Perhaps the biggest misconception about Ramadan that still lingers among the Muslims is that Ramadan is for one to be a good Muslim for oneself, and, in addition, doing good to others.
Ramadan is not only that!
There is a bigger goal and deeper meaning behind all the significance of Ramadan.
That bigger goal of Taqwa from Ramadan fasting is that it should not promote individualism in righteousness.
The multiplied rewards during Ramadan are not only so that the Muslims will be mindful of Allah when they are doing Ibadah but also in their worldly endeavours.
The eradication of selfishness through the obligation of Zakat Fitrah and the huge rewards of providing Iftar to others should not be a display of your holier-than-thou attitude. It should be the demolition of all things that divide mankind: sects, groups, political parties, ijtihadi aspects, ethnicity, national border, or any other.
The struggles learnt from Ramadan fasting should not be confined to general patience.
The story of the Battle of Badr should not end only as an annual bedtime story with a happy ending and that’s it.
Perhaps some of you, the Daies, will justify that simpler interpretations of the event are fine because they make it easier for the public audience to digest.
However, that is not the case from the perspective of the Islamic movement.
Envisaging a greater and overriding goal for the Islamic civilisation is what is needed to bring the Ummah back on track.
On the other hand, downgrading and downplaying this overriding goal will only drag and trap Islam into the comfort bubble of trivialities and rituals, just as the ungodly systems, ways and worldviews are taking over the Ummah.
The following prominent Islamic scholars also proclaimed the same — that fasting and other Ibadah in Ramadan serve a much bigger objective for the Ummah.
1. “Allah did not mandate (the fast) of Ramadan so that (we) sit idly and avoid Jihad.”
Shaykh Mohammad Badie, former Mursyidul ‘Am (Supreme Guide) of Ikhwan Muslimun (Muslim Brotherhood) did not take this misconception of Ramadan lightly.
“Rather, it is a month of action and movement. Is this (incentive) not enough for us to shake off the dust of laziness, inaction, and apathy, and spin the wheel of life with all the strength and determination bestowed upon us?”
He repeatedly emphasised on how Ramadan fasting is actually a training for Jihad.
“This is the month of might and victory, in which the fasting believers defeat their own (urges), as well as their enemies. This is the month of Taqwa and forgiveness, and Taqwa (itself) is a prerequisite for the help from Allah (to be bestowed) upon the Muslims.”
“This is the month of self-struggle (Mujahadah al-Nafs) and resisting the desire (Muqawamah al-Shahwat). For one who vanquishes his urges would be more capable of vanquishing others’.”
2. “Transform the month of fasting into a training camp for Jihad.”
“Fasting (during Ramadan) is one of the most powerful means to educate the human spirit for Jihad,” according to Dr Hussein Hussein Shehata, a lecturer at al-Azhar University who is also a member of Ikhwan Muslimun.
“Fasting involves a spiritual effort to act in a way contrary to what is accepted, and to completely abandon desires. It also schools the Muslims in patience, resilience, endurance, and sacrifice — all of which are traits of the mujahidin.”
He insisted that both the Ramadan fasting and Jihad are similar in many aspects. “Obedience to Allah is the purpose of both — to please Allah and to gain Paradise. Devotion is a trait of both, of which both require a high level of faith and fear of Allah.”
“Patience is (also) a trait of both. Apparently, fasting trains a Muslim in endurance and in tolerating (hardship).”
“Sacrifice is (also) a trait of both. Sacrificing life, money, food, drink, and desires are traits of both, and are the basis for victory over both carnal desires and the enemies of Islam. He who cannot conquer his own desire cannot conquer his enemies.”
3. Ramadan: The milestones of Islamic civilisation
Further emphasising this forgotten element of Ramadan, Shaykh Ali Gomaa, former Grand Mufti of Egypt, also wrote in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram, that Ramadan is the month in which (there were many) events that were milestones in the history of Islamic civilisation.
“(Throughout the history of) Islamic civilisation, Ramadan has been not only a month of worship and of growing close to Allah, but also a month of action and Jihad aimed at spreading this great religion.”
“When the soul grows stronger and the spirit soars, it inevitably affects the body, which (also) grows stronger — (for) the body is the mirror of the soul.”
“That is why, throughout (the Muslim) history, Ramadan has been a month of great conquests, which were an important factor in spreading Islam, (with) its righteousness and tolerance, across the world.”
The gist of Jihad is, and always will be, an important and integral part of Islamic teaching. It is not a novel concept as introduced by either the alleged or the actual straying ‘extremists’.
Apart from the common meaning of Jihad, Jihad should include reviving the Islamic civilisation and returning the world’s sovereignty to Allah alone, with emphasis on doing it the right way.
That proper understanding and embracing of Jihad in the heart of every Muslim is what is missing today, no thanks to global Islamophobia and false, strayed Jihadists like ISIS. It is this missing factor that has rendered the Ummah weak as the foam on the beach, as mentioned by a Hadith.
Have we ever realised that both the love and lust for this worldly life (Hubb al-Dunya) and hate of death (Karahiyah al-Maut) underline the absence of the spirit of Jihad in the Ummah today?
Yet, every year, Ramadan returns as a blessing from Allah to remedy this situation, only to be taken lightly by the Ummah.
May you, the Daies, not become the reason for this, and for the Ummah to be so contented at being mere foams on the beach.