Ramadan holds a unique position in the hearts and minds of our community. It is a special time of the year where the blessings of Allah are abundantly bestowed upon the believers. The whole community fasts with such enthusiasm that any outsider would think that they are nuts! Every evening, the mosques across the world are packed with Muslims listening to the Quran in the Special Tarawih prayer.
Central Scotland is no exception to this with every masjid filled with worshippers who are engaged in prayer, dua or reciting the noble Quran. There is a general feeling of goodwill within the community, which is united on the principles on deen. Everyone makes extra effort to read their salah on time; do as many good deeds as possible and also to stop all their bad actions and habits.
Throughout the day and night, there are many new faces that pray regularly and are submerged in prayer and dua. People make a conscious effort to pray regularly and read the Quran. You see people with their hands facing the sky asking Allah for forgiveness for all their many wrongs; asking for goodness and blessings throughout their lives; asking from guidance and understanding; asking for their troubles and heartaches to be removed; asking for success in the hereafter and protection from the fire of hell. Many tears are rolling down their cheeks as they recount their sins and ask for forgiveness and salvation: asking for their children and families to remain on the straight path; asking for the suffering of the ummah to be lessened - in Ramadan the doors of forgiveness are open to all as Allah listens to our plights, may Allah accept our duas (ameen).
Fasting is more than remaining hungry and thirsty for the sake of Allah. During the fasting we try and implement every principle of Islam within our lives. For example, we no longer fight, swear, argue, lie or cheat. Other qualities such as miserliness, greed, laziness, selfishness and apathy for the suffering are also purged from our lives. We do as many good deeds as possible and are concerned for the wellbeing of all our Muslim communities throughout the world. In Ramadan people are more generous and give from their pockets and hearts to those less fortunate. There is an aura of love and compassion surrounding every individual as the self-centredness is refocused to those around them!
It is often said that many people find themselves in this month of Ramadan - a time of discovery. If we think back, so many of our friends and colleagues have changed during Ramadan. They start Ramadan with their fasting and prayers and finish Ramadan as a 'reformed' Muslim - the blessing of Ramadan continues from that moment onwards throughout the rest of their lives. They pray regularly; they do more good deeds; they dedicate more time to Zikr and study. They shed all their bad virtues such as lying, greediness, selfishness and laziness - living up to the true ideals of Islam.
Rather than people finding themselves, I think they get a taste of Islam and they re-discover their spiritual nature that is often neglected within their worldly lives. They are attracted to the love and peace of Islam and are invigorated to follow the will and plan of their Creator. It is indeed a great favour bestowed upon those that Allah has given guidance.
Every community looks forward to Ramadan, which any bystander would be confused by. The spirituality within most humans has been wiped out by the materialistic nature of their lives. They can't relate to fasting in any manner or form and are confused by both fasting and Ramadan. Materialism is about getting rather than giving. It's a question of filling your pockets, filling your stomach, filling your bank account and filling your lives and homes with 'things'.
Ramadan is about getting things that we can't see but can perceive with our hearts and minds. It's also about giving from that which we love and hold dear and thinking about those that are less fortunate than us. Fasting is a spiritual exercise that has disappeared from many religious practices the world over. However, God almighty commanded his prophets to fast and every prophet and their community would fast - this in itself should be a lesson for us all.