FROM THE DESK OF EDITOR IN CHIEF

                                                     this is all I have to say

 
     
 

In the name of Allah the most Gracious the most Merciful, and may the peace and blessings be upon the messenger of Allah and upon his family and companions and whoever has been guided to the right path, Amen.

 

Dear Readers!

 

Greetings & Ramadan Mubarak from Islamabad and welcome to the sixth issue of this year.

 


- God has given every person on earth a purpose. Some of us know what our purpose is in specific terms and some of us do not. Some of us live our whole life bouncing from one purpose to another without ever seeing a clear picture of what God wants from us in specific ways. In the jumbled mess our life can become, we sometimes lose sight of our purpose upon the earth. In the complexities of our life, we can confuse our purpose in life with our jobs, our roles, our hobbies, our relationships, and our interests.


When we clear out the fog preventing us from seeing our purpose in life, we see our purpose is to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul. In addition, when we clear away the fog, we also see our purpose in life is to love others as ourselves. For most of us, we want a more specific purpose. For most of us, we want a specific task given to us by God, as if we are actors on a stage wanting God to give us the right lines to say.

 

However, we are not just actors in our life. In our life, we are also the writers, authors, directors, and producers. We build the set upon which our life is played out. We choose the place where our life is lived. We choose how we will respond when adversity strikes. Buried within the many jobs of your life, is God's underlying purpose for you every day. Every day you are to love HIM and love others above all other jobs and above all other purposes. When you love God and love others, there is no more fog. When you love God and love others, there is no more confusion about where you should go, what you should do, and who you should be. When you love God and love others your purpose in life has been fulfilled.

- In our world we are always standing between two opposites. We are always standing between east or west, north or south, hot or cold, up or down, life or death, and hundreds of thousands of other opposites. One of the opposites of our life is emptiness or fullness.

The emptiness or fullness of your life is a result of the choices you make. Every moment of your life can be a moment of fullness. If you choose to be nothing in life, your life will likely be terribly empty. What you choose to put into your heart and soul can fill up your life with either light or darkness. If you would choose to fill up your life with the light and the love of God, you will not have any emptiness. Instead of emptiness you can have fullness by opening your heart and mind to God's ever present love for you.

- We do not all have a "healing touch" to cure others of their physical diseases, afflictions, and maladies. However, all of us can help heal the hurt, brokenness, and loneliness in others. We can reach out with our healing touch by praying for others, being with them in person, showing them dignity and respect, and most of all, showing them love in ways they understand and accept. By showing others they are loved and wanted, we give to others a healing power.

 

By showing others we accept them just as they are, spots, blemishes, and mistakes included, brings to others a healing touch to help heal their hurts from the past. All of us need a healing touch. By focusing our life on the needs of others, sooner or later, if we are patient and willing to wait, even wait for heaven, the healing we need comes to us....this is all I have to say.

Thank You all for being with us, see you all, next month, with the next issue Inshallah......Godspeed & Stay Blessed.

 

Sarah Nadeem Zaigham
Editor In Chief
Islamabad, Pakistan

 
     
 

COVER STORY

a month with a difference

 
 

 

 
 

 

Ramadan
The ninth month of the Islamic calendar

                                          Basharat Nadeem

 
 

 

 
 

 

Ramadan is the month of fasting for Muslims the world over. Muslims refrain from eating & drinking from dawn to dusk for the duration of Ramadan. For some, fasting may appear as a form of deprivation and of bodily exertion. On one level, abstaining from sensual needs and pleasures is indeed a physical experience. But those who stop at the physical aspects of fasting miss the essence of Ramadan and its purpose.

Fasting the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. These are the foundation upon which the entire structure of Islam is built. These consist of the declaration of faith, prayer, fasting Ramadan, paying of Zakah [the annual charity payment], and performing the pilgrimage to Makkah, known as hajj. Three of the five pillars of Islam are rituals, that is, prescribed religious acts whose rationale is not immediately available for understanding. These are prayer, fasting, and hajj. Muslims are required to do them because they are part of their religious duties, that is, they are part of their covenant with God.

 



As a ritual, fasting is a symbolic act whose meaning becomes gradually apparent through experience. The meaning embodied in a ritual is always unveiled when one immerses him or her in the act itself. This does not mean that fasting is not open to intellectual delineation, but rather any intellectual delineation either presupposes or predicts a meaning that can best become apparent through performing the symbolic act itself.

