Brethren, Ramadan is winding down!
Yes. Ramadan is winding down. It has to wind down. After all it has a beginning. Since it has a beginning, it must have an end. In fact, it is actually meant never to last. It is meant never to last because it is in and by itself not the end but the means towards a nobler end. The end is the pursuit of higher stations for the believers; the arrival to another station which is higher than that of belief- the station of taqwa- of God-consciousness, of walking with the Almighty through the thickets of life, of standing by Him in gain and in loss. Ramadan is a school. Once you get admitted into it, you begin the count down to the day of graduation, not rustication.
Yes. The Quran refers to the month, the month of fasting as days-ayyaaman ma’dudat (a number of days) Quran 2: 184. Each time I get to this verse in my daily interactional interface with the last testament, (the Quran), I become attentive to the wider semiotics of the days that are dated – ayyaaman ma’dudat. By referring to the month as ayyaaman ma’dudat, the Almighty takes the lid off the real meaning of our life; of the datedness of our existence, of our whole life. Ponder this: exactly what is not dated in our reality? Is it these days and nights in the phenomena which pass us by like the light of thunder? Is it the pleasures and pain that intervene in our daily life both of which make human life on earth full of glitz and grief? Give it a date, then you are immediately humbled by the fact that it will soon come to pass. Put an hour to the appointment, then you would realize that the appointment feels as if it has come and gone.
Thus when I realized that, like before, this year’s fasting is reaching its zenith, I knew that gradually we are all and individually equally reaching the ‘peak’, the nadir of our sojourn on earth. Since our life is ayyaaman ma’dudat, our life on earth is equally ayyaaman ma’dudat; it means our life on earth is being counted; it means to every counting there is an active “Counter”. Since our life is ayyaaman ma’dudat, it means it will come to a point when the counting will stop, when the beat will stop; when there will be nothing to count anymore except what had been counted; when there will be no investment left anymore, when what will remain is for you and me to collect our ‘dividends’ from our “investments” while on earth. The last ten days provides an uncanny opportunity for ‘investors’ to plough back their investments into new ‘business portfolios’. In the last ten days of Ramadan are days described by the Quran as laylat al-Qadri. They are days that precede the last day of the month when believers shall be crowned as righteous servants of the Almighty.
To enjoy the full opportunities in these final days of the ‘numbered’ days of Ramadan is the wonderful supplication taught to us by Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). He it is who says when it is final parts of the Ramadan, believers should begin to send penitence to the presence of the Almighty who is never, for once, absent from our presence. He advised that we call on Him ceaselessly; that we should eulogize Him repeatedly; that we should glorify His munificence and magnificence by saying Allahuma Innaka Afuwwun tuhibbul afwa fa’af anni- O! My Lord! You are the effacer of all iniquities; you love to efface and forgive; forgive me of my infirmities and inadequacies. It is a supplication which is meant to assist us cleanse our account with Him. Remember, he who succeeds in enjoying divine redemption becomes free of all earthly burdens and diseases. Such a person will go through and emerge from the furnace of life like Prophet Ibrahim (a.s). He who succeeds in enjoying divine redemption will partake of the bounties Prophet Nuh (a.s) listed while remonstrating with his iniquitous community- the bounties that will descend from the heavens like a torrential rain. The formula that would make this possible is that supplication- Allahuma Innaka Afuwwun tuhibbul afwa fa’af anni. It is a supplication that should constantly occupy our tongue as count down to the ‘graduation’ day from the ‘school’ of Ramadan begins.
However, kindly bear this in mind, to “graduate” from the “school” of Ramadan is to arrive to a new station which is, in itself, the beginning of another journey for another station. In other words, the whole essence of life and living for the conscious Muslim is all about arrival and departure; we arrive from a religious duty in order to depart for another one. The Id al-Fitr therefore is equally not an end but another means towards the continuous journey of the Muslim in the making. The festival which marks the end of the month-long fasting of the month of Ramadan, the month-long training in the “school of Ramadan” where Muslims “attended courses” in patience, perseverance, honesty and the consciousness of the Almighty is meant to increase our spiritual and physical capacity to outstay and outlast the challenges of life. The ‘Id al-Fitr is the occasion on which Muslims are expected to bask in an uncommon happiness particularly for their ability to connect with the Almighty and especially at a time when profanity and bestiality have become fashionable. Rejoice therefore, dear brother, if you have succeeded, so far, in re-establishing your links with your Creator. Celebrate dear sister if Ramadan worked for you and imbued you with the spiritual weapons without which life on this earth would be an extension of hell. Muslims shall always be happy that thanks to Ramadan under no circumstance shall they allow earthly principalities pollute their souls; never again shall we allow our prosperity to demean our spirituality; never again shall our temporary adversity purblind us to the greater value in walking with the Almighty in the wilderness of this terrestrial life.
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