The significance of the lessons we learn during Ramadan
The month of rahmah (blessing), barakah (mercy), and magfirah (forgiving) is upon us.
This blessed month is a precious gift from Allah SWT to Muslims. But do we know exactly why this month is so special to Muslims? What exactly is the purpose of this month, and all the blessings associated with it? What are the lessons we are supposed to take away in observing the sanctity of this month?
Of course, this blessed month exists to train us, to guide us, and to remind us of how we should approach the remaining 11 months of the year. Ramadan imparts upon us numerous lessons: How to develop our manners and moral fortitude, how to treat our fellow human beings with respect, how to strengthen our brotherhood, how to maintain unity among the Muslim community, and how to be welcoming to all the non-Muslims who share this land with us.
The month also teaches us to be more pious, disciplined, and how to maintain self-control, while shielding our souls from greed and immorality. But, most importantly, the month teaches us how we can improve our connection with the Almighty.
The month of Ramadan also instils a sense of empathy within us. It allows us to understand the situation of the less fortunate, to feel and experience the pain of hunger and the pangs of thirst that our poverty-stricken brothers and sisters -- who are often forced to go without food and drink -- feel every waking day.
Ramadan is a month of mercy and bonding -- Muslims all over the world help one another, and those outside their community, spreading happiness all around. This month is a shining example of the unity that can be achieved among all classes of people in any society, as both the rich and poor, the employer as well as the employee, the parents as well as the child, the ruler as well as the subjects, all keep fast.
Regardless of the colour of their skin or their social stature, fasting unites us all.
It reminds us how we should conduct ourselves and our behaviour towards those around us, while also teaching us the importance of respect. Not only do we learn to abstain from food and drink, but we also abstain from making any statements and actions that may cause harm to people or violate their rights.
It gives us an opportunity to rectify ourselves through performing numerous good deeds such as providing food or aid to the needy, improving social interaction, giving charity and sadaqah, zakat, and so on.
And all of these deeds will be remembered on Judgement Day by the Almighty.
But what happens to all these lessons after Ramadan?
Unfortunately, we seldom retain any of the lessons we learn on this holiest of months beyond Eid-ul-Fitr itself. But the purpose of Ramadan runs deeper than mere celebration. The lessons we receive is the lodestar for the rest of the 11 months in any given year. The training we receive is meant to improve us as human beings for the rest of our lives, as that it the true purpose of Ramadan.
After the month is over, and we have all observed our final fast, and the Eid celebrations are dealt with, we will all return to our normal lives. But, it is important that we keep the spirit of Ramadan alive for the rest of the year, and indeed the rest of our lives. Because it is only through unity, modesty, and temperance that we can make the world a better place for all of us.
Muhammad Mehedi Masud is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Development Studies, Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya.