Saturday, May 26, 2018

Roza: The Wisdom of Fasting

In this blessed month of Ramadan, it is very important for us to understand the wisdom and lessons we need to draw from this month, so that these blessings will continue even after the month of Ramadan. There are wisdoms and important lessons at all levels, but unfortunately many Muslims do not take this month into consideration and do not give it the value it deserves, while it is a blessing for us (for our own well-being) even in its physical, moral, spiritual and/ or worldly aspect. It reminds me of a Hadith where a companion (Sahabi) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “Do not let it happen that your fasting day and the day you do not fast be the same.” [as if a normal act for you, reaping no benefits whatsoever].

Which means that your behaviours, attitudes, and appearances must be similar, whether you fast or not, and that the bad actions you used to do when you were not fasting, such as, watching TV, backbiting, spying, fighting, swearing (saying foul words), talking a lot, not praying at the prescribed time, not reading the Quran, not doing the Zikrullah (i.e. not remembering Allah), playing computer games or games of chance/ gambling etc. Well, in the month of Ramadan you have to get away from all that and replace them with good deeds that will please Allah. Remember Allah often, read the Holy Qur’an, make additional prayers, help the poor, control your tongues so as not to say nonsense/ foul words, and not to lie, otherwise your fasting will be rejected by Allah (swt).

Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an: “The month of Ramadan (is that) in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it!” (Al-Baqara 2: 186).

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Islam is built on five (pillars): bearing witness that there is no god except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establishing prayer, paying Zakah, Hajj and fasting Ramadan.” (Bukhari, Muslim).

And he (pbuh) also said: The month of Ramadan has come, a blessed month in which Allah the Exalted has obligated you to fast. In it the gates of the heavens are opened, and in it the gates of Hellfire are closed, and in it the devils are chained, and in it is a night that is better than a thousand months. Thus, whoever is deprived of its good is truly deprived. (An-Nasai).

Fasting helps us to acquire piety, as Allah commands us in the Qur’an: “O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.” (Al-Baqara 2: 184).

When chaos (fitna) appears, extinguish it with piety (Taqwa). What is Taqwa? It is to abandon disobedience to Allah, out of fear for Him (Allah). This is the best definition of piety towards Allah (Taqwa).

For every action there must be a beginning and a goal. And an action will not be considered an action of obedience, or close to Allah if it is not started by pure Iman (faith) and trust in Allah. Our actions should not be guided by our habits or desires, or with the intention to receive honour or praise, but on the contrary, they must be fulfilled to please Allah and to gain His rewards. Fasting is a way of acquiring piety (Taqwa), because it prevents us from doing the sins that we used to do when we were still ignorant. That is why the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Fasting is a shield with which a servant protects himself from the Fire.” (Ahmad).

We must ask ourselves, after each day of fasting: Did this fast make me have more fear for Allah and become more obedient to Him? Did it help us to get away from sins and disobedience?

In the blessed month of Ramadan, let us seek the nearness of Allah, for we must get closest to Allah (swt), and we will be able to reach Allah by performing the obligatory acts, and also by doing the Qur’anic recitation and reflecting on its meanings, increasing goodness and doing more charity, and (without forgetting) making requests/ supplications/ duas to Allah. Our efforts in performing acts of devotion (Ibadat) during this blessed month must be accomplished in great numbers, more than during the other months, because it is for the month of Ramadan that Allah has defined a superiority and has put therein more rewards. At each Laila-tul-Qadr (Night of Power) - the night which is better than a thousand months - go to spiritual gatherings and make efforts in such actions that will make your hearts gain Allah’s closeness and seek His forgiveness. and His mercy.

Also the great way to get closer to Allah in this (blessed) month is to do the Itikaaf (spiritual retreat). Allah has also prescribed the Itikaaf for us, with the aim that our heart may be completely concerned with the thought of Allah, that we focus on Him alone, not on creation. Our heart must only be occupied by Allah, where it is filled with the love of Allah. We remember Him (Allah), we turn to Him so that He takes the place of the fears and worries that afflicted our heart, and so we fight all that. So all our thoughts become for Allah, and our mind is engulfed in His remembrance and we just have the concern of seeking how to get closer to Him, and make Him become the Being we love most, more than anything or anybody else.

Fasting helps to acquire Sabr (patience). Allah (swt) mentioned Sabr (patience) nearly a hundred times in the Qur’an. The month of patience is the month of Ramadan. Fasting is synonymous with patience because it prevents us from eating, drinking, having conjugal relations and sexual desires. Fasting is a way to learn to control oneself and gain patience. With patience we can strengthen our resolve to worship Allah with sincerity, and also to control our lives. With patience we can hold back our anger so as not to spoil our fast and where Allah can reject it. Those who incite us to anger, we must take patience (a beautiful patience), because we shall receive a reward for it. (Insha-Allah).

In this month, we must try to develop a firm resolve to perform the acts of obedience, to arm ourselves with patience, to have certainty in the words of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). There is a saying of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) which is as follows: “And know that victory comes with patience, relief with affliction, and hardship with ease.” (Ahmad).

So, armed with patience we must restrain our soul from gluttony and pettiness and also give some of our wealth as Zakat. With patience we can stifle the diseases of our soul which has been attracted by the attractions of this world. Insha-Allah. May Allah (swt) help us and forgive us if we ever make mistakes during this blessed month. Ameen, Summa Ameen, Ya Rabbul Aalameen.

---Extracts from the Friday Sermon of 25 May 2018 (09 Ramadan 1439 AH) delivered by Muhyi-ud-Din Al Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius.