By the grace of Allah the Almighty in a matter of few days, Muslims worldwide will be observing fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The month of Ramadan according to Islamic teachings is a special month in its lunar calendar. It is said that it was in this holy month that the Holy Qur’an (the Muslim Holy Scripture) was revealed. The Holy Qur’an contains the Islamic teachings necessary for the Muslim community in all times (past, present and the future). It does not go without saying that Fasting (during the month of Ramadan) is part of the five fundamental pillars of Islam.
Fasting (particularly during the Holy Month of Ramadan) is a means of attaining nearness to Allah. This in turn breeds righteousness into the human spirit. Since righteousness is not just keeping right in some circumstances but about harnessing both thoughts and actions for ultimate good deeds. In other words, righteousness is the struggle to attain purity of thoughts and actions thereby leading to ultimate human purity.
Thus as we go into Ramadan, it is important that we all prepare well in thoughts and actions. It is not uncommon in the Gambia to the skyrocketing of the price of basic commodities. Whereas many attribute this to high demand with corresponding lower supply, others are of the view that this situation is orchestrated by some business people. Those of the latter view further explain that as a result of greed, some in the business community are in the habit of creating ‘an artificial shortage of basic commodities’, resulting in low supply, which in turn affects prices. In that regard, we call on the business community to adopt purer business strategies that are better for all and sundry. The hoarding of wealth is not healthy for a fragile economy like ours. The Islamic economic system totally discourages the hoarding of wealth. About 90 percent of the Gambian population is said to be Muslim, a situation that will ultimate have a bearing on the business community as well. In the Holy Qur’an, the Muslim holy book, God the Almighty admonishes us to deal with one another based on the principle of justice. We read in surah Al Nahl chapter 16 verse 91:
‘Verily, Allah requires you to abide by justice, and to treat with grace, and give like the giving of kin to kin; and forbids indecency, and manifest evil, and transgression. He admonished you that you may take heed’.
A thorough pondering over the verse quoted above will reveal that God does not only admonish us to exercise justice in our actions but also desires that we add some form of benevolence and even go further to add a spontaneous expression of love and care to our fellow men. These just and pure ways of relationship are expected of a believer to any other person, irrespective of their religious belief, ethnic background, political affiliation and/or social status. What a wonderful formula for all of us!
Furthermore, in the month of Ramadan, all Muslims, the young and the old, male and female all increase their speed and levels of worshipping their Lord. This is a very commendable act. However, while others do so in a fine, relaxed and not-disturbing-way, others often fall short of that. In some mosques, some people may turn on their public address systems with the volume so high that their neighbours comfort is affected. You may never know what is going on in a neighbouring household, maybe there is a sick person who can only sleep when everywhere is quite, that person’s condition may deteriorate when his/her privileged time of sleep is interrupted with a worshipper. Whereas, it is not possible for late night and early morning mosque goers to turn off their public audio systems, we ask for your indulgence to always remember to lower your volumes.
As we enter this holy month, we should therefore, try and adopt pure ways and keep our hearts and minds, thoughts and actions chaste. Islam does not teach that man was born in sin and he does not have the capacity to avoid sin. In fact on the contrary Islam teaches that each new born has pure nature, is innocent and devoid of sin. That is to say that the human nature is based on purity and virtue and evil comes externally. Philosophically put, evil is the absence of purity just as darkness is the absence of light. Since this is how it is, then each person has the capacity to stay chaste, and if s/he has had wicked influence, s/he can return to pure ways. Evil can be repelled at anytime. We have the natural tendency to repel evil immaculately or otherwise.
In conclusion, we urge all Muslim brothers and sisters to remain Muslims in Ramadan and not to be Ramadan Muslims.
We wish you a happy and blessed Ramadan and say: Ramadan Mubarak! Khaira Mubarak to all and sundry!