Sunday, October 22, 2006

29th of Ramadan

Ramadan in Hong Kong seems to be about a day ahead of most of the readers on this blog. I guess it has to do with being this far in the East. A days ahead means tonight is the 29th of Ramadan and tomorrow, we'll be looking for the new moon. Although, from what I heard at an Indian food stall today was that they are expecting it to be a 30 day Ramadan.

Needless to say, the stall owner was not the happiest man. An additional day of Ramadan is a blessing. We have one more day, one more chance to have our sins pardoned. But for someone whose livelihood depends on selling food, the blessing is potentially hard to see. This, actually relates very well to the last post made by Syed Sibghatullah, about how age tends to take away the joy in worship.

I really think that as we mature and develop reasoning according to the ways of this world, it gets hard to believe. And I'm not talking about saying, "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad (pbuh) is the messenger of Allah". What I'm talking about is for a halal food stall owner in Hong Kong (with majority Muslim customers) to really and truly wish for another day of Ramadan, instead of saying "I hope it ends tomorrow".

I'm talking about for every one of us to believe that giving out Zakat does not lessen our money. Our acquired intelligence and knowledge in this world tells us otherwise. I have $100, and I give away $2.5 out of it, I must be left with less. Right? "If I have ten million dollars, do you actually expect me to pay $250,000 without complaining? That's 250,000!!!" is our general attitude.

I am the last person to say that I believe in all of this with absolute conviction. May God forgive me, but I have been concious of this for a while now. I can say that I believe, but do I really? My first Ramadan in Hong Kong is coming to a close, and I hardly went for tarawih (special prayers offered in Ramadan during the night) during this month. You must have noticed I went AWOL from this blog as well for quite some time, and I blame it squarely on my workload at office. Working 60 hours a week can take its toll on a person.

Coming back to the topic at hand, what is my level of faith then? My thought process throughout this month with regards to tarawih was on the lines of "there's sooo much to do at office. How can I leave for tarawih?". I say "I believe" but I give up prayers for work. I obviously do not believe that offering my prayers by taking up lesser work will bring me "success". How can it? How can I expect to stand out as a great employee, if I leave work for prayer?

I know that the fact that I am myself writing about it is somewhat paradoxical, but I have been thinking about it for some time and had to bring it up. Notice I say "thinking about it" and really that's all it has been. But as ramadan comes to an end, even if I am, as yet, unable to convert my thinking process into actions, I figure I can at least put it to words and hopefully get some more people to think about it.

I have been through a lot in my life that should make be 'believe'. I have been down on luck at numerous ocassions, all of which has proven to be great for me in the longer run. Times when I would sit in my room crying, I look back upon now and laugh about. How the events that caused me to cry have turned in my favour in a great way.

I have to admit, the All Merciful has been exceptionally merciful on me. Even then, I fail to really believe. I need to, we all need to start. We need to believe that trying to fulfil our duty towards God does not make us weaker in this world. We (at least I) need to believe that going to say prayers at 8 at night does not constitute neglecting work. We all need to believe that another day of ramadan is not a burden. On the contrary, it is a great blessing, one whose magnitude we cannot fathom. Fasting in Ramadan is not about "taking it easy because I feel weak " or "I am fasitng alternate days". We need to believe that believe that each day of fasting in Ramadan brings so much reward that temporary weakness should not even be a consideration for leaving a fast. We need to believe that giving out Zakat does not diminish our money, and that giving away for the consent of Allah actually increases our wealth. God returns us many times more as reward.

And while we are on the topic of giving money in the path of God, why stop at Zakat? That is only 2.5% of excess assets that is mandatory to give away. We should give as much as we can... and truly believe that God knows we are doing this in His way, and that He does not let anyone's sacrifice go unrewarded. A dollar given today will come back as two, five, ten, maybe even more tomororw. And if it doesn't come, our reward still awaits in a world that really matters.

So the question you have to ask yourself is 'do you believe?'. If the answer is yes, the next question is 'how much?' or in other words 'what would you do for the sake of Allah?'. Would you pray, with all your heart that Ramadan not end at 29 days? Would you tell your boss that the client can wait another day since you need to go for prayers after working 10 hours? If you have a business where a large potential buyer says they'll meet with you at 1.30pm on Friday, would you give up your prayer for it? Or would you give up the potential business opportunity to fulfil your obligation to God? Would you give up your money to help someone, seeking nothing in return other than God's good will? How much would you give? 2.5%... well, 2.5% you have to give away. How about more? How about all of it? Half of it? Quarter? Quarter of what you spend on yourself in a month?

