Empowering people through education and engagement

Beyond Ramadan

 

Azher Quader

Azher Quader, President, CBC

July 20, 2015

Now that Ramadan has concluded, it would be good to pause and ponder on what lies beyond. While for most of us the encounter with hunger was a temporary discomfort to bear, we should not forget that for nearly a billion around the globe it is a way of life, a state of existence and a condition of destiny. For them the long days of fasting rarely have an iftar to look up for or a suhoor to wake up to.

For many of us boot camp Ramadan was no doubt a physical experience, but for some, hopefully it was also a spiritual one, reflective and transformative. The story of Ramadan can never be complete without recognizing the important message of the Quran and its relevance to our present day lives. In the brutal killings inside Syria and Iraq and the terrorizing rise of ISIS, there are sobering lessons for all of us to learn from, as we listened to the Quran these past several days. The struggle for unity and understanding, that seeks to bind us together as one people, is as much a challenge for our ability to accept and live with our differences, as it is for our insistence on pursuing the details of our particular traditions. Without respect for these differences among people of varying backgrounds, tauhid becomes an empty slogan, not an embracing practice.

Contrary to what some experts might say, Muslim masses are not averse to the pursuit of democracy or the rule of law; it is Muslim leadership that often disappoints them by demonstrating their arrogance in power and their indifference to the principles of governance as mandated by the Quran. The history of conflicts and disappointments within the operations of our religious institutions here at home, is perhaps also evidence of our own failings to practice what we preach. If the stark and simple message of the Quran cannot inspire us to a life of service and integrity, then all the exhaustive pursuits of praying and fasting in Ramadan, cannot become a source for our salvation either here or in the hereafter.

Our community challenges are increasing each year. Fund raising never seems to take a break. Interfaith conversations have multiplied. Clearly more programs are needed though, not only to sustain us financially but also to build stronger relationships with our neighbors, that are more enduring. With a donor base that is arguably not expanding and interfaith partners that are more demanding for our engagement, we need to take more initiative in problem solving and demonstrate greater commitment to building bridges. We cannot remain concerned with what matters only to us and remain disaffected with what happens to our neighbors next door. If the guidance of the Quran is timeless, then surely there are answers to be found within it, that apply to the problems that surround us today. From eliminating the misery of poverty, from removing the disparities in health care, from strengthening the bonds that bind us as families, from making education free from the burdensome weight of exorbitant tuition, from bridging the racial divide that fosters a culture of pride and prejudice, from ending the hate and anger left from senseless wars in foreign lands, from curbing the violence of guns that takes so many innocent lives on our streets and schools, from offering solutions for immigration reform that could enable millions to emerge from the shadows of fear and uncertainty, for protecting the environment, for growing the economy, for fighting the war on terror with reason and wisdom, for reclaiming the rights of all, there are powerful instructions in the Quran for us to heed, to advocate and to leave a lasting legacy of a more just and peaceful world.

Boot camp Ramadan has concluded for this year. We can rest a while and catch our breath. Today we celebrate. Tomorrow we should commit and do whatever we can to make a difference in the world we live in. May Allah grant us the light to see His guidance and the strength to pursue His will.

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