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Thursday, October 21, 2004

Ramadhan Sale

A different kind of sale

Shaykh Sikander Ziad Hashmi, www.sunniforum.com
Most of us take store discounts fairly seriously. We love going to stores with bargains to fish out deals.

Many of us like making shopping lists after flipping through advertisements. After all, who wants to miss a great bargain?

Once at the store, we head straight for the deals, and sometimes, while we're there, we notice even more bargains. Buy, buy, buy!

We may be really tired when we get home, but we feel great, since we know we've picked up some great bargains. The feeling of satisfaction in knowing that we got good value for our hard-earned cash is sweet.

But our purchases only last us as long as they're around, or at the most, until we're around. After that, they become as useless as the dried leaves outside the door.

However, every year, there's a very different kind of sale. For starters, we don't need any money to benefit from it. There are no ads. There are no lines. We don't even need to leave home. There are no receipts. Everything is recorded automatically. Most unique of all, we can't even see the great deals we pick up (at least not right away). They're automatically deposited into our account.

Welcome to Ramadhan.

For a limited number of days every year, we are offered to the opportunity to put our good deed collection into overdrive, and along with that, improve ourselves.

Each of our good actions are upgraded by at least one level. A non-obligatory action commands the reward of a fardh (obligatory action), and the reward of a fardh is multiplied by seventy.

Regarding Ramadhan, the Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said:

"...Whoever draws nearer (to Allah) by performing any of the (optional) good deeds in (this month) shall receive the same reward as performing an obligatory deed at any other time, and whoever discharges an obligatory deed in (this month) shall receive the reward of performing seventy obligations at any other time... " [Narrated by Ibn Khuzaymah]

In another hadith, the Messenger of Allah (SAW) is reported to have said:

"...(It is) a month of blessing, in which Allah covers you with blessing, for He sends down Mercy, decreases sins and answers prayers..." [Narrated by Tabarani]

Over the course of the year, we tend to get spoiled. The environment around us and other factors ever so slowly drift us away from our true purpose, the service of our Lord.

Each Ramadhan, we get the chance to tame ourselves and come closer to Allah. We all need a diet that allows us to stay away from calories and fat that not only build up on our physical bodies, but on our souls as well.

Reducing the food given to horses tames them and makes them submissive to their masters. Our nafs (base desires) and our bodies aren't much different.

Allah (SW) says in the Holy Quran:

"O you who believe! Observing the fast is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become God-fearing." (Quran: 2:183)

Fasting is not all about staying away from food, drink, and satisfying our sensual desires. Rather, the spiritual aspect of fasting calls for keeping away from all bad deeds that help in the decaying of our souls.

Wouldn't it be plain dumb for us to spend time on bad deeds when we can instead be spending the same time multiplying good deeds?

Nightly taraweeh prayers give us the chance to listen to the recitation of the Holy Quran, and in the process, rake in more good deeds, instead of wasting time in front of the TV or downloading music, movies, and software over Kazaa.

Since in Ramadhan, every good deed comes with bonus points, it's a time to uplift ourselves in every way possible. Not only should we try devote more time to worshipping Allah, we must also try our true best to improve the way we deal with others. Forgiving others, being patient, soft-hearted, and nice are just a few the things we can all try to work on.

Just as we like to head into a sale with a shopping list, why not make a Ramadhan shopping list? What would we like to accomplish in Ramadhan? Be it a resolution to not miss any fasts, recite a certain amount of Quran daily, or stick through taraweeh each night, setting goals can help keep us focused and on-target when the big sale arrives.

Even if we get tired when we shop for our worldly, fabricated items, our self-satisfaction tends to overcomes our tiredness and we feel that it was well worth the effort.

There probably will be times in Ramadhan when we'll end up suffering. Whether it's the pain in our legs from standing in taraweeh every night or the hunger after a long day of fasting at school or work, it'll all be worth it in the end, Insha-Allah.

The items we don't mind getting tired for (when shopping) are with us for a few days, months, or years, yet what we'll gain in Ramadhan through our efforts and hardships will help us when it really counts - in the Hereafter (Insha-Allah).

Who can't use some extra good deeds, especially in this day and age? We are all sinners and regardless of whether we realize it or not, our good actions are usually overcome by our misdeeds.

No matter how bad (or good, for that matter) we think we are, Ramadhan is the one time when we can hope to make some gains, no matter how small. After all, every little bit counts! Who knows if it will be one good deed that may end up holding the balance of power between Heaven and Hell for us?

So let's gear up and start getting ready to take full advantage of the sale of the year!

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