AFTER a month of fasting, Muslims the world over begin celebrating their control over worldly desires. They not only restricted their cravings for food to experience how the poor live but more importantly, they learnt about living a humble life.
The process of fasting can be likened to washing a very dirty cloth. Over a period of time, even the cleanest linen will get stained after frequent use. It needs a good scrubbing and thumping to be thoroughly clean again. The “dirty cloth” referred to here is our own heart, which may be full of undesirable elements collected over the past year.
STAINS OF OUR HEARTS
There are many kinds of stains that could taint our heart. Chief among them are envy, greed, ego and prejudice. These are clear signs that the heart is not clean and the one tainted will never experience true happiness in life.
Before we start blaming others, let’s look at ourselves first. Let’s take envy as an example. How many times have we felt genuinely happy for someone’s good fortune without the slightest tinge of envy? What about the time we felt that justice was done when someone we didn’t like was going through some problem? Chances are, every one of us have experienced envy at some point in our lives.
It is also common to feel that we are always right. Ego and pride will always get in the way. This is especially true for those who hold some sort of authority over another such as bosses to employees, leaders to their people, and even parents to their children. We often hear of cases of abuse of power. This is yet another sign that their hearts may not be as clean.
No matter what the excuses are, there are no justifications for envy and abuse of power. Envy can only damage the soul when one constantly worries about what others are getting. Worse still, some even take “extra steps” to bring their enemies down, a scene not unusual in the office or in the business world where deceit, manipulation and back-stabbing become the agenda of the day.
Back home, many parents also succumb to this. They rule with an iron fist without any care as to their children’s feelings. Home becomes a battleground without much love and happiness in it.
DETERGENTS OF LIFE
We sometimes forget that the real enemies are not out there but within us. But fighting them is not that easy. The fasting month provides an opportunity to tame the heart and purge these out. For about 30 days, we are taught how to be patient, humble and considerate to fellow human beings. Rich or poor, powerful or otherwise, everyone learns to control their desires. In doing so, they clean their hearts by rediscovering the true meaning of compassion, humility and love.
The new discoveries act as a powerful detergent to rinse any remaining stains inside. Yes, the process may be harsh and uncomfortable, but one must scrub hard to remove the most stubborn stains. If no new contaminants are introduced, very soon the heart can become pure and clean again.
THE ULTIMATE HAPPINESS
Money, wealth and power are the objectives of many people. While it is not wrong to desire these, it would become destructive when they become the ultimate goals. They are bottomless pits where one can never get enough. They may bring temporary satisfaction and happiness but when the novelty wears off, we find ourselves on the chase again. Many spend their entire lives chasing after them, only to then regret the missed opportunities for real and lasting contentment.
Could the answer lie in chasing after love, compassion and humility instead? These have been proven to provide indescribable joy and give lasting happiness to both giver and receiver. And now is the perfect time to experience these powerful ingredients all over again. Spread the love as we make our long journey home to be with the loved ones.
Push aside envy, prejudice and selfishness as we travel the road to happiness together. Be compassionate to the people in our lives, and even those whom we don’t really like. Find the humility in our hearts to put ourselves in their shoes and truly feel what they feel.
Once we are able to do all these, be grateful that we have probably been successful in scrubbing our hearts clean. Look forward to happier and brighter days ahead, and take some time to celebrate our newfound self. Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri!