Imam Khalid Latif is blogging his reflections during the month of Ramadan, featured daily on HuffPost Religion. For a complete record of his previous posts, click over to the Islamic Center at New York University or visit his author page, and to follow along with the rest of his reflections, sign up for an author email alert above.
The last ten nights of Ramadan are meant to be about individualized worship. In our tradition, the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, would spend his days and nights in the mosque for the purpose of spiritual reflection and contemplation. Taking not just a moment but a series of moments to purposely remove himself from the distractions of society and everything focus on something that was more enriching than acquisition of wealth or material gain -- namely the enrichment of his soul.
The prophet Muhammad said, "Richness does not come from having an abundance of things from the earth, but richness comes from having a richness of the soul."
How many of us lay our heads down to our beds in the evenings and find the experience restful? How many of us in contrast find ourselves plagued with anxiety, stress, and worry? When I try to put my strength, solace, and trust in that which is material, I am always in need of more. It's not ever really enough. I'll do whatever I can and step over whoever I need to in order to continue consuming the way that I consume. I feed myself and feed myself with so much of the world, but it doesn't really satisfy my hunger.
Ramadan teaches me how to fill that hunger in a different way. I don't need to always consume to feel satisfied, and when I do consume, it doesn't really have to be as much as I am used to. I can gain a deeper contentment by understanding really what my heart is in need of in order for it to feel at peace. The company of good people from all backgrounds, the moments to break away from the day to day monotony of my working life, the ability, want and desire to give of myself and resources to those who are in need, they all feed me in a different way.
Much of the world today does not have as much as you and I have. Much of the world today continues to have less so that we can have as much as we have. This isn't even about homes and cars and nice clothes -- but things that we take for granted each and every day. Clean water, shelter, basic medicines and immunizations. We learn to appreciate it all during the month of Ramadan. This year, lets try to carry it beyond these 30 days.
Us having less sometimes enables others to have more. If you've learned to live with a little bit less this Ramadan, try your best to maintain it. If you've learned to give a little bit more this Ramadan, try your best to maintain that as well. It will make you that much more satisfied with life and enable you to help others be more satisfied with their lives as well.
It's important for us to step out of our comfort zones at times so we can really see what the world is like. My Ramadan this year was spent mostly around young people who are working or come from working families. This doesn't mean that youth and wealth are forever. The idea is not meant to be a morbid one, but one that is understood through a lens of reality. Take a walk in a part of town that you've never gone to before, invite someone to your home that no one would ever expect you to, engage a social class and a part of society that you can easily get away with neglecting because their voice is not empowered enough to effect you. And then be consistent with it beyond Ramadan. It will feed you in ways that you didn't know you were hungry for.
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