Sunday, July 20, 2014

'Fasting is a Shield against Evil'

Yaaa-’ayyu-hallaziina ‘aamanuu kutiba ‘alay-kumus-Siyaamu kamaa kutiba ‘alal lazina min qablikum la-’alla-kum tatta-quun.

O you who believe! Fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become righteous.” (2: 184).

The word ‘Siyaam’ (fasting) as mentioned in the Holy Quran can also be called ‘Sawm’, which means to abstain from something’. Abstaining from something does not mean only abstaining from food and drink, no! It also refers to abstaining from vain talks/too much talking; for on the contrary you should concentrate more on Quran reading as well as its translation, concentrate on the remembrance of Allah (Zikrullah) and supplications (duas). Abstention should also be made of sleep, whereby you devote yourself to the voluntary additional prayers when you are fasting during the day. During this period, therefore abstention should also be made of sexual relation with your spouses, and you must learn to control your carnal desires (nafs) and your tongue. This also allows you to multiply more good deeds, help the poor and spend a lot in charity.

When you learn to understand this verse of the Quran (the above-mentioned verse) and you reflect on it, you shall see (deduce) that all the good deeds done in this blessed month (Ramadan) are all acts of worship which a believer does and he does it sincerely for Allah alone. He (the believer) accepts to abstain from all things which were usually licit for him during the previous eleven months and which are made (temporary) illicit for him from before sunrise till after sunset.

When you read the Quran, in the chapter Al-Baqara, Allah Himself makes us understand that it was during the month of Ramadan that the Perfect Book (that is, the Holy Quran) was revealed as guidance for humanity and not only for a people/nation, and these revelations were sent down in clear verses, and from this we get to know that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and Islam also was a universal prophet and religion respectively. Its teachings and commandments also are universal for whole mankind. When you read the Holy Quran, especially the chapter Al-Baqara, you shall see how Allah (swt) loves His creatures (mankind) and how He, Allah (swt) has planned to guide man and especially the believers to observe fasting and what rules they are to follow. If a believer follows these divine commandments and understand the importance of fasting, therefore, he shall amply benefit from its observance.

I have heard several times this Hadith of the Noble Prophet (pbuh) reported by Hazrat Abu Huraira (ra), especially during the month of Ramadan, and which is found in Bukhari Shariff that “Fasting is a Shield”. A shield is something which protects from anything which causes harm. Therefore fasting is a shield for the believer to protect him from all evils and blunders. He therefore obtains from it training, for one month which shall help him throughout the remaining eleven months to ward off evils and errors which Allah (swt) has forbidden him. This assures him protection throughout the year and it also enables him to understand the sufferings and miseries of the poor who are deprived of food and drink for several days. When you have tasted this suffering, you shall be ready to spend the money which Allah (swt) has provided you with on these people, to help them out of their sufferings. At the same time, this enables you to do good deeds to please Allah (swt) and therefore the rewards which Allah has reserved for you shall be doubled, more than that.

There is a Hadith narrated by Hazrat Umar (ra) which reports the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) as saying: “The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

How then does someone intent to fast? When he wakes up in the morning to take his pre-dawn meal (Sehri), or before he goes to sleep at night after having the firm intention to wake up to fast the next day. He therefore reads the following formula in his heart: “Wa bi-sawmi ghadim nawaytu min shahri Ramazwana” I have the intention to observe fasting during the month of Ramadan. He thus affirms his intention during the night or before waking up to take his pre-dawn meal (Sehri). Allah (swt) has made it clear from the verses of the Quran revealed to His Prophet (pbuh) during the month of Ramadan and also through the sayings and behaviour of our beloved prophet Muhammad (pbuh). An example:

A Hadith narrated by Hazrat Abu Huraira (ra) reported that the prophet of Allah has said: “If one does not eschew lies and false conduct, Allah has no need that he should abstain from his food and his drink.” (Bukhari).

There are deeds which someone does when fasting, and it happens that he goes beyond the prescribed limit and has sexual relations while in the state of fasting. That person needs to replace his fast, but at the same time he has an expiation to do, and if he cannot, he has to free a slave, and he is unable to do so, he needs to observe fasting for 60 consecutive days, and that also is not possible, he needs to feed 60 poor people as he usually feeds his own family.

I have many times given that advice, and I repeat it again, maximize the blessings of this blessed month, up to the limit which Allah (swt) enables you to, when He gave you that opportunity this year (again). Seize this opportunity, for you never know if you shall be alive again for the next Ramadan. We need to remember Allah a lot, supplicate Allah and His forgiveness.

This is a golden opportunity for the believers to recall Allah and supplicate Him, especially during the specific time when it is more probable that these invocations be heard. Before breaking the fast, one must invoke/supplicate Allah and ask of Him for His forgiveness. The supplications of a faster are not rejected at these moments. Ponder over that Hadith which is found in the Bukhari Shariff whereby Nabi Kareem (pbuh) said:

Our Lord, the Blessed, the Superior, comes every night down on the nearest Heaven to us when the last third of the night remains, saying:

“Is there anyone to invoke Me, so that I may respond to invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me, so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone seeking My forgiveness, so that I may forgive him?” (Bukhari).

Therefore, before ending, let us all together during this blessed month, ask of Allah for His forgiveness because it is Allah who is All-Forgiving and Ever Merciful, and it is Him who gives best provisions. Tread on the path of Allah, please Allah and verily Allah is filled with goodness for all those who turn to Him with all sincerity. Insha-Allah, Ameen. 

-Friday Sermon of July 11, 2014 delivered by the Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Sahib (atba) of Mauritius