Ramadan is back. And yes, all the jubilation germinating in our households for months now has fully sprung. Spreading through the world, crossing every kind of barrier—literal and figurative, manmade and natural Ramadan seeks every square foot on the face of earth wherein is a fasting Muslim, to cheer his heart, inspire his soul, and enrich his sense of taqwa.
What an amazing mode of worship is the fasting of Ramadan!
Sure, fasting Ramadan is the Third Pillar upholding the edifice of Islam. Yes, it is a time for profound reflection and nurturing that special God-consciousness of taqwa. True, it is a way of boosting self-control, an extended training period of intensive worship.
But that's not all. Ramadan is a season of harvest, a time of year in the time of man to reap joy in sowing the fruitful seeds of happiness for our Hereafter. In fact, so much is the delight of Muslims of all backgrounds and places in the fertile fields of Ramadan that some scholars openly worry that our Ramadan euphoria grows so overwhelming that it may distract us from the essence of fasting.
In a well-known hadeeth of Prophet Muhammad we are told that a fasting person is promised with certainty two joyous moments every time we fast: "One at the time one breaks his fast. And another when one meets his Lord"[Muslim]. The hadeeth does not limit the joy of fasting to only these two moments. But you better believe it does, indeed, restrict them to just those who fast. These twin joys are exclusive to fasting and fasters. They come only to the latter because of the former.
It's not that the fasters may again eat and drink when they break their fast. That's not the source of their joy. It's the fact that they succeeded to establish their reward with Allah, who enabled them to keep their fast pure, however hard it was physically or mentally and in spite of their being able to break it when no other human was looking. That's the sheer joy of a faster. He was able to overcome himself, his nafs, and keep it honest and whole-some, inside and out. That's the cause of celebration.
The hadeeth I just mentioned is a divine pronouncement, a hadeeth qudsi. It actually begins with the Prophet telling us that Allah Says: "All the deeds of a Son of Aadam are his [since he claims sincerity in doing them for Me, but cannot prove it in this world] except for fasting. It is [always genuinely done] for Me, and I [consequently give unspecified abundant] reward for it."
So whoever fasts cannot but fast honestly and purely for Allah's Sake. Every Muslim knows this. This is what fills every Muslim with glee in and about Ramadan, plain and simple.
Ah! Now that's real and absolute happiness, the kind of gladness that only comes from having certain knowledge that one has achieved sincerity in worship and gained taqwa. Meet rare contentment! It's a feeling that only issues from a secure place of sheer confidence within us, one that guarantees us an unimaginable reward from a Loving and Merciful Lord—the true and only God who has Himself shown us a recurring way of worship that solidifies our relationship with Him through trust and conviction.
It is surely awe-inspiring to realize that worship is joyful, and that the more sincere and authentic our worship, the more joy we will find in it and because of it. The significance of Ramadan in the spiritual storehouse of man cannot be overstated or overestimated. And it is all ours! And it comes with a divine warranty of human success, along with a Heavenly security that it will perfect the way we worship our Lord and serve Him exclusively!
The Muslim asks for nothing more. That is why Muslims used to do more in Ramadan, though they were doing it on a lot less. Some of the most important achievements of our 'Ummah materialized in this least materialistic of months.
Is this do-more-with-less ethic of our righteous predecessors true for you? What did you attain last Ramadan? The one before?
Many of us do more for ourselves in Ramadan than any time of year. But compared to what? And what have you done for your family, your local community, your Ummah in past Ramadans?
Do you know what you want to achieve this Ramadan?
Happiness is perhaps the most powerful of human motivators. Jubilation is its most ecstatic expression. It is unreserved rejoicing in celebration of victory and success.
Are you ready to celebrate?