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The Essence of Ramadan: Spirituality or Spending

People celebrate the month of Ramadan as a festival.

By Maryam Hedayat | | 11 July 2014

For most Muslims, with the name of Ramadan comes the impression of shopping and eating in their minds.

People celebrate the month of Ramadan as a festival. The month of fasting is held high as a month of feasting and shopping.

In today’s modern world where the real meaning of everything seems changing: love, humanity, kindness and sympathy, so has the essence of Ramadan completely changed in the eyes of Muslims.

It is noticed that most people at the beginning of this month are very excited and enthusiastic. They look very specific about the significance and sacredness of the holy month.

Fasting generously offers spiritual opportunity to the believers such as five times of prayer on time, long prayer known as Taraweeh and avoiding all types of forbidden acts.

But as soon as the sixth or seventh day of Ramadan approaches, the interest, respect and the spirituality appear to be fading slowly.   Most people just start returning to their previous routine.

In most Muslim houses, the shadow of Ramadan can be perceived through their Iftarpreparation only.

Perhaps for many people, the month of Ramadan is just to focus on eating, sleeping and shopping.

It seems that now a days Ramadan is transforming from a religious month to a cultural or social event. People fast just because most people around them are fasting.

The most common sight of activity during this month is that people indulge in overload and extravagance of shopping.

Men and women shop whole day and night as if the month of Ramadan is not for fasting and worshipping but for shopping.

New malls and shops are open, exclusive and attractive advertisements are made to attract customers. Special offers are given to consumers. The streets are filled with beautiful and attractive food stalls.

People just keep on buying everything and anything. Many families look worried about their budget as if it is the month of spending.

They rush to market as if everything is free of cost. Instead the rates during Ramadan is doubled.

One of the shopkeepers once told me that they cannot earn the whole year the amount they earn only during Ramadan.

In many Muslim houses, the first fifteen days of Ramadan are focused on eating and preparing different varieties of foods. The days are spent in throwing Iftar parties and the nights in shopping and partying.

And the next valuable fifteen days are utilized in deciding and searching on who will wear what on the day of Eid.

Men and women search malls to malls and shops to shops for the unique trendy dress. Most women focus “the one I have, nobody should have it”. And for this, their hunt goes on till the end. Still they complain they couldn’t find something new in the market.

Perhaps we have seen that the main topics for discussion during the whole month of Ramadan is; “what else have you prepared for iftaar?”, ‘how many varieties are you making today?’, and ‘which type of dress and jewelry are you planning to buy for this Eid?’

Spiritually, Ramadan is not only about keeping ourselves away from food and drink. It is also about developing self-control over our basic desires. 

It is believed that if a person can control his/her desires over food and other things, he/she can develop control over every aspect of his/her life."

Ramadan is to purify our inner soul from all worldly pleasures. During this month we must try to learn to be enduring, blissful and pleased with what Allah has given. Instead we see people searching markets for food, clothes and other unnecessary things. 

Shopping does not only waste our money but our precious time too. The time which we must utilize in worshipping, praying, pleading and asking forgiveness from hell-fire, we waste the valuable and pious whole one month in shopping, and chasing other objects of worldly desires.

Ramadan is truly a school of personal training for all the Muslims around the world. The holy month is to train ourselves to refrain from the essentials of life. It needs a strong personality to command self-control, self-discipline and self-restraint.

Thus fasting cultivates self-control and helps overcome greediness, self-indulgence, anger, arrogance and other ethical doings. The Holy Ramadan is an annual training month to revive Muslims for carrying out their duties towards Allah the Almighty.

Since fasting during Ramadan is a vital worship in Islam, so it provides a great platform to gain self-control, modesty, devotion, humbleness, kindness to poor, submission to Allah and victory in Hereafter.

Especially during the last treasured ten days of Ramadan, people are crowded more in shops than at the door of mosques.

We should strive to stay up at least on the odd numbered nights of the last ten days known as lailatul-qadr. It is the most blessed night of the year.

"The night of al qadris better than a thousand months." (Surah Al Qadr: 3).

This means the worship accomplished during this night brings more reward than that worship carried out for the period of a thousand months.

Thus instead of wasting the precious nights of lailatul-qadr shopping for Eid, availing concessions and chasing new trends, one should strive and do one's utmost to gain the mercy of Allah especially in the odd numbered nights of the last ten days.

Apparently this month is here to teach us patience, persistence and tolerance.

In addition, during this month, we must limit worldly livelihoods and increase devotion and supplications. Emphasis on the life of Hereafter and rush to perform righteous deeds that will make us successful in the Hereafter.

We should remind ourselves that we can shop, eat and rest all year long, Ramadan is not going to be here forever.

Some years back Muslims were very curious and concerned on celebrating fasting with their families, relatives and friends. Now we see an altered trend. Most people go abroad to a new place to celebrate their last days of Ramadan including Eid.

Perhaps the last precious ten days of the month which should be utilized in keeping ourselves from worldly greed and desires, are sadly spent in exploring new places, innovative malls and shops, new hotels, different foods and cultures.

Fasting is a means of spiritual training for the Muslim in this world which helps him control and restraint his desires, as well as uplift his rank in the sight of Allah, the Almighty, and it opens a door of Paradise for him, from which he can enter.

Therefore, it is better to focus on the things and food we need, rather than the stuffs and things we want.

Hence, it is time to think about how to control our earthly desires, to eat moderately, and to earn the enormous rewards of Ramadan with extra hours of worship at day and night.

It is time we aspire to sincere devotion during the month of mercy and not be carried away with an obsession, greed and self-indulgence in shopping.

Indeed the blessings of Allah (swt) are innumerable, but fortunate are those who acquire them and honor them as significant.


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