Monday, June 5, 2017

Ramadan: Duties beyond Fasting

 Ramadan: A Great Favour 

Alhamdulillah, today is the first Friday of the month of Ramadan and indeed this is a great favour which Allah (swt) has bestowed upon us, Muslims. Fortunate are those who are living this blessed month to the fullest. And fortunate is he who has been able to become closer to Allah in the course of this blessed month and obtain the pleasure and time to purify his soul from all spiritual impurities and to make "a servicing" (a complete clean-up and repair) of his whole body whereby he takes not only a complete spiritual bath, but also a physical bath, keeping his body clean, keeping a good hygiene.

Last week in my Friday Sermon, I had to stop on the second precaution which we (Muslims) have to take to preserve our fast, but due to lack of time and the fact that our members had to go back to work, so it would have been too lengthily seeing the long content of the Friday Sermon.

Fasting Entails Avoidance of 'Makruh'

Therefore, by the grace of Allah, I shall expound today on the rest of the precautions to take, i.e. from the third to sixth precautions which a faster should take to preserve his fast:

3) We need to take lots of precaution so as not to listen to undesirable/ vain/ illicit (Makruh) things. It is also forbidden to listen to words which we do not have the right to pronounce.

For example, between strangers, man and woman, there should not be any Makruh word pronounced, and there should be the observation of the Pardah (Islamic veiling/ segregation).

The Messenger of Allah has said that those kinds of talks/ words are Makruh, and the same goes for Ghibah (backbiting). The backbiter and the one who listens to him/ her, both of them are considered as equal partners in sins.

4) All members of one's body should remain far away from sins and all that which is forbidden. Neither the hands should touch that which is Haram (illicit), nor the feet should march towards that which is illicit. Special precaution should be taken, especially at Iftar (breaking of the fast) time not to consume anything which may be of doubtful source. When someone fasts and breaks his fast with illicit food, he is like a sick person who takes medicines to get back his health, but at the same time he consumes poison along with those medicines which thereafter destroys him.

5) After observing the fast, it is not advisable for us to fill our stomach completely at Iftar time, even with Halal (licit) food because the aim of fasting shall be lost. The aim of keeping fasts is to reduce our physical desires and to reinforce our Iman (faith) and spiritual capabilities. For eleven months we had all the freedom to eat and drink whatever Halal food we liked at any time we wanted, but at least during Ramadan we can reduce our food consumption to the (strict) minimum. For some people, we observe that Ramadan becomes an opportunity for them to increase their appetite (and food intake). Moreover, there are a variety of foods which are placed before us  and which we are not used to consume during the other months (and which tempt us to overindulge in food consumption). This way of consuming food during this (blessed) month is completely against the very spirit of Ramadan and against the aim of fasting.

Besides taking conscience of pangs of hunger, fasting gives us the time to take conscience of difficult conditions and sufferings of poor people and this enables us to have sympathy for them. Our noble prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) said that the best way of eating of man is that he fills his stomach in the following proportion: One third for food, one third for water (liquids) and one third for air.

6) We should always be worried about whether our fasts have been accepted by Allah. The same should be for all our good deeds and acts of worship (Ibaadat). We can never know whether we have missed an important aspect of our deed/s or we ignored it/ them completely. Therefore, we should take precaution lest we commit some wrong in our deeds. A Muslim should always fear lest Almighty Allah rejects his deeds.

This is a consequence of wrong Niyyah (intention). There are a lot of examples on the subject in the Hadiths. Therefore, a faster should always watch over his intention and at the same time fear lest his intention changes. He must  continue to pray to Allah so that his fasts become a source of pleasure for Allah.

Do not talk ill of others

Therefore, take care of your fasts. Do not let Satan deviate you in any situation you may find yourselves; and especially the one concerning Ghibah (backbiting).  Instead of backbiting others you should occupy your tongue in Zikr (i.e. Remembrance) of Allah, reading the Holy Quran, and reading this duah (supplication) a lot: 

"Laa Ilaaha Ilallahu, Astaghfirullah, Allahumma inni as’alukal jannah wa awzubika minan Naar."

(There is no God (to be worshipped) but Allah. I seek forgiveness from Allah (for all my sins). O Allah, I ask of You Paradise and protection from hell-fire.)

O Allah, put a distance between us and such sins which shall cause us harm in this world and the hereafter. Ameen.

Once a Sahabi (i.e. companion) asked the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) about Ghibah (backbiting). 

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: "It is saying something about your brother that he dislikes." 

It was said, “What if what I say about my brother is true?” 

He (pbuh) said, “If what you say is true then you have backbitten him, and if it is not true, then you have slandered him.” 

Evolve Empathy for Others

The worst form of backbiting is slandering one's Muslim brother with a false accusation. Moreover, we need to know that in the month of Ramadan, we should have sympathy for poor people - and this should be a training for the eleven months to come - like preached by Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) in the various Hadiths. 

We have been taught that Ramadan is a month of sharing and brotherhood, especially with the poor and those who are in great difficulties. The spirit of sharing is such a quality which we should live in practice. Even if we are not as generous towards others as we are to ourselves, at least during the Ramadan, we should develop that spirit of sharing. If we have ten snacks/ cakes for Iftar, then we should at least share 3-4 of those with the poor.

Insha-Allah, may Almighty Allah help each one of us in this blessed month and we take care not to lose these divine favours. Insha-Allah. O Allah guide us all on the right path. Ameen.

---- Friday Sermon of 02 June 2017(07 Ramadan 1438 AH) delivered by Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius.