Ustadha Zaynab Ansari discusses how we can seek Allah through voluntary service during Ramadan, whether in our homes or in our communities.
Ramadan is all about two things:
1. The actual physical fact of the fast.
2. The intention behind the fast.
When one fasts one’s entire being is oriented toward Allah Most High. When one feels pangs of hunger one cannot help but feel a sense of empathy for those around one. Especially for those less fortunate. Ramadan is about being of service. Being of service to Allah Most High, and then being of service to the slaves of Allah.
Be of Service to One Another
As our beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “As long as we continue to be of service to one another, Allah continues to help us.” We need to keep that in mind as we go about our fasting day.
Ramadan, from morning till night, is really an act of ibada (worship) as we all know. It is the outward ibada of abstaining from food and drink. But it is also the inward ibada of turning to Allah. Of understanding that any type of anger that arises, any type of frustration that we feel as a result of fasting, must be channeled and leveraged.
We have to understand that if we feel a bit snappish or frustrated, we need to keep in mind that at the end of the day of fasting, we will have a refrigerator full of food. Whereas our neighbor might not be so fortunate.
Combine the Inward and Outward Fast
What I would encourage all of us to do, starting with myself, is to change things up a bit in Ramadan. Have a shift so that Ramadan is not solely about the inward act of worship. Combine the inward and outward fasting.
Take a step toward your neighbor’s house. Check on that person and make sure he or she is doing well. Sign up to sponsor afters at your local masjid. Visit that person who is sick. Make sure that you reach outside of yourself. It is very easy for many of us to turn inward during the month of Ramadan because of the strenuous activity of fasting.
We want to retreat to the interior of our homes or into the masjid. We want to be with our Qur’an, reciting all day long. We want to make our dhikr, to read, to contemplate. And that is part and parcel of fasting. At the same time, though, we want to be able to reach outside of our selves.
So, take the opportunity in the month of Ramadan to perform an act of service you might not ordinarily do. Make a point of surrounding yourself with food. It is good for your discipline. Good for your will power.
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