Tag Archives: extravagance

To starve or not to starve- Ramadan 2014!

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By Umme Aisha

It’s almost Ramadan! Just a few hours to go, inshaAllah.

This is the one time of the year where most Muslims readily sacrifice both food and the immediate gratification of their desires. It’s a month that when it leaves, it leaves us feeling sad and gloomy.

Despite it being the favorite month of every believer, a logical mind may wonder: Why does Allah want us to starve throughout the day? What good is our starving ourselves, for Him? In the Quran, Allah encourages people to consume His blessings:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ كُلُوا مِمَّا فِي الْأَرْضِ حَلَالًا طَيِّبًا وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ ۚ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ

O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy. [Quran; 2:168]

Especially since Allah addresses His believing slaves in particular and commands them to eat from His given Rizq (provision)and be thankful about it:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُلُوا مِن طَيِّبَاتِ مَا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ وَاشْكُرُوا لِلَّهِ إِن كُنتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ

O you who have believed, eat from the good things which We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah if it is [indeed] Him that you worship. [Quran; 2:172]

There remains no doubt about the fact that Allah has created all these blessings for His slaves to consume and to take benefit from, and that He doesn’t need us to starve all day long, because Allah is free from all needs.

However, to answer the question of ‘why starve ourselves’ is that we, humans- being made of both physical bodies and souls- need to pay equal attention to the health of both these elements (i.e. the body and the soul). The month of Ramadan is to balance the nourishment of both elements of our existence.

To understand this, lets assume that you are the custodian of two little kids namely A and B, both having different kinds of needs and demands. If you feed A all day long, you might forget the other one which will result in the malnutrition of B. If you keep on nourishing A while forgetting the other child- one day you will end up starving kid ‘B’ to death at the expense of kid A.

This is what we do with our bodies and souls. While both of these two need equal nourishment and care, we are naturally more inclined towards our bodies because the needs of our physical bodies are easily advocated by our physical weaknesses. We rush to seek assistance for our physical health, whereas our souls do not reveal their needs this clearly and are thus left neglected.

To balance the needs of nourishing our souls Allah has blessed us with a beautiful month, in which our attention is all focused on worshipping Him, who Created us. By fasting we stop ourselves from fulfilling all of our physical needs- at the whims of our bodies- and work on the needs of the soul. We try to strengthen our relationship with our Creator, and become stronger in soul. This is one of the wisdoms we can discover behind the obligation of fasting in the month of Ramadan, a month when all of us work hard to get closer to Allah.

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 (The Ramadan Highway Code. Picture courtesy: Muslimness)

This is the same reason why we work harder to connect to the Qur’an in this month- more so than in any other time of the year- through recitation, reflection and taraweeh prayers. Feeding the right food to our souls is impossible without connecting to the words of Allah because just like our souls came from the heavens , so does their food (in the form of Allah’s Words).

May ALLAH help us to understand the wisdom behind refraining from eating in this month. May Allah make our month of Ramadan more than just a month of food; one in which we eat and plan extravagant iftar/suhur meals! May Allah help us get connected to Him through this month and may He accept our good deeds. Ameen.

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Of Big Weddings And Small People

“There are two types of gatherings: one that is surrounded by angels and one that is not.”

– From Half:Past:Midnight- What I’ve learnt so far, Saadia Humayun

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And that about sums it up when we come to weddings as we know them.  Ladies – near or far, close to you or not so much, related or a mere friend – all clamour to get you to shed that off, or put this on.  Then there are those poor, innocent, lost gents that keep sauntering between the tables, stopping here and there to chat with folks, making up for lost conversations, and instructing the waiter— wait a second, didn’t you say this was going to be a segregated wedding?

“Always the same,” said Mr. Weasley, smiling. “We can’t resist showing off when we get together…”

– From Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K.Rowling

 Showing off.  The phrase doesn’t see as much use today as when we were kids, but it hasn’t been more in evidence than today.  People always remark how it is no use for you to be donning jewellery or taking pains with a certain dress if, well, ‘it is not seen and appreciated’.  In fact, one person even forced their parents that there be no purdah or partition so to speak, at their wedding.  Who shall we dress up for then, Mom!

 And really, why the need for tonnes of make-up?  So far, experience dictates that even if you go to the best of salons, you still end up just fiercely hoping it turns out well, and that little children don’t scurry for cover upon sight.  But then, who possesses the strong faculties to endure all taunts thrown their way by eminent guests?

وَالَّذِيْنَ اِذَآ اَنْفَقُوْا لَمْ يُسْرِفُوْا وَلَمْ يَـقْتُرُوْا وَكَانَ بَيْنَ ذٰلِكَ قَوَامًا

And [they are] those who, when they spend, do so not excessively or sparingly but are ever, between that, [justly] moderate. (Surah Al-Furqan: 67)

It all comes down to people then, doesn’t it?  To us all.  To you and me.  To how small our goals and how shallow our thinking is, yet how big our weddings are!  Eating in moderation and strictly keeping oneself from waste- be it food or money, lowering the gaze and hiding the ornaments, and then saying only the good stuff, are all that lack from our ceremonies today.  I wonder if the angels surround such gatherings..

يٰبَنِيْٓ اٰدَمَ خُذُوْا زِيْنَتَكُمْ عِنْدَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وَّكُلُوْا وَاشْرَبُوْا وَلَا تُسْرِفُوْا  ۚ اِنَّهٗ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِيْنَ

O children of Adam, take your adornment at every masjid, and eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess. (Surah Al-A’raaf: 31)