September 2006 at 10:24am

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh to all my Muslim Brothers and Sisters:

Ramadhan is almost upon us.  I thought it might be nice to start a thread where we could post our reflections, thoughts, hopes, insights (and those of others), as we make our Ramadhan journey back to Allah. 

I wish to start by asking forgiveness from anyone who I may have hurt or offended or put off in any way.  I pray that Allah will grant each and every one of you a very blessed Ramadhan.  May He accept your fasts and your prayers and increase you in patience and iman.

Ramadhan Mubarak everyone!

Here is a very nice article by Tariq Ramadan to start things off:

A Profound Faith Married to a Profound Critical Intelligence
by Tariq Ramadan


Most of the classical religious teachings regarding the month of Ramadan insist on the rules being respected as well as the deep spiritual dimension of this month of fast, privations, worship and meditation.

 

While thinking about it more closely, one realizes that this month marries apparently contradictory requirements which, nevertheless,

together constitute the universe of faith. To ponder over these different dimensions is the responsibility of each conscience, each woman, each man and each community of faith, wherever they are.

 

We can never emphasise enough the importance of this "return to oneself" required during this period of fast. Ramadan is a month of abrupt changes; this is true here more than anywhere else. At the heart of our consumer society, where we are used to easy access to goods and possessions and where we are driven by the marked individualism of our daily lives, this month requires from everyone that we come back to the centre and the meaning of our life. At the Centre there is God and one’s heart, as the Qur’an reminds us: "...and know that [the knowledge of] God lies between the human being and his heart." At the Centre, everyone is asked to take up again a dialogue with The Most-High and The Most-Close.. a dialogue of intimacy, of sincerity, of love. To fast is to seek.. with lucidity, patience and confidence.. justice and peace with oneself. The month of Ramadan is the "month of the Meaning".. why this life? What about God in my life? What about my mother and my father.. still alive or already gone? What about my children? My family? My spiritual community? Why this universe and this humanity? What meaning have I given to my daily life? What meaning am I able to be consistent with?

 

The Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) had warned "Some people only gain from their fast the fact that they are hungry and thirsty." He was speaking of those who fast as mechanically as they eat. They deprive themselves from eating with the same unawareness and the same thoughtlessness as they are used to eating and drinking. In fact, they transform it into a cultural tradition, a fashionable celebration, even a month of banquets and "Ramadan nights". A fast of extreme alienation.. a fast of counter-Meaning.

 

As this month invites us towards the deep horizons of introspection and meaning, it reminds us of the importance of detail, precision and discipline in our practice. The precise starting day of Ramadan that must be rigorously found; the precise hour before dawn on which one must stop eating; the prayers to be performed "at determined moments"; the exact time of the break of fast. At the very time of our profound meditation with God and in our own self, one could have thought that it was possible to immerse oneself into one’s feelings because this quest for meaning is so deep that it should be allowed to bypass the details of rules and schedules. But the actual experience of Ramadan teaches us the opposite: no profound spirituality, no true quest of meaning without discipline and rigor as to the management of rules to be respected and time to be mastered.

 

The month of Ramadan marries the depth of the meaning and the precision of the form. There exists an "intelligence of the fast" that arises from the very reality of this marriage between the content and the form: to fast with one’s body is a school for the exercise of the mind. The abrupt changes implied by the fast is an invitation to a transformation and a profound reform of oneself and one’s life that can only occur through a rigorous intellectual introspection (muraqaba). To achieve the ultimate goal of the fast our faith requires a demanding, lucid, sincere, and honest mind capable of sane self-criticism. Everyone should be able to do that for oneself, before God, within one’s solitude as well as within one’s commitment among one’s fellow human beings. It is a question of mastering one’s emotions, to face up to oneself and to take the right decisions as to the transformation of one’s life in order to come closer to the Centre and the Meaning.

 

Muslims of today need more than ever to reconcile themselves with the school of profound spirituality along with the exercise of rigorous and critical intelligence. Particularly in the West. At a time where fear is all around, where suspicion is widespread, where the Muslims are tempted by the obsession to have to defend themselves and to prove constantly their innocence, the month of Ramadan calls them to their dignity as well as to their responsibilities. It is urgent that they learn to master their emotions, to go beyond their fears and doubts and come back to the essential with confidence and assurance. It is imperative too that they make it a rule for themselves to be rigorous and upright in the assessment of their conduct, individually and collectively: self-criticism and collective introspection are of the essence at every step, to achieve a true transformation within Muslim communities and societies.

