Time for Reconciliation
By Sadia Dahalvi
Ramadan is a time for intensive worship, reading of the Quran and purifying one's behaviour by engaging in charity and other good deeds. It is an opportunity to bond with friends and family. Islamic scriptures say that those who abandon their loved ones will not enter Paradise till they make peace with them. Getting together for iftar meals is encouraged as a blessing so that families and friends make time for each other.
Ramadan is a gift from Allah for fasting and prayer that reminds us of the primordial covenant made with the Supreme.
Ramadan is an opportunity to look up to God, just like in Haj or in the daily ritual prayer, when the hands are lifted to the ears in an upward motion, pushing away trivia and saying, 'Allah ho Akbar,'God is the Greatest.
This month reaffirms the two foundations of Islamic principles, sabr and shukr, patience and gratitude. Fasting is about patience during the day and spending the nights in gratitude for God's generosity and compassion. The Quran informs us that the succession of day by night is a sign of God. Fasting makes us reflect on the extraordinary nature of the cosmos, enabling us to be humbled by the limitless signs of the Divine.
God is the Light of the Heavens and the Earth. The Quranic principle is that Light is real, while shadows exist only because there is Light. A heightened spiritual awareness enables the seeker to see the created world as but shadows of the One Light.
Patience requires putting the other person before oneself, and it is those with these qualities who attain a high spiritual rank with God. Prophet Muhammad said, 'Patience is half of imaan, faith.'
The Prophet said that Ramadan is the month to visit the poor, the sick and share their sorrows, adding that the best Islamic tradition was to clothe the naked and feed the hungry. Islamic traditions assert that while giving charity, one should smile and be humble, allowing the hand of the receiver to be above the hand of the giver. Provision for charity should not be of inferior quality, but from what one loves for God. Generosity is considered a branch of faith and courage, for the faithful trust that God will provide for them and so they are not fearful of the future.
Ramadan is the month of spiritual auditing, detachment and of entering into a state of humility to reclaim the Divine covenant through repentance, fast and prayer. The story of humankind in Islam begins with the story of Adam who presents us the possibility of erring, and the possibility of turning back to God through repentance. After forgiveness, God appointed Adam as a prophet. Adam's entry into the earth is a sign that God's mercy takes precedence over His wrath.
Taubah, repentance, includes rectifying the wrong to the self by way of unlawful actions, and rectifying the wrong to fellow human beings by way of seeking forgiveness from them or returning their trusts, which were betrayed.
Sufi Masters remind their followers that the door of repentance remains open. Rumi's mausoleum in Konya has his verse inscribed on it: 'Come back, come back, even if you have broken your repentance a thousand times.'