Beyond fasting

Everything that has a beginning surely has an end. The month of Ramadhan, which started just like yesterday, has ended. It is therefore auspicious to thank God because it is not automatic to live beyond fasting, it is grace.
For some people who had fasted for the past one month, the end of fasting is an opportunity to return to the old habits that had been jettisoned during the holy season. Quite unfortunate! For others, Ramadhan is an opportunity of self-renewal and its lessons continue to impact their lives beyond the month. How lucky!
When Allah says, “O you who believe! Fasting has been prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those who were before you so that you might attain piety” (Q. al-Baqarah: 2: 183), the validity of the message remains during and after the month of fasting.  It is gainful to appreciate that piety or consciousness of God stands on two legs, so to say: observing obligations and avoiding prohibitions or sins.
Essentially, it is everyone’s responsibility to uphold good deeds as well as avoid sins after fasting. This is a challenge in our age in which sins are liberalised and freedom is construed as a blank cheque to disobey God with impunity. This is a serious matter in a situation where doing good to some is considered a burden and those who are doing wrong things are the “celebrities”.
On the first leg of observing obligations, the following tips offered by a scholar are useful beyond Ramadhan. The tips border on remembering God, reliving the Ramadhan experience and remaining true believers:
1. Fast at least on Mondays and Thursdays.
2. Pray five times a day and continue to perform the night (supererogatory) prayers.
3. Reduce your sleeping time and read the Qur’an more.
4. Fulfil your promises.
5. Assist the poor.
6. Abstain from slander and lies.
7. Do not participate in flamboyant parties and do not arrange such.
8. Dress very simply.
9. Do not talk too much, rather say supplications much.
10. Exercise in sports of value (swimming, athletics, etc.)
11. Study more in the areas of religious, social and scientific studies.
12. Learn skills and acquire technical knowledge.
13. Learn to read the Qu’ran and be smart in every context.
14. Ignore your good deeds and keep in mind your recent sins.
15. Beware of news, especially that which relates to the Muslims.
On the second leg of avoiding sins, the experience of Hadrat Shibli, an eminently endowed man of faith and piety, is worth sharing. One windy morning, several years ago, he was on a quiet stroll. He soon got to a field and saw a wise man to whom he (Shibli) sought an answer to a puzzle.
“I suffer from the disease of committing sins”, he began, “give me a medicine, if you have one, to cure this disease”. The wise man broke into a momentary silence, thinking of what to tell another sage.
But while this was going on, a man was busy picking straws in the plain right before them. He heard what Shibli said. He raised his head and said in a gentle voice that synchronized with the morning breeze:
“Those who think of thee, pick up the straws. Shibli, come here and I shall tell you a medicine. Take the flowers of modesty, the fruit of contentment and thanksgiving, the roots of humility and meekness, the blossoms of sorrow, the leaves of the tree of truth, the bark of devotion, the seeds of holiness. Gather them and start pounding them and mix them with the tears of penitence everyday. Put everything in the kettle of your heart, and put the kettle on the fire of your eagerness. When everything is cooked, put it through the sieve of your clean heart and the sugar of your sweet tongue and again; put it on the hot fire of love. When everything is done and the compound is ready, cool it off with the air of the fear of God before using it”.
In other words, the preventive medicine of sins lies in modesty, contentment, discipline appreciation, humility, meekness, repentance (with its accompanying sorrowfulness), truth, devotion and commitment to righteousness. All these are to be mixed with having a clean heart devoid of hypocrisy and hatred, a tongue that celebrates Allah, a soul filled with love and a self powered by the consciousness of God.
It goes without saying that when righteousness is activated, sinfulness automatically hibernates or shuts down. Therefore, as Muslims, including members of the University community, celebrate the Eid-ul-fitr, The Alma Mater wishes them many happy returns of the festive season!