As the blessed month of Ramadhan draws to a close, let us ask ourselves a relevant question: how do we bid this glorious month farewell? I have a few ideas:
- Firstly, celebrate success: remind ourselves of the good we have done this month and the impact it has had.
- Think of the extra good we had planned to do but did not follow through, through no fault of our own. Then make a firm commitment to try again next year.
- Finally, remind ourselves of the not-so-good we have committed this Ramadhan, and repent deeply and sincerely, compelling ourselves to weep to Allah the Most High, begging His forgiveness, and resolving by setting new goals for next year with the aim of never returning to such horrid ways.
All of the above is done within the context of the purpose of the last ten day’s of Ramadhan, which is for us to ask for emancipation from the hellfire. This process is essentially one of intense, continuous supplication to Allah the All-Compassionate, accompanied with a general increase in consciousness of the current state of affairs.
This last point deserves elaboration. We must make time to reflect on various states: that of the Ummah, that of our local community, and that of ourselves, both inwardly and outwardly. This type of reflection is not confined to the mind; it requires the heart’s committed participation as well.
I say this because at this present time, the Ummah is experiencing unimaginable difficulty in many spheres of life, both wordly and metaphysically.
On the one hand, the enemies of Islam are waging an intellectual war with their Islamophobic tactics, and the humanitarian crises (which are, by default, Islamic crises) continue to rage with bloody consequences across Muslim-majority lands. Palestine, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan are but a few cases in point.
And on the other hand, for decades Muslims have lacked the true leadership, spiritual excellence and scholarly dynamism that made us the societal champions in centuries gone by, and currently, sections of the Ummah remain intellectually dormant, uninspired, spiritually impotent, and with little interest in engaging with broader society. As a way around this, most of us have been seeking some true sense of global leadership for decades, and many groups seem to be vying for this role, but their efforts seem to be in vain as the Ummah grapples with sectarianism, both of its own creation and of infiltration by corrupted external influences.
I say this not to judge the said groups, for the opinions regarding them vary widely. Instead, I wish to leave you all with a sincere call to action. In one sentence, it is this:
We Muslims have a moral obligation, a spiritual responsibility, and a religious duty, to uphold justice.
I substantiate this by affirming that it was an intrinsic component of the missionary work carried out by the Messengers of Allah, may His abundant peace and blessings be upon them all. Allah says in the Glorious Qur’aan:
We have already sent Our Messengers with clear evidences and sent down with them the Scripture and the balance that the people may maintain [their affairs] in justice. (al-Hadeed, 57:25)
This is not a call to arms, it is a call for civil action. With due consideration for the inherent limitations it has, we do have the ability to contribute to positive change around the world. We are Muslims in Australia, and therein lies the key to a possible solution. The process has many aspects that are worthy of volumes of research and exposition, but t to summarise, I opine that we have the following actions, at the very least:
- Begin with Ismul Jalalah, the Majestic Name of God, and never ever forget His Power and Mercy, and His Wisdom in using suffering to teach us
- Make sincere du’a for sincerity and positive change: our hearts are often tainted with the sins we have committed, and it is indeed a reality according to many scholars that when Muslims forget Allah the Most High and His Final Messenger (in whom Allah’s choicest peace and blessings abide), the Wrath of Allah descends on the Ummah.
- Draw upon our previous successes and failures: what made the Muslims great in the past? What was it that brought us to our knees? These factors are physical, psychological, spiritual, and we must take all three paradigms into consideration. Take the means of seeking a deeper understanding of Islam in light of these dimensions. Knowledge is a weapon that can be wielded with a force mightier than the sword, if only we focused on harnessing its innate ability to change minds and hearts. The duty of every Muslim, male and female, is to continuously seek knowledge, and is by fulfilling this obligation that we will be equipping ourselves with the necessary tools to tackle the current challenges.
- Use this knowledge to develop practical strategies: what can we do with how far we’ve come? Who do we speak to? Where do we go? Use traditional and modern methods as both have merits. We have media outlets, we have technology, the power of social media can be harnessed. We have orators who speak well, so we must first ensure they have access to authentic Islamic knowledge, and once they’ve mastered this, encourage them to speak on issues of relevance.
- Follow the democratic process(es) within your locality: for some people, it still comes as a surprise that we have the ability to engage with politicians on issues of relevance. Muslims with deep political insight can lead us in engaging with politicians, especially those who have been hiding behind false notions of the situation Muslims are facing.
- Always keep diplomacy, tact, and respect in mind – we are Muslims, we build civilisations, not destroy them, so do not cause damage in any way. A moment of silence is better than a lifetime of regret.
- Work together: it is true that within the Muslim community, we have varying ideological leanings, and this is a mercy from Allah as it shows we’re exerting our intellectual capabilities to practise our religion according to the dynamics of space and time. It is also part of our duty to behave in an all-inclusive manner. Be mindful of the fact that as long as someone has not denounced the shahadah (proclamation of faith and belief in Islam), we cannot exclude someone from the fold of Islam totally. Even the Mujtahid Imams would shudder at the thought of labelling anyone as such. Find what is good in people and bring it to each other’s awareness, then use our unique strengths to revive the Ummah. This is part and parcel of the Sunnah in the same way we view things like the Sunnahs of external apparel.
Our Lord, the All-Seeing, says in the Glorious Qur’aan:
O you who have believed, persevere and endure and remain stationed and fear Allah that you may be successful. (Aali-‘Imraan, 3:200)
In closing, let this Ramadhan remind us of how great we can be, and use it to yearn for the next Ramadhan where we can accelerate our religious efforts again, to further the Ummah’s noble cause, InshaAllah.