By: Maryam Hedayat
In today’s time where the real meaning of everything seems to be changing: love, humanity, kindness and sympathy, so has the essence of Ramadan in the eyes of many of us.
It seems as if many people at the beginning of this month are very excited and enthusiastic about the sacredness of the month – offering five times of prayer on time with Taraweeh, avoiding all types of forbidden acts and so on.
But as soon as the fifth or sixth day of Ramadan is passed, the interest, respect and the spirituality can appear to be fading.
Many among us may start returning to the previous routine. In some Muslim households, the influence of Ramadan persists through the Iftar preparation only.
Perhaps for many people, the month of Ramadan is just to focus on sleeping during the day and eating during the night. It is so easy for fasting to become mere habit or convention, even when most satanic influence is subdued!
A common sight is the extravagance of shopping. Men and women shop whole day and night as if the month of Ramadan is not for fasting but for shopping.
New malls and shops are opened, attractive advertisements are made to attract customers. The streets are filled with beautiful and attractive food stalls.
People just keep on buying everything and anything. Many families look worried about their budget as if it is the month of spending.
We rush to market as if everything is free of cost. In some places prices and rates during Ramadan are doubled.
One of the shopkeepers once told me that they cannot earn the whole year the amount they earn only during Ramadan.
Many women focus “the one I have, nobody should have it” for the occasion of Eid. This makes them hunt till the end. Yet still they complain they couldn’t find something they wanted.
An all too common topic for discussion among ladies during the month is; “what else have you prepared for iftaar?”, or ‘how many varieties are you making today?’, and ‘which type of dress and jewelry are you planning to buy for this Eid?’
In reality, and spiritually, Ramadan is not only to keep ourselves away from food and drink. It is to develop self-control over fundamental human desires.
Shopping does not only waste our money but our precious time too. The time which we should have utilized in worshiping, praying, pleading and asking forgiveness is wasted in shopping, partying and gathering with friends.
Ramadan is a school of personal training. It teaches us self-discipline and self-restraint. Sadly, we can easily indulge in all sorts of worldliness or even waste.
During the last ten days of Ramadan, it sometimes seems that people are crowded more in shops than at the door of mosques.
We should not be so inclined. Instead of wasting precious nights of lailatul-qadr shopping for Eid and chasing new trends, we should strive to gain the mercy of Allah especially in the odd numbered nights of the last ten days by making a effort to attend the mosque.
Fasting is a means of spiritual training. It is a gateway to paradise.
Therefore, it is better to focus more upon ‘ibadah’ worship than upon what we want to run for things in the market.
That means that time should be put aside in the day and night, not only for things like shopping, but for reading Quran (even if a translation), invocations, supplications, and extra prayer in moderation according to what we can consistently do.
Fortunate are those who value the numbered days of this sacred month and inculcate in themselves the real essence of fasting. May Allah bless all of us to make maximum spiritual harvest during the sacred month! Ameen.