Feel Ramadan – 14) The season of revering piety!
What’s the richest of fortunes in this life? Indeed, a mind that would not fall into the abyss of temptations and whims. Nothing would equal that. The fortitude to defend against evil is a good fortune which is diminishing from individuals and society nowadays. Ramadan is the time to nurture a noble and elegant mind. Fasting is the self restraint attained to please Allah, by bridling the needs of body and the whims of mind.
“Enjoin good and forbidding evil” is the essence of Islamic ideology. Enjoining good is much easier than refraining from evil. Acts of worshipping, giving in charity, visiting the diseased, reciting Qur’an – all these are very easy to practice. But, bridling our tongue, controlling our anger and guarding our eyes are not that easy task. These need us to exert immense patience and hard work. Surah Nisaa reminds us that if we avoid the major sins which are forbidden, Allah will remove us from minor sins and admit us into Paradise. [Qur'an 4:31]
Refraining from evils is the first step of enjoining good. Both need unswerving patience and fortitude. This is the prime aim of fasting and is exactly what we call Taqwa (piety). Both Jihad and fasting were decreed in the 2nd year of Hijra. It can’t just be coincidental that both of them were decreed, together. Rather, there is a strong relationship between battle and fasting.
Fasting is a strong battle against the cravings of our body, isn’t it? For our fasting to be acceptable, we surely have to achieve a victory over the desires of our body. Thereby, we obtain the instructions and training to overcome worldly desires. Take the example of how Allah tested the soldiers of Talut (or Saul- the King who ruled over the children of Israel).
Talut said to his army: “Indeed, Allah will be testing you with a river. So whoever drinks from it is not of me, and whoever does not taste it is indeed of me, excepting one who takes [from it] in the hollow of his hand….” [Qur'an 2: Part of Verse 249]
Even if his entire army would have drunk tummy full, the river would not have dried out. However, Allah was testing their patience and obedience. The one who can not bridle his thirst will not be able to bridle enemies in a battlefield, right? But, most among the army pitifully failed in the test.
The soldiers who were defeated by the desires of their stomach, ran away from the battlefield saying “we can not defeat our enemies”. However, a small obedient and disciplined group fought zealously uttering “many small groups had defeated big gangs”. The important message from Talut’s incident is that those who control their thirst and hunger and submit to the commandment of Allah, would attain an unbreakable fortitude. This fortitude and discipline are the aims of fasting.
Taqwa is the summary of all these good habits. Qur’an has described Taqwa in various forms and instances– watchfulness in the way of life, a life with vigilance about wrongdoings etc.
When describing the rules of Hajj, (2:196, 2:203), when talking about marital relationship (2:223), when discussing divorce and breastfeeding (2:231,233) , when instructing about the provisions of divorced women, when talking about battles (2:194), when decreeing to refrain from usury (2: 278) and when ordering to write down the contracts of debts (2:282), Qur’an specifies Taqwa, very heedfully. It also instructs that even our private conversations should be bounded by Taqwa (58:9). When talking about divorce, Qur’an reminds about Taqwa three times (Al-twalaq). All these indicate that Taqwa is not merely an act of worship.
Taqwa is a broad vision and the style of life. It is the heedfulness which should be present and practiced at every instance of our life. Ibada (acts of worships) are meant to rejuvenate our Taqwa, which may get deteriorated on slipping into the pitfalls of life. It purifies the hours through Prayer, days through Jumua, months through Ramadan and years through Hajj and our wealth through zakat. It enables us to attain a majestic metamorphosis towards piety.
By intervening even into the diminutive areas of an individual’s life, Allah is showering the fresh rain of purification. Allah shows us the right way, but we forget it. Our Ibaadas (acts of worships) are treating this ’forgetfulness’. There is a season of every crop to grow. Ramadan is the season of Taqwa. Let good habits sprout and grow within us.