Are we to follow the same path: here today, forgotten tomorrow?
This happens year after year. When Ramadhaan is over and Shaytaan is released again, how many will go back to their previous master, to become his slave again, leaving aside all the good they did in this month, and go back to their old ways.
Bursting with the joy of Ramadhaan, I set to visit a pious old sage I knew to share my joy with him.
He spotted me before I saw him and made Salaam to me before I could greet him. Replying to his greeting, I looked at his face, again marvelling at the deep serenity to be seen in his warm, affectionate eyes.
He sat without speaking: He was lost in yaa-e-elahi (remembrance of Allah), and I was pondering on a way to express my inner exultation to him. After just a short while, I could not contain myself any longer.
‘O Sheikh!’ I burst out. ‘What a wonderful month is this not! Just see how everyone is affected by the spirituality of this month; men, women and children as well.’
Without any shadow of emotion at this stage, the sage just looked my way without showing any emotion.
Taking this as a cue to continue, I expanded: ‘Yes, the children as well. They have such a zeal for fasting and in this month one finds even fewer of them sitting in front of the TV, or getting involved in useless activities!’
Instead of a corresponding delight, the twinkling in the sage’s eyes disappeared, and a pained look entered those eyes that were normally so clear and bright.
Somewhat startled by this unexpected effect I tried again: ‘O Sheikh! Just see how, in this wonderful month, the women are dressing more modestly, and even covering their heads!’
Cautiously, I glanced at the sage’s face. The pain in his eyes deepened and spread to his face.
What did I say wrong? I tried again: ‘O Sheikh! See how the people deprive themselves of the things they enjoy. Their behaviour is also good. There is little or no arguing and fighting, no vulgarity or obscenity. How strong is the feeling of brotherhood!’
The sage appeared grief-stricken. His eyes began to moisten.
But I tried last time: ‘O Sheikh! Look how full the Masaajid are at night! See how the men, young and old, submit themselves to their Creator in Salaat – not only for EASHA, but also exerting themselves another hour or so in Taraweeh!’
These words were the final straw! The sage wept openly. Feeling helpless, I sat in silence, head bowed down in contrition at having caused the sage so much grief.
When the sage regained his composure, I turned to him:
‘O Sheikh! Please forgive this foolish and ignorant one for causing you grief. I implore you to please remove the veils of darkness from my heart, so that I may also see what you have seen.’
The sage replied: ‘O my son, do you not see?
‘In this month Allah Subhaanahu-wa-Ta’ala has chained up Shaytaan.’
The very people in whom you have noticed betterment are the very ones who had been following Shaytaan before this month.
‘Throughout the whole year they have been following Shaytaan.
‘Now that Shaytaan is locked up, they are able to do what you have seen them do. This happens year after year.
‘And when Ramadhaan is over, and Shaytaan is released, how many will not go back to their previous master, to become his slaves again, leaving aside all the good they did in this month, and go back to their old ways? That is why I weep!
HIS WORDS CUT THROUGH ME LIKE A SWORD, PIERCING MY BODY EXPOSING MY SOUL. IN A LIGHTING FLASH I SAW THE HYPOCRISY THAT LAY WITHIN ME. THE WORDS OF THE SAGE APPLIED TO ME MORE THAN TO ANYBODY ELSE.