2011: What Ramadan Means Today

So far this year we have seen major changes in the world.  South Sudan became independent.  We witnessed the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and revolts in other Arab countries. And Osama bin Laden was killed in what seemed a desperate political move.

Also, Canada had one of the most exciting elections in the last few years, just to see Jack Layton die from cancer few months later.  Japan had a major earthquake that seemed to represent the beginning of a series of natural disasters reflection of what many of us believe to be global warming.  

We wasted out time with the ‘celebrization’ of the British royal couple while Ratko Mladic enjoyed his last days of freedom. Mexico continued to sink in a bloody war on drugs resulting from America’s lack of accountability. Somalia suffers famine while we all enjoy iftars with friends in the Western side of the world and while Saudi Arabia makes major expenses by building the biggest clock in the world in Makkah.  Norway faced terror at hands of a non-Muslim terrorist and the UK saw riots unimaginable until this day. The Caribbean in being threatened by Irene and we still have 4 months to go!

However, what does all this mean?

We tend to be comfortable with the idea that Ramadan is a time for religious reflection, fasting and intense praying. We go around visiting friends and family for iftars and spend long hours in taraweeh prayers. Yet, all for what? 

Ramadan is a period of renovation. A time for sacrifice and self-reflection. Ramadan is a time for long-lasting commitments to make the world a better place (not only the ummah). 

By focusing on the fasting and the prayers we are not only denying the very essence of service and sacrifice, but we are also giving up our responsibility as members of society and citizens of the world to contribute and help. 

Ramadan invites us to consider our place in the ummah and in the world. It calls for self-realization and for life-changing experiences. If we do not get this out of Ramadan, then we are doing something wrong. 

Right now there is a lot of emphasis on the last 10 days of the Holy Month… we all want to pray a lot and successfully complete our fast in order to feel that we deserve to enjoy Eid and the rest of our year. However, we must ask, what about when Ramadan is over? what would have changed? who would we be?

The fast and the prayers won’t do much for us, if we don’t do things for our selves. Ramadan call us to change the world, to transform what we see wrong with our societies. It calls for realization that we could do more than few fund-raisers. It calls for service and sacrifice for others (Muslim or non-Muslims).

The Holy Month ask us to engage politically, to serve those in need, to participate in charity, to provide service to our communities, to be responsible, to work hard, to develop discipline and to remember that our reward awaits as long as we live a responsible and sustainable earthly life.

Therefore, the question before Ramadan ends is not only whether or not our sins will be forgiven, but whether or not we deserve forgiveness based on our contributions to society and the world.

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