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Finding our inner peace this Ramadan

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This Ramadan, let us try to cultivate inner peace, starting with the purity of intention in fasting (Masjid Maba - Unsplash)

By: Dr Atifah Ahmad Yusoff

In our childhood, Ramadan was simply about hunger and thirst. However, as we’ve journeyed through life to this day, we’ve come to recognize Ramadan as much more than that. It is a sacred month that bestows upon us both spiritual and physical benefits. Ramadan serves as a period of ‘inner development,’ during which we nourish our souls intensely to attain righteousness (muttaqin).

Dr Atifah Ahmad Yusoff

As stated in Al-Baqarah (2:183), “O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.”

With each passing year, we strive to purify our intentions and embrace Ramadan with a positive outlook. This mindset shapes how we experience the month. This Ramadan, let us try to cultivate inner peace, starting with the purity of intention in fasting solely for the pleasure of Allah.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) conveyed, “Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan with faith and seeks Allah’s pleasure and reward will have his previous sins forgiven.” (Ahmad and the compilers of the Sunan)

By nurturing the purest intentions, we align ourselves to perform good deeds and seek Allah’s satisfaction. How, then, does Ramadan foster inner peace within us?

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also taught, “Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan, obeying all of its limitations and guarding himself against what is forbidden, has atoned for any sins he committed before it.” (Ahmad and al-Baihaqi)

In this hadith, the Prophet emphasized the essence of true fasting, which extends beyond mere abstinence from food and drink. It encompasses fasting of the mind, limbs, eyes, tongue, intimacy, emotions, hands, and feet. Each part of our body undertakes its unique fast, serving as an annual exercise in self-control from dawn to dusk throughout the month.

For instance, we must abstain from temptations of the mind, such as negative thinking, fear, anxiety, ill will, and toxic thoughts. Likewise, emotional temptations like anger and jealousy should be restrained, as advised by the Prophet:

“When one of you wakes up in the morning for fasting, then he should not use obscene language or behave foolishly. If anyone abuses or fights with him, he should say twice: Indeed, I am fasting.” (Sahīh Muslim 1151)

Similarly, temptations of the tongue, including ill talk, lies, backbiting, slander, gossip, and senseless arguments, must be avoided to uphold the integrity of the fast.

“The Messenger of Allah said, ‘Fasting is a shield as long as you do not damage it.’ It was said, ‘How does one damage it?’ The Prophet said, ‘By dishonesty or backbiting.'” (al-Mu’jam al-Awsat lil-Ṭabarani 4536)

Through the experience of hunger and thirst during Ramadan, we gain a newfound appreciation for things often taken for granted. It serves as a reminder of those who go without food, instilling in us a sense of peace and compassion. True fasting becomes a journey of self-purification, fostering inner virtues such as generosity, kindness, patience, mercy, and empathy towards others in the community.

“And be not like those who forgot Allah, so He made them forget themselves. Those are the defiantly disobedient.” (Al-Hashr, 59:19)

This Ramadan, let us cherish our ‘me time’ with Allah through prayer and fasting. Let us set aside moments each day for intimate connection with Him, seeking solace in the depths of our hearts as we engage in sincere doas (supplication) and reflection. Let us also find ways to strengthen our social bonds by engaging with society. This may involve reaching out to friends, families, and neighbours and offering acts of kindness and generosity, such as having iftar meals together.

May Allah grant us Jannah, bestow upon us the title of Muttaqin, and bless us with inner peace in life.

……

The author is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Aqidah and Islamic Thought, Academy of Islamic Studies, Universiti Malaya, and may be reached at atifah@um.edu.my

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