Don’t just count the days, make the days count!

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From our Muslim chaplain

Dearest readers we’re on day 22 of fasting in this blessed month, and I want to take the time to reflect upon what we have achieved in these last three weeks or so. Have we empathised with those less fortunate than us? Have we been able to concentrate better in our studies and our worship- knowing that we don’t need to eat and drink throughout the day? Have we utilised the time we have to do something productive or beneficial to our selves or for others? We also need to look at how we can make the most of the last few days of Ramadan and how we keep the legacy of Ramadan going into the rest of the year.

For me, Ramadan is certainly a time to get closer to our Lord, and Allah tells us through a transmission via Angel Gabriel that whatever manner we view our Creator, is the manner in which he will be to us…

“I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly even better than that. And if he takes one step towards me, I take ten steps towards him. And if he comes walking to Me, I go running towards him.”

If Allah is only seen as a punishing God then we will only ever expect punishment from Him. If he is seen as a Merciful God, then we can expect Mercy to emanate from Him, and by extension we will inculcate some of that mercy into our own lives and behaviours. It is just a matter of perspective, and some (like me) might say that this perspective leads to a healthier outlook. So how can we expect to attain Allah’s Mercy? And if we look at things from the angle of punishment – are we really expecting an undesirable action to take place in our lives, in response to some kind offence? Because that is what the mindset becomes if we think of our Creator as One who wishes to punish us! Let us look at this mindset using the example of police. Police are there to ‘protect and serve’ the public, and they have powers to ‘arrest and jail’ someone who does not help to meet the needs of protection and service. So, as my child grows up, as a warning to her- if I use the police as a means to to instil fear or to get her to do what I want, then am I risking her growing to resent the police for always being the bad guys! And should she ever require police assistance will she reject them because she never knew that they also serve and protect?

As this child grows, and as I have instilled a certain perception of the police, i.e. you must eat your greens or else the police will come to arrest you. You must wear your seatbelt or else the police will catch you, the damage I am doing to her psychological perception of law enforcement could be catastrophic! So now, switch the wording a little. You must give charity or else…You must go to mosque or else…You must keep fast and perform your regular worship or else…God will punish you! This is the kind of thing we are risking with our own and our children’s view of God. We need to take a step back and if this is our own viewpoint then change that immediately, and slowly change the perception of those around us, especially those in our care. (I came to this realisation when my younger daughter stated, quite solemnly- “Abbu, the police will come after us if you didn’t put your seatbelt on straight away!” Looking over to her – she had already ‘clicked on’!)

So if you’re thinking the last three weeks have been dragging on or have not gone as well as you hoped, then do not fret. Our actions are rewarded according to how we had initially intended. Allah is more merciful to His creations than a mother is to her child. Rely upon Allah’s Mercy and think of Ramadan as a marathon rather than a sprint, to make the last few days count. So that you may continue to inculcate the good habits you have picked up this Ramadan and stay away from the bad habits that you have hopefully ditched this last three weeks! Increase your prayers, if you can and increase your charitable giving, if you can. But no matter what, increase your contemplation and self-reflection- that is a must! Remember, one of the biggest reasons for fasting is to get a closer bond with God through increased ‘taqwa’ which can be loosely translated as ‘God-Consciousness’. We might try and remind ourselves that no matter how much we feel that we are in control, the ultimate result is in Allah’s Control and beyond our understanding. To make effort and try our very best, and know that with Allah do all results rest!

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