As we approach a third of the month of Ramadan having been completed, there is a sense of routine with the month that we are in. This month is all about the obvious restriction of food and drink but as Allah SWT describes fasting, it is actually so that we become mindful of Allah SWT.
And this is the topic of this weeks reminder, the topic of Taqwa which is translated to mean, becoming mindful of Allah SWT, is a topic which none of us should be complacent over and especially so in the month of Ramadan as the primary purpose of the act of fasting is to be mindful of Allah SWT.
The imam reminded us of the importance of Taqwa, or mindfulness, in the first reference today from the Quran. The 133th ayat of Sura Al-Imran is translated to say:
Rush to do good actions, and draw near to Allah through doing as He instructs, so that you achieve the great forgiveness of Allah and enter a Paradise as wide as the heavens and the earth, which Allah has prepared for the Mindful.
Dear brothers and sisters, if we ponder over this ayat, the first lesson we can take from this is that Allah SWT is asking us to rush to do good actions. This isn’t an instruction to be relaxed about this responsibility. We need to have a sense of urgency on the good deeds that we perform because none of us know when our time is going to run out.
Next, Allah SWT talks of the reward of Paradise and a awe inspiring explanation of how vast that will be. But as we begin to think of this and yearn for this to be our final destination, He concludes this ayat by telling us that this is a destination for those who have Taqwa, ie those who are mindful.
And so, the obvious question to the reader of this ayat would be, what is it that Allah SWT deems as being mindful or possessing taqwa. This is mentioned in the next ayat and the second that the imam referenced in todays reminder. It is translated to say:
The Mindful are those who spend their wealth for the sake of Allah, in ease and hardship, who control their anger when they could seek revenge, and who forgive those who wrong them. Allah loves the doers of good, whose behaviour is this way.
Dear brothers and sisters, here we can see that Allah SWT has directly answered the question in the next ayat and given clear instruction on what mindfulness means.
What is interesting here is that the first point mentioned could have been so many different things. Prayer, fasting, reading Quran etc. But instead, Allah SWT chose to list the spending of wealth for the sake of Allah SWT as the first thing to acquire mindfulness.
And in many ways this makes sense. Human Psychology and Economics teaches us that it is human nature to spend less, the more wealth we acquire. We tend to hoard the wealth more as the amount of wealth we acquire increases. Therefore, to go against this human nature, to spend that money on others for the sake of Allah SWT requires us to go against our inner nature and thus requires us to be mindful of Allah SWT and the potential reward of such an action. We need to spend in charity at all times, consistently and independently of how our financial situation is, this is the test and one we must not overlook if we are to be of those mentioned in the earlier ayat.
Next is the act of controlling anger, but Allah SWT makes the point here of exacting revenge or right some injustice. This is also the hardest act to perform because irrational anger where we are wrong is easy to spot because it usually follows with guilt of some form for being angry.
But when the anger is justified, when the injustice is on you and when you are the victim, then every fibre of your being tells you that you deserve that revenge, that you are within your rights to carry out a sense of justice, to right that wrong, it is that overwhelming feeling when you are in that position that you must bring yourself back from the brink and ask Allah SWT to forgive that person as you forgive them yourself. This requires serious self-control and mindfulness of Allah SWT and the reward you will receive from Him for showing mercy at this point. Hence the scale of the reward mentioned in the previous ayat.
Allah SWT concludes by telling us that He loves those who have this type of behaviour. But the two examples are quite different, one is to do with giving away wealth and the other is to control your most-potent of emotions. And so, we need to ask ourselves what is the common factor that links these two characteristics together?
In this month of Ramadan, more than ever, we are, to some extent already performing that common factor. It is the act of knowing that Allah SWT is there at all times, watching us, testing us and all the while offering us the ability to reside in eternal bliss in Paradise through passing these short tests of the dunya.
Once we realise this fact, and we actualise this into our everday living, our habits automatically start changing for the better. We stop wasting time on frivolous activities, we stop hanging out with people who take us away from Allah SWT and we find it uncomfortable to do anything we know Allah SWT doesn’t like.
This is is what taqwa is. It is living life knowing you are under the care and watch of Allah SWT at all times. Allah SWT speaks of this in the next ayat and the imam referenced it today. It is translated to say:
˹They are˺ those who, upon committing an evil deed or wronging themselves, remember Allah and seek forgiveness and do not knowingly persist in sin—and who forgives sins except Allah?
Dear brothers and sisters, we all have the ability to be this person today. Why? Because Ramadan is that blessed time of year where we are already in this state. None of us here will take the opportunity when alone to drink a sip of water or steal a bite of food whilst fasting? Why? We all have the ability to hide it from the world but none of us do it because we are all practicing mindfulness. We are all performing taqwa every day in this month. And that is the beauty of Ramadan, a stepping stone to carrying on being mindful for the rest of the year.
And as Allah SWT then says in the fourth ayat to be referenced today, in the next ayat of Sura Imran, it is translated to say:
Their reward is forgiveness from their Lord and Gardens under which rivers flow, staying there forever. How excellent is the reward for those who work ˹righteousness˺!