The end of Ramadan is an opportunity for us Muslims to re-examine the way we have lived our lives over the past days. We need to reflect, how good and kind were we to our neighbors from other faiths?
By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi
Every year, the holy month of Ramadan comes with a heavenly serenity and winds down to the end, leaving us in a state of regret and disappointment.
However, this occasion is a reminder for us to introspect and take an account of ourselves. The end of Ramadan is a precious opportunity for us Muslims to re-examine the way we have lived our lives over the past days. We need to do an evaluation of where we stand now after remaining hungry and thirsty for so long. We should ask ourselves where we were before the commencement of Ramadan and where we are moving now, after passing the thirty long days of fasting. This is the best way we can resolve to lead a better life in the months ahead. Let this self-criticism lead us to feel truly sorry and remorse for the bad ideas and habits which we have not yet changed, even at the end of Ramadan.
One of the distressing attitudes that we Muslims do not seem to have changed yet is our negligence towards the rights of our neighbours, especially non-Muslims, over us. We enjoyed the blissful sacred days of Ramadan keeping fasts, sharing joys of Iftar (fast-breaking) within our community, donating to the poor Muslims and distributing dates, fruits and foods to our friends and relatives. But while we did all these good and virtuous things, we rarely did the same to our neighbours from other religious communities such as Hindus, Christians, and Sikhs etc. Shouldn’t we have practically acquainted our non-Muslim neighbours with the beautiful doctrine and essence of fasting in Islam?
Since the Quran was revealed in the holy month of Ramadan, it is the most appropriate time to rejuvenate the Islamic spirit of good-neighbourliness. At a time when Muslim societies are living in an atmosphere of hatred, disdain and tensions, we need to stress the core Islamic values of spirituality, generosity and kindness to others. Caring for, sharing with and doing good to neighbours is an integral part of fasting in Islam.
Therefore, we need to be considerate, kind and compassionate to our neighbours, especially if they are from other faiths. We should even forgive them if they have done any wrong to us. Let us not forget that our fasting would be of no avail if our harsh conduct and improper behaviour with people around us remains unchanged.
This is what Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) taught us: “If a person does not avoid false talk and improper conduct during the fast, Allah does not care if he abstains from his food and drink.” (Narrated by Bukhari).
Prophet Muhammad linked good-neighbourliness to perfect belief in Allah and the Day of Judgment. He is quoted as having said in very clear and spirited words: “Anyone who believes in Allah and the last day, let him be kind to his neighbour. Anyone who believes in Allah and the last day, let him be hospitable to his guest. Anyone who believes in Allah and the last day, let him say something good or be silent.”
The Prophet’s beloved wife, Hazrat Aisha (RA), narrates that the Prophet said: “Gabriel has continued to strongly recommend me to be kind to my neighbour until I thought that he would make him among my heirs.”
The exhortations of kindness, compassion and hospitality in the above Hadith traditions are not restricted to Muslims only. They encompass both Muslims and non-Muslims, be they kind or harsh, friends or foes, relatives or strangers.
On the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr we should invite our non-Muslim neighbours to our homes and serve them sweets and food with generosity of spirit, with an aim to create a neighbour-friendly environment in our homes and Muslim societies.
(The writer is an Alim and Fazil and has graduated from Jamia Amjadia Rizvia (Mau, U.P.) and is pursuing his M. A. in Comparative Religion from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi).