In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
"Anyone who obeys the Messenger has obeyed God..." (Nisaa 4:80)
Ramadan is about taking less food (because you can only eat after sunset) but the irony of it, Ramadan is the month where some Malaysian Muslims spend so much money on it and it is the time of the year when one could have 'exotic food ' including ‘kuih’ (cakes) never found on any other time such as 'badak berendam', 'tahi itik' and 'tepung pelita'.
Ramadan teaches Muslims to be trift on their spending. But it is normal for a Malaysian Muslim family; I included, spending more during Ramadan especially on food, clothing and decoration of the house. And do not forget the buzz about ‘Bazar (Bazaar) Ramadan,’ others were kown as ‘Pasar (Market) Ramadan’, 'Karnival Ramafan' and ‘Gerai (Stall) Ramadan’. In these places, one could find almost all of ones needs including perhaps those ‘exotic food’ mentioned above.
What does the presence of this ‘Ramadan phenomenon’ suggest? Am I wrong in saying that Muslims are encouraged to spend more time and money in this ‘fiesta’ like a monthly occassion; unfortunately it is Ramadan, the best time of the year for Muslims to double or triple his good deeds as required by Islam?
Ramadan teaches us to feel the pangs of hunger of the poor people of the world. It has been reported that one person in the world dies every three seconds because of hunger. So wasting of food is criminal. But how is the situation in our country and other rich Muslim nations where the word ‘hunger’ seemed ‘quite unfamiliar’ to us, and seemingly is happening in far faraway lands. In United Arab Emirates (UAE) it was reported that 500 tons of food are thrown away each year in the holy month of Ramadan!
A ‘hadith’ narrated by Darimi: Abu Huraira related that Rasulullah said: “Many people who fast get nothing from their fast except hunger and thirst, and many people who pray at night get nothing from it except wakefulness.”
I quoted an ustaz (religious teacher) saying: “"Fasting is not just about abstaining from food and drinks. We are also requested to 'fast' our tongues, eyes, ears and minds.
"If we only refrain ourselves from taking food and drinks, but 'free' our sights, hearings and tongues, then at the end of the day, we will be rewarded only with hunger, thirst and tiredness."
He also said we had to 'fast' our stomach. It was true, during Ramadan, we had to refrain from eating and drinking during the day, but it would be of no value if during breaking of the fast, we took food that was forbidden (haram).
He said all the food that was laid on the desk had to be ‘halal’, and there were regulations when eating. For example fill only one third of the stomach with food, the next one third with drink and leave the rest empty for easier breathing as said by the Prophet.
Stop wasting food during Ramadan and one should not only refrain from taking food and drinks but also to ‘fast’ our sense organs such as ears and eyes.
I would like to add another aspect of wastage that is regarding time. How many people waste their precious time of Ramadan for example playing ‘dam haji’ (checkers) and carom while waiting for the time for ‘berbuka puasa’ (breaking of the fast or iftar)?
This ‘fine aspects’ of Ramadan was discussed by an ustaz while giving his weekly ‘tazkirah’ (talk) at a masjid near my house recently.
The ustaz reminded Muslims (congregators at the masjid) to gain maximum benefits from the gifts of Allah SWT during Ramadan. In this holy month, one ‘sunat’ (optional) deed done would be rewarded like a ‘wajib’ or ‘fardu’ (obligatory) deed, and a ‘fardu’ deed would be rewarded 70 times or more than in other months.
He said we should not waste any time during Ramadan because it is very precious. “Grab the opportunities given by The Almighty by considering this is our last Ramadan. If it is our last, then we should do our best to please our Creator, Allah SWT. Every second counts thus fulfill it with activities in accordance to the Creator’s wish.
“Our Ramadan days should not be wasted by doing unrewarded deeds such as playing checkers while waiting for the breaking for fast. Fill it with ‘zikir’ (dhikir that is eulogizing Allah in the words taught by the Prophet or in the words prescribed in the Qur’an),” said the ustaz.
One’s tongue should be wet with words of praising Allah SWT (lidah perlu basah dengan kalimah Allah) with the chants of ‘Laa Ilaha IllAllah (there is no God except Allah) which is the heaviest in weight in the side of Allah SWT.
“Then there are many more ‘kalimah’ that should be read such as ‘Subhanallah, Walhamdulillah, Wala Ilaha Illallah, Wallahuakbar’, Astaghfirullah al Lazi La Ilaha ‘illa Hual Hayyul Qayyum Wa Atubu Illahi’, ‘La Haula Wala Quwwata Illa Billah’, and ‘Subhanallahi Wabihamdihi Subhanallahil ‘Azim’. There is a hadith saying that chanting ‘Subhanallahi Wabihamdihi’ once, a ‘nakhlah’ tree would be planted for that person in Paradise.
In doing our daily chores such as paying bills, waiting for public transport and even when one is trapped in a massive traffic jam, why not use the time to recite the above ‘kalimah’.
These ‘kalimah’ should be chanted in full concentration for the maximum rewards by Allah SWT but for the ‘zikir selawat’ (praises to Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.) its reciters' would also be rewarded even if his mind is not on what they recite, what more if he pays full attention to it. Among the simplest ‘selawat’ is ‘Allahumma Salli Ala Saiyidina Muhammad, Wa’ ala Ali Saiyidina Muhammad’.
Ramadan and the noble Qur’an cannot be separated. It was in this month that the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to the Prophet s.a.w. through Angel (Malaikat) Jibril a.s. So to Muslims brothers and sisters why not brought along a small Qur’an with you and recite it while you are waiting in a line or better still during long journeys on buses and trains.
And when travelling don’t forget to bring along a packet of dates with you, so that when it is iftar time, pass the dates to person or persons next to you for you would be rewarded handsomely by Allah SWT as the Prophet s.a.w. had declared: “If a person gives iftar to a fasting person in this month, his sins would be forgiven. And he will be given as many rewards as has that fasting person.”