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By Islamic Networks Group (ING) Staff.
Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, gives anyone who believes in its benefits the opportunity, time, and space to rejuvenate their spirituality, reconnect with their Creator, and dig deeper to find meaning in everything they do. Ramadan is also a time to work towards good character and towards becoming true servants of God and all His creation in the spirit of the Prophets Muhammad, Jesus, Moses and Abraham, peace be upon them all. Muslims believe that all the prophets were sent primarily to instill good character, which is the aim of most if not all religions.
This year, let us aim especially to instill in ourselves gratitude for all we have and compassion towards the less fortunate, especially the millions of refugees around the world. According to Amnesty International, we face “the worst refugee crisis of our era, with millions of women, men, and children struggling to survive amidst brutal wars, networks of people traffickers, and governments who pursue selfish political interests instead of showing basic human compassion.” Living in the luxury and security as we do in the United States, with access to shelter, food, and clean water even if we’re struggling financially, what can we do help people thousands of miles away? We should begin by first recognizing all that we have and enjoy, and instilling in ourselves sincere gratitude to God for those gifts, which we as Muslims recognize as a trust from God. Because these gifts are a trust, not a possession simply for our own enjoyment, we need to use them to exercise compassion. That means taking responsibility to do what we can to help the less fortunate, from the simple act of prayer for their welfare to donating to organizations that serve them and directly volunteering our skills. We should start with prayer and fasting—but not end there.
It all begins with ourselves. Let’s not miss this opportunity to expand our spiritual horizons, inculcate good character, and connect with those around us, near or far. Both our faith and our science teach that this is the way to true happiness; scientific studies have shown that helping others is a primary source of happiness: “Volunteering makes people happier and boosts their longevity.” Of course, the prophets, peace be upon them all, knew and taught this long ago. So let us use this month of spiritual rejuvenation to begin a journey of happiness!