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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Ramadan: The Days of Sincerity, not Show-off!

ReligionRamadan: The Days of Sincerity, not Show-off!

In modern times, the actual purpose of why Ramadan is observed is becoming drowned by the wrong goals and intentions of certain sections.

Every year, when the crescent moon appears on the western horizon, Muslims across the world gather at elevated places to gather the first glimpses of sightings of the moon.  This marks the beginning of a month of fasting.

Muslims welcome Ramadan by congratulating each other and sending messages of greetings to concede the blessings of this sacred month. Due to its sacredness the month of Ramadan is one of the most distinguished and celebrated months of the Islamic calendar.

Fasting during Ramadan is considered one of the fundamental and obligatory worship for every abled adult Muslim. There’s a narration which states that at the outset of Ramadan, the Prophet Muhammadﷺ used to congratulate his companions by saying, “There has come to you Ramadan, a blessed month, which Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, has enjoined you to fast. In it, the gates of the heavens are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, and every devil is chained up. In it Allah has a night which is better than a thousand months; whoever is deprived of its goodness is indeed deprived” (SunanNasa’i 2160).

The Prophetﷺ not only congratulated the companions on the eve of Ramadan but also proclaimed its importance and emphasized that one should not be deprived of its blessings and goodness.

No doubt, we should congratulate one another on the eve of Ramadan as we have been blessed with this great opportunity to get the blessings of Allah Almighty. On the other hand, we should also be well aware of the fact that it’s not enough to just give or receive congratulations or to observe Ramadan traditionally as a religious custom it’s also necessary to understand its significance.

The Holy Quran says, “O People who have believed! Fasting is made compulsory for you like it was ordained for those before you, so that you may attain piety” (Quran 2:183). Thus, the actual motive of fasting in Ramadan is to achieve piety (Taqwa) by controlling and disciplining ourselves and through this to achieve the reward and blessings of Allah Almighty.

The Prophetﷺ said, “Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, 38). So those who observe Ramadan sincerely with faith will get their rewards but here in this article, we will discuss a different aspect related to the culture of pretence and show-off during Ramadan.

We should always bear in mind that in Islam the acceptance of deeds and actions depends solely upon the intention (Niyyah) and sincerity (Ikhlas); sincerity is the spirit of worship as well as the key to the acceptance of our deeds in the Presence of Almighty Allah. 

When we are sincere in our actions that means the motive of our actions should be for pleasing Allah only.

If we are sincere, our intentions are pure and our deeds are solely for pleasing Allah then our deeds must be free from every kind of pride, must be away from hypocrisy and must negate all desire for fame and public recognition. The reward of our actions completely depends upon our intentions, the very first Hadith of the Prophetﷺ quoted by Imam Bukhari in his Sahih says, “The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended” (Sahih Al-Bukhari 01).

Islam has emphasized so much sincerity, especially in all reward-based matters which are exclusively pertaining to Allah because showing off (Al-Riyaa) is strictly condemned in Islam. Every action, every deed that is done with the intention of showing off in front of people will be rejected by Allah and that person will be exposed to everyone on the day of judgement. The Prophetﷺ said, “Whoever does a good deed in order to show off, Allah will expose his intentions (before people) on the day of judgement” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, 7152).

In another Hadith, the Prophetﷺ said, “He who lets the people hear of his good deeds intentionally, to win their praise, Allah will let the people know his real intention (on the day of judgement), and he who does good things in public to show-off and win the praise of the people, Allah will disclose his real intention” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, 6499). Indeed showing off, especially when regarding worship is such a great sin that it has been described as minor polytheism (Shirk Al-Aghar).

The Prophetﷺ said, “What I fear for you the most is the minor polytheism that is ar-riya (showing-off). Allah will say on the Day of Judgement when He is rewarding the people for their actions: Go to those for whom you did riya for in the world then see if you find the reward with them” (Musnad Ahmad, 5/428).

We have many other similar narrations in which the Messengerﷺ of Allah has told that the one who prays and wants people to see him while praying, or the one who fasts and wants people to know about his fasting or the one who gives charity and wants people to know about his acts of charity and then boasted in front of people, he has committed shirk. In short, it is an established thing that Islam does not allow its followers to show off, particularly in religious affairs and in religion also one has to be careful in worship matters as it is one of the sins which may ruin our worship and good deeds forever.

Now that we have understood that the practices of Ramadan demand sincere affiliation and there is no place for showing off or any kind of pretence in Islam; let us now look at our society and see how some of us behave and observe the month of Ramadan. First of all, as the month of Ramadan approaches many Muslims suddenly change their appearance as well as their behaviour with a question of “what people will think if we don’t fast or what people will say if we don’t pray”.

They start wearing skull-cap; they change their appearance by adopting a religious clothing style and start behaving like a pious and righteous person. In the case of worship, many people establish their daily prayers, and recite Quran daily to complete it once or twice; they maintain this standard for the entire month but as soon as Ramadan concludes they return to their actual state.

Here the question arises, for whom they have practised all that? If the answer is “for Allah” then there’s no problem but if the conscience isn’t satisfied with this answer and it says “for people” then undoubtedly all those practices will be rejected by Allah and will be considered as shirk. Likewise, if a person is praising his fasting or praying during Ramadan in front of others and while praising he feels bragged then his good deeds will vanish.

