In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Masjid

“The people are asleep, so that when they die, suddenly they become aware.” – Imam ‘Ali, may God be pleased with him.

Ramadan is a moment of awakening. Filled with blessings, it is unlike other times. As Muslims, we must use this opportunity by occupying our time wisely so that we can accomplish our purpose.

During this month, we need to be wary of our time. In Surat al-‘Asr, God reminds us (what can be translated as), “By the declining day: Lo! man is a state of loss, save those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to patience” (Qur’an, 103:1-3). Some scholars mention that every moment spent in other than belief and good works is lost and will be held against us. Ramadan will either be a proof for us or against us. If we make use of this trust, then we will taste its rewards and the sweetness of faith. But if we abuse it, then so much the worse, because this month is a blessing that so few of us are thankful for. These days are of God’s Forgiveness and Mercy, so that it is the best time to turn to Him sincerely. Most of us waste our lives in heedlessness, but Ramadan is a time of higher consciousness, of filling our lives with meaning.

Ramadan is our opportunity to wake up. The Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him, commanded, “Consider yourselves already in the graves.” In other words, as Shaikh Hamza Yusuf notes, die before you die. Wake up before you die, because at death all awaken to spiritual realities, but it is too late to change. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be upon him, told us, “Fasting is a shield.” It preserves our humanity from our desires and animalistic characteristics. One goal of fasting is to attain samadiya, or steadfastness. as-Samad, or The Steadfast, is a Name of God and fasting helps us acquire some of this divine attribute. Following the sunna entails acquiring divine characteristics because the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be upon him, embodied these virtues on Earth. We can only attain this awakening if we strive for it. Sitting through Ramadan and expecting to gain benefit from the blessings of the month is not enough.

Ramadan is our chance to draw closer to God. If we bring our time to account and use this bounty, then we will experience reward in this life and after. Remember that until death, change is never too late. The Qur’an encourages, “Say: O My slaves who have been prodigal to their own hurt! Despair not of the mercy of Allah, Who forgiveth all sins. Lo! He is the Forgiving, the Merciful” (39:53). Do not despair if thus far your Ramadan has been unfulfilling, because the door of Mercy is always open.

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