The writer, Asger Jafferali Dhanji (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) served the Secretary General of the Africa Federation for two – 3-years terms. He served as JIBA Vice Chairman – with particular passion to raise funds and offer Micro Finance to our Community – for low income, underprivileged, Start-ups, Business loans, to individuals, small enterprises — thereby giving opportunities to grow economically. He is the founder of Imaan Finance Ltd — First Islamic Finance Institution in Tanzania. and has also served in Dar ss Salaam Jamaat’s Arbitration Committee as well as a Board member of Ebrahim Haji Charitable Hospital – with particular passion to the project of building the new hospital. He is now a motivational/Inspirational speaker giving regular Saturday Fajr lectures at Dar Imambara
amadhan was chosen as the month of fasting and spiritual advancement due to its association and close affinity with the revelation of the Holy Qur’an. The Holy Qur’an states:‘The month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur’an was sent down as a guidance for mankind.
This can mean that the revelation of the Holy Qur’an began in Ramadhan. It is in this month that, especially Muslims strive to lead and regulate their lives according to Quranic injunctions and guidance. The blessings of the month itself can be understood by this saying of the Holy Prophet:“When the month of Ramadan enters, the gates of Heaven are flung open and the gates of Hell are shut, and Satans are chained.”
The opportune arrival of Ramadhan each year sparks interest and awareness that gives rise to several questions— what exactly is fasting? Is it an aimless exercise of austerity or a religious discipline promising moral, physical, and spiritual development? what is the significance of Ramadhan itself and what are the objectives that a Muslim strives to achieve in this month.
In Islam, the practice of fasting is not only a physical exercise but a spiritual one; the ultimate aim of which is the attainment of God’s pleasure through the regulation of one’s life in accordance with His ordinances. So, really, the primary question one asks is ‘Does the Holy month of Ramadhan provide opportunities to meet our purpose?’, and I would hasten to add— not only in Ramadhan but in life? Fasting is based on taqwa (righteousness). This is achievable through moral values – (which are spiritual values that we strive to practice during the Holy month,) and ethical norms – vis-a vis: Honesty, Humility, Charity, Understanding, Compassion, Gratitude, Patience, Self-control, Hope, and last but not least Endurance and Strength. These values give us a purpose in life.
Moral values are spiritual values – which are highly valued in the Holy month of Ramadhan — which has eternal benefit to mankind and humanity in life. But we experience a surprising paradox about why we cannot be the same person year-round as we strive to be in the month of Ramadhan? Why do people lose their morality and ethics after the holy month?
Moral decadence is the corruption of moral consciousness. It is a flight from faith and reason. A morally decadent society upholds the philosophy of anything goes. This precisely is our problem. How do people lose their morality? In the modern era, ethical and moral values are degenerating as people are becoming more and more self-centered — due to the rat race, ambition, desire for a better life, coupled with technological advancements — have consigned basic values to the rubbish heap.
It is lost in selfishness and an over fixation on physical values such as money, things, sexual pleasures, and temporal needs, or by failing to pay attention to our physical, emotional, or spiritual needs, or with careless rash decisions made without much thought or effort to adjust behavior to the situation we are in.It is lost by losing sight of what truly matters and gives life, and by failing to pay attention to the true world and people around us. Most importantly, it is lost despite the fact that we recognize and realize that life in this world is a period of probation and the second term leads up to the time of the resurrection – known only to Him alone. It is a folly to suppose that Allah SWT reigns only in heaven and not on earth! He knows all our thoughts and motives. It is by the deeds that He judges us – our deeds good or evil – we shall get due recompense in due time. It is this “due time” that we tend to forget, as we tend to assume we have all the time on this earth. It is very unfortunate, sad, and disheartening that despite the fact that we see many leave this earth suddenly with no age constraint and yet we fail to live a life of taqwa.
What are the factors that impact people’s moral values, ethics, and why do people lack a high level of civic-mindlessness?
- Time on Earth – Man’s time on this earth may be perceived as an opportunity to prepare himself, as best he is able, for the life hereafter. Everyone is responsible for his own actions and no one be made to bear the burdens of another. Judgement Day provides incentive for all believers to act in accordance with the teachings of Islam, in the hope that they may achieve salvation. Why we do not take this seriously year round? Everyday we make so many decisions of our livelihood, relationships, commerce, in our professions and generally interact and communicate with fellow human-beings,- do we always bear in mind that any unethical, immoral, cheating, lies, short-change ,short-supply, hurting others, disrespect ,dishonoring promises, last but not the least, not paying debts despite being in a position to pay — are all not only questionable but punishable after our probation period ends on this earth.Allah SWT is so merciful that He gives respite on this earth and instructs us to repent an refrain from continuing any evil deeds we do-so that He can forgive us!!
