Picture the scene, it’s a lovely summer’s day, I’m waiting to cross the road amongst a throng of shoppers laden with one, two or even five shopping bags full of all sorts of goodies, from clothes to games consoles. I look to my right, there’s a giant billboard seductively displaying half-naked women advertising mobile phones, on my left, another billboard is blaring on about low-cost loans…
As I open my front door, the local ‘shopper’ newspaper blocks my way, and there’s a pile of Argos catalogues in one corner of the living room. I want to watch the news but before I can do that I am bombarded by all kinds of adverts for consumer goods ranging from toothpaste to deodorants. This is no different from the daily newspaper, which is more or less an advertisement board for the multinationals.
Then, later on that evening at my local mosque I bumped into Saeed (his name means ‘devotee’). He says “Saj, I’ve not seen you in ages, where have you been bro?” The reply was “Ah bro! You know how it is, I’ve been very busy at work, lots of over-time and family commitments, on top of that I’m also having a new kitchen fitted!”
I can narrate another dozen similar episodes from my meetings with young and old Muslims who genuinely cannot find any time for worship let alone attend the Lord’s house. Can you see the relationship between one and two? The pressure of the advertising industry is so overwhelming that we succumb to it. Ours is truly a consumer society and we have become people preoccupied with consumer goods and their acquisition.
It is a big, all-encompassing carnival, the message seeping into our subliminal recesses of the brain is “eat, drink and be happy, for tomorrow we die“. We are spurred and goaded in subtle and seductive ways to self-indulgence, a hallmark of a liberal and Godless society. It is a time of instant rewards and immediate pleasures. Is it any wonder that Saj doesn’t have any time (or very little) for his Lord.
Ramadan: The Spring of Righteousness
The month of patience, waiting, restraining one’s appetites of eating and drinking and pleasure pursuits. Truly a divinely ordained antidote to the lax, free, pleasure seeking way of life. “The doors of heaven are thrust open”, said the blessed Messenger (peace be upon him).
The advertising world promises freedom, which ultimately leads to the slavery of basic instincts. The blessed month of Ramadan invites us to taste real independence from physical needs. It develops the ascetic nature, when a person practices self-discipline and refrains from pleasure, solely for the love of God. This leads the fasting person to become conscious of the fact that he is in this material and physical world.
Fasting is such a special devotion that God Almighty says, “Fasting is for me and I will personally reward it“, since fasting is a religious mystery unconnected with an external thing, an act of worship and devotion known only to the devotee and his Lord – hence its reward is infinite.
Let’s resolve to spend the remaining days of Ramadan in as much devotion, study and service to Allah as possible.