Holy month offers Muslims chance to reflect on their faith and repent

Muslim faithful in prayer at the Jamia Mosque, Nairobi, April 2022. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Turkish writer Elif Shafak, in her book The Flea Palace, wrote that “faith, like a train schedule is essentially a matter of timing at specific hours of human life.

There is a schedule that leaves before noon and this one carries those who have internalised a belief system when they are still children. Then there’s another one that leaves in the afternoon carrying along the troubled passengers of teenage years.

“Finally, there is the night run which carries those with pressing regrets that crop up in one’s life and the unfeasibility of redeeming past wrongs is acknowledged; when the most strongly built nests begin to topple and the first serious health complications occur. For some strange reason the passengers of this train get on it at the last minute. When these trains leave only a handful of non-believers are left behind.”

Chance of redemption

Which train will you be boarding?

The Sufi poet, Rumi, wrote that “once the seed of faith takes root, it cannot be blown away, even by the strongest  wind – now that’s a blessing.”

Millions of Muslims around the world start the Holy month of Ramadhan this week and and the words of both Rumi and Elif Shafak come to mind. The Muslims are lucky.

The month of Ramadhan comes around every year and this month gives them a chance at redemption for past sins. The train stops for a whole month and gives Muslims a chance to get on the train of faith again.

Many Muslims, like all believers, will often stray. However, as soon as Ramadhan rolls in most of them will stop most of the sinning. Drinking and other immoral activities dramatically reduce. We are taught that the gates of hell are closed during Ramadhan and this gives us a chance to repent all over again.

Our faith is so deep rooted that we will not even dare commit the sins that we sometimes take for granted.

During my youth, there was a bar near the railway station in Mombasa that used to close during Ramadhan, most of his clients were Muslims drinking in the relative discrete quiet of the semi-industrial area of railways. Unfortunately, De Sousa, as the bar man was called, reopened his bar as soon as the gates of hell were reopened again. It was business as usual.

Breaking bad habits

Psychologists tell us that it takes 40 days to break a bad habit (or acquire a good one). Ramadhan is 30 days at most, and therefore an opportunity to break bad, old habits and stop sinning. Some achieve this and some fail, such is life.

However, since the train has stopped, we all get a chance to reexamine and recalibrate our internal moral compasses. Even if we don’t stop the sinning or slippage in values, at least we have one month that we are forced to stop. 

Every year I use the month of Ramadhan to reevaluate my life. It makes me go back to God and reflect on His eternal blessings to me. This is a chance to reach out to family and friends. It’s an opportunity to share God’s blessings on us.

Whether you are a Muslim or not, perhaps you too should take some time to make a moral realignment.

Go back to God and seek his blessings and forgiveness. Reflect on this.