كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَاتٍ ۚ
Decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous –
[Fasting for] a limited number of days [Surah Baqarah, 2:183-184]
Most of us have spent so many Ramadans but we are still as unprepared for it as a 1st grader. Just like he has to get his bag together and his pencils and stickers in order to prepare for the first day of school, and imagine that when he gets to college, he tells his mom that he’s still as unprepared and wants help in putting together his backpack. We are in a similar condition.
There are only two ways to prepare for Ramadan. If you are standing at the edge of the shore, it is up to you to be swept away or to measure and analyze the wave.
1. we are the sevants and slaves of Allah(swt) and we promise and pledge to give up everything for Him
so whatever He likes we will do and whatever is even slightly displeasing to Him, not just haram but also makrooh, we’ll leave that and be totally swept away by the wave. This method takes 1min!
2. to understand the beauty of Allah
this will be our focus tonight. The Prophet(saw) used to pray for ramadan and prepare for it since rajab! And for most of us, rajab and shaban is spent in total ghaflat. The cure for this is to spend shaban in the sunnah way. The Prophet(saw) used to:
(i) fast frequeently.
(ii) be ever aware that ramadan is coming just like a person standing at the shore is aware of and anticipating the wave that is coming to hit him.
Sahaba ra used to think about ramadan all year! they understood the azmat and majesty of ramadan.
Allama Binori rehmatullah ilaeh called it the month of wilayah.
He used to prove this from the quran by quoting teo ayahs:
- fasting has been prescribed for a certain number of days so that you may become muttaqi.
- Who are the friends of Allah except the muttaqoon.
Therefore, ramadan=taqwa and taqwa=wilayah!
And this blessing is not given to us due to any goodness of our acts but rather due to Allah(swt)’s mercy in this month and the power of ramadan which transforms our faulty and incomplete imaan into an acceptable one.
The beauty of islam: It is the deen of fitrah.
It’s made perfectly for humanity and humanity is perfectly made for it.
Allah(swt) has two names: zahir (apparent) and batin (hidden)
many aspects of deen have these siffaat. Similarly, ramadan has a zahir (abstainance from food, drink, lawful relations) which leads to a batin sift (taqwa)
Quran: inna akramakum ‘indallahi atQakum. Indeed the most honored of you in the sight of Allah are the ones with the most taqwa.
taqwa is the highest most noble sift near Allah(swt) and it means total submission of the outward and the inner.
Three Different Aspects to Ramadan
There are three aspects to Ramadan.
I – RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TAQWA AND HUNGER
- Imam Ghazali rehmatullah ilaih writes a whole book about how hunger (gluttony) and lust are connected. This is one of the harms of eating more.
- A great mistake we make every day every year in ramadan is tht we deprive ourselves from the benefits of hunger.
- Every year we focus on how to spend our time from fajr to maghrib. This year its going to be dfferent and the difference will be that this time ramadan is going to be spent in focusing on the time from maghrib to fajr rather than fajr to maghrib.
- Don’t eat too much!! We build spiritual power which come naturally with hunger and we spend our entire day building it, but instead of using it to do ibadah in the night, we overeat! so much that it’s a common joke that we gain weight! What should be done is that we should reduce our food intake even from that which it is in normal days. Make your target to lose weight, 5 pounds, 10 pounds, 15 pounds, 5 kilos, 10 kilos. Otherwise we’ll collect spiritual power from fajr to maghrib and waste it in eating from maghrib to fajr.
- what is spiritual power?
Some stories from the sahaba can explain it.
