Ramadan should mean more than simply going hungry. There must be the wholehearted obedience to Allah’s (swt) commands in order to achieve the true purpose for which we fast: upholding truth and justice even though the challenges may be huge.
One of my daughters recently developed a satellite-ish delay between my requests and her responses that flirts dangerously close to my boiling point. Example: “Please take your feet off the table.” There was a very long pause before it was followed by compliance with a huge thud!
Her lingering over such slight orders thoroughly perplexed me until I started thinking about Allah (swt) and my own on-and-off obedience to Him in all matters of life. How many times do we procrastinate, if not outright ignore, our Islamic obligations (both big and small) to the Lord of the Universe?
We do this even though Allah (swt) demands obedience for our own good, so we can purify ourselves to achieve nearness to Him. Only by exchanging our own desires, wants and opinions for those of Allah Almighty (swt) can we achieve the humility and eagerness needed to constantly rush to His conformity.
Allah (swt) reminds us to obey Him (as well as his Last Messenger Muhammad (pbuh) and those legitimately vested with authority) repeatedly in the Qur’an. While addressing Maryam (one of the four perfect women of all time), Allah (swt) says, “O Maryam! Remain you truly devout to your Sustainer and humble yourself…” (3:43). According to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), “The true slave of Allah Almighty is he for whom the obedience and love of Allah becomes sweet.”
In this blessed month of Ramadan, the committed Muslims the world over dedicate themselves to yielding to their Lord day and night through fasting, prayers, Qur’an recitations, etc. While such prayers and devotional practices are highly recommended, ‘ibadah (Arabic word for conformity to the Almighty) also includes wholehearted obedience.
After the Prophet (pbuh) completed his sermon on the virtues of Ramadan, ‘Ali, the husband of Fatimah (another one of the four perfect women of all time), says he stood up and asked, “O Messenger of Allah! What is the best deed of this month?” The Prophet (pbuh) replied, “O Abu al-Hasan! The best deed of this month is abstinence from that which is forbidden by Allah, the Mighty, the Glorious.”
Upon seeing the new crescent of Ramadan, Zayn al ‘Abideen (whose epithet means Best of those who yield to the Almighty), grandson of Fatimah and Ali (a), would address the moon as the “obedient creature” that is “prompt toward His will.”
This Ramadan protestors in Muslim countries are expected to pour into the streets as they do every year to demand peace and justice as part of their social obligations to Allah (swt). They will do so despite ongoing repression, torture and the edicts of pseudo-scholars commanding obedience to tyrants by misquoting the Qur’an.
“With obedience there’s love and with love there’s sacrifice,” says lecturer Hanif Mohammed. “And if you don’t have these things you can never have success.” Activist, philosopher and poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal sums up the superiority of obedience to Allah (swt) in the following Urdu couplet (with English translation),
Wo aik sajda jesay tu garan samajhta hai
(The bowing (before Allah) that you despise)
Hazar sajdun se deta hai aadmi ku najat
(Is such that it will free from bowing down before thousands).
Salina Khan runs the blog: theperfectionistas.blogspot.com/