Ramadan Reflections: Reflections of an Ex-Punk

By Ashari
My muslim colleague and I had a sense of intrigue when we were asked: “What is the purpose of fasting?” It brought us both to reflect upon this gracious month that Allah has honoured us with. “It’s a time for us to reflect within ourselves as well as to acknowledge externally those that are in need more than us.” – as aptly as we could put it.
The questions we are thrown with give us a sense of representation as though we are presenting ourselves on behalf of a broader group – a community. There we were at a workplace, representing our company to provide service to our customer in their premises as part of our day-to-day service delivery role. It brought to mind the same scenario we were being put in – as muslims in the broader Australian community that has harmoniously given us the liberty to practice our religion. It is a great blessing often unacknowledged which we take for granted. Allah has given us this beautiful co-existence, graciously giving communities the opportunity to learn from one another. Whether our answer would serve to open a deeper inquisition within into the question asked or simply fulfil the questioner’s long-held wonders or doubts – ultimately the purpose of bridging that communal gap is presented and achieved.
It made me reflect on when I had my inquisitions upon enquiring about Islam close to 20 years ago. I was at an age where I was torn between wanting to understand myself and my society, not being able to bridge the two. Why was there constant conflict and unachievable expectation out there in society? I just couldn’t come to terms with it. I searched and stumbled upon punk music. It became my solace because it gave me a sense of belonging. Everyone that was in the punk scene had those same questions and we felt connected to each other through it. We chanted lyrics and wrote songs about it. We built a community representing it. But while we connected through the questioning of society, we failed to produce one vital thing. An answer! Nobody had an answer! So the thirst grew stronger and bonded us but it never quenched us.
Until the moment I remember sitting around a table with my fellow punk mates and questioned them – so you guys are born muslims but you’re into an ideology that questions the upbringing of your values. How is that?
They were afraid it would come to this moment of confrontation and looked down in humility, explaining to me that while they were born muslim, their current state does not represent Islam and that if I was keen to know more I should enquire from a religious institute instead of through them. This was a moment that perplexed me and made me witness the true representation of a muslim – a person who would do his best to not tarnish the name of his religion through his own deficient actions. That even if he was doing the opposite of what his religion encouraged him to do, when asked, he would disassociate his faulty actions from it. This was the purity that I saw within these scenesters who were more muslim to themselves than they thought they were punks!
That was the witnessing that sparked my inquisition into Islam. It was one of representation. How do we represent this religion to others and how do we represent our own actions to ourselves?
May Allah allow us to be true reflectors of His most beloved representation of all mankind, Sayyidina Muhammad (may the peace and blessings if Allah be upon him).

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Imam al Ghazali’s magnum opus, “The Revival of the Religious Sciences”, is one of the greatest classical Islamic texts of all time. Overflowing with gems of spiritual wisdom and Light, the Ihya has been singled out as the book that, after the Quran, suffices for the spiritual guidance of the Muslims today. This class focuses on Chapters 13 – 15 of the Ihya, which discuss in greater depth the keys to material and spiritual prosperity, as well as the value of companionship on the path to Allah.

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