1) One night, Hazrat Umer(RA) was unable to sleep because he was so hungry. AllahoAkbar. You and I cannot even imagine the extent of that hunger! One would think that he would feel sleepy due to the exhaustion and feeling of weakness but imagine how long he must have gone without food that he couldn’t even sleep, that’s how hungry he was! so he decided to go to masjid-e-nabvi and pray. He was food-deprived, sleep-deprived but he rose up to pray. AllahoAkbar. There he found Hazrat Abu Bakr(RA). When he asked him why he was there, Hazrat Abu Bakr(RA) also said that I was so hungry that I couldn’t sleep so I have come to pray. As they both were praying, Prophet(saw) emerged from his hujrah as well. AllahoAkbar! When they asked him what brought him there, he said the same thing! AllahoAkbar!
this is a strong power!
2) The Battle of khandaq. They were all so hungry that the hollowness of their stomachs pressing into their ribs pained them so they wound cloth around their waists. For some, the pain was so much, that they wrapped a stone around themselves to relieve the pain. The Prophet(saw) put TWO stones! And during this time, they were digging trenches and doing hard manual labor in the heat of the Arab desert. Us, with our stomachs full and ample sleep, cannot do the smallest of tasks. Just imagine, Allah(SWT) is trying to bestow this kind of power on us during this month!
- You have to keep this in mind. And keep repeating to yourself over and over again “maghrib to fajr, maghrib to fajr”!
- Our Ulema say that one cannot experience the sweetness of imaan until he has not experienced the sweetness of hunger.
- We should keep a tinge of hunger lasting from maghrib all the way to fajr.
- benefits of eating less:
- sleep less
- eating less and sleeping less leaves you with more time! use tht time to do ibadah and khidmat of humanity.
- another big mistake is that we make eating a social activity in Ramadan. this is not the month! Yes, we should get together as a community for ibadah and taraweeh, not for merrymaking and collective dining. tht’s what eid-ul-fitr is for! We have to earn tht day by spending 29 days in fasting and ibadah.
- Don’t spend more than 15-20 mins in eating. When you value time like this, you’ll start appreciating the barakah of time even more and use it more efficiently.
- spend less. we realise tht we can live in a smaller budget. Hazrat Aisha(RA) narrates that the Prophet(saw) used to increase in his charity during ramadan.
II – TAQWA
Ramadan is a wakeup call to bring us back to taqwa. Taqwa means to abstain, refrain and not do something that is displeasing to Allah(swt) or the Prophet(saw) or solely for the pleasure and out of the love for Allah(swt).
- There is a special relationship between Ramadan and taqwa. A person should think of Ramadan as a taqwa training workshop. Its not just fasting and praying. One has to decide that I need to stay away from all tht i know is displeasing to Allah. We need to sharpen our quloob with taqwa.
- often also ramadan is directed towards eid or the last ten days. Actually the power of Ramadan amazes me. Wherever I happen to be in the world and whenever I give a talk on the first night of Ramadan, after maghrib, that one and a half hour of their life spent in Ramadan, has such amazing barkat that the same person who cannot stand 20mins in nafl prayer says isha with jamaat and stands for 2 hours in taraweeh, listening to the Quran. It gets people to pray for 2 hours just when they have been in ramadan for 1 ½ hrs! this is even before thay have actually fasted or done any other ibadah! So imagine the power at the end of ramadan. This is why we need to make a running start!
- Allah(swt) is trying to tell us in this month that if we can leave lawful things and lawful relations for the sake of Allah(swt) then we are surely able to leave all unlawful things which are displeasing to Him.
III – MONTH OF QURAN
This month, we have to make an extra effort to become people of the Quran.
- Read and recite the Quran, listen to the Quran, learn some surahs, read the tafsir, study the tajweed.
- But also important: tarbiyah. We have to submit our hearts. Pick a surah or even 1 or 2 ayahs and inscribe them on our heart and change our lives according to these ayahs or surah. Our ulema say that some ayahs are so robust that they are enough to bring a person completely to islam. E.g. inna lillahe wainna ileahe raajioon Or wallazeena aamanuu ashaddu hubballillah.
- take an ayat or surah and think about it all the time..