For instance, if I say “I am successfully fasting, haven’t missed a single fast, neither I have missed any prayer, Alhamdu’lillah” and by saying this I am actually boasting about my deeds and feeling pride inside then it means my faith isn’t sound and my heart isn’t inclined towards Allah. The Quran says “Allah does not love any prideful boaster” (Quran, 57:23). Similarly in a Hadith narration, the Prophetﷺ said, “He who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride shall not enter Paradise” (Sahih Muslim, 91). Therefore, we must not brag or boast about our deeds and we should avoid flaunting our worship before people.

Another way of showing off and being proud during the month of Ramadan is when many NGOs and Welfare Trusts initiate their welfare activities this month by helping out the poor and the needy people; they give them relief kits, they provide them with meals and they support them financially.

Islam has emphasized much on charity and helping others, giving charity to the needy is one of the fundamental obligations of every Muslim. Once people asked the Prophetﷺ that if someone has nothing to give (in charity), what will he do? The Prophetﷺ replied “He should reach out and help the needy who appeal for help” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, 1445). 

So undoubtedly welfare is a great work and there’s a certain reward for it; but we must bear in mind that if any sort of pride or pretence is behind this work then as per Islamic teachings, it is a worthless deed.

Many individuals and organisations help the poor and needy without any discrimination of caste, colour, religion or ethnic background; they even don’t post their pictures of helping others on social media to flaunt in front of people. However, many people first help the poor and needy and then post their pictures on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram just to showcase their work and to get appreciation from the public.

The unfortunate aspect is that showcasing the poor and helpless people by sharing their pictures is itself a cheap and unethical action. 

Just think what goes through the heart of a person, how bad a person must feel when he sees his helplessness and poverty being showcased and his pictures being circulated everywhere. Therefore, while helping needy people, we must avoid doing any such activity which hurts someone’s self-esteem. We have to realise that it’s good to reach out and help people but it’s not obligatory to take their pictures and then flaunt our welfare and humanity.

There was a time when during Ramadan people used to organize Iftar gatherings at their residences or local mosques with sincerity and pure intentions; but since the advent of social media, this trend has evolved and people have become pretentious in performing all these activities.

No doubt, there are so many Prophetic narrations which tell us that there is a certain reward for providing Iftar to someone but the question arises what is the intention behind such acts? All these activities must be based on sincerity, piety and honesty but if such acts are based on mere pretence then these acts may not be accepted in the sight of Almighty Allah.

Nowadays the culture of organizing and celebrating Iftar feasts or parties has become much more prevalent. Iftar parties are being held at grand hotels and lavish restaurants just to show off wealth and to please people for personal benefits. These parties are specially organized for rich people, society’s elite classes, businessmen, bureaucrats, officers and political leaders.

Mostly the main motive behind these Iftar is to exhibit their wealth and to please or satisfy influential people so that later on their influence and authoritative powers will be used for the personal benefit of the party organizers.

 The most unethical part of these Iftar parties is the deliberate side-lining of the poor people or the lower class of society. While discussing those feasts to which rich and powerful people are invited and poor people are intentionally avoided our Prophetﷺ said: “The worst food is that of a banquet to which only the rich are invited while the poor are (deliberately) avoided” (Sahih Bukhari, 5177).

Unfortunately, nowadays most of the good deeds are done for name and fame only. People take no time to make a public show of their deeds by posting statuses on social media; they don’t hesitate even to post their pictures of donating something worth ten rupees and the same is the case with the picture of worshipping at midnight. 

While doing such things we must remember that Islam doesn’t allow this kind of attitude because one of the main goals of Islam is to perfect our character by purifying our actions as well as our intentions. 

All the discussed showing-off activities are merely an output of negative intentions which will eventually develop a negative character.

The fasting in the month of Ramadan was meant to counter such negative intentions within ourselves to develop a pure and positive human character. 

As we know in Ramadan every Muslim try to do good deeds in abundance; everyone is inclined towards worship and welfare works as the pleasure of praying and giving charity in this month is superior; but at the same time, people forget to remember that the spirit of good deeds is hidden in sincerity.

If good deeds are devoid of sincerity, then they are merely hollow acts, words and pretences.

 So the conclusion is, we should spend the days of Ramadan and observe fasting with sincerity as per the teachings of Islam. We must sincerely utilize it for our comprehensive development and purification by achieving the qualities like patience, tolerance, and resistance against our desires. This could be possible only when we will abstain from practising all that is prohibited in Islam; when we will avoid all such types of unethical and immoral activities; when we will try to refine our character, behaviour and personality only then we will be able to attain righteousness and piety.

Therefore, we should take care of the fact that the month of Ramadan is a training course for our physical, spiritual, emotional and intellectual purification and development. We worship, we pray, we give charity, and we help people during this whole month; if we are sincere then all these actions and deeds will draw a positive impact on our lives along with it we will also get a reward from Almighty Allah. But it will only happen when we become sincere, avoid pretence and most importantly when we will perform good deeds only for the sake of Allah’s pleasure. 

I would like to conclude here by asserting that the month of Ramadan is a month of piety, not pride and the days of Ramadan are the days of sincerity, not show-off!

The author Habib Bilal is the Research

The Author, Habib Bilal is a Research Scholar at the Department of Islamic Studies and works at Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University, Rajouri (J&k)

 

This is is email ID: [email protected]

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