Continuing the struggle beyond Ramadan

Your fasting, prayer, zikr, reciting and listening to the Majestic Quran, together with earning a halal livelihood is a Mujahadah. Mujahadah means exerting oneself, making full effort and struggling to achieve one’s goal. This is real commitment and submission that is valued by Allah, “Allah does not waste the reward of the righteous”.

During this month of Ramadan, you have been exerting your utmost effort to gain Divine pleasure by fasting, praying and giving generously in charity. Rest assured that our Generous and Most Gracious Lord will fully reward us. What were the objectives of this spiritual exercise of fasting, praying and charity?

The Majestic Quran simply says, “so that you may become God-conscious”. Developing the consciousness of God or Taqwa is the primary goal of Islam, and consists of three components:

  1. Ilm – Knowledge and understanding
  2. Amal – Performing good deeds
  3. Ikhlas – Sincerity

Let us examine these three in more depth, as this is the very essence of the Shari‘ah and the basis of a Muslim’s life.

Ilm – Knowledge and Understanding

We are urged to seek knowledge “seeking knowledge is a duty of every believing man and woman” said the Blessed Messenger (peace be upon him). The question is what knowledge is compulsory? Every Muslim must know and understand the articles of belief, the Islamic Creed:

  • Tawhid: The belief in the oneness of Allah, the All-Powerful, All-Knowing, the Loving and Merciful Lord.
  • Risalah: The belief in the messengers and Divine revelation. How Allah has been guiding mankind and how the final Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the perfect role model for us.
  • Akhirah: The belief in the life Hereafter that this ephemeral and fleeting life is not the be-all and end-all but a means to success in the Hereafter.

Every Muslim must learn about cleanliness and how to purify oneself physically as well as spiritually and we are expected to be familiar with ideas like:

  • Man is khalifatullah – A representative of Allah on earth, therefore we are responsible for our actions and accountable for them. This is the basis of living as a responsible citizen dedicated to the common good of the whole society.
  • Self-purification or Tazkiyyah – As Allah says, “successful is he who purifies himself”. This is getting rid of false gods that we might be carrying in our heads; false beliefs, evil thoughts, moral vices etc.
  • Darul Amal – This world is the place of work and the Hereafter is Darul Jaza, the place of reward.

Amal – Performing Good Deeds

Allah says “Those who struggle and work in our way, we will surely guide them” (Al Ankabut: 69). What a marvellous promise from Allah. Once we dedicate ourselves to Him, once we do good, once we make the effort, the majestic Lord is always there to receive us. He says, “when a person comes a hand span near me, I will come full arms-length towards him and when he comes an arms-length towards me, I will come twice as much nearer to him and if he comes walking towards me, I will come running to him” (Bukhari).

This pouring of love and kindness of the Lord is for those who make the effort, those who struggle in doing well. “Good works” is the purpose of a Muslim’s life “Wealth and children are the ornaments and decorations of life, only good works will remain with your Lord for which you can be hopeful” (Al Kahf: 46).

We make every effort to make our worldly lives successful, we invest a lot of time learning skills to be able to earn money, and we then take every precaution to maximise our profits. To pursue the life Hereafter with similar zeal is Mujahidah, a guaranteed way of success. We must not waste a moment. Our beloved Master, the mercy for the worlds advised Muslims “be aware of two gifts of God about which people are often negligent; health and free time” (Bukhari).

Using our time wisely so that we can keep a balance between worldly and spiritual activities. Often we are engaged in worldly activities exclusively so much so that we forget the hereafter. This is what we must not do. The Messenger tells us why he said, “three things follow the dead to the grave: family, wealth and good works, two of them return whilst his good works go with him in the grave” (Agreed upon).

So the message is to be actively engaged in good works, good works bear fruit, good works attract Divine blessings and good works make us healthy and happy here and in the Hereafter. Once he (peace be upon him) said, “Paradise is nearer to each one of you than the laces of your shoes and likewise Hell”. Clearly emphasising how we must be active and constantly engaged in good deeds.

Ikhlas – Sincerity

Doing everything genuinely for Allah, seeking only His pleasure and grace is called Ikhlas or sincerity. The Quran teaches: “They were commanded: worship Allah sincerely, turn away from false gods, establish the prayer, and pay the Zakat. That is the religion of truth” (Al Bayinnah: 5). The messenger described sincerity when he said, “The worth of deeds depends entirely on the intentions”. Our charity, our voluntary work, devotions etc. will only be worthy if we do them purely for Allah. This is sincerity.

Conclusion

The goal of our lives is to grow in Taqwa, to become increasingly God-Conscious. In Ramadan, we energetically followed this path of Taqwa. Now this must continue beyond Ramadan and we have identified three ways of achieving this:

  1. Seeking knowledge and the correct understanding of beliefs, worship, rituals, meanings of the Quran, and striving to develop the love of the blessed Messenger (peace be upon him).
  2. Working hard in doing good things, with the best of character and noblest of intentions.
  3. Focusing solely on seeking Divine pleasure, emptying our hearts of all else. “God does not look at your bodies or faces but He looks at your hearts”.

Let us pledge that we will seek knowledge, work hard and please our Lord – Ameen!