- Hadith of the Prophet(saw) that the 1st ten days of Ramadan are of Rehmat, the 2nd ten for forgiveness, and the 3rd ten for emancipation from hell-fire. In explaining this hadith, it is said that it is referring to 3 different groups of people:
The 1st group is those people who were actually prepared for Ramadan and are true momineen, abiding by the shairah in its full glory throughout the year. so they drown in the mercy of Allah(swt) from the 1st day! Allah(swt) out of His mercy accepts their ibadat and blesses them.
The 2nd group is of those who sometimes follow the shariah, sometimes not. Sometimes they control their nafs and sometimes they give in. sometimes they avoid sin, other times they don’t. They need to spend the 1st ten days in taubah and free of sins and live with taqwa, then Allah(swt) makes the next ten days a way of maghfirat for them and forgives their past sins.
The 3rd group is of those people who are so far from the shariah that they even question their imaan. It said that they are people who have earned jahannum. mustahiq-un-naar. that person spends 20 days in taubah, taqwa, ibadah, promises and pledges, stays away from sin, then Allah(swt) removes their name from the list of jahannumis and forgives them for all their sins and includes them in the ranks of the momineen.
- We are the runaway slaves of Allah(swt). We have orphaned ourselves from Him and we have left Him whereas He has said that He is close to us, even closer than our ownselves! But we have chosen to stay away from Him. So we should spend this month to increase our closeness with Allah (swt). And this is something we should pray for every single day in Ramadan that Allah (swt) you have said you are close to us, we also want to be close to you.
- focus on decreasing our eating
- focus on the time between Maghrib to Fajr
- free ourselves in Ramadan to do ibadah as it is only a few days of such Rahmah.
- criticially analyse our lives and do our muhaasbah before Ramadan
- make a plan for all things we want to change about ourselves and make taubah and dua for every single one of them.
- Increase in the quantity and quality of ibadah. read & learn quran, be regular in our durud, be regular in our istighfaar, zikr and tilawat, be regular in our salah, in the lowering of our gaze, and in smiling to family and friends.
- make a schedule of worship which we can also continue after Ramadan. Of course, you will have the ibadaat that are extra and special for Ramadan but jumpstart on a permanent schedule for the rest of your life in terms of worship and sleep.
- ittiba’e sunnah! add to sunnah. Discover, learn and start a new sunnah. could be small or big but add to zahiri amal of sunnah because Allah(swt) has told us clearly that the zahir affects the baatin.
- It’s the month of dua; special qubooliyah. Our biggest tragedy is that we don’t know how to make dua, to ask, to cry. Ramadan’s barakah is that our hearts are naturally more inclined to dua due to our ibadah and obedience. We should maximize on this power and make more dua for our spiritual self.
- Three time are very special for the qubooliyat of dua:
(i) when breaking fast – iftaar (Ramadan is not the month of savories, or the month of samosaas, or pakoras! its the month of ibadah and dua) make use of this special time every single day! It ok if the food is luke warm or the pakoras are not too crisp!
(ii) when starting fast – suhoor
(iii) laylatul qadr. imagine 83years and 4months of power, of taqwa, ikhlaas, tawakkul, sabr. Our sheikh taught us a special way to find laylatul qadr guaranteed! Allah(swt) says in the Quran that it lasts till the beginning of fajr. so every morning we spend 15-20mins just before fajr to make dua and do ibadah! By the end of Ramadan, you can be sure that you did not miss the laylatul qadr.
- Month for us to patch up with Allah(swt) and become His beloved. He says in the Quran that He is near to us and He’s our intimate companion. we should reciprocate these feelings this month. We should make dua that O Allah! we want to make ourselves close to you and we want to feel your closeness.
May Allah(swt) give us the opportunity to take full benefit from this blessed month.
THIS IS NOT A TRANSCRIPTION OF SHAYKH KAMALUDDIN AHMED[db]’S TALK
[These were merely some rough notes and pointers taken down during his tazkya talk. highlights from the Tazkya Talk delivered by Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed[db] on 29nd July 2010]
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