Ramadan develops love

Dr Teresa Lesher

Ramadan is a month of intensified charity, community relations, forgiveness and compassion. The Quran encourages the reader to spend in charity, saying, “You will never attain virtue until you spend something of what you love…” (3:92) This means that you should give to others what you love for yourself, and in Ramadan we realize how much all people love and need food and water.

By experiencing hunger and thirst, the faster is reminded of the importance of providing for the poor’s basic needs. The Quran never explicitly commands us to “Love one another,” but it does have many commands to behave as though we love one another, regardless of our feelings.

“Say kind words to people…” (2:83) “Pardon and overlook their misdeeds” (5:13) “Do not spy on one another, nor let any of you backbite others…” (49:12) and to “…judge with justice…” (5:42). It says that “A good deed and an evil deed are not alike; repay [evil] with something that is finer, and see how someone who is separated from you by enmity will become a bosom friend.” (41:33)

Other verses are even more specific in telling us in specific detail how to treat others: “Your Lord has decreed that you should worship nothing except Him and show kindness to your parents; whether either or both of them attain old age, never say to them “Uf!” nor scold either of them. Speak to them in a generous fashion. Serve them with tenderness and humility…” (17:23).

Aside from these Quranic verses, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) advised his followers in innumerable traditions to be good to others. For example, he said, “Do you know what the rights of a neighbor are? If a neighbor seeks your help, extend it to him. If a neighbor asks you for a loan, lend him. If your neighbor becomes poor, then help him financially and attend to his poverty if you can. If your neighbor becomes ill, then visit him. If your neighbor is happy on certain gain, then congratulate him.

If your neighbor is suffering a calamity, then offer him condolences. If your neighbor dies, then attend his funeral. Do not raise your building over his building, so that he would have no sun exposure or wind passage. Do not bother your neighbor with the smell of your cooking, unless you intend to offer him some” (Tabrani, 101). Detailing the behavior of a loving neighbor is more meaningful than a simple order to love them.

The Quran and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did not directly command us to “love one another” because love (the feeling) is a byproduct of positive actions and attitudes. Instead, we are commanded to treat one another with justice, respect, forgiveness, patience and kindness. By acting in this way, we can arouse the feeling of love for others in ourselves, and vice versa.
Islam insists on principle-driven love, a love that is proactive and action-based, not reactive and emotion-based. How important is love? Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said to his companions, “You will not enter Paradise until you have faith; and you will not complete your faith until you love one another” (Muslim). Ramadan is the perfect opportunity to show love for others by showing compassion and charity through sharing.

Courtesy of the TIES Center: the TIES Center aims at empower Kuwait’s expats through social and educational services that promote a positive and productive role in society, and to facilitate opportunities for intra- and interfaith interactions that promote social solidarity. For more information, you can contact TIES at Tel: 25231015/6; Hotline: 94079777; e-mail: info@tiescenter.net.

By Dr Teresa Lesher