Sunday, August 23, 2009
I hope everyone is having a great Ramadan so far, inshallah =)
I just wanted to post a few things from the Qur'an that I came across today and loved.
Islam is a religion full of rituals. We pray 5+ times a day, we fast, we pay zakat - there are a lot of rituals involved in being a Muslim, and they do a great job of strengthening and expanding one's spirituality, as well as letting one become as close to God as possible. However, to someone who doesn't really believe, all these rituals can seem very burdensome and annoying:
"Seek help in patience and prayer, prayer that is indeed burdensome except for the devout, for those who believe they will meet their Lord, and that to Him they shall return." 2:46
People have sometimes asked me, "isn't it hard to do all those things?" And I've always replied with a firm no. It is not hard, and it is not a burden - in fact it's an honour. These rituals that take up a large part of my life are liberating, beautiful, and help me become a better person. However, to someone who may not feel God, they probably seem like a nuisance, a chore.
I remember how 2 years ago, I could never imagine giving up certain things that were part of my lifestyle. But then I began praying, and bit by bit, I lost the urge to do any of those things. From an outsider's perspective, it may look like Islam was forcing me or oppressing me in terms of lifestyle. But that wasn't how I saw it at all. I gladly gave up alcohol and partying. It didn't even matter. And it still doesn't matter. Because I'm doing it for God.
This is why religion isn't just about logic. It's also about feeling. A connection between you & God, and without that connection, a lot of things may seem harder than they actually are.
Another part I particulalry liked, as it sums up what being a good person is:
"Virtue does not demand of you to turn your faces eastwards or westwards. Virtue rather is:
He who believes in God, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets;
Who dispenses money, though dear, to kinsmen, orphans, the needy, the traveller, beggars and for ransom;
Who performs the prayer and pays the alms;
Who fulfils their contracts when they contract;
Who are steadfast in hardship, calamity and danger;
These are the true believers.
These are the truly pious." (2:177)
God has given us a summary of who a virtuous person is. One who prays, pays alms, honours their contracts, is steadfast in the face of difficulty. These are all inward actions - not outward ones. God does not focus on dress, as most Muslims today do. God instead focuses on being a good person on the inside. No wonder so many people were willing to convert then. Islam was being framed by God as a religion that makes one a better person - from within.
On a final note, let's all remember:
"And yet, for all you know, you may hate something - and it is good for you
For all you know, you may love something - and it is harmful to you.
God knows, and you do not know." (2:216)