Quarterly: Issue No 40
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WHERE TO FROM RAMADAAN?
Allah – the Most High – said: "The month of Ramadaan in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadaan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Saum (fasts) that month" [Surah al-Baqarah 2:185]
Allah’s Messenger, Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, said:
"Islam is built upon five: Testifying that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establishing the Prayer, giving the Zakaah, performing Hajj to the House of Allah, and fasting in Ramadaan." (Bukhari and Muslim)
Our beloved Prophet also said: "There has come to you Ramadaan, a blessed month, in which Allah has made it obligatory to fast. During it the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hellfire are closed, and the rebellious devils are chained. In it is a night (Laylatul-Qadr) which is better than a thousand months. He who is deprived of its good truly has been deprived." (Saheeh: Nisaa’ee). But what are the lessons that we should have learnt from the blessed month of fasting?
[A] GAINING TAQWA:
Fasting has been legislated in order that we may gain Taqwa, as Allah – the Exalted – says: "O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious)". [Surah al-Baqarah 2:183]
Talq ibn Habeeb rahimahullah said: "When fitnah (trial and tribulation) appears then extinguish it with Taqwa." So he was asked as to what Taqwa was, and he replied: "Taqwa is to act in obedience to Allah, upon a light (i.e. Imaan, faith) from Allah, hoping in the Mercy of Allah. And Taqwa is leaving the acts of disobedience to Allah, upon a light from Allah, due to the fear of Allah." (Kitaab-ul-Imaan of ibn Abi Shaybah).
This is one of the best definitions of Taqwa. For every action must have both a starting point and a goal. And an action will not be considered as an act of obedience, or nearness to Allah, unless it starts from pure Imaan (faith in Allah). Thus it is pure Imaan – and not habits, desires, nor seeking praise or fame, nor its like – that should be what initiates a good deed. And the goal of the deed should be to earn the reward of Allah and to seek His good pleasure. So fasting is a means of attaining Taqwa, since it helps prevent from many sins that one is usually prone to. Due to this, our beloved Prophet said: "Fasting is a shield with which the servant protects himself from the Fire." (Musnad of Imam Ahmad). So we should ask ourselves, after the holy month of fasting: Has this fasting made us more fearful and obedient to Allah? Has it helped us in distancing ourselves from sins and disobedience?
[B] SEEKING NEARNESS TO ALLAH:
Our beloved Prophet also said: "Allah said: Whosoever shows enmity to a friend (Walee) of Mine, I shall be at war with him. My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more beloved to Me than the obligatory duties that I have prescribed upon him. My servant continues to draw nearer to Me with optional deeds so that I shall love him." (Bukhari)
Our beloved Prophet also said: "Whosoever reaches the month of Ramadaan and does not have his sins forgiven, and so enters the fire, then may Allah distance him." (Saheeh: Musnad of Imam Ahmad)
So drawing closer to Allah – the Most Perfect – in the blessed month of Ramadaan, can be achieved by fulfilling one’s obligatory duties; and also reciting the Qur’an and reflecting upon its meanings, increasing in kindness and in giving charity, in making du’a (supplication) to Allah and striving in those actions that will cause us to draw closer to our Creator and to gain His forgiveness. Our level of striving in this blessed month of Ramadaan was greater, but this should continue even after Ramadaan.
