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Selma Cook 

Are we ever prepared for the moment that changes our lives?

Finding the courage to face life is something that many of us seek day to day. Life takes us by surprise; we never know what each new day will bring.

Many people live their lives in the mundane without seeking the deep meaning of existence and then when a situation faces them and they are called upon to be brave or noble or forgiving, the behavior and attitudes they have stored up for themselves and by which they have characterized themselves, dominate their thoughts, feelings and reactions to that situation. At that point they either behave in the best of ways or the worst. If we have inclined ourselves toward the world and its transience, we will not be prepared for the tests we will ultimately face that will lead us either to eternal happiness or eternal misery.

The first part of Ramadan is all about mercy. It is a time when Allah the Almighty extends His great mercy to all and because we are free to choose for ourselves, it is up to us whether or not we allow that mercy to flow to us or we put obstacles in front of ourselves. When we think, speak and behave with harshness, spite, grudge, evil, betrayal or anger we are moving ourselves further and further away from Allah the Almighty to the point where we might look around feeling hopeless, weak and uninspired. If we are in such a state when one of life's trials confronts us, we will surely fail. If we are cut off from the mercy of Allah the Almighty life will surely overtake us. For indeed, life is filled with hardship, sorrow and struggle and needs a person who is resolute, open hearted and insightful. Such qualities are found in those who are close to Allah the Almighty and who see things with His light.

We live amid the turmoil of life and the consequences of our actions, but the mercy of Allah the Almighty extends to all things. For example, the sun shines of everyone; even those who use the precious minutes of their lives seeking to manipulate and harm. He the Almighty is always ready to forgive and give us fresh chances to start again and be better – ever developing ourselves and growing until we understand why we were created, what we are supposed to be doing in this life, and our own significance. One of the indications that a person is close to Allah the Almighty is that he or she is merciful.

We all recognize the value and importance of mercy. What can be worse than cruelty to a helpless person, neglect of the elderly, harshness to those who were kind to you, betrayal to those who trusted you, meeting great opportunities with laziness and ingratitude to the One who gave you life?

Ramadan is a time when you can see yourself clearly; your strengths your weaknesses; and your closeness to Allah the Almighty. Ask yourself: How do you respond when you see cruelty and injustice? What characteristic reigns in your heart at that time? Do you feel a sense of apathy or a desire to make change?

How do you respond to your parents and elderly people? Is your heart filled with your own self-seeking goals in life or do you bend in gentleness towards them?

If you are given a trust and the time comes to return it, are you miserly or do you give back with a spirit of generosity?

If we have no mercy in our hearts our lives will become dry and emotionless. The good and kind among mankind will avoid us and we will be surrounded by people like ourselves and live our lives squabbling and seeking power with a spirit of rivalry that will remain all the days of our lives. An absence of mercy in the heart is an absence of the real spirit of life itself. Without it we will be disconnected from the life-line that strengthens and guides us through life's trials. Use these days in Ramadan to fill your heart with mercy; enough mercy to stay with you till the next Ramadan.

This article was first published on Youth 4 the Future; Islamonline.net

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