Welcome, Ramadan

In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful

Once again, all praise is due to the Lord, the blessed month of Ramadan is upon us. This is a month of tremendous blessing: the Qur’an was first revealed during this month; it is the month of fasting, where we give up earthly delights for the sake of God; it is the month of mercy, forgiveness, and protection from God’s punishment; it is the month during which the gates of Paradise are opened, and the gates of Hell are closed, according to our Prophet (peace be upon him).

Although forgoing coffee in the morning (one of my favorite things in this world) can be difficult, the spiritual benefit derived from depriving myself from that which I love for His sake more than outweighs the loss of my morning ritual. It is a month of intense spiritual reflection – precisely because I am not distracted by fulfilling my hunger or craving for a cup of coffee in the middle of a long afternoon rounding in the hospital.

It is also a month of spiritual cleaning, rebirth, and renewal. It is a month during which I can reinvigorate those daily devotional practices that may have become rusty throughout the year. It is truly a wonderful, wonderful month, and I pray that the Lord gives me the most benefit possible this year.

It is indeed a month of jihad. The jihad, however, of which I speak is the struggle against the inner urge to eat and drink. Think about it: no one would ever know if I snuck a cup of coffee or piece of chocolate (another love of mine) in the bathroom or locker room. I could totally fake my fasting in front of the people. To resist this urge – to forgo my cup of coffee for no other reason than God told me so – is the essence of jihad, the struggle to do God’s work.

Yet, it is also true that some of the most important battles in Islamic history were waged during Ramadan. These include the Battle of Badr and the conquest of Mecca. Consequently, the neo-Kharijite extremists seek to increase their acts of murder and terror, claiming that the month of Ramadan is the month of “jihad.” This is obscenely profane. There can be no moral equivalence between the battles waged by the Prophet (pbuh) in self-defense and the vicious terrorist attacks that these neo-Kharijites commit in the name of Islam.

It really gets under my skin when these mutants kill during such a holy month, such as the terrible bombing in Sadr City today. Ramadan should be a month of spiritual discipline, intense reflection, spiritual cleansing, and devotional practice. It is not a month of murder and killing. I cannot – and never will – understand how anyone could even fathom killing another human being at any time during the year, but most especially during the month of Ramadan. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) told us that the fast of Ramadan is more than just abstention from food and drink:

Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions [while fasting], God is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (i.e., God will not accept his fasting). (Bukhari)

What could be more evil than taking the life of an innocent human being? How can these neo-Kharijites – by any stretch of the imagination – think that they are doing true jihad? The only way they can do this is by possessing a criminal mind. They are criminals of the worst kind, most especially since they commit their crimes in the name of God. They must be fought and defeated.

I deeply resent their terrorism in the name of Islam, and I am trying my best to speak out against their filth and show how it is a stain on Islam, rather than, as many are wont to believe, a consequence of Islam.

I send my most heartfelt prayers for blessings during this most blessed month of Ramadan to each and every one of you. May God bless you during this most blessed time of the year. Amen.


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