Ramadan, the month of introspection

Ramadan, the month of introspection

“Don’t say anything you’re not sure of!” For what he has done with his hearing and with his sight and with his heart will be called to account.” (Quran 17/36).

Among all the obligatory religious practices in Islam, fasting during the month of Ramadan holds a particularly important place. It is one of the five pillars, with the attestation of faith (Shahâda), prayer (Salât), the purifying social tax (Zakât) and the pilgrimage (Haj).

Each of these pillars requires effort, establishes discipline and demands rigor, whether through mastery of one's body, one's money, one's time and, in general, the deep interior of one's being. The moral quality of a Muslim lies in his ability to be able to make sense of everything he does, where he does it, when he does it.

Fasting is not just about giving up, depriving yourself or making sacrifices for a month. Fasting is mostly a matter of the heart. It's about breaking with habits, raising our lives and our outlook towards essential horizons, mastering our emotions and controlling our impulses and inner tensions. It is to this great introspection that the Koranic verse 17/36 cited above invites us.

Become aware, and during the month of Ramadan more than before, of everything we hear, everything we say, everything we look at and everything we carry within us, in the intimate depths of our heart, we will be asked to account on the day of judgment.

There are words that hurt more than blows, looks that humiliate, final judgments that destroy and thoughts that destroy. In this blessed month of Ramadan, we are urged to think about what we are going to say, if it is really useful, if it will do good to others. If not, maybe it's best to keep quiet.

A man asked 'Umar ibn 'Abdelaziz(1): “When should I speak ?? He tells him : “When you really want to be silent“, “And when should I shut up?“, said the man, “When you really want to talk“, replied the caliph.

God knows the thoughts of our hearts, whether they are good or bad. We cannot hide anything from him because:

He knows the betrayal of the eyes, just like what the hearts hide” (Quran 19/40).

He knows everything, knows everything, absolutely EVERYTHING, because He is Omniscient(2):

He holds the keys to the mystery that only He knows; He knows what lies in the heart of the earth and the depths of the sea. No leaf falls without His knowing it, and there is no grain in the bowels of the earth nor any tender or dry twig that does not are mentioned in an explicit Book » (Quran 6/59)(3).

He knows what we show and what we tend to hide. He knows what we would like people to know and the resentments we don't want them to know. For all this, we will have to give an account to Him when we appear before Him, as the verse says:

“The hearing, the look, and what you carry in your heart, for all this you will be asked to account » (Quran 17/36).

Words are never used accidentally in the Quran. In this verse, it is first a question of controlling the hearing, then the sight and finally the inner thoughts of the heart. This progression calls for reflection, because we tend to give up on what our ears hear. Now, there are things that our ears should not hear. If there is so much slander and slander today, it is because there are many people who are ready to hear unwelcome, malicious remarks and gossip. We cannot, we must not, listen to some say bad things about others.

This is how we empower people: since my ear cannot hear you, then be careful what you say with your mouth.

It is with this work and this spiritual combat that we return people to their conscience. We also help them to reach their conscience and to enlighten it, that is to say, to give them the possibility of listening to what it carries within it, and to help them to discern by questioning themselves.

If this verse is eternally true, it is particularly true during the month of Ramadan. It is truly a school of mastery of the body and elevation of the heart.

(1)'Umar ibn 'Abdelaziz (682/720): eighth caliph of the Umayyad dynasty, he is known to be the fifth rightly guided Caliph.

(2) The All-Knowing (The All-Knowing, Al-'Alim) is one of the 99 names of God that are attributed to none other than God.

(3)See also verse 6/60