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Three Strengths That Ramadan Develops in You

EsinIslam Ramadan Explorer

By A. S. Halawani, PhD

Academician and Writer


Though it is constantly repeated by Muslims all over the world in many occasions, its impact on the life of Muslims is at best very minor indeed. This is due to the weakness of our will, the feebleness of our resolve, and the lack of proper training and practice. What is meant here is the hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah from Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) in which he says, ''The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger.'' (Al-Bukhari)

Moral vs. material strength

Obviously, strength is of two types: moral and material. According to Islam's worldview, though material power may achieve victory for some time, this victory cannot last for long and it will eventually collapse and die out. The Ever-Glorious Qur'an relates to us – among its many wonderful stories – the stories of ancient nations who were very powerful as far as the material aspect of life is concerned. Then, they started to use their strength in playing havoc and causing mischief on earth; they defied the messengers of Allah and resisted all calls for reform. Eventually, they did nothing but leading their own peoples to ruin and destruction by the torment of Allah, the Creator of all. The Qur'an says what may mean,

{Have you not seen, [O Prophet,] how your Lord dealt with the people of `Ad, from Iram, the nation of the pillars, the like of whom were never before created in the lands; and with the people of Thamud, who carved [their very homes] out of the great rocks of the valley; and with [mighty] Pharaoh of the lofty structures?

They all insolently transgressed in the lands. Thus they spread therein much corruption. So your Lord poured upon them all a scourge of horrendous torment! Indeed, your Lord is, most surely, ever-watchful.'' (Al-Fajr 89:6-14)

This is the end of the nations who adopted and celebrated great material powers but were void of any moral or spiritual ones!

As for moral power – according to Islam's worldview -, if it is without any material support, neither will it be capable of overcoming its enemies, nor will it be able to guide or direct the life of human beings in any way.

Consequently, one can safely say that the sole right path toward establishing a life of dignity, honor and happiness is through combining and integrating both the moral as well as the material powers together. This means to enable the matter to work together with the spirit in a way to guide and direct man and make him a decent life. The two types of strength should act as two wings with which the Ummah flies to a high place of dignity and honor without any of them dominating the other. For this, the Ever-Glorious Qur'an teaches us to always invoke Allah the Almighty as saying what may mean,

{Our Lord! Give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter, and save us from the torment of the Fire of Hell.} (Al-Baqarah 2:201)

As the Qur'an enjoins us to verify and correct our belief, refine our souls, lift up our spirits, it enjoins us to prepare the maximum possible material power and strength we can,

{So prepare for them in deterrence all that you can marshal as to military power and war-horse garrisons, through which you shall strike fear in the hearts of the enemy of God, and your enemy.} (Al-Anfal 8:60)

In the same vein, Islam lays down the law that when the moral power is accompanied by material power, they can overcome the material power which is void of any moral incentive. The Ever-Glorious Qur'an says what may mean,

{How many a small company of believers has prevailed over a more numerous company of the ungodly, by God's permission? And God is with those who are patient.} (Al-Baqarah 2:249)

The Battle of Badr represents a most wonderful example on this as Muslims then possessed what the polytheists did not have, that is, the power of faith, the power of ethics, and the power of the soul. Verily, that was why the poorly armed 300 Muslims defeated the 1000 heavily armed polytheists in a wonderful scene where faith and a little bit of material power could overcome gigantic material power that was void of ethical drives!

Three products of moral strength

Amazingly, fasting incorporates both types of power in a perfect manner. History attests to the fact that this combination of powers have always resulted in great outcomes and remarkable consequences. On the one hand, fasting provides the human body with the necessary strength to carry out all needed activities. On the other, it provides the Muslim with three moral powers which have great impact on the life of individuals and groups in both this life and the Hereafter.

First: Patience

In Ramadan, the Muslim forbears hunger and thirst and abstains from what he used to have during the day in other than Ramadan, namely, food, drink and lawful sexual activity. He abstains from all these willingly and with his absolute free will.

Likewise, a soldier who does not learn to willingly fast during peace time won't be capable of enduring hunger in the middle of the battle when surrounded by the enemy and vice versa.

Enduring hardships is a moral strength and is one of the most powerful weapons a nation can be armed with in its struggle against its enemies. Consequently, patience in the face of deprivation in the middle of battle is one of the elementary factors of achieving victory and realizing human dignity.

Second: Obedience

In Ramadan, the fasting Muslim abstains from eating and drinking as well as other lawful customary habits as a sign of obedience to Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him). In so doing, the fasting Muslim does not mind whether his own soul likes it or not. It suffices him that he is already a believer in Allah as his Lord, in the Messenger as his leader, and that he vowed to listen and obey the orders of Allah both at the time when he is active and at the time when he is tired, and at his difficult time and at his ease. That is all he concerns himself with!

In this light we can understand the prompt acceptance of Khalid ibn Al-Walid, the great Muslim military leader, to be relieved of command while in the middle of battle and to immediately join the ranks of soldiers and fight as bravely as he did when he was the commander of the army. He was then heard as saying, ''I fight only for the sake of the Lord of `Umar and not for `Umar!''[1]

Would that have been possible for Khalid were it not for Islam that inculcated such virtuous morals and ethics in his soul through the perfect practice of fasting, prayer and all other acts of worship?!

Third: Discipline

In Ramadan, the Muslim eats according to a system, sleeps according to a system, and wakes up according to a system. During Ramadan, the whole Muslim society shows great discipline in a very wonderful and remarkable manner.

This discipline can be seen in the following: hunger during daytime, preparation for breaking the fast immediately before sunset, breaking the fast at sunset, and performing the prayers of `Isha', Tarawih and Fajr.

It is a unique system that cannot be found in any other nation. A system in which all are equal: the old and the young, the knowledgeable and the ignorant, the ruler and the ruled, and the rich and the destitute. No privilege is granted to or enjoyed by an individual, a class or a caste. What a method of educating and training societies on the meanings of obedience and discipline!

A final word

These are the basic morals and ethics which fasting instills into the minds and souls of the Muslims: patience, obedience and discipline. Would any nation enjoying the virtues of such moral powers be defeated or find its way to collapse or disintegration?! Would any society in which these virtues prevail be affected in any way by corruption or decay?!

Should the Muslim Ummah have these morals today, it would surely be victorious over all its enemies, internally and externally. None would ever be capable of overcoming it, stealing its free will, or controlling its potentials and riches.

Finally, a Muslim should always remember while fasting in Ramadan that Allah the Almighty wants to make him an example of ''the strong and trustworthy''. Therefore, one should beware that Ramadan elapses while he is ''the weak and traitorous!''


[1] `Umar ibn Al-Khattab, then Commander of the Faithful, relieved Khalid of command and ordered him to fight under the banner of the great companion Abu `Ubaidah ibn Al-Jarrah which was implemented immeiately by Khalid with no complaint.

A. S. Halawani is an Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Translation, Misr University for Science Technology (MUST); Former Editor-in-Chief of the Electronic Da`wah Committee (EDC), Kuwait; Former Deputy Chief Editor and Managing Editor of the Living Shari`ah Department, www.islamOnline.net; Member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS); and member of the World Association of Arab Translators Linguists (WATA).

 

EsinIslam Ramadan Team

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