By D Asghar
July 19, 2012
Heaven and Hell both belong to the Almighty. Only He has the say in either case. Without His mercy (regardless of our mountains of good), we cannot make it there
Well if you are ready for some heavy duty rotten attitude of some of the ‘real people of faith’, then you have a couple of more days to go. Here comes Ramazan, with all its fervour. The month when Almighty locks up the only devil and we the people try to fill in for his prolonged hibernation. Some of you will be muttering that here goes another ‘liberal’ trying to ridicule the holy month. By the grace of the Almighty, I am not a liberal according to your interpretation and my parents raised me in a fairly ‘conservative’ manner. Till this day and I sure hope, that until my final year, may the Almighty grant me the ability to fulfil my duty as an ultra-ordinary and a very sinful human being, in this holy month.
I have always been amazed about the disparity in the words and actions of my people. In a very simple sense, this month is a boot camp for all the believers to prepare them for the hardships and challenges in their lives. It gives us the opportunity to be thankful each day for all the blessings that the Almighty has showered on us, including but not limited to food and water. It is a month where we tend to continue our endless battles with temptation and sin, and try to listen to the inner voice of our souls. I am the least learned, but I feel that it is to purify the soul, atone for the sins of the past and condition ourselves for the remaining life.
However, when I see my brothers and sisters losing it or snapping at others for some real simple stuff, it just boggles my mind. Poor household help gets the worst treatment, especially in this month, just because their employers are starving. You dig deeper and they have the usual — you guessed it — their fasting as an excuse. Hmm...By the way, as much as I remember, patience is the virtue that brings us very close to God. Similarly, you see (myself included) us talking behind someone’s back, when we know that backbiting and that too while fasting, is a grave, a very grave sin. It pretty much whitewashes whatever good we may have earned while fasting in this holy month.
Then people have this sudden urge of being ultra-religious. You ask, and they start quoting the Holy Scripture or the sayings of the Prophet (PBUH). Never mind that they will go late to their work and use the Taraweeh, suhoor and the Fajr prayers as an excuse. Similarly, they will be in the office for a few hours and then take off at 4:00 pm because of course the prayers will be calling them home. One just wonders why people cannot pray either at the office or in a mosque close to the office. I thought it was one of the reasons why we parted ways with our friends down south back in 1947, so that we can practice our faith openly, without fear or pressure. But I digress.
As I said once before, Americans just get a bad rap for being materialistic and capitalistic for no reason. Check out the prices of edibles and other items in the holy month, and you will get an instant lesson in microeconomics. You pay the ‘surcharge’ perhaps three or four times the regular price on most of the items. The Eid shopping, not limited to clothing and shoes, can clear all your doubts that consumerism reigns supreme, and thrives in our Islamic Republic. The same goes for the livestock during the other Eid, perhaps at the skyrocketed and unfairly jacked up rates. We go bonkers over the term ‘interest’, but never realise that these inflated rates are quite ‘usurious’. But again I digress.
Then with the modern age, we have embraced the idea of ‘televangelists’ giving us sermons on what we ought to be doing in the holy month. Our pre-dawn meal and iftar are full of religious messages. So people are glued to their TVs as it is all good and use that as a leverage to seek the highest echelons of heavens. The televangelists give verdicts according to their interpretation of the Holy Scripture and narrate sayings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). One has to be totally naïve to take their word for it. The reason is plain and simple. I will repeat here once again. Heaven and Hell both belong to the Almighty. Only He has the say in either case. Without His mercy (regardless of our mountains of good), we cannot make it there. Until this day, I remember what I learned in my childhood. Never seek justice of the Almighty, just seek His mercy at all times. Because for Him to overlook my never-ending mounds of sin is not even a fraction of how long it takes me to blink. I know that despite my poor attempts, I will not even carry a tiny speck of good with me, except the hope of His mercy.
D Asghar is a Pakistani-American mortgage banker.