The Safe Haven of Ramadan
It has been an intense 11 months, hasn’t it? almost a whole year since we said goodbye to Ramadan, not knowing if we were to meet it again.
Yet Alhamdulillah, here we are, in the age of Covid-19, living out an accepted dua- the dua we’ve called out the last few days, weeks and months, “Allahumma balighna Ramadan” – O Allah, allow us to reach Ramadan!
But it hasn’t been easy. The daily toil, the struggles against the self, the temptations all around us – it’s fair to say however good/healthy we may physically look now, our souls have been in a battle.
For those young enough (or cool enough) to understand this analogy, the condition of my heart and soul is like the one who’s playing a game like Call of Duty (COD). Let me tell you why.
Throughout any COD mission, the main player is getting hit, trying to take cover, trying to defend and attack against the enemy. The problem is you’ve been hit too many times. With every hit the screen becomes redder and you can barely make out what’s in front you.
You can’t run, the screen is all bloodied and there is one thing you are crying out for – a place to hide and take cover. Some place the enemy isn’t, where you can tend to your wounds, check your ammo, gather your strength and where you can clear the screen so you can see and fight again.
My soul feels like this every year. For the past 11 months, we’ve been in a constant battle with Shaytan and our nafs. He promised Allah swt that he will not rest as he comes for all of us. Now you can call Shaytan many things, but he sure keeps his promise! (God’s curse be upon him!)
ثُمَّ لَأٓتِيَنَّهُم مِّنۢ بَيۡنِ أَيۡدِيهِمۡ وَمِنۡ خَلۡفِهِمۡ وَعَنۡ أَيۡمَٰنِهِمۡ وَعَن شَمَآئِلِهِمۡۖ وَلَا تَجِدُ أَكۡثَرَهُمۡ شَٰكِرِينَ
‘I will come at them- from their front and their back, from their right and their left- and You will find that most of them are ungrateful.’ (7:17)
But as committed as Shaytan is to our downfall, Allah (SWT) is more committed to bestow His mercy and protection to the believers.
Allah (SWT) has made us aware that Shaytan is our number one enemy. Shaytan has promised that he will be relentless in pursuit of the children of Adam AS. But Alhamdulillah a thousand times, we have the gift of Ramadan.
إِذَا كَانَ أَوَّلُ لَيْلَةٍ مِنْ شَهْرِ رَمَضَانَ صُفِّدَتِ الشَّيَاطِينُ وَمَرَدَةُ الْجِنِّ
The Messenger of Allah said: “On the first night of the month of Ramadan, the Shayatin are shackled, the jinns are restrained…
Ramadhan becomes the safe zone, the hideout, the training ground, the controlled environment where we can recoup and gather ourselves, to grow and protect our spiritual state.
With the enemy no longer on our case, we have up to 30 days to take stock of our condition, prepare and strengthen our soul, knowing full well that once Ramadan is over – the mission continues.
And this is what the divine goal is from fasting – Allah (SWT) says:
يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيۡكُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِكُمۡ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَتَّقُونَ
You who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may attain taqwa. (2:183)
The keyword here is Taqwa. But what is it? For that, we need to understand something fundamental about Arabic words…
Arabic words normally stem from a root word made up of about 3 letters. Let us use the word Islam as an example. The root of Islam is 3 letters: s-l-m. From this same root, we get other words like ‘salam’ (peace) ‘istislaam’ (submission) ‘sallim’ (to save) and other words too. From this exercise, you get a more comprehensive understanding of what Islam means and what meanings it is connected with.
If you do the same thing with the word Taqwa, you find that it is connected with ‘wiqayah’ which means protection.
But protection for what though? Not for your money or body, no. It’s a shield for your heart and soul. This entity that, if it’s right then you will be safe, and if it’s bad then you’ll be in a bad place. This heart where Taqwa resides, will be what Allah (SWT) will look at when He ultimately takes us all to account.
وَلَا تُخۡزِنِي يَوۡمَ يُبۡعَثُونَ
يَوۡمَ لَا يَنفَعُ مَالٞ وَلَا بَنُونَ
إِلَّا مَنۡ أَتَى ٱللَّهَ بِقَلۡبٖ سَلِيمٖ
“and do not disgrace me on the Day when all people are resurrected:
the Day when neither wealth nor children can help,
when the only one who will be saved is the one who comes before God with a heart devoted to Him” (Surah 26:87-89)
We’ve spent almost a whole year focusing on the body, fattening it, spending on it, hoarding what we think it will need – but neglecting our souls, as the poet Abul Fath Albusty Alafghani (RA)
يا خادمَ الجسم كم تشقى بِخِدمتِه * أتَطلُبُ الرِّبْحَ فيما فيه خُسْرانُ؟
أقبل على النفس واستكمل فضائلها * فأنتَ بالنفسِ لا بالجسمِ إنسـانُ
Oh slave of the body, how you’ve toiled in serving it
Are you seeking profit from that which will be lost?
Turn and focus on your soul and perfect its many qualities
For your soul is what makes you a human, not your body
And it is in Ramadan that we focus and nourish our souls. We need to armour it and make it ready for the battle that is to commence after Ramadan is over.
May Allah (SWT) accept our deeds this month and allow us to gain the fruit of fasting this month – Taqwa.
Abdullah Saif is a Birmingham-based activist. He cares about community service and encourages youth to be of service. A solicitor by trade, husband and father of two young boys.