Ramadan is just round the corner. Muslims across the world are all set to fulfill their duty towards one of the pillars of Islam…Fasting.
While Muslims go about this duty, it is worthwhile for them to reflect inwards and introspect how they fare as human beings. Giving up food and sexual pleasures by fasting may take them to heaven if God wills, but it is also important that they free themselves from the shackles of materialism that they hold on to, the shackles of egoism, the chains of greed and the trap of desires…the list is endless.
Wearing the garb of piety for one whole month and then discarding it and going back to square one is like staging a play.
All things belong to God. If Muslims could try to apply this beautiful gem of a saying in their lives, they will possibly be much happier, peaceful and contented.
An interesting analogy by an engineer who set up his business in Mumbai illustrates this quite well. He was earning enough to keep himself and his family happy till pressures from family and relatives to “ become big” compelled him to fly to Muscat, where he had to slog for somebody else. A friend once asked him, “Do you like to own a pet? Perhaps a cat? Or, maybe, a rabbit or a parrot?' He replied. 'No way, because once I keep a pet, I will start bragging to others that this is “my pet”, then it goes on to “my house, my garden, my car, my glass, my plate”…and so on. My claim of “ownership” will reduce me to being a slave of my things and desires. All things, really speaking. belong only to God.’
With horrifying news one reads in papers today about children killing their parents for property or brothers fighting over their father's will to grab their shares, and many other such instances, it is a scary scenario indeed. The desire for ownership does not emerge from mere greed, but is much deeper, at the very bottom of which is the corrosion of values within human beings.
We have the Prophetic values quoted in books. The Prophets and saints of the past did not live extravagant lives. Nor did they claim ownership of things. They won people's hearts through their humble, simple, honest lifestyles. One may argue that life then was different, and that today it is the fast-paced race to become big. So the more things you have, the more successful you think you are, and others think the same way, too. The more things you own, the more powerful you believe you are. Islam does not forbid human beings from living a life surrounded by basic comforts. But the challenge is living in this world yet saving oneself from being distracted by materialism and getting ruled by it. This can happen by draining the dirt of greed from our hearts and minds. It is easy to preach, but difficult to practice, but yet this is the challenge.
Youngsters today have a lot to learn from the older generation, their parents and grand-parents. Learn values from them, their qualities of sacrifice, selflessness, simplicity and spirituality.
This Ramadan, and for all times to come, look around and take lessons from how the poor live, how they survive on one frugal meal a day, how they run from pillar to post for medical aid. Also try to learn the history of how your parents lived their childhood, when there was no mobile, no computer and all the other hundreds of gizmos to distract them. They owned nothing, yet were happy because they owned great values.
This Ramadan, just open your old mother's or father's cupboard and see their frugal possessions. You may see nothing. That was their secret. Yhey owned values. They did not need to own anything else, and that point is what really matters.
The prophets, too, have shown us a way. Let us attempt to follow it while we fast.