Friday, July 19, 2013

Reality and Obligation in Ramadan

During this Ramadan do not let the sweetness of our deeds 
vanish into the night, leaving only emptiness.

When one contemplates the texts on fasting, its wisdom and 
goals in Shariah (Islamic Law), and looks at the reality of 
the Muslim communities, one realizes a wide gap between 
the reality and our obligations.

Remember that Ramadan is a bounty that Allah (SWT) blessed 
His servants with, to strengthen their faith, and increase their 
piety (Taqwa). 

Allah (SWT) said: 

"O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was 
prescribed for those before you, that you may become pious." 
(Holy Quran 2:183)

This is an attempt to present the essential causes of this gap 
and to some remedies. Primary reason for the gap is ignorance 
about the goals of fasting and the wisdom behind it. 

Many Muslims ignore the purpose and wisdom of fasting. 
Fasting is done merely to conform to the social environment 
without contemplation. If one is not aware of the divine wisdom 
of Shariah (Islamic Law) and its fruits in this world and in the 
hereafter, one will not apply it in the right way.

Goals of Ramadan Fasting:

1)Achieving piety (Taqwa)

Taqwa is one of the most important wisdom of fasting. 
Fasting brings on Taqwa as it lessens the desire of the 
stomach and mutes the sexual appetite. Whoever fasts frequently 
would overcome these two desires more easily. This deters 
against committing abominations and sins and assists in controlling 
life leading to Taqwa.

2) Strengthening willpower and acquiring patience: 

Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) called Ramadan the month of 
patience as it increases one's will power to control his desire 
and the selfishness of his soul. 

This training allows him to be strong in following Allah's commands. 
The most important being to carry the Message and propel it 

The person trains himself to be patient in obeying Allah (SWT) by 
stopping at the limits set by Allah (SWT) both by way of action and 

Allah (SWT) said: 
"These are the limits set by Allah, so approach them not." 
(Holy Quran 2:187)

3) Fasting is pure worship: 

The fact that he is abstaining from food and drink both 
in public and in secret shows his honest faith and strong 
love of Allah (SWT) and his knowledge and feeling that Allah (SWT) is 
all-knowing of everything. For this reason Allah (SWT) has made 
the reward for fasting greater than for any other type of worship. 

Allah (SWT) said in the Hadith Qudsi
"Every deed of the son of Adam will be multiplied [in rewards], 
the good deed by ten of its like, up to seven hundreds, up to whatever 
Allah wills, except fasting, it is for Me and I will reward it. He abandons 
his desire and his food for My sake.." 
(Related by Muslim) 

lbn al-Qayyim said: "And people may see that a person is not eating in 
front of them, but the fact that he is really abandoning his food and 
his desire for the sake of God is a thing that nobody can find out about, 
and that is the essence of fasting." 
(Zaad al-Ma'ad 2/29)

4)Relieving Muslims from life's distractions: 

Eating, drinking, and socializing all distract a person and weaken ties 
with Allah (SWT). It is by the Mercy of Allah (SWT) that Muslims are 
ordered to fast so as not to be bothered by the intrusion of these 
activities. Nor by the thought about them nor the anticipation for 
them when devoting themselves to the all types of worship either 
reading the Holy Quran, offering additional prayer or making Itikaf. 

For this reason Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: 
"Fasting is a shield, and a secure fortress against Hell fire" 
(Related by Ahmad)

5)Discovering Allah's Blessings: 

A person experiences the hardship of the poor. He should then be 
thankful to Allah (SWT) Who has blessed him with His bounty while 
others are deprived. This should make him more sympathetic and 
willing to share this bounty. The poor rediscovers that fasting helps 
a person be more devoted to worship. More able to concentrate 
and meditate. He should then be able of this devotion all year long, 
a blessing he should thank Allah (SWT) for.

6) Acquiring strength and endurance: 

It has been discovered that depriving the body of food for a period 
of time helps its defense and endurance mechanism. This in turn 
this protects the body from certain diseases.

7) Remember that fasting is not only dependent on abstentions:
Many believe that fasting consist only of certain abstentions, forgetting 
that Allah (SWT) established certain acts of worship with fasting. Among 
which are:

I) Qiyamul Lail: Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: 
"Whoever performed the night prayer during Ramadan out of belief 
and anticipating God's rewards, will be forgiven his previous sins." 
(Related by Muslim) 

II)Performing Umrah: The Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: 
"An Umrah during Ramadan is like a Hajj with me." 
(Related by al-Hakim)

III)Offering Iftar (meal) to those who faste: 
Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: 
"Whoever feeds a fasting person has the same reward as him, 
except that the reward of the fasting person will not be diminished." 
(Related by Ahmad)

8) Reading and completing the Holy Quran: 

Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, 
"Fasting and [reading] Holy Quran will intercede for the person: 
fasting will say: O Lord I forbade him eating and drinking so let me 
intercede for him, and the Holy Quran will say: I deprived him 
from his night sleep so let me intercede for him," he then said: 
"So they will intercede." 
(Related by Ahmad) 

Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) used to recite the whole 
Holy Quran to Angel Jibreel (Gabriel) each Ramadan.

9)Giving in charity: 

Ibn Abbas radhiallahu anhu said: 
"Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the most generous among 
people, and he was more generous during the month of Ramadan." 
(Related by Muslim)

10) Itikaf

which is to confine oneself in the masjid for prayer and 
invocation leaving the worldly activities. 

Ibn Abbas radhiallahu anhu said: "Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) 
used to perform Itikaf during the last ten days of Ramadan." 
(Related by Muslim) 

It is surprising that many people have abandoned Itikaf though 
Holy Prophet Muhammad (saww) never abandoned it from the time 
he arrived to Madinah until he died.

11) Supplication: 

In the verses dealing with fasting, Allah (SWT) said: 
"And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then 
answer them, I am indeed near to them. I respond to the invocations 
of the supplicant when he calls on Me." 
(Holy Quran 2: 186). 

This is an encouragement for the fasting person to increase his 
invocation. Holy Prophet Muhammad (saww) said: "Three invocations 
will be answered: The invocation of the fasting person, the invocation 
of the oppressed, and the invocation of the traveler." 
(Related by Muslim)

12) Repentance

Ramadan is the time of repentance and return to 
Allah (SWT), for it is a time when the devils are chained, and when 
many people are saved from hell fire every night by the grace of 
Allah (SWT).

13) Abstaining from vain talk: 

Sins decrease the reward of fasting although they 
do not annul it. 

Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: 
"Fasting is not [only] abstaining from eating and drinking, but 
abstaining from vain and obscene talk, so if someone insulted you or 
wronged you say: I am fasting." 
(Related by al-Hakim) 

and he also said: 'Whoever does not abandon lying, and then 
Allah does not need him to abandon his food and drink." 
(Related by al-Bukhari)