Ramadan Reflection Day 2: The Good Neighbours

Narrated by Abdullah ibn Umar, radhiaAllahu ‘anhu, The Prophet sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, ‘The best friend in the sight of Allah is he who is the well-wisher of his companions, and the best neighbour is one who behaves best towards his neighbours.’ [Tirmidhi]

On the first night of taraweeh, we had some lovely teens who decided it would be a good idea to ring the doorbells of neighbourhood houses and run away. These neighbours, who may have been sleeping at the time, were obviously not impressed (to say the least). They called the police. (Hey, at least this time, they weren’t smoking weed, right? Ha.)

We all know what a nuisance this is. We also know kids will be kids. It’s the summer. School is out. Everyone is together and taraweeh sure takes a long time to end. But this is when it matters. If Ramadan, our most blessed time of the year, ends up being a major pain for our neighbours, are we really, truly reaping the rewards?

Yes, the onus is on the parents of those kids to make sure they’re doing what they came to the mosque for. As individuals, however, it is a good idea to evaluate what we’ve done. What kind of relationship do we have with our neighbours? Have we said more than 5 words to them in the 5, 10, 20 years we’ve been there?

Make this Ramadan the change in your relationship with your neighbours. Smile. Start up a conversation. Become friends. Mow their lawn when they need it. Shovel the driveway in the winter. Take the garbage to the curb. Send over sweets and a card on Eid. Share the khayr, the rahma, the barakah. The benefits will last you much longer than 29 or 30 days.

Ramadan Reflection Day 1: Manners, Manners, Manners

The last few months have solidified one concept for me: we are more in need of good manners than a little bit of knowledge. Don’t get me wrong here – the need for knowledge is immense. I pray that we continue to learn that which is beneficial to society as a whole until the day we die. However, people tend not to listen to those who are rude and condescending even if they are knowledgeable. This is amplified for those who speak on behalf of religion.

Ramadan is a month of reflection and looking at ourselves. We want to improve ourselves for the upcoming year and benefit our akhirah. It is relatively ‘simple’ (I use this term loosely) to fast and pray in this age of air conditioning and summer vacations where we can sleep the hot day away and stay up the short nights. The real challenge comes into how you act when you are hungry and someone annoys or angers you. When things don’t go according to your plan. When you are running late to an important meeting. When you meet someone new and when you see someone you haven’t seen in a while. When dealing with your family. When just frustrated about something in general and taking it out out on the first person who comes by.

Anas radhiaAllahu ‘anhu, said, “I served RasulAllah, sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, for ten years. During that time, he never once said to me as much as ‘Oof’ if I did something wrong. He never asked me, if I had failed to do something, ‘Why did you not do it?,’ and he never said to me, if I had done something wrong, ‘Why did you do it?” [Bukhari]

Anas ibn Malik was with the Rasool for a decade. Think about that for a second. He watched his actions during the good times and the bad. He watched him deal with his family. He watched him interact with the general public. He saw him interact with those whom he had just met and those whom he had known for ages. He observed him while he was fasting and when he was not. He pretty much saw it all. Yet could not recall a time when the Rasool took out any sort of frustration upon him.

For many of us, a person just needs to watch us for an hour to see the anger come out. And what about when fasting? Shaykh Ibrahim, during Jummah a few weeks ago, mentioned how we all know a person (or may be that person!) who is the one to avoid while fasting. Br. or Sr. Bad Mood While Hungry. Hangry. Stay away or else you will suffer his or her wrath. After iftar? All is back to normal. SubhanAllah, what a backwards concept. How different it is from our righteous predecessors.

We should be more aware of our actions while fasting than any other time. It should be a training ground, not just physically or spiritually, but for our interactions with others. We hear all the time about the physical acts – which shouldn’t be ignored! – but too quickly set aside our adaab. I hope that this Ramadan is a reflection upon our manners. We can attain a lot of other things, both in our deen and dunya, but without proper akhlaaq, they will be useless.