This article is from Reading Islam’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.
The glorious month of Ramadan bonds the entire Muslim ummah in oneness of motive and action, uniting it in a wonderfully communal spirit of worship, piety and good deeds.
The pangs of hunger and thirst that arise as a result of complete abstention from eating, drinking, quarreling and engaging in other sins and vices from dawn to dusk during Ramadan, lead to a Muslim’s heightened consciousness of God, which cannot be achieved in any other month of the year.
No doubt, this high level of consciousness of how God is watching us, also known as “taqwa”, leads to the adoption of a more “pristine” routine and lifestyle for Muslims for the entire thirty days and nights of Ramadan, making even the most heedless of us buck up and ‘get cracking’ on some heavy doses of worship and spirituality.
Being more conscious of God automatically leads to greater remembrance of Him during Ramadan. Deep inside us, in our heart of hearts, the guilty and regretful slaves acknowledge to the Creator how careless they have been regarding Islamic obligations throughout the year.
Consequently, most Muslims, no matter how outwardly ‘religious’ they are, succumb to God’s invitation during this month to turn back to Him, repent, and ask for forgiveness.
Many fasting devotees thus find themselves turning to God often in earnest, humble dua and supplications throughout Ramadan.
Times for Dua (Supplication)
There are certain times during Ramadan in which God recurrently grants us His special, exclusive attention. This repeatedly affords us the chance to earnestly make special supplications to Him at those times.
Such times are: just before iftar when our entire day’s fast is coming to an end; during the last third of the night when most of us routinely wake up to partake in the pre-dawn meal (suhoor), and just after having done a special Ramadan-related good deed, e.g. discharging obligatory charity to the needy, or reciting a portion of the Quran with full attention, humility and focus, correctly and melodiously.
The Common Duas (Supplications)
When you think: “I will pray to Allah earnestly to grant me everything that I want during Ramadan”, what kind of list of things that you “want” comes up in your mind?
For most of us, personal worldly matters dominate our dua lists. Good grades in studies, admission into the university of our choice, a high-flying career, job or a promotion; a baby; cure from illness, or other, more tangible, yet temporary and superficial, materialistic worldly blessings, such as a big house, a flashy and expensive car, an enviable wardrobe, or magnanimous business profits.
More often than not, we focus mostly on our immediate worldly needs and desires when we turn to God in our duas during Ramadan, to seize the golden moments when He is especially attentive towards us, to ask Him for these blessings.
Our immediate, short-term worldly problems, challenges, needs, desires and inadequacies dominate our minds when the time for supplication arrives. While it is recommended and praiseworthy to seek aid and relief from God, we need to look at the “bigger picture” too.
Bellow, I would like to detail how this Ramadan, and especially in its last ten nights, we can ask God to grant us some other, more significant and necessary blessings, which we might be overlooking in our shortsightedness.
We should ask for relief to and solutions for bigger, more pressing, global Muslim issues than just our individual woes, and hence endeavor to rise above our self-centered concerns with the temporary life to achieve loftier levels of faith, and garner for ourselves more praiseworthy goals that can earn greater rewards in the Hereafter.
Tempering the Trial of Technology
For the first time in history, mankind is undergoing an accelerated paradigm shift – a phenomenal, chiasmic change in the way people are connecting. Never before did any stage of humankind witness such a mind-boggling level of instant connectivity, information-sharing and real-time communication. Is the entire Muslim ummah really ready for the effects of this change?
We all know how technology has pervaded every aspect of human life, so much so that scribes and historians no longer need to ‘pen’ anything by hand for it to go down permanently in the records of time. Now, all that is needed is the pinching of keyboards or tapping of screens for any action, happening, milestone, event, occurrence, crime, statement, comment, achievement, or speech to go down forever in the historic records of time.
Personal privacy and boundaries of space might, in the decades to come, dwindle to next-to-nothingness, for those who are not careful. Digital cameras, smart phones, and instant online publishing of comments, photos and videos in front of millions of viewers in a matter of mere seconds, has made it impossible for the naive, attention-seeking ones among us to wisely “conceal” their lives from the world, and to guard their privacy.
Wherever you go, phones bleep and ring, cameras flash, and tablets prop up, as photos, ‘tweets’, videos, statements and hearsay transmitted one second show up on screens across the globe in the next!
This trend has both positive and negative impacts. For example, it brings criminals to justice for committing atrocious crimes when they happen to get caught on camera whilst doing them. However, what we need to ask God for is to allow us and our future generations to benefit from and use these new technologies and social media tools for the betterment of Islam; for spreading its knowledge, and for conveying its message.
As the sword of technology becomes increasingly sharp, it can literally “make” or break our faith – because this razor sharp technology, with all its purported benefits – as we all know too well – is also making it more and more easy by the day to fall into a plethora of vices, evil habits and sins.
The slope is becoming increasingly slipperier and steeper – especially for our youth – for whom, once they fall into pornography or other destructive online habits, recovery and control is very difficult.
Therefore, this Ramadan, we must earnestly ask God to save us from the contemporary “trial” of technology; that He guides us to wisely temper its use and refuse to let it control us; and that He empowers and enables us to use it not for self-glorification, but foremost for the propagation of Islam.
We should also pray to save the coming generations of Muslims from the negative effects of these new technologies, and to empower them with guidance of God that will make them use technology productively.
This is very important, because the times that are to come in the future will be worse than they are now:
Narrated Al Zubair bin ‘Adi:
“We went to Anas bin Malik and complained about the wrong we were suffering at the hand of Al-Hajjaj. Anas bin Malik said: Be patient till you meet your Lord, for no time will come upon you but the time following it will be worse than it. I heard that from the Prophet.” (Al-Bukhari)