You're invited! Although the invitation hasn't come in the mail, your presence would please the Most Honorable One during the month of Ramadan. So clear your calendars and get ready, because this is one invitation you don't want to pass up!
While Rajab is the month of our Creator and Sha'ban is the month of Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him and his progeny), the blessed month of Ramadan is our month – the month of the Ummah. It is during these few weeks that we are the guests of the Most Gracious. Taking our role into consideration, we should try to be the best of guests – after all, we do want to be worthy of being invited again!
Just as any invitee plans his/her day with the event in mind, we should try to plan our schedules during this month in a way that would enable us to truly spend time with our Host. The guest who arrives late, who is not wholeheartedly visiting, is constantly interrupting dinner to make phone calls and check Facebook updates, is ungrateful of the accommodations, is in a rush to leave, and obviously does not consider the host to be important enough to devote time to is definitely not the type of guest we want to be. Undoubtedly, Allah is Independent and in no need of our devotion; nonetheless, we would be disrespecting Him and degrading ourselves if we do not take the time to sincerely worship Him.
Besides planning out a schedule, a guest makes other preparations before going to the host's event. Choosing respectable clothing according to the occasion, the invitee glances at his/her reflection to appraise the final appearance. Likewise, we need to reflect upon our state of being, and consider whether or not we have prepared our bodies and souls before being guests of Allah. Have we been taking care of the body that He has lent to us, so that fasting will not be a problem? Have we strengthened our conviction and increased our devotion so that the soul can easily connect with Allah during this special month? Have we contemplated upon how we will use this month according to the teachings of our Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them), in order to get closer to Allah?
Whether or not we have been able to prepare ourselves as exemplary guests, the Most Merciful One leaves His doors open to the entire Ummah. His grace does not end there, as the Holy Prophet said in his sermon, "The doors of Hell are closed, so ask Allah to keep them closed for you. During this month Shaytan is imprisoned, so ask your Lord not to let him have power over you." These are but a few ways the Most Kind Host sets His guests at ease.
As guests we might take a gift for the host, according to our means. Yet as unworthy slaves of the Almighty, what can we possibly gift Him? Everything is thanks to Him! However, the point of a gift is to make the host happy. While there is no doubt that our actions do not increase or decrease His Greatness, we will certainly be pleasing Him by following the pure footsteps of our Ahlul Bayt.
As our Most Honorable Host, Allah welcomes the Ummah and makes us especially comfortable during Ramadan. This peaceful month is magnificently adorned with the remembrance of noble personalities, particularly that of Lady Khadija (peace be upon her), Imam Hasan (peace be upon him), and Imam Ali (peace be upon him). With many ornate lanterns giving off the pristine light of the Nights of Power, all the intricate remembrances cannot be missed.
As we enjoy the serene atmosphere, it seems that the air we normally take for granted is fragrant with the most heavenly scent of thawaab permeating everything. For actions as simple as sleeping in the state of fasting, Allah cushions us with counts of good deeds.
Sitting on the carpeted ground to our meal, it is obvious that our Host has arranged for quite the banquet! The vast dining cloth is laden with beautiful praise, prayers, and invocations of all sizes. These silver platters of opportunities to communicate with our Lord are never-ending, but the size and number of servings we choose to take during this month is up to us. With such an incomparable spiritual menu, it is no wonder that we do not consume as much worldly sustenance during this month!
When the Prophet ascended to the Heavens, the Almighty told him about the purpose of fasting: "Fasting leads to wisdom, and wisdom enables you to understand My signs and ways; that will raise you to the stage of certitude. And when a person has reached the level of certitude, he or she cares not whether the days pass in plenty or scarcity." (Bihar al-Anwar) Indeed, as His guests fast all throughout this blessed month, He provides their souls with an infinite amount of food.
When the month draws to a close, we earnestly pray for the occasion to be in the presence of such a Remarkable Host again. However as we bid our farewell to Ramadan, the Unique Host reminds us that – despite the month's end – He is always there for us. We must always live with the conviction of His Omnipresence. We may not be His guests throughout the rest of the year, yet He is closer to us than our jugular vein.
Indeed the month of the Ummah ends, but its Host's love does not. Just as hosts may give their departing guests a gift as something to enjoy and remember them by, the Best of Hosts also blesses us with a gift after Ramadan. As the month of Shawwal begins and we unwrap this gift, it is a delight to find yet another priceless gem: a special opportunity to worship our Lord by celebrating Eid al-Fitr.
But let us not jump to Shawwal just yet – after all, we have the whole month of Ramadan ahead of us! While it is here, let us make the most of this special time as honorable guests of the Almighty. Ramadan Mubarak!