A R C H I V E S
Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|On the eve of Ramadhan|
|11/11/02 at 11:32:38|
|On the eve of Ramadhan|
by: Sheikh Salman al Oadah
The crescent moon might be seen tonight and the Muslims will start offering the normal supplications on each other's behalf: "May Allah bless you throughout the month." "May you receive the greatest of rewards."
Fasting during this month is a quintessential act of worship that demonstrates the beliefs and principles of Islam.
Our belief in Allah and His perfection and our admission of our submission to Him in worship are all realized when we abstain from food and drink during this month. A fasting person believes in his Lord and is aware that Allah is watching over him. He is aware that Allah knows what he does openly and in secret and that Allah knows the innermost secrets of his heart.
If a person abstains from food and drink without having the intention to worship Allah, then he is not fasting. Likewise, if a person makes a firm intention to break his fast, then his fast is broken, even if he did not eat or drink anything.
This cultivates within the heart of the believer consciousness of Allah, making him aware of Allah at all times and circumstances, even when he is committing sin. This makes him more ready and eager to work righteousness and to shun evildoing. Since he is constantly aware that Allah is watching over him, he fears Him and feels shy to do anything wrong.
Fasting also confirms our belief in Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) since we perform our fasts in the manner that he outlined for us. We begin and end our fasts at the times he instructed and conform to the rulings and manners that he prescribed.
Fasting was prescribed by Allah for the people who were given the Scriptures before us, but that does not mean they fasted in the same manner that we do. When we fast the way we do, it confirms that we believe that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is Allah's final Messenger. It shows that we love him and follow him in our worship. This should cause us to take more care in following the Sunnah and in taking the Prophet (peace be upon him) as our example for all of our dealings in life.
By preferring hunger and thirst to the pleasures of this world, we show our faith in the Unseen. We demonstrate our belief in the Hereafter, our hope for reward, and our fear of punishment, knowing that our fasting pleases Allah and is a way for us to attain the reward of Paradise.
This gives us a balanced perspective. We should not look only at worldly considerations. We must consider both this world and the next. We must put Allah's pleasure and our obedience to Him before anything else, even if it means missing out on some comforts in this world. Our decisions must not be based purely on material considerations like wealth, leisure, and prestige.
Fasting also brings out the best in our mores and manners. Fasting requires patience. Fasting and patience are almost one and the same. Allah says: "Seek help in patience and prayer." Some commentators have said that patience here refers to fasting. Ramadān has been called "the month of patience". We must keep in mind that the reward for patience is none other than Paradise.
Patience is the pinnacle of good conduct. Without it, a believer cannot rise to the challenges he faces in his religion and the crises that face him in his worldly life. Salvation in the Hereafter and happiness in this life are the double reward of having patience.
Patience is the elixir that has the power to transform the difficulties of life into its pleasures and its worries into relief. If only our disgruntled young men, our weeping elderly, and our discontented women could learn patience, they would come to see that it is the cure for all ills, the solution to all problems, and the way to surmount all obstacles. The Islamic code of conduct is also evident in how the fasting person's soul is elevated through worship and through a reduction in its ties to worldly things. The soul in this state naturally becomes closer to its Creator and glorifies Him. A human being is defined as human because of his soul more than he is defined as such by his physical form.
It is equally evident in how the fasting person commiserates with the suffering of those who are in want, even though the fasting person experiences these feelings on a temporary basis through a voluntary act of worship.
This is why Ramadān is the "month of charity" as the Caliph `Uthmān used to call it. At the end of this month, there is a special, obligatory charity that the Muslims participate in so they can all share the joys of the `Id celebrations. Even the poor offer this charity if they are able.
It also reveals itself in the self control that the fasting person must exhibit. A fasting person is conscious of his efforts all the time which helps him refrain from behaving inappropriately. Many fasting people become aware of this fact even outside of Ramadān.
Fasting brings about a stronger collective identity for the Muslims. Muslims all over the world experience the fast together, emphasizing the brotherhood of Islam and reinforcing the sense of allegiance that Muslims are supposed to have for one another. It shows us that we must free ourselves of the ties that compromise this loyalty and place our other ties with people in their proper context, so that none of them will compete with the spiritual ties must exist between all Muslims.
How many of us wish that all the Muslims were capable of starting and ending their month of fasting on the same day, so that Muslim unity might be further emphasized and the divisions that have developed between us and tear us apart might be done away with.
Even if this cannot be achieved, there is no excuse why the Muslims of one country cannot begin and end their month of fasting together. This is especially relevant for the Muslims living in the United States, Australia, and other Western countries.
It is thoroughly unacceptable that one Muslim will still be fasting while his neighbor is celebrating `Id and considers fasting on that day impermissible. It is equally wrong when one Muslim fasts considering it to be the Day of `Arafah while his very own neighbor is celebrating `Id al-Adhā.
In order to get beyond this problem, we are going to have to be honest, toss aside our vested interests, factionalism, and nationalism, and give precedence to the spirit of community over ourselves.
Fasting reminds the Muslim of his duty to engage in jihad to defend Islam against enemy aggression. Many of the decisive battles in Islamic history took place during the month of Ramadān. The Battle of Badr, the first victory ever for the Muslims, took place in Ramadān. Then there was the opening of Mecca, which ultimately gave the Muslims control over the Arabian Peninsula. Then there was Hittīn, `Ayn Jālūt, and many of the battles fought against the imperialists during the colonial period.
The same book that prescribes fasting for the Muslims prescribes fighting for them as well. This fighting, though, is not for the sake of one's ethnic group or race, nor is it for power, conquest, and plunder, but it is to defend the faith and keep the word of Allah ascendant, "so that there will be no strife and so that religion will all be for Allah."
Some people will never accept the call to Islam, nor can they understand peaceful overtures. They are arrogant, violent, and unyielding and understand only the language of force. This is why Allah sent His Messenger (peace be upon him) with the Book and with iron. "We sent aforetime our Messengers with clear signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance (of Right and Wrong), that men may stand forth in justice; and We sent down iron, in which is (material for) mighty war, as well as many benefits for mankind, that Allah may test who it is that will help Him and His messengers, though unseen: For Allah is Full of Strength, Exalted in Might." [Sūrah al-Hadīd: 25]
The Book and the clear signs are the basis of the Message. The iron is there to defend it. There is the revelation and there is its defense against those who would try to extinguish it. Revelation is the cure for people of reason. Force is the only cure for ignorant aggressors.
There are those who are wreaking havoc, oppression, and plunder in Palestine, Chechnya, and other occupied and war-torn Muslim lands. Those who resist them are doing so on behalf of all the Muslims. They are carrying out our responsibility of protecting the faith. It is therefore the obligation of the Muslims to give them true and sincere support and not just "feel" for them.
Will Ramadān return to the way Muslims used to know it, full of spirit, life, and giving? Or will it continue to be full of sleep, laziness, and wasting time, and will we continue to spend our nights in culinary pleasures, amusements, and misconduct?
O Allah! Return the Muslims to their religion in a most beautiful way and unite them in their obedience to you. Protect them from evil and correct for them their deeds. Accept their deeds from them and pardon their shortcomings. Help them to work every act of righteousness and keep them away from all sin. And praise be to Allah, the Lord of All the Worlds.
|11/11/02 at 11:36:11|
Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board