From the Slavery of our Desires to the Slavery of Allah
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
"O ye who believe! fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you so that you may attain taqwa." (Al Baqarah: 183)
Ramadhan is the month where the believer is reminded of why he was created. It is the time when the bond between the Creator and created is at its strongest, where we are reminded of the power, knowledge and love Allah سبحانه وتعالى has for us. Through our hunger in this life we are reminded of our need for Allah سبحانه وتعالى and we are reminded of the hunger and thirst on the Day of Judgment. Our needs stretch even further to all worries and problems in this life and by Allah's سبحانه وتعالى mercy we have been given guidance so we do not wander the earth in conflict and confusion.
Today the western societies have no such guidance and instead we see their societies declining, where their moral compass is being taken over by people who are only concerned with their desires. Islam came to enable man to satisfy his needs whilst protecting the individual and the wider community. Therefore the Muslim can worship Allah سبحانه وتعالى at all times not only on the prayer mat. This guidance presents us with the best way to live whilst at home, work, within politics and any other problem which we may face.
In the west we see society is driven to please only themselves ignoring the consequences of their actions, since the capitalist belief calls for the individual to be free, to seek happiness in any way they sees fit. The reality of this is a society which glamorises adultery, crime and exploitation of women, in the quest of seeking pleasure. The outcome for the wider society means a rise in issues such as knife crime, paedophilia and broken homes in the search for money, status and enjoyment.
Allah سبحانه وتعالى reminds us of this: أَ
رَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ
"Have you seen the one who takes as his god his own desire?" (Al Furqan:43)
The reality of western society is one which is becoming increasingly animalistic, where survival of the fittest reigns supreme. The search for satisfaction only grows in a person left with no boundaries, and the need to consume continues to grow leading some youths to kill in order to steal a phone to sell for a few pounds. This inevitably leaves the weaker elements of society vulnerable to others who will use their power against any who stand in their way.
The destruction does not end with the local society but is exported abroad through globalisation. Not only are the values of freedom and democracy being pushed on the rest of the world but the greed which accompanies capitalism has resulted in an environmental and economic disaster. Subsequently the west continues to become richer whilst the majority continue to struggle.
Allah سبحانه وتعالى says:
اللَّهُ وَلِيُّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا يُخْرِجُهُمْ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ ۖ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَوْلِيَاؤُهُمُ الطَّاغُوتُ يُخْرِجُونَهُمْ مِنَ النُّورِ إِلَى الظُّلُمَاتِ ۗ أُولَٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ ۖ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ
"Allah is the Protector of those who have faith: from the depths of darkness, He will lead them forth into light. Of those who reject faith the patrons are the Evil Ones: from light they will lead them forth into the depths of darkness. They will be companions of the fire, to dwell therein (for ever)." (Al Baqarah:257)
We have made many things our aim in life, a career, owning ones own house, the perfect family, ease and tranquillity but these things may take us to jahannam if they are placed before Allah سبحانه وتعالى. We must first see our life as belonging to Allah سبحانه وتعالى, and follow the objective in life He سبحانه وتعالى defined for us which is to worship Allah سبحانه وتعالى alone.
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
"We have not created mankind and jinn except but to worship Me." (Adh Dhariyat:56)
To worship Allah سبحانه وتعالى means to place Allah سبحانه وتعالى before our own desires, therefore in ease and hardship we think only of whether Allah سبحانه وتعالى is pleased with us. This creates an individual and society which is not consumed by its own greed, since the needs are satisfied and regulated by the Qur'an and sunnah.
Whereas this is the ideal life for the believer, the test is in the struggle we face to disregard the daily temptations and fears.
أَذْهَبْتُمْ طَيِّبَاتِكُمْ فِي حَيَاتِكُمُ الدُّنْيَا وَاسْتَمْتَعْتُمْ بِهَا
"You squandered the good things that you had in the life of this world, and you sought contentment in them." (Al Ahqaf: 20)
إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا مَا عَلَى الْأَرْضِ زِينَةً لَهَا لِنَبْلُوَهُمْ أَيُّهُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا
"Surely We have put what is on the earth as a glittering show so that We may test them, as to which of them have the best actions" (Al Kahf: 7)
Our daily struggle with the haqq (good) and batil (evil) includes our desires since they can take us to either janhah or jahannam. We have been warned in the verses about the nature of this world and that it can lead the best of people to the wrong path. So we must strive to think about our actions whether they are truly for Allah سبحانه وتعالى sake, or ours.
Islam perfectly blends ones own needs and the responsibility to others. Ramadhan is the embodiment of this idea where not only does the Muslim concentrate on their relationship with Allah سبحانه وتعالى emerging more content and more determined to be a better Muslim. Whilst at the same time rushing to help and be with others through giving sadaqah, zakat, giving of food and bonding with the community through tarawih prayers.
The vision of an Islamic life is a beautiful one but the unfortunate reality is that whilst we strive hard to worship Allah سبحانه وتعالى and improve ourselves through Ramadhan, the remembrance of Allah سبحانه وتعالى doesn't go past our throats. In our dhikr we will praise Allah سبحانه وتعالى and call him the great one but our words fall on a society which has no place for our deen.
This should worry and agitate us like it did the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and the sahabah (ra). The need was so important they risked wealth, jobs, family and even their lives in order to carry the dawah for Islam to give the deen of Allah سبحانه وتعالى to the rest of society. The dawah agitated the disbelievers such that they called for the Muslims to stop but the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said;
"Oh my Uncle, By Allah, if they put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand on condition that I abandon this matter (Islam), until Allah has made victorious or I perish, I will not abandon it."
It is clear from this statement that the deen of Allah سبحانه وتعالى was more important than any luxury the Quraysh were trying to bribe the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم with. There is a strong message from these actions as we cannot afford to forget our responsibility towards our deen for fear of our desires.
Whereas we may strive to have Islam in our personal lives, the system around us will still continue to be Kufr. Therefore we must work to bring back the Islamic system to truly obey Allah سبحانه وتعالى in all matters in life.
أَفَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِبَعْضِ الْكِتَابِ وَتَكْفُرُونَ بِبَعْضٍ ۚ فَمَا جَزَاءُ مَنْ يَفْعَلُ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْكُمْ إِلَّا خِزْيٌ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ يُرَدُّونَ إِلَىٰ أَشَدِّ الْعَذَابِ ۗ وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ
"Then is it only a part of the Book that you believe in, and do you reject the rest? But what is the reward for those among you who behave like this but disgrace in this life? and on the Day of Judgment they shall be consigned to the most grievous penalty For Allah is not unmindful of what ye do." (Al-Baqarah; 85)
Muslims globally need to build their community to seek the higher values of Islam, and not allow our fear of friends, family or even government to stray from Allah سبحانه وتعالى deen. Instead we must remain as one unified Ummah, which would be an example to the rest of the world.