[C] ACQUIRING PATIENCE:
Imam Ahmad rahimahullah said: "Allah has mentioned sabr (patience) in over ninety places in His Book." (as quoted in Madaarij us-Saalikeen)
Our beloved Prophet said: "The month of Patience, and the three days of every month, are times for fasting." (Saheeh: Ahmad and an-Nasaa’ee )
Ibn Abdul-Barr rahimahullah said: "What is meant by the month of Patience is the month of Ramadan … fasting is called patience because it restrains the soul from eating drinking, conjugal relations and sexual desires." (Kitaab At-Tamheed)
Our beloved Prophet also said: "O young people! Whoever amongst you is able to marry then let him do so; for it restrains the eyes and protects the private parts. But whoever is unable then let him fast, because it will be a shield for him." (Bukhari and Muslim)
So fasting is a means of learning self-restraint and patience. With patience we are able to strengthen our resolve to worship Allah alone, with sincerity, and also cope with life’s ups and downs. For example – with patience we are able to perform our Prayers calmly and correctly, without being hasty, and without merely playing gymnastics on our musalla or masjid. With patience we are able to restrain our souls from greed and stinginess and thus give part of our surplus wealth in Zakaah (obligatory charity). With patience we should be able to subdue the soul’s ill temperament, and thus endure the ordeal and hardships of Hajj, without losing tempers and behaving badly. Likewise, with patience we are able to stand firm and fight Jihaad against the disbelievers, hypocrites and heretics – withstanding their constant onslaught, without wavering and buckling, without despairing or being complacent, and without becoming hasty and impatient at the first signs of hardship.
Allah – the Exalted – said: "O Prophet (Muhammad)! Urge the believers to fight… Now Allah has lightened your (task), for He knows that there is weakness in you. So if there are of you a hundred steadfast persons, they shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a thousand of you, they shall overcome two thousand with the Permission of Allah. And Allah is with As-Saabireen (the patient ones, etc.)." [Surah al-Anfaal 8:65-66]. Thus, without knowledge and patience, nothing remains, except zeal and uncontrolled emotions, shouts and hollow slogans, speech that does not strengthen, but rather weakens, and actions that do not build, but rather destroy. So we should strive to develop a firm resolve for doing acts of obedience, and to adorn ourselves with patience – having certainty in the saying of our Messenger Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam: "And know that victory comes with patience, relief with affliction, and ease with hardship." (Saheeh: Ahmad & Tabaraani)
[D] CULTIVATING GOOD MANNERS
Our beloved Prophet said: "Whosoever does not abandon falsehood in speech and action during his fast, then Allah the Mighty and Majestic has no need that he should leave his food and drink." (Bukhaari)
Our beloved Prophet also said: "Fasting is not merely abstaining from eating and drinking. Rather, it is also abstaining from ignorant and indecent speech. So if anyone abuses or behaves ignorantly with you, then say: I am fasting, I am fasting." (Saheeh: Ibn Khuzaymah and al-Haakim)
These narrations point towards the importance of truthfulness and good manners. Thus, this blessed month of Ramadaan taught us not only to abstain from food and drink, but to also abstain from such statements and actions that may be the cause of harming people and violating their rights – since the Messenger Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said whilst describing the true Believer: "A Muslim is one from whom other Muslims are safe from his tongue and his hand." (Bukhari and Muslim). Thus it is upon us as individuals, to examine the shortcomings in our character, and to then seek to improve them – modelling ourselves upon the character of the last of the Prophets and Messengers, and their leader, Muhammad Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam – aspiring also for the excellence which he mentioned in his saying: "I am a guarantor for a house on the outskirts of Paradise for whoever leaves off arguing, even if he is in right; and a house in the centre of Paradise for whosoever abandons falsehood, even when joking; and a house in the upper-most of Paradise for whosoever makes his character good." (Saheeh: Abu Dawood and al-Bayhaqee). So by shunning oppression, shamelessness, harbouring hatred towards Muslims, back-biting, slandering, tale-carrying, and other types of falsehood, we can be saved from nullifying the rewards of our fasting – as Allah’s Messenger said: "It may be that a fasting person receives nothing from his fast, except hunger and thirst." (Saheeh: Tirmizi)
[E] ENFORCING MUSLIM UNITY:
Our beloved Prophet said: "Fast when they fast, and break your fast when they break their fast, and sacrifice the day they sacrifice." (Saheeh: Tirmizi)
Imam at-Tirmizi rahimahullah said: "Some of the People of Knowledge explained this hadeeth by saying: Its meaning is to fast and break the fast along with the jamaa`ah and the majority of people." (Jaami at-Tirmizi)
Therefore, in the blessed month of Ramadaan, we sensed an increased feeling of unity and of being a single Ummah due to our fasting and breaking our fast collectively. We also feel an increased awareness about the state of affairs of the Muslims and of the hardships that they endure, because during the fast, a Muslim feels and experiences what his needy and hungry brothers and sisters feel, who are forced to go without food and drink for many days – as occurs today to many of the Muslims in Africa. Indeed, the unity of the Muslims – and their helping and assisting one another – is one of the great fundamentals upon which the Religion of Islam is built, as Allah – the Most High – said: "And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah (i.e. this Qur'an), and be not divided among yourselves." [Surah Aal Imraan 3:103]. Allah – the Most High – also said: "The believers, men and women, are Auliya' (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another." [Surah al-Tawbah 9:71]
The welfare of people will not be complete – neither in this world, nor in the Hereafter – except with ijtimaa (collectiveness), ta`aawun (mutual co-operation), and tanaasur (mutual help). Mutual co-operation in order to secure benefits, and mutual help in order to ward off harm. It is for this reason that man is said to be social and civil by nature.
