Monday, August 1

Ramadhan Reminder

For all non-Jummah workdays during Ramadhan, a different guy will be giving a five minute "Ramadhan Reminder" after each Zhur Jamaat in my company Prayer Room. I've been given the honour of opening this year's session and what follows is what I used as a guide for my talk today.


"There are many who fast all day and pray all night, but they gain nothing but hunger and sleeplessness" (hadith)

As you all know Ramadhan is not just about starving ourselves. It is an achievement to get through a day while refraining from the technically forbidden acts of eating, drinking and having relations and it's also full of blessing and reward, especially in these difficult summer months, but looking around I don't think many people need much reminding on how to carry on with that, and as the saying implies there is much more to a day in Ramadhan than feeling hungry.

There are two further things I feel we can focus on - increasing the good habits while reducing the bad. Most of us manage to do that former to an extent - we pray more, both obligatory and optional prayers. We read more Quran and seek more knowledge as we can see by those sitting here. We pay more charity and generally feel more spiritual. This is all commendable and we should be proud of ourselves and look to increase all these acts as much as we can. But there is more we can do, things which may not at first glance have a religious value and they all involve improving our character - we can be even nicer and generous in character than we usually are, we can look to be more helpful and patient with those around us. These "soft skills" are just as important as any particular act of worship, particularly because they're so pervasive in our lives, and yet they sometimes get overlooked because they're not as seen as explicitly religious.

Where I personally fail is on the other side of the coin; the reduction and removal of the bad habits we form during the rest of the year. These come from both outside and in - we work in an environment that presents quite a lot of fitna and gives plenty of reasons to show bad character and make bad choices. But even putting that aside there are lots of actions that we have only ourselves to blame for - things like gossiping, back-biting, being rude, fighting and arguing, being unhelpful in our work or homes, or not being forthcoming when it's easy for us to.

Ironically sometimes it's our situation itself that is our excuse to behave badly - fasting should bring peace but sometimes the difficulty incites bad temper even when we don't realise it. The most dangerous thing is how these small behaviours and actions can add up - and even jokey and innocent behaviour could be dangerous. Its all the things we take as second nature and harmless which are sometimes the ones which are the most difficult to reduce.

But as with all kind of improvement there is no better excuse than Ramadhan to try and nail these habits. Yes we should continue to focus on the the improvements we've established - the prayer and seeking of knowledge, but for me there is real value in using the sense of goodwill and hidayat to reinforce the good behaviours and battle the bad ones. We should use the spirituality and god consciousness to build and improve our conduct; use our hunger to remind ourselves to be nicer and patient people. Hopefully this will then become habitual and a part of your overall character both during and out of Ramadhan.


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