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Being faithful after Ramadan (I)

Brethren, I had gone to the mall, as usual, as a matter of necessity- to procure those essential items for daily living. After all, we…

Brethren, I had gone to the mall, as usual, as a matter of necessity- to procure those essential items for daily living. After all, we are all fated to want and to this quest for the impermanent. Visitors to the mall usually had to pass through the gated entrance and collect a pass from the security personnel before gaining access to the parking spaces within the mall premises. Just before I arrived at the gate, one of the security personnel had picked up a quarrel with the owner of the car in front of me. Thus, when I got to her presence, she was still in a state of rage. She was muttering obscenities and pouring invectives on the driver who must have done enough to merit such imprecations. Now by the time I came face to face with her, I heard her saying: “that is the way they usually behave; during Ramadan, they comport themselves in the best manners possible; as soon as the month passes, they go back to sins again.”

I brought my car directly to a halt at the gate, looked straight into her eyes, and said to her in no uncertain terms- “that was highly instructive”. Other security officers around wondered exactly what was happening. ‘Wetin be your own’ they all chorused. In order not to risk another scene, I immediately pressed the accelerator.

But the lady’s statement had already been etched onto my memory. Her statement kept hacking back into my consciousness. I found myself in a dialogic encounter with myself and my own other: “Was that man a Muslim? What could he have said to this young lady? Why is it that some among my brethren usually throw caution to the wind by conducting themselves in manners that are unbecoming of their Quranic identities? Is it not true that throughout Ramadan we were indeed angels in constant communion with the Almighty? We represented the best that Islam demands of us. We were loving and caring to members of our family. Husbands suddenly became dutiful. There was no argument with my sister on the house-keep allowance. There were no disagreements on the school runs. My sister at home became the ‘Khadijah’ of today, not the ‘wife’ of Prophets Nuh (a.s) and Lut (a.s) of yesterday. Suddenly she became very cooperative and supportive of her husband. Her tongue was no longer busy with imprecations and indecencies but the remembrance of the Almighty. She was no more popular during the month as the enfant terrible sister in the neighbourhood. She was fasting!

Now how do we account for this return to the spiritual ghettoes and the remits of religious infamy? Why is it that immediately after Ramadan comes to an end some of us usually become the exact antithesis of what fasting in the month came to make out of us? Why do we find it easy to become highly irritable and irascible in our dealings with our fellow compatriots, contrary to the lessons we learned in the month that the hallmark of faith is the ability to be patient while the world expects us to be petulant; that the gravitas of spirituality consists of outstaying crisis and tribulations while humanity expect us to be feckless entities at the mercy of the tide?

Brethren, I concluded that the man who made the young lady lose her cool was probably a Muslim. This explains her reference to Muslims as “angels” in Ramadan and agents of Beelzebub thereafter. But why is it? Why is it that during Ramadan, we become angelic and catholic in our words and deeds only for some of us to become demonic immediately after the month comes to an end?

Brethren, I concede that your response to the above might be more germane than mine. But you would probably agree with me that one way to make sense of the above is to say that those who fasted during Ramadan and become charlatans and oppressors of their souls thereafter probably never engaged in fasting. Their similitude is like students on our university campuses who pass through the university but refuse to allow the university to pass through them. Such a brother could have prayed without actually praying. He could have observed the tarawih at night without qualifying, ab initio, to do so before the beginning of the month.

Remember, the very first condition for fasting is belief in Him, the Almighty- belief in the Unseen “Seer” of all events in the cosmos. To fast, therefore, is to enter a contract with the divine- a contract which cannot be voided by Him but by you and me. To have fasted during the month of Ramadan is to have entered into a covenant not to become a demon when the month is passed. To have fasted during Ramadan meant you have entered into a divine transaction with your Creator which would mature for the rest of the year until the next Ramadan. Remember this tradition of the Prophet: “Whoever fasts in the month of Ramadan and then follows it with six days fasting in Shawwal would be deemed to have fasted for life.” (Reported by Muslim) 

To be continued 

 

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