- Qur’an — According to Islam, the universe is Allah’s creation. He is the Sovereign and Sustainer of the universe. He is All Wise, All-Powerful, Omniscient. His Godhood is free from injustice and impartiality. Man is the creation of Allah, His subject and servant born to obey and worship Him. Man has been commanded to live his life in total compliance to the laws of Allah. Over the course of time, Allah SWT sent prophets to mankind to guide and instruct them in these matters. Man is given a choice as to whether or not he wishes to follow the message of the prophets and adhere to their teachings, yet whichever path he chooses he will be held accountable for it and any consequent actions based upon it. Islamic concept of life and morality has shown us that the aim of man is to seek the pleasure of Allah. In Islam, this is a standard by which a particular mode of conduct may be judged and classified as being either good or bad. Allah SWT in the Qur’an has provided every way of life that we are supposed to follow and live. If one reads Qur’an everyday at least a page, and understands it, he/she will be guided, advised, admonished, warned and taught what is right and wrong good and evil. Qur’an addresses mankind as a whole, irrespective of their classes, because the mission of the Holy Prophet is universal, for all times. In short The Qur’an deals with all aspects of human life in its manifold dimensions (individual, social ,economic, political, physical and spiritual) — for every individual human being, community,and nations -educated and uneducated till eternity . If one grasps and follows the teachings of the Qur’an – his/her salvation is assured and his/her life on earth also will be on the right path.
- Education — School systems must built into curriculum inclusion of moral education and counseling – morality must be built into the curriculum for maximum impact. Also proper home training is essential. Furthermore religious clerics must build moral uprightness. We experience that till to-date, many religious clerics lecture us in monologue manner, in a language many youths do not understand, many are unaware of today’s challenges, their knowledge is in many instances archaic and then we expect change in our youths – who are already tuned to today’s technological tools. Of course what I mean is that why can we not set standards with our religious preachers as to what we expect from them.We must overhaul our pulpit system .Our predicaments are understood only by scholars, particularly originating from Africa & the West.
- Values: — This standard provides the nucleus around which moral conduct should evolve. Man is not left like a ship without moorings to be tossed here and there at the mercy of the winds and the tides. Islam provides man with a stable and balanced set of values and norms for all morally-based activities. Moreover, in establishing the pleasure of Allah SWT as the objective of man’s existence, windows of unlimited possibilities are opened for his moral evolution since, at no time will it be overshadowed by selfishness, bigotry, arrogance or pride. Values are built from morals and ethics – which gives you character .
5. Complacency — In one of the Prophet’s ahadith, it is stated that a person could do such evil during his lifetime that there might be between him and the doors to hell only one step, and then he could repent and ask for God’s forgiveness and do one good deed and enter heaven. By the same token, a person may during his life, do so much good as to be one step removed from heaven and then do one evil deed that would be sufficient to earn him hell. The meaning of the Hadith is to emphasize that, even though a person may do good throughout his life, he should never be absolutely certain that the good he has done all along is sufficient to carry him through; he should not forget that one bad deed could overcome all the good ones. Conversely, a person who has done evil all his life may repent even at the last moment and with one good deed earn paradise.
6. Introspection – Scriptural study together with reflection strengthens the intellect. God has provided humans with intellect. How do we use it? Your intellect must control your activities — the problem is intellect is not always available when action is executed. After the action is completed, you realize you have acted impulsively. Have you not regretted your own actions before? You must have! That is because your intellect was not available to you at that time. You acted mechanically/impulsively. Therefore, the intellect has to be alert/available at the time of executing the action. This can be achieved by practice of INTROSPECTION. Introspection is a process that involves looking inward to examine one’s own thoughts and emotions. It is a mechanism to scrutinize your deep feelings by exploring yourself which helps you to connect dots that were not connected previously, giving meaning to your life. Connecting your own mental and emotional state. Try to reflect daily for at least 10/15 minutes -in a quiet room, preferably before going to bed with no phones no TV, and no family around. It involves recollection of your experiences during the day, do not criticize your actions just be aware of the merits and demerits of your actions. Constant recollection of daily actions would render your intellect to be pure & alert.
In conclusion, the above six factors will have a huge impact on our purpose in our lives -with special emphasis on reading Quran – every day. With proper understanding of this Holy book, our life on this earth and our here-after will be secured.
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