Once again we find ourselves in the blessed month of Ramadan. Ramadan is, of course, a unique month for a variety of reasons; it is the month in which the Quranic revelation to the Prophet Muhammed (ﷺ) began, it is the month within which is the blessed night of Laylatul Qadr, and of course, it is a month of fasting. However, Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) defined for us a specific goal for Ramadan and the fasting we undertake.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous (taqwa)” [Al-Baqarah: 183]
The importance of Ramadan is clear and we all want to gain taqwa through our actions during this month. However, what does this really mean to us? As an Ummah, we find that Ramadan is a time when we exert all our efforts for the sake of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). We increase in our ibaadaat, recite Quran more regularly and spend our time in the Masjid. However, before talking about actions we must step back and ask, what does taqwa encompass? What were the Sahabah and the Prophet (ﷺ) doing to gain taqwa in Ramadan?
Ibn Rajab (ra) said, “The essence of taqwa, is to make a shield which guards against Allah’s anger and punishment. That shield is to obey His commands and abstain from His prohibitions.” [Jami’ ul-‘Ulum Wal-Hikam]
What we can take from this statement is that taqwa is a broad term which may encompass many actions. However, what is key is that these actions are all consciously linked with the remembrance of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and His Ahkaam (rules). This is the character that was displayed by the Prophet (ﷺ) and the Sahabah, who are the best of examples for us. When we look into the seerah and the lives of the Sahabah, we find that the same aim of gaining taqwa caused them to spend Ramadan very differently to how many of us spend it today. Not only did they increase in their recitation of Quran and performance of Tahajjud, but we find that they involved themselves in huge campaigns to gain the reward of Allah (swt). The battle of Badr, the opening of Makkah and the acceptance of Islam by the people of Taif all occurred during Ramadan. It is clear that this was a month where the Sahabah and the Prophet (ﷺ) took opportunities to increase both their personal ibadaat and their Islamic obligations to society.
Unfortunately, when we look for things to do in Ramadan, we limit ourselves to a particular set of actions. The idea to purely focus on personal ibadaat whilst neglecting other actions is likely to be due to the secularism that is preached in the societies we live in. Every society plays a role in shaping the individuals within it, and there is no doubt that our thinking as Muslims has been tainted with some ideas of secularism. We are very capable in identifying the role Islam has to play in our personal lives and during Ramadan, we excel in this area. However, the concept of taqwa means that we follow the command of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and are conscious of His presence no matter where we are. Whether this is in the masjid, at work or when facing societal problems.
From understanding this point we should look at the situation around us, reflect and account ourselves. Do we look at the societies we live in and the events happening in the Muslim world with the concept of taqwa? The recent events in Palestine should be a wakeup call for us in this month. The suffering they go through under the occupation of the Zionist entity is clear to see and every Muslim feels for those who have to go through this. However, do we remember Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) in this situation? Do we ask what our response should be and how Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) will account us for our response in this situation?
The reality is that it is not only those in Palestine who suffer as a result of the regime they live under. Many around the world suffer due to corruption and double standards by their governments. We find mass poverty in many of our countries whilst the rich exploit the general public. We find such a poor quality of life in countries such as Pakistan and Kuwait despite their vast natural resources. The Muslims of Afghanistan and Iraq have had to go through years of war for the interests of the western powers. Even in Saudi Arabia, Mohammad bin Salman is rolling out his ‘modernisation’ reforms, including ‘normalising’ relationships with the Zionist entity.
As Muslims, we are unable to stay silent when we are witness to such corruption regardless of whether this corruption is in Palestine, Pakistan or any other Muslim country. This is because of the command of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) in Surah Al-Imran:
كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ
“You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah (سبحانه و تعالى).” [Al-Imran: 110]
If we are truly the best nation to mankind then it is our duty to call to the message Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has given to us and to speak out against that which transgresses the laws of the Shariah. The severity of this command cannot be underestimated. We know how Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) treated those who neglected this command in the past.
Al-Bayhaqi reported it in Shu’ab Al-‘Eemaan, and attributed it to Maalik Ibn Dinaar, who said:
“Allah, The Almighty, ordered a village to be tortured and the angels said amazingly: “There is amongst them Your slave so and so.” Then, Allah said: “Make Me hear his crying, as his face did not ever turn angry due to My Prohibitions being transgressed.”
“If people saw an oppressor committing oppression and yet did nothing to stop him from his act, then soon Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) will punish them.” [Tirmidhi]
It is from the above ahaadith that the importance of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil is made clear. With the huge rewards available in the month of Ramadhan we should strive to carry out important actions. We should expose the corruption and the reality of the occupation of the Zionist state and speak out against the oppression and corruption which our Muslims brothers and sisters face around the world.
From the evidences above we can see that taqwa is not just limited to individual acts of Ibadah. Rather taqwa is a concept and mindset that should change our outlook on life and drive us to seek Islamic solutions to all our problems. So this Ramadhan we should aim to gain taqwa in the complete sense. Try your best to memorise more Quran and to attend the masjid for salah, but at the same time do not neglect our duty to the Muslim Ummah in enjoining the good, forbidding the evil, and exposing the oppression our fellow Muslims live under.