By Dr Muzammil H. Siddiqi

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Ramadan: The Month of Grace and Enlightenment

 

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنْزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ ۚ فَمَنْ شَهِدَ مِنْكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ ۖ وَمَنْ كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۗ يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُوا الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ {البقرة 185}

It was in the month of Ramadan that the Qur’an was revealed as guidance for mankind, clear messages giving guidance and distinguishing between right and wrong. So any one of you who is present that month should fast, and anyone who is ill or on a journey should make up for the lost days by fasting on other days later. Allah wants ease for you, not hardship. He wants you to complete the prescribed period and to glorify Him for having guided you, so that you may be thankful. (Al-Baqarah 2:185)

Within few days Ramadan will be with us. We are going to welcome this guest of Allah after one full year. Ramadan is coming to us again with its gifts of blessings from our Lord who gives us special occasions to increase our worth and value and to bestow upon us His love and kindness. The Prophet –peace be upon him- used to greet his Companions with the good news of the coming of Ramadan.

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ قال رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يُبَشِّرُ أَصْحَابَهُ قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ شَهْرٌ مُبَارَكٌ افْتَرَضَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْكُمْ صِيَامَهُ يُفْتَحُ فِيهِ أَبْوَابُ الْجَنَّةِ وَيُغْلَقُ فِيهِ أَبْوَابُ الْجَحِيمِ وَتُغَلُّ فِيهِ الشَّيَاطِينُ فِيهِ لَيْلَةٌ خَيْرٌ مِنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ مَنْ حُرِمَ خَيْرَهَا فَقَدْ حُرِمَ (مسند أحمد 8631)

The Prophet –peace be upon him-said giving the good news of the month to his Companions, “The month of Ramadan has come to you. It is a blessed month. Allah has made obligatory on you to fast during this month. The gates of heaven are opened in this month and the gates of hell are closed and the devils are chained. In this month there is a Night that is better than one thousand months. Whosoever is deprived of its blessings is indeed deprived.”

(Musnad Ahmad 8631)

In Islamic spirituality there are certain terms for special moments of inspiration, spiritual touch or enlightenment. These are called ‘nafahat or tajalliyat.’ ‘Nafahah’ literally means ‘a breath of fragrance’ and ‘tajalli’ is ‘unveiling,’ One can have a feeling of receiving a breath of joy and happiness or a moment of sudden inspiration, an enlightenment, a kind of theophany. It is reported in a Hadith:

اطلبوا الخير دهركم كله وتعرضوا لنفحات رحمة ربكم فإن لله نفحات من رحمته يصيب بها من يشاء من عباده وسلوا الله أن يستر عوراتكم وأن يؤمن روعاتكم ( الطبراني في الكبير1/ 250)

Seek good things always and expose yourselves to the breath of Allah’s mercy. Allah has indeed breaths of His mercy by which He touches whoever He wills from among His servants. Ask Allah to cover your shameful deeds and keep you safe from your anxieties. (Al-Tabarani 1/250)

Ramadan is full of ‘nafahat and tajalliyat of Allah. It is a month when the winds of Allah’s mercy blow all over. It is a month when we can experience special enlightenment of our minds and souls. Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an. It is the month in which Allah sent down His glorious final message for all humanity. Ramadan is the month of fasting. Fasting prepares us physically, spiritually and morally to live by the message of the Qur’an. Fasting gives us physical discipline and strength to overcome our material desires and passions. Fasting gives us spiritual awakening to understand who we are and what is the purpose of our life. Fasting helps us to become more kind and charitable and help those who are in need. Fasting thus brings us closer to our Creator as well as His creation.

The objective of fasting is not to become hungry and thirsty. These are only means for a higher training and for a higher goal. Allah says that fasting is to help us lean ‘taqwa’:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ {183}

O You who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may be mindful of Allah . (al-Baqarah 2:183)

The Prophet –peace be upon him- said,

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مَنْ لَمْ يَدَعْ قَوْلَ الزُّورِ وَالْعَمَلَ بِهِ فَلَيْسَ لِلَّهِ حَاجَةٌ فِي أَنْ يَدَعَ طَعَامَهُ وَشَرَابَهُ (البخاري 1770)

Whosoever does not give up bad words and bad deeds, Allah does not need that he leaves his food and his drink. (Al-Bukhari 1770)

He also said,

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : رُبَّ صَائِمٍ لَيْسَ لَهُ مِنْ صِيَامِهِ إِلَّا الْجُوعُ وَرُبَّ قَائِمٍ لَيْسَ لَهُ مِنْ قِيَامِهِ إِلَّا السَّهَرُ. ( أخرجه ابن ماجه رقم 1690)

Some fasting people shall have nothing from their fasts except hunger. Some people who stand for night prayers shall have nothing except loss of sleep. (Ibn Majah, Hadith no. 1690)

Ramadan is an opportunity to repent from all sins, shortcoming and errors. It is a time to make up for our mistakes and negligence. It is a time to make a decision to go to the path of goodness, to repair our relations with Allah, with our families and other fellow human beings. Ramadan is a time to connect with Allah by more prayers, dhikr and du’a. It is a time to connect with the Qur’an by more recitation and understanding. It is time to seek Allah’s forgiveness. It is time to give more charity, help those who are in need and help good causes.

Let us start preparing ourselves mentally and physically to take full advantage of this time. Let us make a decision and also pray to Allah that we shall do our best to benefit from this Ramadan and make ourselves better than what we have been in the past. We pray that Allah give us more such opportunities, but who knows whether we shall get another Ramadan or not. Allah says in the Qur’an,

أَلَمْ يَأْنِ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَنْ تَخْشَعَ قُلُوبُهُمْ لِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَمَا نَزَلَ مِنَ الْحَقِّ وَلَا يَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِنْ قَبْلُ فَطَالَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْأَمَدُ فَقَسَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ ۖ وَكَثِيرٌ مِنْهُمْ فَاسِقُونَ {16}اعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ يُحْيِي الْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا ۚ قَدْ بَيَّنَّا لَكُمُ الْآيَاتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ {الحديد 16-17}

Is it not time for believers to humble their hearts to the remembrance of Allah and to the Truth that has been revealed, and not to be like those who received the Scripture before them, whose time was extended but whose hearts hardened and many of whom were transgressors? Remember that Allah revives the earth after it dies; We have made Our revelation clear to you so that you may use your reason. (Al-Hadid 57:16-17)

Let us rejoice that the Ramadan is coming and welcome these days of grace and blessings with full care and devotion. Let us use this time to clean our hearts from all hate, anger and jealousies; clean our minds from all doubts and fears. Let us strive to receive Allah’s grace and mercy. I pray to Allah to bless us all with good health and strong Iman to take full benefit of this valuable time. Ameen.

(Khutbah at ISOC – Sha’ban 19, 1434/ June 28, 2013)

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