Wheredoes your belief starts to shake?

Take that point, and try and build on it; to push it to the next level, and the next, and so on... and pray that Allah gives us all the strength to make the push.

5 comments:

Destitute Rebel said...

Booo a very good post, I'm sure a lot of us think about these things. The times are such that our faith is quite weak and it begins to shake very early. We blame God for anything that goes wrong it our life when we can not take 5 mins out of our lives 5 times a day to properly thank him. Reading your post made me realise even more what we do. I myself started off Ramadan strong, I am usually not the praying type, but I prayed, I fasted and now that ramadan is coming to a close, I see myself not praying 5 times a day, do I even have an excuse for that like your work, no I don't. I pray to God that I am able to follow his teaching and be a better man. I pray to God that he keeps me on the right path.

Tawfiq said...

Boo,

Your words touched somewhere inside, but I have to say that you left more questions than answers, and I don't blame you for that, because everytime I try to answer these questions; I end up with more questions.

As much as the Allah-or-Life selection seems to be simple in principle, it's not as simple on the ground. Because Allah created us "to worship him", and told us that "work" is one of the most basic and important ways to worship him.

In Quran, surat Hud(11) verse (61): {He brought you into being out of the earth, and made you thrive thereon}. If you read the description of this verse (I'm sure you did) you will find that it means that building earth is one of our main responsibilities.

I don't want to go on with this because I'm not really capable of talking about this in depth, but I'm sure (if you don't already know this) you can find more information by searching the web.

Let's go back to the question-question game; for a question like:
=>Should I stay at work or leave for a prayer in the Mosque?
You can answer:
=>Isn't work a type of worship? Which is more important to Allah; building earth (work) or praying at Mosque?
You can even go further:
=> Which helps building earth better, staying at work, or quitting job and staying at Mosque praying the whole day?

God bless brother, I'm sure you know the answers.

Happy Eid!

Syed Sibgatullah said...

@tawfiq:

May I dare call it flawed reasoning? Although we have been instructed to fulfill our basic need and even go as far as to take upon some luxuries, but we should remember that getting devoted solely to this world should not be the objective. Work is Ibadat, no doubt. But work that interferes with other duties in certainly unwanted. I don't know if I'm putting it the way I want it to be put, but you get my point, I assume.

When you quote Surah Hud, Verse 61, another quotation comes to my mind. I don't exactly remember the words and the reference, but the context goes as when you hear the call for prayers, leave all work to answer to it.

By the way, Happy Eid!!

Musafir said...

Thought provoking post.
Reminds me of one Jummaah prayer I attended, the imam in his sermon told us this parable wherein some desperate man is offered a much wanted job only if he would remove his beard.
The imam's suggestion was to give up the job rather than give up his sunnah.
A practical approach would have had him accepting the job and shaving off his beard.
These conflicts are imposed upon normal faithful humans every day of one's life. What one chooses to do is solely one's own decision.

Boo! said...

@ musafir - I know there are conflicts, some that are extremely hard to manage. Who knows wht is right or wrong in a lot of situation. But what I tried to talk of in my post were more general things... namaz, zakat etc. If someone offered you a job and told you that you wont be able to pray, what would your answer be then? What about a job like mine, where I am having trouble to get to prayers despite having worked more than 10 hours? These are situations where we know what is right, but choose to ignore.

@ tawfiq - that is exactly the conventional thinking I am talknig about. At school they told you 'work is worship' and you took it to heart :)... what about the dozens of times it says in the Qur'an to establish prayer (not 'say' prayer, but 'establish' it... not once in the Qur'an, to my nkowledge, does it say to 'say' prayer). And I'm not saying stay at Mosque all day (do it if you can), but to make sure people at work know you are unavailable at certain times (for 10-15 minites eash). Make up for your work though. I do it for Jumma prayers.... too weak to do it for the rest. Maybe one day I'll have that strength too.

@D'Rebel and Syed Sibgatullah - Thanks for the support :)