By Tajuddin Rasdi
April 1, 2019
In a month’s time, Muslims will observe the holy month of Ramadan.
I hope all Malaysians regardless of cultures, lifestyle or faith can join Muslims in Malaysia to treat this month as a new beginning for race and religious relations for this country.
Where governments have failed to instil trust, compassion and respect, we Malaysians must step in and set an example for our children.
I have always said in my lectures as well as public talks that the power to change is not with Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Harapan, but in every single one of us, that is, if we care and understand enough.
I hope Malaysians, including the Malay Muslims, understand the meaning of Ramadan in Islam.
At the risk of writing a sermon, allow me to explain Ramadan based on my readings of the Quran and Hadith, the traditions of the Prophet.
For Muslims, Ramadan is like a big “sale” in a shopping centre. We are taught that during this month, the rewards for our good deeds are multiplied 700 times.
If we donate RM1 for a charity, it would be recorded by the angel as RM700. When we perform the prayer, we are rewarded 700 times more than in other times of the year. When we perform it in congregation, we get a further 27 times reward.
The numbers 27 and 700 are obviously not numerical measures but an analogy representing the idea of spiritual weightage. That is why the Prophet performed more supererogatory, or optional, prayers and gave more alms during this month.
A companion of the Prophet described his deeds of charity as “generous like the wind”. The wind is a powerful force but it is invisible to the naked eye.
Ramadan encourages generosity with anonymity. We are also taught that those who offer food for others to break their fast during Iftar are rewarded with the fast of the others. Hence the tradition of donating food to the mosque, giving birth to traditions such as “bubur lambuk”.
Fasting during Ramadan is to train the mind and soul to restrain from negative and evil thoughts of others.
Our thoughts must be pure and compassionate. This is perhaps the best time to contemplate not to utter the word “kafir” or “enemies of Islam” on non-Muslims.
How should multi-religious Malaysia celebrate Ramadan?
I wish houses of worship provide meals within their means and invite Muslims and others to break fast. If possible, a small area can be reserved for the performance of the Maghrib prayer after the meal.
I hope Malay and Muslim NGOs and political parties would not take these nation building gestures to reinforce negative narratives. They too can join the temples, churches and Gurdwaras to breakfast.
Muslim and non-Muslim politicians can join all the houses of worship in their constituencies in the breaking of fast.
Mosques in Malaysia should not only provide food to their congregations, but tell them to bring food to the streets, alleys and other places where the poor and destitute would frequent.
In this time of the Muslims practising generosity, compassion and patience, mosques should refrain the broadcast of the loud recitation of the Quran during the Tarawih prayers as it could disturb the neighbourhood. I am sure God can listen even when we recite our prayers softly.
If we can do this simple act of compassion, we can fight hate speeches, religious extremism and bigotry.
Ramadan is a training period for Muslims to be patient, to abstain, to think good thoughts of others and to perform maximum kindness to all.
This 30-day course in being “human” would hopefully train the Muslim to remain in the same spiritual construct for the rest of the 11 months.
Let the coming Ramadan be a celebration of the blessed month for all Malaysians in a New Malaysia.