Thus we see that Islam lays great importance in bringing hearts together and encouraging ijtimaa (collectiveness). This is not only reflected in the month of Ramadaan, but also in the other acts of worship as well. For example, we have been ordered by our beloved Prophet to pray the five daily Prayers in congregation, and that it has been made twenty-seven times more rewarding than praying it individually (Bukhari and Muslim). Likewise, this similar collective spirit is demonstrated in the Hajj (Pilgrimage). Even in acquiring knowledge and studying it, blessings have been placed in collectiveness, as Allah’s Messenger said: "No people gather in a house from the houses of Allah, reciting the Book of Allah and studying it amongst themselves, except that tranquillity descends upon them, mercy envelops them, the angels surround him, and Allah mentions them to those that are with Him." (Muslim). Likewise, even in our everyday actions such as eating, Islam teaches us collectiveness. Thus, when some of the Companions of the Prophet said to him: O Messenger of Allah, we eat but to do not become satisfied. He replied: "Perhaps you eat individually?" They replied: Yes! So he said: "Eat collectively and mention the name of Allah. There will then be blessings for you in it." (Abu Dawood). Indeed, even in the etiquettes of sitting the spirit of collectiveness is mentioned in the Ahadith.
Thus, the days of Ramadaan were the time to increase our sense of unity and brotherhood, and our commitment to Allah and His Religion. And there is no doubt that this sense of unity necessitates that we work together as required by Islam as sincere brothers – not due to hizbiyyah (bigoted party spirit), nor sectarianism – in order to realize that which is of benefit to the Islamic Ummah and to establish the Islamic society that every Muslim aspires for – so that the Shari’ah (Prescribed Law) of Allah is applied upon His earth. So we must examine ourselves even after the month of Ramadaan and ask: What is my role – and each of us has a role – in helping this precious Ummah to regain its honour, and return to the Ummah its comprehensive unity and strength, and victory that has been promised to it? Likewise, we should reflect upon our character and actions and ask: Are they helping the process of unity and brotherhood, or are they a harm and a hindrance to it?
We ask Allah to grant us the ability to change ourselves for the better in our daily lifestyle, even after the month of Ramadaan, and not to be of those who are prevented from His Mercy and Forgiveness. Indeed He is the only One who Hears us and He is the only One who Responds to our call. Ameen!
CRY OF THE NOBLE QUR'AN
As an ornament do they adorn me,
Yet they keep me and sometimes kiss me.
In their celebrations they recite me,
In disputes they swear by me,
On shelves do they securely keep me
Till another celebration or dispute,
When they need me.
Yes, they read me and memorize me,
Yet only an ornament am I..
My message lies neglected,
My treasure untouched,
The field lies bare, where blossomed once true glory.
Wrong is the treatment I receive
So much to give I, but none is there to receive.
I request your humble du'aas.
Abdul Haq Abdul Kadir
Umhlanga Rocks, KZN