Tuesday, May 14, 2013

One of the benefits of fasting is to come closer to appreciating what we have especially when we are reminded of those who have not. It becomes very easy for some Muslims to become puffed up with pride and sometimes arrogance by thinking they are more pious than others. Fasting is the only pillar of Al Islam that a Muslim can engage that is kept out of the public eye of scrutiny. Meaning if one is sincere in his faith, it will be determined by Allah especially during this month. This is why everything we do as humans is done for our own sake, with the exception of fasting as it is done for Allah's sake alone. For this reason in particular Ramadan should produce humility in one that has allowed his vanity to get out of hand. It should produce concern for the homeless, the indigent and the powerless. It should enhance one's overall sense of social commitment and drive to work for collective change in one's community. These actions along with others are so pleasing to Allah that he coined this activity by a unique name.

"Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but (true) righteousness is in one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask (for help), and for freeing slaves: (and who) establishes prayer and gives charity: (those who) fulfill their promise when they promise; and (those who) are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous." Qur'an 2:177

In this Surah or Chapter of the Qur'an, Allah is not only addressing the issue of the direction to face when offering prayer, but also stressing that the believer's commitment to please his Lord should be manifested in not just his stated beliefs, but also actions geared to address the social concerns of his fellow man. These actions are what mankind uses to judge whether genuine concern for his unique condition is mutually shared. The Muslim establishes this connection from the Quranic belief system that moves one's faith from an ideal understanding to a practical application in the actions one takes in order for others to derive the indirect benefits of his initial commitment to worship.

We should not have the passion or energy to term some as more pious than others based on our own criteria, but rather the criteria of righteousness that Allah emphasizes throughout the entire Qur'an. Over the course of man's daily struggles whether it be at work, at home or in transition between the two, the daily grind we each take can easily divert our attention away from this awareness and temporarily throw us off course. Equally the successes in our daily situations may increase our vanity and thus cause us to change our course from one designed to please Allah to one that pleases only ourselves. This common denominator is what should be used in order for us to determine if we are staying on the straight path.

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