According to the Shahada (Muslim profession of faith), I am Muslim. I pray three times a day and fast during Ramadan. With everything combined, this puts my halal: haram ratio at a good one to five. Ramadan provides me with an opportunity to somewhat balance the scale. This year, as we navigate a global pandemic within our disappointing American public health system, Black people are dying from COVID-19 at disproportionate rates.
People are looking to community groups, nonprofits, and their local governments to organize resources. It is not a coincidence. We have a lot to learn from our Earth and her signs. Occasionally when life is falling apart, I look to the Qur’an for some guidance; a revelation perhaps.
The Qur’an is a gorgeous history-law-poetry-book-thing that is fun to read. From the historical aspect, you’re reminded how men have used religion as a weapon to control others (cute, right)? Still, the larger messages for humankind are there, but just in need of a little TLC from us as readers.
[Read Related: The Benefits of Observing Ramadan During Coronavirus]
So, as God says: In this, there are signs for people of understanding. Here is my effort to understand those larger messages without judgment of anyone else’s perspective. If you’re limited on time, just read the Qur’an passages.
“If you disclose your charitable expenditures, they are good; but if you conceal them and give them to the poor, it is better for you, and He will remove from you some of your misdeeds [thereby]. And Allah, with what you do, is [fully] Acquainted.” (2:271)
The Qur’an translation and interpretation I am currently reading explains:
“If you spend openly then this too is a good thing” because this is instrumental in inducing others to spend in the way of God. To give to the poor and in secret is better because ”this does not affect the self-esteem of the receiver, and the donor him[her]self is protected from the ailment of showing off.”
Because God says not to take the Qur’an out of context for my own benefit, you can find the rest of the excerpt here. I urge you to read it. The Qur’an translation and interpretation I am currently reading can be found here.
This is an appreciation and reminder post for people who carry their entire lives in service with humility: You are amazing. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for providing your time, energy, money, prayers, and love to the world. Thank you for serving without pitying the people you serve, which doesn’t happen unless you respect the recipients on the same level as yourself. You are saved from the “ailment” of being a dick. We, thank you.
Concealing a service is important because it removes the ego’s satisfaction. However, say you provide a service that is often overlooked or underappreciated. I believe this can be carried out in confidence and openness. Especially because it challenges others to do the same. Some individuals openly contribute to a cause out of a personal sense of collective responsibility, which to me, seems to come from a different place than the ego—that is, the soul.
[Read Related: Ramadan in Quarantine: Ways to Nourish Faith From Home]
Service necessitates humility, but humility does not equate to suppression of expression of the self. You can express the deed anonymously, I think if it is a generic contribution. But if it is something coming from a deep place that seems necessary to your existence, share a tiny fraction of why the issue is important to you, and be mindful of when it starts to feel like an ego boost. Remember: ego boost is not equivalent to a soul boost. It is beautiful to nourish the soul.