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Productivity in Ramadan 2011 Report

DISCLAIMER: We present here select Quranic and prophetic statements in regards to Ramadan and productivity with sources referenced.  We are not Sharia scholars or that this section has not been reviewed by any scholarly body for comprehensiveness.

 

From a spiritual perspective, the purpose of the Muslim fast has been articulated in the following verse of the Qur’an:

“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint.”[1]

Moreover, the Qur’an mentions that fasting is not meant to be a burden or difficulty for the person, Allah says:

“Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.”[2]

Fasting is not meant to be a physical exercise of self-restraint, but a spiritual exercise of self-restraint from bad deeds and all that goes against the teachings of Islam.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever does not give up false statements (i.e. telling lies), and evil deeds, and speaking bad words to others, Allah is not in need of his (fasting) leaving his food and drink.” [3]

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) emphasized and encouraged extra worship during the month.  He said:

“Ramadan has come to you. (It is) a month of blessing, in which Allah covers you with blessing, for He sends down Mercy, decreases sins and answers prayers. In it, Allah looks at your competition (in good deeds), and boasts about you to His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves, for the unfortunate one is he who is deprived in (this month) of the mercy of Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted.”[4]

These encouraging injunctions to increase worship need also to be balanced by other similar injunctions from the Qur’an and Sayings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that enjoin the Muslim worker to take care of his or her responsibilities and perform duties with utmost care:

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
“God loves that when any one of you does a job, he does it perfectly.”[5]

He (peace be upon him) also said: “He whom we have appointed for a job and have provided with livelihood, then whatever he appropriates beyond this is ill-gotten.”[6]

Historically, Ramadan was a productive time for the advancement of the Ummah, “It is in this noble month that many great events occurred in the history of Islam like the victory of faith over disbelief in the Battle of Badr, the conquest of Makkah, Battle of ‘Ayn Jaaloot and other decisive battles.”[7]

Given the added demands of fasting and extra worship during Ramadan, it is clear why observant Muslim workers may find it difficult to balance Ramadan’s spiritual demands with work and family responsibilities.

As for employers, how far should they go to accommodate their Muslim workers’ spiritual demands?  Saif Bin Rashid Al Gabiri, Director of Ifta and Research Administration in the Dubai Department of Islamic Affairs and Awqaf, summarizes the issue succinctly: “The month of Ramadan is a month of performing rituals, praying and fasting. However, working is part of worshipping. The Sharia does not force the employer to reduce working hours. There is no clause that says working hours must be reduced. On the other hand, Muslims must get time to fulfill their religious duties.”[8]

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[1] Holy Qur’an, Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #183, Yusuf Ali Translation.

[2] Holy Qur’an, Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #185, Yusuf Ali Translation.

[3] Sahih Bukhari, Book #73, Hadith #83.

[4] Narrated by Tabarani.

[5] Bayhaqi’s Shu’ab al-iman by Suyuti, v.1, p. 75

[6] Abu Dawud, v. 2, p.121

[7] Ramadan and Eeman (Faith) by ‘Alî Abd-ur-Rahmân al-Hudhaifî, Islamic Network:  http://www.islaam.net/main/display.php?id=369&category=130

[8] “Is work during Ramadan worship?” Spero News, accessed August 22, 2011, http://www.speroforum.com/a/2064/Is-work-during-Ramadan-worship

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