DAY 29. FRIDAY 24 APRIL 2020. COVID-19 LOCKDOWN SOUTH AFRICA
We are on the shore…
Ayahs (evidences) from the Holy Quran on fasting:
Fasting is obligatory for all responsible and medically fit Muslims. Allah says in the Noble Quran: O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.” (Quran, 2:183)
Apart from an obligation to fast in the month of Ramadan, Allah (SWT) revealed Quran as well. The Holy Quran states: “Ramadan is the (month) in which the Quran was sent down, as a guide to mankind and a clear guidance and judgment (so that mankind will distinguish from right and wrong).” (Quran,2:185)
We are on this shoreline of the most auspicious month of the year and it will begin during the COVID-19 LOCKDOWN period. The feeling is strange as we are so used beginning this month with tarawweh (twenty units of prayer) in a mosque that today is empty and its atmosphere has a vacuum whilst our hearts yearn for its environs. I beg to as therefore, “Do we enter the mosque or has the mosque entered us?” The heart is the mosque of the believer therefore, his presence is welcomed because his character are his minarets. However, the mosque and congregational prayers amongst many are external realities that add to the nobility of the month’s greatness therefore, we need to ask ourselves if Ramadaan has entered us or have we entered Ramadaan. This profound question is an indication of the spiritual light in us that we seem to illuminate on holy nights and in the month of Ramadaan.
The boats on the shoreline indicates that its purpose is for the water and it has to have a captain who will navigate it into the huge ocean. Taken as a picture from above, it is captivating and it all looks like a destination to behold. When on the ground itself, there emerges a new reality that is surprising, exciting, enigmatic, filled with wonderment, touched by anxiety and filled with fear. Let us for a moment play on this theme of the boat, the shore and the ocean. The boat, is our soul. The shore is the world and the ocean is the hereafter.
Our soul, the boat as its metaphor is temporarily within us that gives us the quality of life. Withdrawn from the body, life is gone. So this soul is housed within our body and we nourish it with good or bad depending on your nature of living. The body is also nourished with food, clothing and shelter. All the metaphysical stuff is a nourishment for the mind and the intellect. We are really complex in creation that is why we are best of creation above animals but, when we disobey and cause disruption on the earth, we are rendered to the lowest of the low as the Holy Quran teachers us in the surah 95. The soul is on the journey to the hereafter but, it has to traverse the vast and challenging environment of this temporary world which is very deceptive in all its realms of trails, tribulations, beauty, splendour, possessions and an endless list of desires. That’s the shore line! The soul is made comfortable in environs of peace and tranquility that is enshrouded by silence – the silence of contemplation, thought, reflection, good wholesome company, thoughtful action, healthy living and religious inclination and sincere practice. However, this is constantly disrupted by the attractions of the worldly desires and the silence becomes a noisy place we establish a liking for and find it hard to distance ourselves from. What is this? It’s our work, our cell phones, our many obligations, self imposed stress and activities, anxiety and fear of tomorrow. In this way our souls are restless. We need to calm it again and aligned it to the path of destiny. That’s why the month of Ramadaan comes as a gift to the soul, little do we know it.
The soul, in the month of Ramadaan, is given a unique opportunity to swim in the realm of the pathways to the hereafter. So, we embark on this journey into this vast open ocean in our boat, no matter how colossal it might be, its still a drop in comparison to the vastness of the ocean. We journey with fasting, restraining our desires and making time for silence – the silence is peace of prayer, the solitary confinement in the last ten nights searching for laylatul Qadr (The Night of Power) extolled in the Holy Quran in the Chapter titled DESTINY. It is true that the spirituality in this month is unparalleled to any month in the year because, the shayateen (devils) are chained and you and I have the unique opportunity to find our own devils and demons within us and rid ourselves of them. It is like lighting the soul up again after it has become blackened by sin and evil. Alas! the heart is not forgotten. Our hearts become so attached to goodness and becomes clean like a shining mirror reflecting light and it’s blinding sight resonates the surroundings and body feels light enough to transcend the realms of this earthly life. We look back and the world, the shore line, looks hard and full of dongas (a South Africanism illustrating the ground having trench like holes caused by rains and soil erosion caused by water on the gravel roads in the informal settlements) dotting the open landscape. The journey ahead, away from the world is more exciting and real while the world still beckons like a damsel in distress.
The world is what we have to work in like a farmer for his harvest. Therefore, we need to send for hereafter what we sow in this world. We sow good deeds in the hearts of mankind through our character and behaviour for the world does not see our alms giving and prayers. The world sees how we behave. The world is what we will leave just like how the boat must move away from the shore into the water to sail, we will leave this world to set sail into the realm of the hereafter and all that we leave behind will be our family and friends who too, one day will perish. Our possessions will be inherited. So we have to be like the Samurai, who will only unsheathe his sword for battle and not more. This symbolises our relationship to the world. It must not be reckless. If for example, the Samarui were to unsheathe his sword and with his refine skill use it to drench it in blood, the natural order of his oath is disrupted and mayhem is let loose in his mind, consequently on everything around him as well. Therefore, we have to live with thoughtfulness in this world and know that the provisions for long journey is ahead is good deeds. Our good deeds become as a collective become the captain of the boat that heads out in the infinite vastness of the hereafter.
The boat entered the ocean but, it did not allow the water to leak into it because it would sink but, the boat was made outside the water on dry land. The telling truth here is that innately man knows the ephemeral time he has on earth and has to plan for the next. Like the boat builder knows how to build the boat to sail, a good sensible human being knows that he has to build is soul to sail in the ocean of the hereafter. The boat builder will employ the skills of various artisans to ensure greatness of design, flamboyance in luxury , magnificent space for provisions, precise scientific navigation equipment and more. He knows the benefit of it all because he knows the ocean and it’s treachery too, but loves it because its an excitement of all sorts which inspires adventure and greatness of being. Similarly, the human knows that preparation for the hereafter is necessary and the building blocks are not material but spiritual acts that are linked to Allah, the Majestic and HIS beloved Messenger Nabi Muhammad (s).
Nabi Muhammad (s) is that professional whose lifestyle when followed, will embellish every deed so that it will serve a majestic purpose on the journey to the world beyond. Like the boat builder employing professionals to make his boat infallible, the lifestyle (sunnah) of Nabi Muhammad (s) is that for the believer. He will punctuate his life with actions of Nabi Muhammad (s) only to please Allah, the Subtle, the One. When these combinations find themselves in the soul of the believer, the soul transcends the realm of this world into the light of Allah, the Eternal the Everlasting. This happens when Ramadaan enters us – we become the being connected with heart and soul to Allah, the Creator and the Only Being worthy of worship.
Embrace the month to attain Taqwa in fasting during Ramadan. Taqwa is basically an act of righteousness, fear of Allah and total submission towards Him. In the Holy Quran Allah Almighty says: “Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain taqwaa.” (Quran, 2:183)
Now that we have come onto the shore let us begin our journey of spiritual greatness in the boats of taqwa we were building. We are on this journey together and yes, the night of Power awaits us more embracing than a happy couple before entering the sanctity of nikah (marriage solemnised on the sunnah.)