Ramadan – Food festival month or month of ibadah?

Amidst all these political shennanigans in the country now, I would like to share what I got from the morning prayer lecture this early Saturday morning. The good ustaz questioned the priority of the Muslims in this country during Ramadan. He was of the opinion that Ramadan here has turned into a month long gastronomous festival instead of a month of reaping the promised benefits from Allah.  Come to think of it, he was quite right. The electronic media continously highlighting the Ramadan Bazaar, the various cooking programmes – even featuring the ustazs and celebrities – on TV every morning, afternoon and night; as well as the printed media with pages and pages of advertisements on Buka Puasa fares (some costing as much as RM200 pax). Wow! He further contended that, Ramadan should the month for ibadah. Allah promised multifold benefits for good deeds done this month, more than any other months in the year. Interestingly he questioned the incessant media coverage on this celebrity or that big shot giving treats to anak yatim (orphans). No doubt most orphans need support but not all orphans are poor!. I tell you one orphanage on the fringe of KL received so much rice bags during the month of Ramadan, they had to build a huge storehouse for them and make arrangement with rice merchants to sell the rice after Hari Raya so that the rice would not rot! The amount of rice they received could last them the whole year until the next Ramadan and more! Furthermore, he said, giving RM200 or RM300 cash to these children are sheer folly. They would probably use the money to buy handphones or some form of media player. It would be much better if they were given scholarships or books or something that is sustainable for long period. The point he was trying make is, would be donors should really make a thorough search of the urban and rural poor, be it orphans or not, before handing out donations. Then only the donations would be really helpful and targeted on the needy ones, irrespective of race, religions, or locations. On that score I could not agree with him more.

Being the month of multiple benefits, he told us to understand the basis of the rewards (pahala) provided by Allah. The level of the rewards depend on several things, inter alia:

Sincerity – the level of sincerity in performing the good deeds or performing the ibadah would determine the level of rewards. The more sincere the deed,  the more pahala it would carry. All make sense right?

Difficulty – difficulty level or condition in performing the deed would also has a bearing on the amount of pahala received. Probably those who took pains to identify real poor people would probably earn more than those who donate simply for the sake of donating. The poor and the sick who perform ibadah in difficult conditions would probably earn more.

Location – some places carry more weight than other places. Performing solat in the mosque with the congregation would carry more pahala than praying alone at home. Praying in Masjidil Haram in Mecca carrry more weight than praying in other mosques.

Type of ibadah – some ibadahs are mandatory (wajib) and some ibadah are recommended (sunat). Obviously the rukun and wajib carry more weights than the sunah. For example, performing the five daily prayers in congregation carry more pahala than the tarawih (which many people unfortunately did not realise).

Time – some actions has a temporal factor attached to them. For example, the daily solat should be performed as soon as the time arrived. Ibadah done during the month of Ramadan carry more pahala than in other months.

Of course, I am not as articulate as the good doctorate ustaz. Please correct me if I am on the wrong. Wallahuallam.

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