The power of faith and unity during the holy month of Ramadan

ALJAZEERA

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College students now often look askance at educators and university administrations and challenge what they see as an unjust exercise of power and authority.
Religion or faith in the Unseen is considered by many an impotent and archaic artifact; it is jettisoned in favour of material success and progress.
What if faith can influence a billion people and inspire them to feed the hungry after fasting the whole day?
What if the practice of faith can inspire a billion people to become forgiving of each other’s mistakes?
Muslims reading this would know they are the beneficiaries and witnesses of this great phenomenon during the month of Ramadan.
The month of Ramadan is a time in which the Holy Quran is revealed as guidance for all.
If others could observe this spectacle in the Muslim community, they would certainly see guidance toward communal unity in worship.
Ramadan shows that true power extends not from the long arm of temporal governmental authority, but from the voluntary acquiescence of the individual to Allah’s ultimate dominion over Creation.
Muslims who observe Ramadan must thus extend their unity and trust in the Divine to all other months of the year.
It is a competitor who proves every year that religion and faith in the Real Power is still very much alive – despite the claims and disdain of its adversaries.

Through coercion, the media, education, or popular culture, among other channels, government authorities and institutions attempt to shape society. The public’s response to this is frequently one of opposition to the establishment.

One could characterize the recent anti-authoritarian trend among American activist groups and on college campuses as follows. Educators and university administrations are frequently viewed with suspicion by college students, who question what they perceive to be an unfair use of authority. Students’ skepticism toward didactic instruction is growing.

More than ever, it is now harder than ever to influence people in society at large when you are in a position of knowledge and authority. One example of this resistance to expertise is the anti-vaccination movement, which is primarily founded on mistrust of established institutions and knowledge structures.

In the US, a growing number of people are becoming agnostic or even atheistic, and they are also moving away from organized religion. Many people dislike the thought of having a referee in their lives, even in cases where established institutions and “norms” are involved.

In light of agnosticism, it is hard to think that religion can affect a sizable portion of the population in any meaningful way. Many people discard religion or faith in the Unseen as an outdated and futile artifact in favor of progress and material success. Numerous individuals applaud liberalism and moral anarchy.

Still, what if religion could inspire a billion people to forgo food and water—two necessities of life—for an entire month?

What if a billion people are inspired to worship the Unseen for a whole month, as if that’s all they can think about, especially at night, because they believe in Him?

What if faith had the power to uplift a billion people and motivate them to feed the hungry after a full day of fasting?

What if a community’s religious convictions inspired them to give to charities and welfare for a month?

What if a billion people are motivated to forgive one another for their mistakes by practicing faith?

What if a civilization of over a billion honorable people manages to debunk the fallacy that violence, theft, robbery, and murder are inevitable aspects of human existence?

What if a billion people can be brought together by organized religion to the point where they all act in unison and see no need to fight over differences?

Absolutely. Indeed, what if!

Muslims who read this are aware that during the month of Ramadan, they are both the witnesses and the beneficiaries of this wonderful phenomenon. They join together in adoration of their Maker. All seek the blessings and pardon of Allah.

The Holy Quran is revealed during the month of Ramadan, offering guidance to everyone. Others would undoubtedly be guided toward communal unity in worship if they were able to witness this spectacle within the Muslim community.

Muslims who are active in politics and society should recognize this miracle and make the most of it by using it as a springboard to increase mutual respect, trust, cooperation, optimism, and a positive outlook on life. For Muslims, Ramadan offers a framework built on the notion of voluntary change, free from the coercion of institutions and the state.

An activist for justice is a small effort by comparison, if a Muslim is able to abstain from the most basic of human needs and maintain that abstinence completely without coercion.

Islam promotes self-awareness and self-control within a broader cosmic context, emphasizing ultimate Divine sovereignty, rather than advocating anti-authoritarian anarchism. Ramadan demonstrates that real power comes not from the long reach of temporary governmental authority but rather from a person’s willing submission to Allah’s ultimate dominion over Creation.

Thus, throughout the rest of the year, Muslims who observe Ramadan must maintain their unity and faith in God. The month of Ramadan is living. In an otherwise “sleepy” community, it brings life because it is alive. The Quran is an ever-evolving text. It is living, and Muslims ought to regard it as a source of life.

There is now rivalry between institutional authority and governmental power over others. Yet it’s not a competition between people. Despite the assertions and contempt of its opponents, this rival shows year after year how religion and belief in the Real Power are still very much alive.

The opinions presented in this piece are the author’s own and may not accurately represent the editorial position of Al Jazeera.

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