In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
“And be steadfast as you have been commanded…” (Q11: 112)
BRETHREN, I had gone to the mall, as usual, as a matter of necessity- to procure those essential items for daily living. After all, we are all fated to want and this quest for the unattainable.
Visitors to the mall usually had to pass through the gated entrance, collect a pass from the security personnel before gaining access to the parking spaces within the Mall premises.
Just before I arrived at the gate, one of the security personnel had apparently picked up a quarrel with the owner of the car in front of me.
Thus when I got to her presence, she was still in a state of rage. She was muttering obscenities and pouring invectives on the driver who must have done enough to merit such imprecations. Now by the time I came face to face to her, I heard her say as follows: “that is the way they usually behave; during Ramadan, they comport themselves in the best manners possible; as soon as the month passes, they go back to sins again”.
Brethren, I brought my car directly to a halt at the gate, looked straight into her eyes and said to her in no uncertain terms- ‘that was highly instructive”. Other security officers around wondered exactly what was happening. ‘Wetin be your own’ they all chorused. In order not to risk another scene I immediately pressed the accelerator.
But the lady’s statement had already been etched on to my memory. Her statement kept hacking back into my consciousness. I found myself in a dialogic encounter with myself and my own other: “was that man a Muslim? What could he have said to this young lady? Why is it that some among my brethren usually throw caution to the wind by conducting themselves in manners which are unbecoming of their Quranic identities? Is it not true that throughout Ramadan we were indeed angels in constant communion with the Almighty? We represented the best that Islam demands of us. We were loving and caring to members of our family? Husbands suddenly became dutiful.
There was no argument with my sister on the house-keep allowance. There were no disagreements on the school runs. My sister at home became the ‘Khadijah’ of today, not the ‘wife’ of Prophets Nuh (a.s) and Lut (a.s) of yesterday. Suddenly she became very cooperative and supportive of her husband. Her tongues became busy not with imprecations and indecencies but the remembrance of the Almighty. She was not popular during the month as the enfant terrible sister in the neighbourhood. She was fasting!
Now how do we account for this return to spiritual ghettoes and the remits of religious infamy? Why is it that immediately Ramadan comes to an end some of us usually become the exact antithesis of what fasting in the month came to make out of us? Why do we find it easy to become highly irritable and irascible in our dealings with our fellow compatriots contrary to the lessons we learnt in the month that the hallmark of faith is the ability to be patient while the world expect us to be petulant; that the gravitas of spirituality consists of outstaying crisis and tribulations while humanity expect us to be feckless entities at the mercy of the tide?
Brethren, I came to the conclusion that the man who made the young lady lose her cool was probably a Muslim. This explains her reference to Muslims as angels in Ramadan. But why should we be become angelic and catholic during the month only for some of us to become demonic immediately the month comes to an end?
Brethren, I concede that your response to the above might be more germane than mine. But you would probably agree with me that the one way to make sense of the above is to say that those who fast during Ramadan and become charlatans and oppressors of their own souls after its completion probably and actually never engage in fasting.
They are like students our campuses who pass through the University but refuse to allow the University pass through them. Such a brother of yours could have fasted without actually fasting. He could have prayed without actually praying.
He could have joined us in the tarawih at night without having qualified, ab initio, to do so before the beginning of the month. Remember brethren, the very first condition for fasting is belief in Him, the Almighty- belief in the Unseen seer of all events in the cosmos.
To fast therefore is to enter a contract with the divine- a contract which cannot be voided by Him but you and me. To fast during the month of Ramadan is to not be an angel during the month only to become a demon at other times. To fast during Ramadan is to enter into a divine transaction with your creator which would mature for the rest of the year until the next Ramadan.
Brethren, to fast during the month of Ramadan would have meant you had undergone training in how to avoid gossips and ‘gisting’ about your fellow brothers and sisters such that after the month you would become busy not with other people’s infirmities but your own inadequacies.
Brethren, that you fasted during the month of Ramadan meant you became conscious of the less privileged in our milieu. But the completion of fasting does not translate to the occlusion or deletion of the less privileged from our reality. Thus not to assist them anymore would amount to infidelity to the oath we swear during the month of Ramdan -that like the Almighty, we shall be compassionate to those who are not as fortunate and privileged like ourselves.
To fast in the month of Ramadan would have meant you became an angel throughout the nights of the days of the month. Brother, were you not surprised how strong that younger brother of yours became in observing extra supererogatory prayers? Was it not refreshing for you to note that that sister also did Itikaf in the mosque? Was it not a matter of wonderment that she could forsake the luxury of her home in order to become a neighbor to the Almighty in the mosque? But would it not be more surprising if you were to find her or him once again in the abyss of infamy and indecency all of which they avoided throughout last month? Would you not wonder about that sister or brother who observed night vigils during the month of Ramadan and in line with Quran 17: 78 only for him to go in search of spiritual succor outside Islam? Such brethren usually work with the assumption that to stand by and with the Almighty is to be free of trials and tribulations. What an error-ridden view of life.
Bear this in mind brother- to walk with the Almighty is to make a choice to stand on the same ‘podium’ where Prophets Ibrahim, Nuh, Musa, Isa and Muhammad (a.s) were precursors and exemplars.