Saturday, June 4, 2016

Ramadan: Fasting and Obedience

“Fasting & Obedience”:

By the grace of Allah, we are going to enter once again in the extremely holy and sacred month of Ramadan. First of all, we need to thank Allah the Almighty who has given us this great boon and enabled us to receive this month once again. This is indeed such a month which is worth a whole lifetime. And it is Allah Almighty who gives us this assurance. To better understand the importance and worth of this month and to help us benefit from this blessed month to the maximum, Allah says in the Holy Quran, in the Surah Al-Baqara, Verses 184-187:

O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard (against evil). For a certain number of days; but whoever among you is sick or on a journey, then (he shall fast) a (like) number of other days; and those who are not able to do it may effect a redemption by feeding a poor man; so whoever does good spontaneously it is better for him; and that you fast is better for you if you know. The month of Ramadan is that in which the Quran was revealed, a guidance to men and clear proofs of the guidance and the distinction; therefore whoever of you is present in the month, he shall fast therein, and whoever is sick or upon a journey, then (he shall fast) a (like) number of other days; Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you difficulty, and (He desires) that you should complete the number and that you should exalt the greatness of Allah for His having guided you and that you may give thanks. And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me, so they should answer My call and believe in Me that they may walk in the right way.

Let’s analyse what Allah is telling us (in these verses):

Oh you people who have faith (Iman), Oh you believers, We have made fasting (Sawm/ Roza) obligatory upon you like We made it obligatory upon the people or nations before you.

‘la-’alla-kum tatta-quun’ – so that you may guard (against evil), so that you may tread on the right path, so that you may have Taqwa (fear of Allah).

This fasting for a determined numbers of days and those who are travelling or are sick, then they shall have to replace the missing fasts afterwards. And those people who have the means, (as expiation) they need to feed a poor.

Here, having the means signifies having the ability to feed a poor. Thus, those who are have the means must expiate the missing fasts in this way. Another meaning is that those who cannot observe the fast even afterwards (after the Holy Month of Ramadan), they have to give food to a poor person as expiation. And if someone does good by his own efforts (not through any coercion whatsoever), then this shall be best for him. But if people knew the excellent results which are derived from observing the fasts (of Ramadan), then they would have done it without hesitation. In other words, Allah is telling you, telling us, that fasting is best for us.

Here I have not deliberately translated the word ‘tatawwa’ because this word contains two meanings. And both meanings are allowed (are sound) according to the Arabic grammar. One meaning is that one who shall do optional good deeds (voluntarily), then it shall be best for him.

In that translation, there are also some problems for before that it has been stated (in the verses mentioned) that those who are sick or are on a journey, they need to observe the fasts later on. Now, if we say that the one who from his own will makes voluntary optional good deeds, it shall indeed be good for him. But then attention is drawn to the fact that even though permission has been granted (by Allah) not to observe the fasts of Ramadan, but even if you are sick or on a journey (travelling), if you observe the fast it shall be best for you for it becomes an optional good deed for you.

Therefore, this word in this verse has also this meaning, but the problem is that at the time of the Farz (obligatory), one cannot do the voluntary (Nafl). If it is the time for Farz, then it is Farz which one needs to do. There is no such conception that the Nafl can replace the Farz. Therefore, it is impossible that in the time of voluntary (Nafl) fasts, one observes the obligatory (Farz) fasts. This shall create a problem, a contradiction. Therefore this signification indeed does not apply for the situation mentioned in this specific verse.

The second meaning/ translation of “Faman-tatawwa-’akhay-ran fahuwa khayrullahu”, is that the one who does good in a spirit of obedience (to Allah), then this shall be best for him. Meaning that, the good deed is in fact another name for obedience. One keeps the spirit of obedience in mind and afterwards he does good, and thus this in fact is the accomplishment of true good deeds, and this shall (inevitably) be best for you. 

There is a fatwa (ruling) of Hazrat Massih Ma’ud (as) – Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad – in which he stated that if someone is sick or on a journey during the month of Ramadan, therefore, it is not a good deed for him if he observes the fast. When Allah the Almighty has said that those fasts would have to be replaced later on, therefore, the good deed is found in none other than obedience (to His commands). And obedience demands that if someone is on a journey, then he needs not observe the fast on the spot (during Ramadan), but afterwards.

Therefore, the second translation or meaning is perfectly applicable (here in these verses) and there is no objection which can be raised like for the first translation/ meaning. A Quran commentator mentioned both meanings. He distinguished between someone who does good deeds which are not obligatory and the one who does good deeds only through obedience (to Allah). Thus, the translation as being “obedience” is more appropriate for the subject-matter of these verses. The last part of the verse which stipulates that fasting is best for you if only you knew, then this is applicable to the month of Ramadan only. It does not have a general application like the previous subjects mentioned. Allah the Almighty says, if you do not know, then it is another matter, but if you know it perfectly well (concerning the fasts of Ramadan), you shall therefore reach the conclusion that the fasts of Ramadan are indeed best for you.

Afterwards, Allah the Almighty says that the month of Ramadan is the month during which the Quran had been revealed for humanity with clear proofs concerning the right guidance and the distinction (between good and evil). Therefore, the one who is present in his home needs to fast. But the one who is sick or is on a journey, he shall have to replace those missing fasts at a later time. Allah desires ease for you all and does not desire privation for you. He wants you to complete the (appointed) number of days (in fasting) and that you glorify Allah and thank Him for it is indeed Allah who has guided you.

I have many times meditated (reflected upon) this verse and I reached the conclusion that, the Holy Quran, like you all know, was revealed in the month of Ramadan. And the Quran has been revealed for the month of Ramadan or about the month of Ramadan. We cannot say that it was only in the month of Ramadan that the Quran had been revealed. But yes, it is true that during the course of each Ramadan, Hazrat Jibreel (as) used to come to Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) to make him recite the parts of the Quran which had been already revealed.

I thus end on this note today, and Insha-Allah, may Allah the Almighty give me the Tawfiq to continue on the same subject in my sermon next Friday. And I pray that Allah the Almighty give us all good health and courage to maximize the benefits of this blessed month of Ramadan. Insha-Allah. I wish to all of you, RAMADAN MUBARAK

----Friday Sermon of 03 June 2016 ~(27 Shaban 1437 AH) delivered by Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius. 

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