Time to be human

July 24, 2012, Tuesday/ 14:48:00

It's difficult to start. Many actions weren't fulfilled, not because of a lack of capability for fulfilling them but because they were not started. What is difficult for a farmer is not to plow a field, sow the seeds and collect the product, but to walk towards a field determinedly.

What is difficult for a builder isn't to make mortar, cut the iron and put the stones one after the other, but to put the plumb line in his pocket and to start digging the land. What is difficult for a writer isn't to line up the words one after the other just like wagons but to sit down at the table.

It's difficult to start. Our thoughts resemble the passengers detained at border gates. If they can take a few steps, they will enter a new country. But they can't. Their habits don't issue them a visa. However, they aren't aware of it; they think each delay is part of the work plan. Not today but tomorrow, not tomorrow but the next day, not the next day but never…

Ramadan makes it easy to start. Summer rain loosens up the soil. The soil taking the seed in is up to the summer loosening up the soil. In this regard each Ramadan features a Basmala which Muslims recite before beginning anything. We not only start fasting in Ramadan. We, in a mass mobilization, recite the Basmala to be able to become “human.” As a matter of fact, man can start anything in real terms by mentioning God's name.

Ramadan came to protect us. You know how it happens in films: The soldier waiting behind the rampart tells his friend: “Run! I'll defend you with my gun!” Ramadan is a very loyal defender for the ones who aren't courageous enough to steer towards the truth although they know what the truth is. “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint.” (Quran, 2:183)

The crescent started the competition and is looking for its stars. It announces that the competitors who submit worship as an excuse for not fulfilling their responsibilities have no place in this competition. It sets the Battle of Badr and the Conquest of Mecca, both of which coincided with the month of Ramadan, as examples.

It announces how these two great victories of faith took roots in the land of Ramadan and embraced the universe with their branches. “We set out with Prophet Muhammad [sallallahu alayhi wassallam (peace be upon him)] in Ramadan in a severely hot season. Everybody was holding their hands over their heads because of the severity of the heat. Only God's Apostle and Ibn Rawaha were fasting among us.” (Bukhari, Sawm (fasting) 35; Muslim, Siyam (fasting), 108)

The others weren't fasting because the Prophet wanted them to abide by the exemption from fasting. God didn't make fasting obligatory for the ones traveling.

“Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.” (Quran, 2:185)

An account of Ibrahim b. Ethem, who was among the “winners” of the “competition,” is as follows: “In Ramadan he would go out, harvest and distribute the money to the poor and he would pray for hours at night.” Again one of the “winners,” Bayazid Bastami was about to arrive in Bastam city on a Ramadan day after a long journey. People took to the streets in order to welcome him. When Bayazid bought and ate a loaf of bread as soon as he entered the city, the people, who saw him eating although it was Ramadan, disbanded. Upon this, Bastami commented to the ones around him about people's intolerance: “You see, right? When I made use of an Islamic exemption, the people rejected me!” The number of winners is more than that of losers. Imam Shafi'i is also a “winner.” By saying Imam Shafi'i didn't know the Quran by heart, some wanted to drive a wedge between Imam Shafi'i and Harun Rashid. Actually, it was true. When Harun, for the purpose of learning the truth, ordered Imam Shafi'i to lead the prayers in a mosque during the month of Ramadan, Imam Shafi'i realized the mischief. Therefore, he memorized one chapter of the Quran every evening and led the terawih prayer. So, he memorized the entire Quran by the end of Ramadan.

Ramadan is the month that God selected. All holy books were “wrapped in this mysterious piece of time.” God revealed not only the Quran but also the Scrolls of Abraham, the Torah and the Bible in the month of Ramadan. There is a reason why Ramadan points to the Quran. The evening call to prayer not only invites people to have a bite of bread and a sip of water… It is time to be human. That is why the Quran addresses readers as “O people!” There is no way out of having to be “human” to be worthy of this address. One can't be the addressee of the Quran unless he is human. The call “O people!” wants from the people the response, “Here I am and I am coming!” But are we ready to stand out of our ego? Ramadan! Protect us!

As reported by Abdullah b. Mas'ud: “God's Apostle (sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said to me, ‘Recite the Quran.' I said, ‘Although the Quran was revealed to you, shall I recite it to you again?' He answered, ‘I like hearing others reciting it.' Then I read Surah an-Nisa until the verse, ‘How then if We brought from each people a witness, and We brought thee as a witness against these people!' (Quran, 4:41) This time he said, ‘It's enough.' When I turned and looked at him, he had broken down in tears.”

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