Ramadan is a month of worship, devotion, charity and most important an opportunity to gain God consciousness in all of our dealings. In our communities We often times turn to prayer and charity so that we can gain god consciousness , but forget to think about another pathway to gain that Taqwa (Righteousness)
What is this other pathway you may ask ?
In The Quran Allah repeatedly emphasizes justice and he says that justice is closest to piety (taqwa) and so “do justice”, he commands, as it is closest (aqrab) to piety.
So we must reflect on this since we are seeking how we can gain more Taqwa ( God consciousness)
“Believers, be steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity. Never allow your hatred of any people to lead you away from justice. Be just, this is closer to righteousness. And remain God- fearing. Surely, God is aware of all that you. “
The take away from this verse is “Be just, this is closer to righteousness.”
Knowing that Allah prescribed Fasting in this Month in order for us to gain Taqwa – Righteousness . Therefore, we must Prioritize justice as well this month since it is the closest to being Righteous.
That’s why it is necessary for us to stand up and be steadfast in establishing justice in whichever opportunity we get. From fighting Poverty, Racism to Police Brutality here in our state, we have a god given duty and opportunity now to be champions for justice and gain this opportunity to build Taqwa ( God consciousness) both within ourselves and in our communities.
Allah also says in Surat An-Nisa, verse 135:
O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both.Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well- acquainted with all that ye do.
This verse of the Quran was recently recognized by Harvard law as one of the best teachings of justice in history. This Ayat in Surat An-Nisa, or “The Women,” commands us to “…stand out firmly for justice,” recognizing and reforming the faults in ourselves first. This verse also commands us to stand up to people who may hold a higher stature than us, such as our parents or our kin; people we may be reluctant to speak out against because we have a social or cultural obligation to them.
This Ayat also teaches us to speak truth to power, commanding us to speak out against both rich or poor people. It means we have to speak up against those rich and powerful and those who have authority like the police or state legislatures in order to establish justice and bring healing to our communities.
We find the essence of why we fast during Ramadan: Learning to control our desires, as learning not to follow the “lusts of our hearts” is the key to remaining on the straight and narrow in Islam. Also we are sacrificing our comfort in order to stand up for what is right so that we can establish justice and get close to being righteous.
So as a community, just like we come out to fast together in order to be righteous, we must also come out together to establish justice and mercy.
Finally, in these last few days and nights in Ramadan, Let us all reflect on this closest path to righteousness by prioritizing how we are establishing justice within ourselves, our families and communities so that we can gain Taqwa ( God consciousness, righteousness) and be those who benefit from this Ramadan.
(The image is of an Iftar at Dar Al Farooq in Bloomington, MN 2021, courtesy of Imam Mohamed Omar)
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