Contributed by Muslim Bhanji
Ramadan is here, and this is a good time to pause and reflect on what this year’s month of fasting will mean to us. We know that Ramadan is made up of three sections, the first 10 days when we seek Allah’s mercy, the second period in which we double our efforts at repentance in order to gain forgiveness, and finally, the last 10 days when we seek Allah’s permission to enter Jannah (Paradise), Insha’Allah.
Let us focus on the first 10 days, and explore the quality of mercy.
Two of the names by which Allah is known are Ar-Rahmaan and Ar- Raheem. These are the attributes of Allah, and an oft repeated phrase in the Holy Quran. Allah is the most merciful, both in this Dunya (world) and the Hereafter. He bestows mercy on all of creation, and is the giver of mercy to each of His creations. Mercy as a quality is inherent in all of us; when Allah created mercy he divided it into 100 parts. He placed one part of it inside each of His creations, and kept back the other 99 parts. These 99 parts will be used by Allah to show us mercy on the Day of Judgment. Mothers have the greatest mercy for their children; even the wildest of beasts show tenderness to their off spring. As great as the mercy of the mother is for her child, Allah’s mercy is much greater. So important is this quality that Allah has made it incumbent on us to commence every action, every utterance, with ‘Bismillaahir-Rahmaanir-Raheem’ (in the name of Allah, Most Merciful, The Most Beneficent).
This is in order that Allah can bless us in whatever we do, whatever we say. Without the utterance of the Bismallah, the action is void of mercy; has no blessing in it, nor any good. It is when we, as the servants of Allah, and obedient to his commands, show mercy towards one another, that Allah sends His Mercy down on us.
The Messenger of Allah (saww) has condemned the person who shows no mercy. He said: “The Most Merciful One shows mercy to those who have mercy on others. Show mercy to those on earth, and the One above the heaven will show mercy to you.”
In view of this it is just as important to show mercy to others, as it is to beseech Allah for mercy. In the period leading up to Ramadan, let us resolve to bestow our mercy, the quality we have been blessed with, on others. Do take care though, that in our rush to do so, we forget to be merciful to ourselves. Mothers especially are so eager to do even more for their families during Ramadan, that by day end she is run ragged and cannot reap any of the benefits of this Mubarak (blessed) month.
Another mistake we make is to be over compensate with food and delicacies at the end of the day. When our bodies have had a welcome break from all the foods we consume normally, sometimes even to excess; it is a shock to the system to overload at the time of Iftar (fast breaking). With abstinence, harmful substances are purged, yet the body continues to function. How merciful is our body, that without the needed sustenance, blood continues to flow, lungs continue to take in air, and all other functions work perfectly. Should we not be grateful for the amazing piece of engineering that is our body? This is one of the Mercies of Allah.
Let us have mercy on our systems and consume only healthy and sustaining foods, in sufficient quantity to keep our bodies working. Let us be merciful to our minds and take some quiet time for reflection, our minds process thousands of thoughts at any given moment. Find the time to sit quietly, close your eyes and just breathe.
Breathe in with ‘La illaha’, and out with’ illalah.’ Your mind will become still, you will find peace, and most important, you will connect with Allah.
Resolve to be a little more patient with your partner, with your children, and even neighbours. Allowing them to annoy or upset you only causes you to expend valuable energy and may even affect your blood pressure. The calmer and quieter you are, the more those around you will respond with similar energies. Reflect on the mercy Allah has already bestowed upon you, make a list of the things you are grateful for, give thanks for the gift of sight which allows you to see the wonders of nature, the gift of speech which allows you to communicate, and to recite the Quran. As you recite, use the ability to read what it means in translation so that you can truly live the Quran. Do, however remember the benefits of reciting, they are absolutely without measure. The gift of hearing allows you to listen to the recital of the Quran. This in itself is a great mercy, as listening to the Word of Allah brings a calmness to the soul, Alhamdulillah (All Praise to Allah).
If we can truly bestow mercy on ourselves and our fellow humans, as easily as the rain falls, we will indeed be blessed, even as we bless others. Truly, the quality of mercy drops from the Heavens, because it comes from Allah.
A Poet said it very eloquently:
The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that taketh it.
“O Allah, have mercy on us above the earth and below the earth and on the Day when our deeds will be presented to us. And cause us to be merciful to one another just as the Companions of Your Prophet (saww) were. And have mercy on our dead ones and put those who have mercy from amongst Your servants in charge over us, O Most Merciful!”. Ameen