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Imam Abdullah Antepli

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Living Ramadan More Meaningfully

Posted: 07/27/2012 10:24 am

Today is the second Friday of the Holy month of Ramadan. We have only three more weeks left to get the best and most out of Ramadan. I will use this week's HuffJummah to remind myself and all about the long list of great Ramadan opportunities that we should go after in these remaining three weeks. Ramadan offers us rewarding spiritual feasts, helps us grow internally, gives us special and timely opportunities to reflect on and critically engage with our past, empowers and encourages us to strengthen our ethical and moral muscles, enables us to be more charitable souls and many more.

How do we seize these great and time bound possibilities and be a better Muslim and better human being at the end of this year's Ramadan? How can we push the spirit of Ramadan into our bones so that her legacy and affect will stay with us even after this holy season ends? So that we can live the rest of the year in a Ramadan atmosphere? So that many great things that we do in Ramadan will not end up becoming a seasonal work but life long habits and our personality?

One of the most important ways in which we can achieve all of these noble ideals is to practice Ramadan in a much more meaningful and substantial ways than just abstaining from food and drink in certain hours. As we take on these important religious and spiritual Ramadan practices and requirements -- such as fasting, additional prayers and so on -- our simultaneous efforts to engage with the deep inner teachings of these beautiful Islamic rituals will only enables us to get there.

Let us use Ramadan as a time to purify our souls and refocus our attention on God. Let us audit ourselves and see where we are in our journey to God. Let us examine our ethical and moral health, force ourselves to practice more self-sacrifice and try to develop substantial empathy toward others.

As Muslims, we are called upon to use this holy month to re-evaluate our lives in light of Islamic principles and guidance. Let us give long and substantial quality time for this self-evaluation. We are to make peace with those who have wronged us, strengthen our ties with family and friends, do away with bad habits, essentially to clean up our lives, our thoughts, and our feelings from anything bad and impure. The Arabic word for "fasting" (sawm) literally means "to refrain" -- and it means not only refraining from food and drink, but from evil actions, thoughts and words.

During Ramadan, every part of our body must be restrained. The tongue must be restrained from backbiting and gossip. The eyes must restrain themselves from looking at unlawful things. The hands must not touch or take anything wrong. The ears must refrain from listening to idle talk or obscene words. The feet must refrain from going to wrong places. In such a way, every part of the body observes the fast.

Therefore, fasting is not merely physical, but is rather the total commitment of the person's body and soul to the spirit of the fast. Ramadan is a time to practice self-restraint; a time to cleanse the body and soul from impurities and re-focus one's self on the worship and love of God.

Another great aspect of Ramadan that we shouldn't miss is her invitation to be more thoughtful and responsible for our fellow human beings. Ramadan is also a month of charity and empathy. Through these physical disciplines that we take on, we are called to improve our empathy with those who are less privileged than us and with those from whom hunger and starvation is a way of life. This deeper empathy and understanding is expected to increase our motivation and determination to attend the needs of fellow human beings. We should go beyond the minimum requirements of Zakat and stretch our limits to reach out to those who are in need.

Through sincere and serious efforts we can still make this year's Ramadan a special and a rewarding one. This requires giving Ramadan an utmost priority in our lives and try to live these remaining three weeks most meaningful ways possible. May you be transformed and irreversibly enriched by the time you reach to Eid Al-Fitr. May Ramadan continues to shower all believers with her endless blessings and gifts. May we succeed in striving to shape our souls through the spirit of Ramadan. Amin!

Check out The Huffington Post's Ramadan liveblog updated daily with spiritual reflections, blog posts, photos, videos, and verses from the Quran. Tell us your Ramadan story.

 

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