 

Spiritual Development
The essence of fasting Ramadan and its goal is summed in the Qur'an in one word: taqwa. "O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may attain taqwa." (2:183) But what is taqwa? And how does it relate to the physical act of fasting?

Taqwa is a recurring theme in the Qur'an and a paramount Qur'anic value. Taqwa is both an attitude and a process. It is the proper attitude of the human toward the divine that denotes love, devotion, and fear. Love to the source of good and beauty that make life worth living; devotion to God's boundless wisdom and majesty; and fear of misunderstanding the divine intent or failing in maintaining the appropriate posture and relationship.

The attitude of taqwa cannot and does not stay in the confines of the human spirit, but is ultimately revealed in expression and action. The attitude of taqwa is ultimately revealed in, and in turn reveals, the true character it nurtures: the commitment to the sublime values stressed by divine revelations of courage, generosity, compassion, honesty, steadfastness, and cooperation in pursuing what is right and true.

Taqwa is equally the process by which the believers internalize the sublime values of revelation and develop their character. Thus the Qur’an reminds the believers that they should not reduce religious practices to a set of blind rituals, of religiously ordained procedures performed at the level of physical movement, and that they should always be mindful that religious practices, like praying and fasting, ultimately aim at bringing about moral and spiritual uplifting: “It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West. But it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last day, and the Angels, the Book, and the Messengers, to give out of the things you hold dear to your kin, the orphans, the needy, the wayfarer, the one who asks, and to free the slave, and to be steadfast in prayer and to give for charity. To fulfill the covenants you have made, and to be firm and patient in times of pain, adversity, and panic. Such are the people of truth, and such are the God-conscious.” (Qur’an 2:177)

As Ramadan helps us to develop our moral discipline, it also reminds us of the plight of those who live in constant hunger and deprivation. We are reminded time and again by the revealed book that religiosity is meaningless and pointless if it does not lead people to care and share: "Have you seen one who belies judgment; it is the one who repulses the orphan, and does not insist on feeding the needy, so we to those who pray but are neglectful of their prayers. Those who are guilty of duplicity and refuse to provide for the ones in need.” (Qur’an 107:1-7)

Commitment
Fasting Ramadan, like other religious practices in Islam is an occasion for pursuing moral excellence that can also be translated into excellence in social organization and interaction. In a tradition that was reported in the books of Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet was once asked: "O messenger of God! who is the most honored of people? He said: the one who has most taqwa. They said: this is not what we are asking about He said: ... the best of them prior to Islam is the best of them in Islam if they comprehend (the revealed message)."

It is not difficult to see that the Prophet's companions did not have immediate access to the meaning of taqwa, as many Muslims today still don't. When they did not accept his first statement as an answer, the Prophet gave them an explanation of what he meant when he responded to their question about "the most honored of people." In responding with the question, the Prophet was reiterated the meaning provided by the Our'an: "Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is the most righteous (mutaqi)." (Our'an 49:13) The Prophet's statement under scores the fact that taqwa as a moral and spiritual quality is significant in the human world in so far as it leads people to act with compassion and respect toward others.

Empowerment
Nothing does empower a community more than the development of the moral character of its members. By embodying the moral values of revelation, people can have a higher social life, one that is based on mutual respect and help, as it is based on honest and fair dealings, and a sense of duty that encourages people to observe the principles of right and justice as they pursue their varying and competing interests. The theme that moral life based on the notion of taqwa leads to societal strength and prosperity is an oft repeated theme in the Our'an: "Whoever has taqwa of God, He prepares, a way out for them, and He provides them from sources they never could imagine.

 

" (Our'an 65:2-3) And again: "Verily the earth is God's to give as a heritage to such of His servants as He pleases; and the end is best for the God-conscious." (7:128)

Fasting is not simply a time during which people deprive them selves from physical pleasures, but is an occasion to exercise moral restrain and experience spiritual growth. Ramadan is a time of remembrance of God and renewal of commitment to the high and noble values he revealed to mankind. And nothing would give us the sense of spiritual fulfillment than a state of taqwa, of God-consciousness, that Ramadan helps us to realize.

Source: Intellect, August 2011

Courtesy: Basharat Nadeem