Important Lessons to be learnt from Ramadhan Part 1 ( Day 6)

Allah – the Most High – said:

“The month of Ramadhan in which the Qur’an was revealed, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance of the Criterion between right and wrong. So whosoever of you sights the crescent for the month of Ramadhan, he must fast that month.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:185].

Allah’s Messenger sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
“lslam is built upon five: Testifying that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah and the Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establishing the Prayer, giving the Zakah, performing Hajj to the House, and fasting in Ramadhan.” l1

He sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam also said:
“There has come to you Ramadhan, a blessed month, in which Allah has made it obligatory to fast. During it the gates of paradise are opened and the gates of Hellfire are closed, and the rebellious devils are chained. In it is a night (Laylatul-Qadr) which is better than a thousand months. He who is deprived of its good has truly been deprived.” 2

From the many important lessons to be learnt from fasting are:-

[1]: GAINING TAQWA
Fasting has been legislated in order that we may gain taqwa, as Allah – the Most High – said:

“O you who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed upon those before you in order that you may attain taqwa.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:183].

Talq ibn Habib (d.100H) – rahimahullah – said:
“When fitnah (trial and tribulation) appears then extinguish it with taqwa.” So he was asked as to what taqwa was, so he replied: “Taqwa is to act in obedience to Allah, upon a light (i.e. iman, faith) from Allah, hoping in the Mercy of Allah. And taqwa is leaving acts of disobedience to Allah, upon a light from Allah, due to the fear of Allah.”3

“This is one of the best definitions of taqwa. For every action must have both a starting point and a goal. And an action will not be considered as an act of obedience, or nearness to Allah, unless it starts from pure iman (faith in Allah). Thus, it is pure iman – and not habits, desires, nor seeking praise or fame, nor its like – that should be what initiates an action. And the goal of the action should be to earn the reward of Allah and to seek His good pleasure.”4 So fasting is a means of attaining taqwa, since it helps prevent a person from many sins that one is prone to. Due to this, the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Fasting is a shield with which the servant protects himself from the Fire.”5 So we should ask ourselves, after each day of fasting: Has this fasting made us more fearful and obedient to Allah? Has it aided us in distancing ourselves from sins and disobedience?

[2]: SEEKING NEARNESS TO ALLAH
The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
“Allah said: Whosoever shows enmity to a friend of Mine, I shall be at war with him. My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more beloved to Me than the obligatory duties that I have placed upon him. My servant continues to draw nearer to Me with optional deeds so that I shall love him.”6

The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
“Whosoever reaches the month of Ramadhan and does not have his sins forgiven, and so enters the Fire, then may Allah distance him.”7

So drawing closer to Allah – the Mort Perfect – in this blessed month, can be achieved by fulfilling one’s obligatory duties; and also reciting the Qur’an and reflecting upon its meanings, increasing in kindness and in giving charity, in making du’a (supplication) to Allah, attending the tarawih Prayer, seeking out Laylatul-Qadr (the Night of Power and Pre-Decree), a night which is better than a thousand months, attending gatherings of knowledge, and striving in there actions that will cause the heart to draw closer to its Lord and to gain His forgiveness. Our level of striving in this blessed month should be greater than our striving to worship Allah in any other month, due to the excellence and rewards that Allah has placed in it. Likewise from the great means of seeking nearness to Allah in this month is making i’tikaf (seclusion in the mosque in order to worship Allah) – for whoever is able.

