By Hanif Nu’Man, ICWJ board member
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar. During this month Muslims all over the world are obliged to observe fasting from the break of dawn to sunset; meaning do not eat or drink or have intimate relations. The fast is compulsory for those who are mentally and physically fit, past the age of puberty, and living in a settled situation (not traveling). The Quran, says of fasting,
“O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those who were before you, in order that you may learn piety and God Consciousness.” (2:183)
Islam is connected to economic justice at both the micro and macro levels. As Muslims, we all strive to imitate the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him), internalizing his outstanding character and behavior. Whenever the Prophet (pbuh) stepped out of his house, he would say, “O Allah! I seek refuge in You from leading or being led astray, or against slipping or being caused to slip; or doing injustice or being done injustice; or doing wrong or having wrong done to me.” Every Muslim has a duty to guard against injustice, as either the perpetrator or victim of it.
At the macro level, Islam is rooted in a moral foundation that demands justice for all people, regardless of their religion, race or class. Take for example the covenant that Umar al Khattib (may Allah be pleased with him) gave to the Christians and Jews who lived in amongst the Muslims when he was Caliph. “We have given them a covenant that we shall leave them and they shall worship freely in their churches and synagogues therein whatever manner they want. And we will not overburden them, making them pay more than what they are able to pay (a tax called jizyah paid by non-Muslims living under Muslim protection). And if an enemy wants to harm them we will fight on their behalf. We would allow them to appoint judges among themselves and to have their own separate legal system except that they choose voluntarily to come to our courts. And if they stay away from us we will not harm them.”
These legal accommodations made by Muslims for minorities amongst them speak to an obligation to guard against social and religious anarchy. Muslims have an obligation to uphold the moral fabric and background of one’s belief system. Today’s economy is devoid of a just moral compass; instead, rules and regulations are driven by profit over people. May Ramadan be a season of readjusting our compas toward justice. During the fast, Muslims will reflect on efforts to ensure justice for all people and to redeem one’s self by coming closer to Almighty Allah.