Ramadan: A Great Opportunity to Achieve Taqwa - I

Ramadan: A Great Opportunity to Achieve Taqwa - I
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The month of Ramadan is approaching with its blessings of goodness and purity to inculcate in man willpower, composure, and determination. Ramadan equips Muslims with the art of endurance and stamina to face all adversities and overcome all obstacles and difficulties of life. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) used to congratulate his Companions at the beginning of Ramadan, saying: “O people! The month of Ramadan has come to you, a blessed month for the duration of which Allah has prescribed fasting for you. In it the gates of Paradise are open, the gates of Hellfire are shut, and the devils are chained up. There is a night [during this month] which is better than a thousand months. Whoever is deprived of its good is really deprived [of something great].” [Ahmad and An-Nasaa’i]

In another version of the same Hadeeth (narration), the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) added: “A caller calls out every night: 'O seeker of good, draw near; come to Allah! O seeker of evil, desist!' Allah will have emancipated some people from the Fire, and that happens every night.” [At-Tirmithi, Al-Bayhaqi, and Ibn Hibbaan]

Ramadan is a holistic spiritually rejuvenating experience. It teaches self-discipline, self-restraint and engenders the willpower to abstain from what was deemed forbidden by Allah The Almighty. It imbues man with an honest dedication and submission to the will of Allah The Exalted, abiding by His commands and implementing His laws in all facets of life. Ramadan teaches man to renounce whatever harms his religion, worldly affairs, or body. It is a great annual training for character-building, self-discipline, spiritual and physical purification of one’s faculties and feelings both. Thus, one can attain Taqwa (piety, fear of Allah, God-consciousness, and righteousness) in all times, places and situations, if he strives to attain spiritual rejuvenation.

He should also learn the sublime lessons of Ramadan through devoting his days and nights to worship, refraining from all sins and misdeeds and exercising self-discipline over one’s faculties to refrain from doing what is impermissible. Thus, a fasting person can successfully go through such a spiritual experience and victoriously triumph over himself. Such a fasting person would save his talents and physical and moral potentials as well as energy to face the enemies of Islam.

Indeed, the month of Ramadan is a great opportunity to pause for self-reflection and self-reproach. It is a time of introspection and self-evaluation in order to set the records straight, make up for one’s past mistakes, and obviate potential mistakes or misdeeds before it is too late. Such an opportunity to attain Taqwa, for those whom Allah The Exalted guides to Taqwa, a motivation to do good deeds and acts of worship since people are inclined towards goodness. The rebellious devils are chained up during the month of Ramadan, so they are unable to incite and tempt people the way they do at other times. During the month of Ramadan, the gates of Paradise are opened and those of Hellfire are closed.

On each night of Ramadan, Allah The Exalted saves many people from Hellfire. Moreover, the rewards of [worship on] the Night of Al-Qadar is better than the rewards of [worship on] of a thousand months. What great glad tidings! If we ponder on such words, we would hasten to do good deeds, compete with one another in doing good, refrain from grave sins, ignore satisfying the desires of the flesh, and seize the great opportunity of Ramadan to achieve Taqwa.

Indeed, Ramadan is an opportunity to relish Taqwa; to become among the righteous, devout and pious servants. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.} [Quran 2:183]

The verse highlights the objective of fasting. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {…that you may become righteous.} [Quran 2:183] This indicates that the greatest benefit and the main rationale behind fasting is attaining Taqwa. ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattaab  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him asked the revered Companion Ubayy ibn Ka‘b  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him about the meaning of Taqwa. Ubayy ibn Ka’b  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him replied, “O Commander of the Believers! What would you do if you walked on a thorny road?” ‘Umar  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him replied, “I would raise my garment and be cautious not to let my clothes get entangled in the thorns and strive not to step on one of them.” Ubayy ibn Ka‘b  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him said, “This is Taqwa.

Taqwa is sensitivity of the conscience, transparency of feelings, a continuous fear, permanent caution, and avoidance of the thorns on the road. The path of life is full of thorns that symbolize lusts and desires. There are thorns of fears and concerns, thorns of temptations and vices, and thorns of false hope in someone who cannot fulfill one’s needs. The path of life abounds with thorns of forged fear of those who can neither benefit nor harm us and dozens of other thorns. This is what is meant by Taqwa.

If the concept of Taqwa is not yet clear, let us ponder on the wise words of ‘Ali ibn Abu Taalib  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him reflecting on piety. He said, “It is the fear of Allah The Exalted, abiding by the commands in the Noble Quran in one’s life, feeling content with whatever little provision one has, and preparing for the day of departure."

This is the genuine meaning of Taqwa. Where do we stand in relation to such a refined concept?

To be continued …

Ramadan: A Great Opportunity to Achieve Taqwa - II

Ramadan: A Great Opportunity to Achieve Taqwa - III

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