By Norhassan Curo - A guest post from the Philippines
“We relate to thee their story in truth: they were youths who believed in their Lord, and We advanced them in guidance” (Surah Al-Kahf 18:13)
With the present visit of our exalted guest—the month of Ramadan, many gifts of rare opportunities are given to thousands of young Muslims in the world. They, being in their prime energies and potentials, are given the best opportunities like no other to grab the bountiful gifts of this month. Some young Muslims welcome this guest with arms wide open and see Ramadan’s visit as one with so much a blessing that it becomes a life changing event. Others take it as a sign that Allah Ta’ala has given them another opportunity to draw closer to Him and earn His pleasure through worship in this month. Some others, unfortunately, are too lazy and just see it like any ordinary guest who comes and leaves without any meaning and importance.
The Muslim youth visited by the noble guest respond in three groups.
First Group: They think they are young, will live long and reach another Ramadan. Thus, they do not grab the golden gifts of opportunities the present Ramadan offers.
The first group of youth are the ones who come out after Ramadan unchanged and unmoved. They come out in the same being and state inside and out as they entered in this month. With their mentality that they are still young and more time to live, they procrastinate everything they need to do in their young age and live as if there is no end.
Thus, despite their deepest and darkest sins, they procrastinate their asking for forgiveness. They are considered the most unlucky youth as described in the Hadith, “people who reached Ramadan but had not their sins forgiven.” Indeed, they are the most unlucky person in the world. Ramadan came but to them, his visit was just like an ordinary visit in an ordinary day. Ramadan blew like a wind and these youth benefited neither of the bountiful gifts of Ramadan nor the strength and energies of their youth.
These youth do not know that they might not see this visitor again. He might not come next year or they might not be there when he comes back.
Second Group: They know it is Ramadan so they fast without however giving any importance to their fast and their youth. So they only fast and get nothing from their fasting.
“Let it not be that the day that you fast and the day that you break fast be equal.” This is the attitude of the second group of youth. Their real behaviors, attitudes and outlooks are the same during the day they fast and the night they break their fast or, their undesirable attitudes come back the time they break their fast. Fasting has no effect upon them since they do not reflect upon the lessons of fasting that they observe.
Some who belong in this group use well their youthful energies but not to entertain their visitor Ramadan but have themselves entertained. To them, Ramadan is a time to sleep and hibernate making them pass by the precious moments of Ramadan to no avail. Some others equate this month to month not of fasting but of feasting. As such, after Ramadan, feast is also over.
Thus, as Ramadan came, a sudden influx of these youth in the Masjid happens. Sudden sets of wasteful activities are held. The celebration of Ramadan is likened to the Kuffar’s celebration of their celebrated seasons. Youths, without proper understanding, join the sets of sports tournaments held in their places instead of channeling their vigor to making their most to earn the pleasure of God in this month! This is reality. What a waste not only of Ramadan, its blessings and opportunities, and their youth but also of the money lavishly spent in such events! Spendthrift I must say to those who exhibit entertainment shows i.e. firecracker shows, to those who hold tournaments for the youth and other wasteful events in celebration of Ramadan. They just burn their money and let their energies become sweat when many Muslims are suffering from hunger and need the helping hand of their Muslim brothers. Ramadan is a month of giving, not of wasting.
Some others who have no proper knowledge fast but do not observe the other duties they are bound to do for their fast to be accepted. Some fast but do not offer salah. Others perform the taraweeh and tahajjud, optional prayers while leaving off the obligatory salahs. How they should be reminded that salah is their miftahu Jannah (key to Paradise)—a key to receive their rewards!
The said group of youth must be the people who are described in the hadith as those “who fast but do not get from their fasting but hunger and thirst and get nothing from their standing up at night to pray but loss of sleep.” Also, another hadith reminds them, “whoever does not give up lying and evil actions, then Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink” (Sahih Bukhari).
Third Group: They know both that they are young and like Ramadan, their youth will soon leave after its very short and limited visit.
The third group of youth take Ramadan’s visit as a sign that Allahu ta’ala has given them another opportunity to draw closer to Him and earn His paradise through worship in this month. They are the ones who understand fully well that the present month of Ramadan is the best month to make use of their youth. Thus, they welcome the present Ramadan they witness with all the efforts and strength their youth can offer as if this was the first, and will be the last Ramadan they will ever entertain.
They are described in the hadith as “those who fast with full sincerity and will have all their sins forgiven.” For this, these youth will receive the rewards of their fast not only with manifold increase but rewards only Allah may know. This group understands that they are commanded by their God to fast to gain taqwa (fear of Allah). Fasting is a gift to them to attain self discipline and self-control and have their youthful and strong desires subject to their control. It is a time to learn how to be free from their used-to-be-master-evil desires and reverse the tide by learning how to enslave them. Through fasting, they strive to learn the lesson that as one can control and refrain himself from doing halal things, so too can he control doing the haram ones.
Youths of this group make this month a turning point in their lives. They make this a start for a new beginning—a new better life. They make this month the period and an end of a once rebellious life.
As such, they use their youthful energies to stand up for the night to ask forgiveness for all the disobedience and sins they have committed, thereby earning the pleasure of Allah. They use their youthful clear vision and clear minds to recite the noble Quran and try their best to understand its meanings. They read as they reap its manifold rewards with highest hope that reading of the holy book will intercede in their behalf on the hard Day when none shall be given the permission to intercede.
They use their young and strong able bodies to search for the night equal to a thousand as they lift their hands and pray for their forgiveness and their parents’ forgiveness as they raised them up in so much difficulty.
They are the youth who use this month to bond the spirit of brotherhood and unity of all Muslims in the world as they fasted with full sincerity along them. They sympathize with their Muslim brothers and sisters, rich and poor, young and old who suffer the pangs of hunger. They feel, as part of that one whole body, the hardships of their Mujahideen brothers as they fast in the cold nights and at the same time labor through working for the establishment of the Word of Allah in this world for the youth’s benefit, while the Kuffar forces continue attempting to destroy them.
Finally, they will be the youths for whom their fasts will intercede on the Day of Judgment and say “My Rabb, I deprived him from eating and curtailed his desires, so permit me to intercede for him.” And the Qur’an will say: “I deprived him from his sleep, so permit me to intercede for him.” To this, both will be given the permission to interede.
Yes, they are the welcoming visitors who exactly know the essence and excellence both of their youth and their guest—month of Ramadan.
I pray that may Allah shower His mercy and forgiveness upon the Muslim Ummah and include us among the third group of youth who strive hard to earn His pleasure and forgiveness in this month of Ramadan. I pray that may He not include us among those who say that which they do not do. May we be among the youths who believed in their Lord, and were given guidance.