We usher in Eid-ul-Fitr by saying farewell to the blessed month of Ramadan and reflect on how our devotions through Ramadaan have effectively impacted on our attitudes, our relationships, our bodies, our hearts, our minds and our souls.
As Muslims, we are well aware that Islam has always been a comprehensive and an all-embracing movement. It has at the head of its program spiritual development, sincere devotion, observance of divine guidelines, sustaining a wholesome environment, reform of human society and empowering of human beings. An essential component of the mission of all prophets has thus been reinstituting of the natural balance and the implementation of social justice [Qur’an 57:25]. We are inheritors of that prophetic movement; a movement that, of necessity, has to be relevant.
Relevance of Faith dependant on Practical Action
We need to realize that the relevance of Islam is not determined by the importance we as the “faithful” assign to our faith, but rather how our all-embracing faith responds to the realities of our times.
Relevance is not measured by teaching the shahaadah (testimony of faith) to a starving person, or merely praying for those who are impoverished or simply by cutting off the hands of the thief. Relevance is rather determined by the desire to feed the hungry at the time of need, alleviating the suffering of those in pain at the time of hurt and the general commitment to remove the need to steal. The relevance of Islam depends on how the ummah practically engages the world. Other people see Islam through the Muslims, and if Muslims fail the world then Islam would seem to have failed.
Our Qualitative Contribution
We often feel a sense of ascendency primarily because Islam (in some areas of the world) is the fastest growing religion. But it has never really been about numbers, it has rather always been about ihsaan (goodness) and itqaan (excellence).
It is not what quantitative numerical position we occupy, it is what qualitative contribution we make. It is about bringing hope to those people or situations that may seem helpless. Prophet Muhammad advised; “Allah disdains hopelessness. It is incumbent upon you to take a hopeful stand with an intelligent resolve.” [Abu Dawud]
Nothing affirms our humanity more than our capacity to empathize. It is this frame of heart that enables us to feel the agony of the pains experienced by others, and to treat others as we would like to be treated, and to do our best to make the world a better place; one good deed at a time. Faith and religion can only truly manifest as leading positive forces if we as people of faith realize the need for the spiritualization of our being, the moralization of our consciousness, empathy in our attitude, and goodness in our conduct. Wise ones have said that faith is not manifested by mere wishing; rather it is rooted in the purity of heart and verified by beneficial action.
May the empathic spirit of Ramadan endure in all of us.