Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Ramadan Rubbish

“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may learn self-restrait” Surah al Baqara, Verse 183

A few days ago, Muslims around the world marked the end of the holy and blessed month of Ramadan. This was my first Ramadan. I am convert to Islam from Catholicism. Though I practiced the act of fasting for Ramadan last year, becoming a Muslim makes it an obligatory act as it is one of the five pillars of Islam. Now that the month is over, I must say that I am happy that God has given Muslims the month of Ramadan. There was no other time during the year that I became so aware of what I do.

Those without any spiritual understanding only see the sacrifice of food and drink. There is a saying of the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) that he who gives up food and drink but doesn’t give up harmful deeds, starves himself for nothing. Ramadan is more than just giving up food and drink. But you wouldn’t know that if any practicing Muslim had the displeasure of heading over to Christian Science Monitor to glance at their so-called Ramadan Journal. It is a journal written by a Muslim woman who apparently is too cool to fast. She doesn’t ask why Muslims fast, despite the Qur’anic verse above. Of course, CSM is quite happy to give her a platform to discuss her problems with Islam. In fact, they are well known for their articles advocating the aims of the Progressive Muslim Movement.

So why should CSM have a devout Muslim write about his/her Ramadan experiences if they support a group of iconoclasts who believe that being a Muslim is not submitting to the will of God and accepting his beloved servant Muhammad (pbuh) as His messenger? According to the PMs, being a Muslim is simply saying that you are one. It has nothing to do with praying, fasting, preserving societal and sexual modesty but has more to do with eating hummus, having a “Muslim” name and not observing the tenets of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Why would you want your readers to read about how Muslims are more generous to the poor, more loving to their families and more earnest in their desires to please God when you can post the musing of a disgruntled “Muslim” who gets nothing out of Ramadan but hunger, and that if she decides to fast that day.

I would have loved to have had my own Ramadan journal at CSM (or any other publication) and so would many other Muslims who would like to share with others the joys of the blessed month. Why do I thank God for Ramadan? I am happy because it reminds of my blessings and my duties. I realize just how merciful God is when I know that I am breaking my fast at sunset but there are others who have no idea when their next meal is coming. So, I open up my heart and my earnings to whom God commanded me to take care of—the poor and the suffering. I am careful to avoid sin, that I don’t hurt anyone’s feelings and that I am more loving to my family and friends. I read as much of the blessed Qur’an as I can and let the melodious recitation fill my heart with praise. You can’t know the sweetness of Ramadan until you practice it for the simple pleasure of pleasing Allah subhana wa ta’ala. Why is that so hard for CSM to understand that?

Ramadan has ended with Eid al Fitr and I already long for the purification that takes place during that month. I wish they could request me and others who love Ramadan to express our feelings. Instead, they have decided to present their readership with two alternatives—the radical, hate-filled heretical terrorists and the “secular Muslim” who mocks her faith, culture and traditions. I will send this little essay to the editor but I am posting it online so that if and when he/she decides to publish my thoughts, he/she won’t “creatively edit” my words like he/she had already done to a friend of mine who expressed her dismay at the Ramadan Journal. CSM, unfortunately, has proven that it is not interested in the mainstream voices of Islam and would rather promote the same tired clichés of the renegade hijacker and the disaffected skeptic. But I, and millions more, are sad that Ramadan is gone but are ever hopeful to observe it again and to reap the blessings of it.

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