By Sheikh Hamza Yusuf
We live in the time where months and years seem to be devoid of blessing; that is, a week passes like a day, a month like a week and a year like a month. It seems like just the other day when we last bid farewell to the month of Ramadan. And yet here it is again.
A friend of mine once said that when she asked people how they were, as one usually does in the manner of conversing, people responded with reference to their jobs, their day-to-day tasks and all other material preoccupations. “No, how are you, I want to know how you are,” she would then respond.
This seems to me a pithy example for the month of Ramadan. Our “wellness” during the fasting month should not be contingent on how hot (or cold) it is, the extent of our hunger or thirst, and every other conceivable ‘outer’, or worldly consideration. Our wellness during this sacred phase of time should be intimately connected with our inner state, our heart, the workings of our soul and the level to which we have been able to eschew corporeality and transcend to the level indicated in the Prophetic narration: “God has no need for the person who does not stop from false talk or stop from acting upon false talk to abstain from food and drink.”
Human beings, who have been created with Jekyll-and-Hyde potential, have the capacity to both stoop to the basest level, and to also ascend to such heights as to surpass even the angels in devotion and servitude to God.
This month calls for believers to penetrate beneath the shell of deprivation from food, drink and other carnalities to the kernel of immateriality, purification and adornment of the heart. As such they emulate the angels, who neither eat nor drink but spend every instant in worship and divine witnessing, and even go far as to exceed them.
Ramadan summons the divine devotee to a life lived at the level of the heart, allowing their inner being to translate the physical, finite exertions of refraining from food, drink and bodily desires into their true, infinite meanings.
The month in which the holy Qur’an was revealed beckons believers to become, in the footsteps of their Messenger, an embodiment of the Divine Speech, the Reminder, the Guide, the Witness, the Criterion, and taste hidden treasures of eternal realms that cannot be perceived with the eyes or ears.
In so doing, they are each able to realize their raison d’être and merit the exalted station of being an addressee of the divine message.
That being said, how will you be this Ramadan?
Letters to the Self #24: More Than You Think You Are Able
Letters to the Self #23: Submission
Letter to the Self #22: Do You Have Trust Issues?
Letter to the Self #21: Possessions
Letter to the Self #20: Sacred Spaces
Letter to the Self # 19: The Big “I”
Letter to the Self # 18: Insecurities
Letter to the Self # 17: Backbiting
Letter to the Self # 16: Knowledge or Just Information?
Letter to the Self # 15: Beyond the Limited Self
Letter to the Self # 14: A Better Way
Letter to the Self # 13: The Spoken Word
Letter to the Self # 12: A Blessing or a Curse?
Letter to the Self # 11: Purpose
Letter to the Self #10: Let’s Partey
Letter to the Self #9: Looking Good
Letter to the Self #8: Worship
Letter to the Self #7: Rights of the Body
Letter to the Self#6: Time
Letter to the Self #5: Gratitude
Letter to the Self #4: Laziness