The tyranny of winter, its cold and white covered landscapes are fading from memory. Daylight is winning. The sun’s rays are awakening life’s glory, making us say like the poet Iqbal — “Look! What wonders the spring has wrought!” This spring, a wonder greets us as it did last year, the confluence of blessed days within Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Lent, Good Friday and Easter, Passover, Ramadan and Eid.
Days are sacred because of the holiness that manifested in them. The essence of these days are found in the stories we tell, in worship that invites us to remember what gives us meaning. Like spring, these days lift up the possibility of renewal and transformation by enlivening the spirit through abstention, mending relationships, disciplining the self, and service.
“Ramadan” is derived from a word which means “incessantly hot”; a month that burns away bad qualities and challenges one to be better. It is “the month of the Quran,” when its first verses were revealed. Before prophethood, Muhammad would retreat to a mountain cave away from Mecca to fast and pray for guidance. He did so because despite his love for his people he was deeply distressed at the injustices within society.
This is when Prophet Muhammad encountered Angel Gabriel: many-winged, encompassing the horizon, embracing and commanding him “Read! In the Name of your Lord who created.” That day and the whole of revelation is what Muslims mark in Ramadan. Fasting from dawn to sunset to empathize with the marginalized. Striving to complete the recitation of the Quran to grow in God-consciousness. Increasing in acts of service, healing and generosity. At the end of a complete recitation we pray: “Let the Quran be the springtime of my heart, the light of my chest, the remover of my sorrows and the releaser of my worries.”
I pray that whatever your tradition is, that this special season will be a springtime for your heart, a light for your chest and a remover of sorrows and worries!
M. Tauseef Akbar
Associate Chaplain of Muslim and Interfaith Life