Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Selamat Hariraya Aidilfitri .
'Selamat Hariraya' does not really translate as 'Happy Festive Day' like Happy New Year,
Happy Christmas etc. Nor does it mean 'Have a Peaceful (selamat) festive day although Eid does mean festive. Fitri refers to the original or pristine condition of human life, the pure form of nature as created by Allah. So, textually Selamat Hariraya Aidilfitri could mean 'a peaceful return to the original and pure way of life' as known by the Muslims.
But it means more than that to the good Muslims meaning the Muslims who follow the straight path as laid down by Islam and abide by the principles of "amal makruf" and "nahi mukar" ( doing what is sanctioned by Allah, and refraining from what is prohibited). The festival marks the end of thirty days of fasting in the day, from dawn to dusk, which by itself means different things to different levels of self-awareness and piety among the Muslims. To the most devout fasting means total abstention from indulging in fulfilling the demands of the 'nafs' (bodily needs) and senses ( what the five senses like to do in normal life like indulging in good taste, sweet smell, sensuous touches, listening to rumors and profanities, and having amorous feelings). The Muslim of average piety would strictly observe the refrain from food and drinks, indulging in profanities and keeping away from sensuous and sexual act. Many of the more subtle abstentions are unwittingly ignored though to knowingly violate a prohibition leads to a nullification of the fast. The even less pious Muslim will just observe the no food, nor drinks, nor sex rules.
Beside maintaining strict adherence to the abstention rule, the Muslim must also double of triple their efforts in the fulfilment of the prayers and other mandated (wajib) and preferred ( sunnah muakad) acts of devotion to Allah which includes reciting the al-Quran, making personal appeals and requests to Allah through the 'doa's, and observing other recommended accompaniments of the set prayers. Every laudable act during the month of Ramadhan can be considered as a part of the 'Ibadah. (obeissance to Allah) if preceeded by a 'niaat' ( an admission to Allah that the act is done in His name). As such a good Muslim can multiply the rerwards for his piety almost infinitely in the month of Ramadhan, several times more than the reward for the same act of piety done in other months.
That is the essence of Ramadhan al-Mubarak, a month that is more rewarding than a thousand other months. Aidilfitri marks the closure of this propitious and most rewarding month. The very pious Muslims are sad about it but the averagely pious ones are happy that the fasting is over and they can enjoy their food and drinks (especially teh tarik) in the day.
Aside from its religious significance, the fasting has a very important lesson for the young Muslim in Malaysia and the rest of the world. It is the most severe form of training in self discipline. To just take a last meal and drink before 5.30 am or so and then abstain from eating and drinking anything until 7.30pm or there about. is quite a feat. Bear it and no other physical challenge is too great for you. You're free from the demand of the physical self for as long as you want to, free from the immediate demand of the nafs. A boy or girl who has managed to fast the entire month is more 'mature' than a Muslim adult who hasn't managed to do so.
When the stomoch is empty for a period of time our thoughts become very clear and focus. Muslim scholars and ulamaks of the past will fast to enhance their rate of intellectual absorption allowing them to memorize the al-Quran and the Hadiths plus other profound works on religion and philosophy. Scholars like Ibnu Khaldun,Ibnu Taiyimah, Imam Ghazali etc mastered Greek philosophy before embarking on their reknowned works. Hence there's no reason why the Muslim ulamaks of today cannot master the works of science and modern western philosphy. They will loose touch with the modern renaissance men and women if they don't.
So, Selamat Hariraya Aidilfitri. It means more than just enjoying yourself during the festive holiday and the resumption of the usual eating and drinking habits. You should have acquired some new insights into being a Muslim and experience a new kind of awareness of the meaning of life and existence. Otherwise it has just been another "don't eat and drink in the day" kind of affair, not so much in obeisance of Allah's injunctions but for fear of being caught not fasting, by the officials of the religious department. Jazakallah.