Imam Ibn al-Qayyim (d.751H)- rahimahullah – laid:
“Allah also prescribed i’tikaf for them, the objective being that the heart becomes fully preoccupied with Allah – the Mort High – concentrated upon Him alone, and cut-off from being preoccupied with the creation. Rather, the heart is only engrossed with Allah – the Most Perfect – such that loving Him, remembering Him, and turning to Him takes the place of all the heart’s anxieties and worries, so that he is able to overcome them. Thus all his concerns are for Allah, and his thoughts are all directed towards remembering Him and thinking of how to attain His Pleasure and what will cause nearness to Him. This leads him to feel contented with Allah, instead of people. This in turn prepares him for being at peace with Allah alone, on the day of loneliness in the grave, when there will be no one else to give comfort, nor anyone to grant solace, except Him. So this is the greater goal of i’tikaf.”8

[3]: ACQUIRING PATIENCE
Imam Ahmad (d.241H) – rahimahullah – said:
“Allah has mentioned sabr (patience) in over ninety places in His Book.”9

The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
“The month of Patience, and the three days of every month, are times for fasting.”10

Ibn ‘Abdul-Barr (d.464H)- rahimahullah – said:
“What is meant by the month of Patience is the month of Ramadhan … So fasting is called patience because it restrains the soul from eating, drinking, conjugal relations and sexual desires.”11

He sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
“O youths! Whoever amongst you is able to marry, then let him do so; for it restrains the eyes and protects the private parts. But whoever is unable, then let him fast, because it will be a shield for him.”12

So fasting is a means of learning self restraint and patience. With patience we are able to strengthen our resolve to worship Allah alone, with sincerity, and also cope with life’s ups and downs. So – for example – with patience we are able to perform our Prayers calmly and correctly, without being hasty, and without merely pecking the ground several times! With patience we are able to restrain our souls from greed and stinginess and thus give part of our surplus wealth in Zakah (obligatory charity). With patience we are able to subdue the soul’s ill temperament, and thus endure the ordeal and hardships of Hajj, without losing tempers and behaving badly. Likewise, with patience we are able to stand firm and fight jihad against the disbelievers, hypocrites and heretics – withstanding their constant onslaught, without wavering and buckling, without despairing or being complacent, and without becoming hasty and impatient at the first signs of hardship. Allah – the Most High – said: “O Prophet, urge the Believers to fight … So if there are one hundred who are patient, they shall overcome two hundred; and if there be one thousand, they shall overcome two thousand, by the permission of Allah. And Allah is with the patient ones.” [Surah al-Anfal 8:65-66].

Thus, without knowledge and patience, nothing remains, except zeal and uncontrolled emotions, shouts and hollow slogans, speech that doer not strengthen, but rather weakens, and actions that do not build, but rather destroy! So in this month, we should strive to develop a firm resolve for doing acts of obedience, and to adorn ourselves with patience – having certainty in the laying of our Messenger sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam: “And know that victory comes with patience, relief with affliction, and ease with hardship.”13

[4]: CULTIVATING GOOD MANNERS
The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
“Whosoever doer not abandon falsehood in speech and action, then Allah the Mighty and Majestic has no need that he should leave his food and drink.”14

He sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam also said:
“Fasting is not merely abstaining from eating and drinking. Rather, it is also abstaining from ignorant and indecent speech. So if anyone abuses or behaves ignorantly with you, then ray: I am fasting, I am fasting.”15
There narrations point towards the importance of truthfulness and good manners. Thus, this blessed month teacher us not only to abstain from food and drink, but to also abstain from such statements and actions that may be the cause of harming people and violating their rights – since the Messenger sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said whilst describing the true Believer: “A Muslim is one from whom other Muslims are safe from his tongue and his hand.”16 Thus it is upon us as individuals, to examine the shortcomings in our character, and to then seek to improve them – modelling ourselves upon the character of the last of the Prophets and Messengers, and their leader, Muhammad sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam – aspiring also for the excellence which he mentioned in his saying: “I am a guarantor for a house on the outskirts of Paradise for whosoever leaves off arguing, even if he is in the right; and a house in the centre of Paradise for whosoever abandons falsehood, even when joking; and a house in the upper-mort part of Paradise for whosoever makes his character good.”17 So by shunning oppression, shamelessness, harbouring hatred towards Muslims, back-biting, slandering, tale-carrying, and other types of falsehood, we can be saved from nullifying the rewards of our fasting – as Allah’s Messenger sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “It may be that a fasting person receives nothing from his fast, except hunger and thirst.”18

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