Every Ramadan, we are reminded that Shaytan will be chained, hell will be closed and heaven opened. And for rest of the year, we are inundated with the idea that Shaytan is the cause of disharmony, evil actions, or God forbid a wife who is fed up with the lack of presence from a husband… cause you know us women, we really do not have a mind of our own. Does anyone see the fallacy of this?
Yes, I am sure Shaytan is real, but I do not prescribe to the belief it is one created being. Islam is full of analogies and poetic descriptions and Shaytan is one. What Shaytan is, is the evil that ferments in a heart that is not tended to and purified through introspection, meditation and right intention. The core of a person is their humanity and this is not achieved ritualistic actions; no it takes digging within, being honest with what is in your own self, not focusing on the faults of others.
However, how nice it must be to see Shaytan as an entity outside of ourselves; how easy it is to blame him. If we keep up with that charade, we never have to answer for our foul attitudes, rude behavior and lowly ethics. When there is a problem in our marriage, we can say Shaytan caused it. When we backbite people, Shaytan made us do it. We do not like the way someone treats us, oh must be Shaytan whispering in our ear. We are absolved of any responsibility as long as we can blame Shaytan.
Novel idea: see how many hellish things continue on this earth during Ramadan. Do people stop killing each other? Do people stop stealing? Do people stop doing anything that is remotely wrong? No! So, if Shaytan is locked up and the gates of hell are closed and the gates of heaven are open… should this not be the closest to heaven on earth?… if it is we are all in trouble.
Perhaps, Shaytan is a metaphor for what is fermenting in our hearts. It just could be that during Ramadan, Allah chooses to even more merciful to us and limits the growth of what is wicked within us. The gates of hell being locked and the gates of heaven being open is Allah’s way of not only forgiving us, but pardoning us, for that which festers inside us all.
We are not angels, but mere human beings that are as flawed as the day is long. Instead of believing we are above this and becoming arrogant, humble yourself to the idea that there is room for much improvement… a painting undone. The brush strokes being what we create through self-evaluation and improvement.
This Ramadan, please take the fasting for what it should be… a way to purify and cleanse you of the residing evil inside. Do not spend your time looking out at others. Do not be selfish with the food and hoard stuff for later because you need to eat all night to get through the day. Do not spend your fasting hours sleeping the day away.
Make this a time that you grow empathy, love and logic. Learn to control your temper over nonsensical things, such as the game system, the car, the sports games. Yet, do get angry when you see the local store wasting good drinking water on sprinklers soaking the pavement midday. Think of those who have less than you and be grateful for what you do have. Befriend the poor and learn from them… .like how to laugh in pure joy over the simplest of it all. Above all else, exude peace and love for your fellow living creatures…. all of them, not just the Muslims.