A Ramadan of Balance
Every Muslim has obligations to themselves, their family, to society and to Allah himself – however we must also find a balance in this. I think it’s important to consider two things, the first being how we balance our work life and Ramadan and the second being the opportunities Ramadan brings.
It’s been nearly 5 years since I started working full time and there’s always been an underlying sense of guilt that I may not necessarily be making the most of Ramadan because of the hours spent working. However, this doesn’t mean we downplay the importance of earning an honest livelihood and work done correctly with a proper intention can be an act of worship in and of itself. The Prophet himself said, “… nobody has ever eaten a better meal than that which one has earned by working with one’s own hands.”
With this in mind, it’s a constant reminder of the importance of renewing our intentions – if we intend our work to be something as a means to pay bills or to buy material goods, then we’ve achieved our intention. However, we’re also told that “…when a man spends on his family, hoping for reward, that is (counted as) an act of charity for him.” Central to this is our intention to be rewarded for our work and doing it for the sake of Allah.
This is not to say negligence in your deen is acceptable either & we shouldn’t use working as an excuse to be sloppy in our faith. More than ever, the current climate has given the opportunity for those of us still working to work in an increasingly flexible way and we should look to make the most of this. For a start, most of us are saving several hours a day commuting, there aren’t the same concerns over finding a place to pray and there’s potentially far more flexibility over the hours we work. Something like this is unlikely to ever happen again in our lifetime and we should maximise all this additional free time we’ve been gifted to build up our acts of worship, but there’s no requirement nor is it even encouraged to burn yourself out. The best deeds are the ones performed consistently and maintained.
The second element I wanted to touch on, is that of using Ramadan as a teaching opportunity. I myself work at an organisation that is primarily non-Muslim, but this is the perfect occasion to share my reflections and experiences on what Ramadan is. Where I work, every year we invite non-Muslims to try fasting for the day and we end the day with iftar together and ultimately this leads to a better shared understanding of what Muslims go through in the month and Islam in general.
In the last year alone we had 160 non-Muslims join us in fasting and it’s unfortunate that we can’t have the communal iftar together again. However via the use of technology, we’re still maintaining this tradition of a shared Ramadan and we’ve again seen strong interest in taking part. Increasingly in this day and age, we each have a personal responsibility to clear up the misunderstandings surrounding our faith. I can’t think of a better opportunity than Ramadan to start having those conversations with the non-Muslims around you and to start building those bridges.
Junaid Shah graduated from the University of Birmingham in 2019. As well as working as an accountant, he is also currently studying for his CA exams with the Institute of Chartered Accountants for Scotland. In addition, to this he also serves as the head of the Muslim Network for the Midlands at his firm.