 

Instead of blaming "those who dominate", "the Other", "the West", etc. it is necessary to make ours the teaching of the month of Ramadan: you are, indeed, what you do of yourself. What are we doing of ourselves today? What are our contributions within the fields of education, social justice and liberty? What are we doing to promote the dignity of women, children or to protect the rights of the poor and the marginalised people in our societies?

 

What kind of models of profound, intelligent and active spirituality do we offer today to the people around us? What have we done with our universal message of justice and peace? What have we done with our message of individual responsibility, of human brotherhood and love? All these questions are in our hearts and minds.. and there is only one response inspired by the Qur’an and nurtured by the month of Ramadan: God will change nothing for the good if you change nothing.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words...they break my soul ~
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Quote MOCKBA Replybullet Posted: 24 September 2006 at 6:53pm

Bismillah

Wa'alaikumu Salaam!

Jazzak Allahu Khair Sister Ummziba! It is a rewarding article, indeed. Ramadhan Kareem!

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Quote mariyah Replybullet Posted: 25 September 2006 at 4:10am
Originally posted by MOCKBA

Bismillah

Wa'alaikumu Salaam!

Jazzak Allahu Khair Sister Ummziba! It is a rewarding article, indeed. Ramadhan Kareem!

Assalaamu alaikum and Ramadan Mubarak to all!

"Every good deed is charity whether you come to your brother's assistance or just greet him with a smile.
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ummziba
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Quote ummziba Replybullet Posted: 25 September 2006 at 6:44am

Assalamu alaikum,

Some Ramadhan reflections of my own:

Ramadhan is upon us and this year, there are more things than ever to reflect upon. The state of the world forces most of us to realize that things are just not the way they should be at all. Some people carry on with their lives, intent on whatever their goals, leaving little room for reflection. Others spend most waking hours in a state of upset and confusion over world affairs.

As Muslims, we must take the middle road on this. There has to be a solid priority for our own lives and a solid commitment to the lives of others. We must find a balance between satisfying our worldly needs and helping others. One cannot just live to satsify themselves and call themself Muslim. One doesn't even have to look very far to find ways to reach out and do something for the betterment of us all.

A good place to start is by personal example. Be the best father, mother, husband, wife, child, sibling, neighbour...that you can be. If you don't know quite how to do that, read about our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and you will find a shining example of a human being! By trying sincerely to follow his example and by trying sincerely to please and worship Allah, we can become extraordinary examples of good human beings.

Allah comes first in the life of a Believer. We must pay strict attention to doing, saying and thinking things that would please our Creator. Next, our family is of utmost importance. Here, we need to fulfill our roles as men and women according to the dictates set out by Allah in the Qur'an and by following the example of our Prophet. Next comes community, our neighbours, our towns and cities and our countries, not in a sense of "nationalism" nor "patriotism", but rather in a sense of being a good citizen of the earth. We also hold a duty as stewards of the environment as the vice regents of Allah on earth. In this we must be kind to animals, good to the environment and take care of all the blessings that Allah has bestowed upon us to hand over to the next generation.

Lastly, we owe a duty to ourselves. In following the above, we help ourselves to be better people, better citizens, better inhabitants of planet earth. It is important to also take good care of the body that our Creator gave us in order that we can do our best to carry out all of these duties. Putting all these things together makes us Muslim.

This Ramadhan, look deep inside to discover what you need to do to improve. Look wide around you for those who could use your help and do something about it. Reach out to others and spread the wonderful message of Islam through your example and through your beautiful words. Resolve to be the best Muslim you can. Don't let the state of the world overwhelm you. You are just one person, but even one person can make a difference. Do the best that you can do and this Ramadhan can become the moment the ummah wakes up and becomes what they were meant to be!

May Allah subhanna wa ta'llah accept our fasting and our prayers and may He bestow a sense of unity and commitment in all of us.

Now I invite others to put their Ramadhan reflections in this thread!

Peace, ummziba.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words...they break my soul ~
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