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Selma Cook



RamadanThe end of Ramadan is near. Many people are trying to ascertain the degree of their success during Ramadan; how successful they were in following their initial plans. At the beginning of the month we were enthusiastic, but, what about now? Perhaps we hoped to fast every day of Ramadan, keep cool and not get angry, and also perform the extra acts of worship, give to those in need, help others, and read the Qur’an. An important question we should ask ourselves is whether or not we contemplated deeply on developing mercy and compassion. After all, Allah created everything with mercy and He sent the Messenger, peace be upon him, as a mercy for the worlds; and we are his followers.


In the Qur’an Allah says that we should ‘read’ but we should do so with insight. Everything we do in this life, including worship and reading, should have a positive effect on the way we live our lives. It should also affect the way we reach out to others, and the manner in which we see the world.


Life, and Ramadan, is all about changing ourselves and the environment around us – for the better. All throughout our lives we are learning, and if we use this acquired knowledge properly we will develop and change in a positive way. Ramadan provides the perfect opportunity to take note of our inner selves and see our strengths and weaknesses. We also have the chance to take those initial steps to better ourselves and develop the way we perceive and feel. This change is not only limited to us as individuals; if we are changing correctly, we should find it very difficult to see all the poverty, sadness and injustice in the world, and still remain content to be apathetic about it.


If we truly want to think clearly and be sensitive, we must have soft hearts, be insightful, and have a firm intention that we will consistently try to improve. In the Qur’an Allah says that He will change our condition when we change what is within ourselves. Our inner change and development is for a lofty purpose that lies far beyond ourselves, and when we understand this we realize that we are not alone. If we strive to cleanse our hearts, purify our thoughts and intentions, and control our words and behavior so that we can have a positive impact on the world; be merciful to the world, the universe will be at our service and we will understand how Allah sends messages to us in many different ways.


If we have spent our time in Ramadan correctly, our inner selves will have become more receptive and we will see meaning in the awesome beauty of nature, in the situations we live through, and the different kinds of people that we meet. We may get to see the truth of life, the reality of ourselves, or the guidance we need to make important decisions as we read something that touches our heart in a significant way. Also, we might get a message when we hear people say something in passing that answers a question that has been troubling our mind for some time. Perhaps we might watch a TV program or a movie and some special meaning strikes us that will change the way we think, and in this way our lives may take on a different and better direction.


We should remember that Islam teaches us to reach out to others, but this does not just mean simply offering charity. It is important that we look for ways to develop people, and help them out of their difficulties in a permanent, life-changing way. Allah loves us to help people who are indebted and to care for someone who has no one who offers him/her help and support. It will be impossible for us to do these things without mercy in our hearts.


The Prophet, peace be upon him, told us the goal of Islam when he said, “I came to complete good character.”  Allah says that He sent the Prophet, peace be upon him, to be a mercy to the worlds. Yes, mercy! The Prophet, peace be upon him, told us that if we add mercy and compassion to anything, it beautifies it and that if mercy and compassion are removed from anything, it becomes ugly.


So, we can measure our success in Ramadan by the amount of mercy and compassion we have for others.


Envisage what our family, community, and nation would be like if we were to define ourselves by mercy and compassion. How would our own lives, and the lives of those around us, change if our words and behavior were colored with mercy and compassion?


There are no limits to Allah’s mercy; He pours out mercy and compassion to His creation all the time and we receive this mercy regardless of whether or not we deserve it, obey Him, and are merciful to others. Allah lets the sun shine on everyone. We see beauty all around us and everyone has sustenance. If we care to look, there is always a way out. But, we limit ourselves because we choose not to adopt the way of mercy and compassion and strive to live in such a way that we are under the shade of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate.


We are the ones who make this decision: Which way will we choose to live our lives? Will we harm others or have mercy? Obviously, the way of mercy brings about positive and lasting change.


Ramadan is a time for us to realign our lives and make any necessary changes to the way we think, speak, and behave. We should ask ourselves if we are doing anything that Allah is not pleased with. Do we treat people fairly, kindly and with compassion? Do we still show compassion even if we are angry and upset? Do we show mercy to all living creatures every single day?


This world is like a table spread out and filled with sustenance by Allah and we are the guests of the Almighty. When we read the Qur’an we should be looking for understanding, not just reading the words without trying to comprehend the meanings. After all, the Qur’an is Allah’s message to us. If we look around us with insight, we will see Allah’s bounties and if we do not see them, it is perhaps because we tend to sin, and to focus on trivialities, and so we overlook the wonderful blessings of Allah that are all around us. Do we realize that every living thing praises Allah in its very own special way? Do we see that all creation submits to the Creator, and that creation is at our service? Do we realize that all creation loves us, and cries for us or rejoices with us?


We are guests in the world of the Creator and we eat from His bounteous table. Everyday we witness the marvels of His creation. Do we also praise Allah, submit to Him, care for and love His creation and look for ways to help and develop His creation?


If this has been a successful Ramadan for us, we should end this month feeling more compassion for creation, constantly looking for ways to help and support others and develop the place where we are. We should never waste the bounties that Allah has provided us with, and we should strive to be calm and never harm any living thing. 


Let us strive to be the kind of person that other people love to spend time with. Let us try our very best to be the kind of person who enriches the lives of those around us. Let our hearts be open and accept people, knowing that everyone can change. Allah gives to us even though we are weak and prone to sin, so why should we not turn to the people around us and forgive them, comfort them, make them smile, gladden their hearts and be a means of the mercy of Allah in this world.