Avoid Religious Exhibitionism

By the time this issues reaches the hands of our readers, holy month of Ramazan would be upon us. All those of us who find the month revisiting us, must feel fortunate, for having been blessed with yet another opportunity to harvest a bountiful crop of virtues. No matter how much we strive, the bounties of Ramazan cannot be had any other time of the year. While fasting enhances consciousness of God, the promise of proximity to the Holy Quran and manifold return of reward on charity, render the month into a veritable jackpot of divinely goodies. To boot, it is not a matter of chance. All serious and focused efforts can claim it for themselves, no hit and miss, and no slips between the cup and the lips.
But blessings of Ramazan are sure to escape the ones who are out to make a show of the piety rather than practicing it. Essence of Ramazan lies in the Divine desire to induce piousness among people. And it is useful to remember that piety has a kind of subtlety that needs to be cultivated. Of the four principal forms of Islamic worship, i.e., namaz, fasting, zakat (alms) and pilgrimage of Hajj, fasting is a hidden kind of worship which is too personal to be evident to others. Unless declared, it is difficult to be detected. And there is no way a fake claim of fasting could be put to test. It is this quality of obedience and compliance to God’s will that keeps the fasting apart from other forms of worship.
But then it makes certain demands too. Foremost it requires a faithful to protect his/her fast from all that can render it impure. Hunger being the constant reminder during the month should deter the believer from acting in any manner that displeases God. Untruths, falsehoods, fakery and gimmickry must be kept at bay. Gazes must not fall on objects obscene and with lust. Feet should not lead one to the vices and hands should not touch but things pure and genuine.
While these may be a few tips for ensuring the sincerity of the exercise, the community is called upon to be watchful against any and all kind of exhibitionism on the social place. It is rather pitiful that we allow the rewards of worship on holy odd nights slip through our fingers by whiling our time gossiping on the street corners. More deplorable is the tendency to bedeck the mosques in communally competitive spirit. And those who undertake the Umrah pilgrimage during the month will be better advised to look for needy students, ageing spinsters and chronically sick people in their neighbourhood for funding their studies, marriage and treatment. Not to be missed is the false pride in raising the noisy decibels from the minarets and the pre-dawn cacophony. Let not the holy month be an added excuse for ghettoisation of the Muslims. We must be wary of claiming the entire social space for ourselves.

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