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Reaping the Benefits of Ramadan

  • Publish date:21/06/2018
  • Section:Highlights
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Before the month of Ramadan it is very important that we spend a few moments to understand some of the wisdoms and lessons that we can learn from this month of fasting. Unfortunately, many Muslims come in to this month and they are as one of the Companions said: "Do not let the day that you fast and the day that you do not fast be equal." Meaning, one's behavior, attitude and outlook are the same whether one fasts or not, i.e. fasting has no effect upon that person. This is why we need to reflect on some of these lessons.

Lesson 1: Gaining Taqwa (Piety)

Allah legislated fasting for gaining Taqwa: {O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed upon you as it has been prescribed upon those before you, so that you may attain Taqwa.} [Quran 2:183] Taqwa in this case means to make a shield between oneself and the anger of Allah and Hellfire. So we should ask ourselves, when we break our fasts, 'Has this fasting day made us fear Allah more? Has it resulted that we want to protect ourselves from the Hellfire or not?

Lesson 2: Drawing Closer to Allah

This is achieved by reciting and reflecting on the Quran night and day, attending the Taraweeh prayers, remembering Allah, sitting in circles of knowledge and, for those who can, performing `Umrah. Also for those who can, making I`tikaaf (seclusion in the Masjid with the intention of worship), especially in the last ten nights of Ramadan, so as to leave all worldly pursuits and seclude oneself in the Masjid for the purpose of thinking of Allah and to bring oneself closer to Him. When one sins, one feels distant from Allah, and this is why one might find it hard to read the Quran and come to the Masjid. However, the obedient worshipper feels closer to Allah and wants to worship Allah more, because he is not shy from his sins.

Lesson 3: Acquiring Patience and Strong Will

Allah has mentioned patience more than seventy times in the Quran and has commanded patience in more than sixteen ways in His Book. So when one fasts, and gives up food and drink and marital sexual relations during the hours of fast, one learns restraint and patience. This Ummah needs men and women who are strong-willed, who can adhere to the Sunnah and to the Book of Allah and not waver in front of the enemies of Allah. We do not need emotional people who just raise slogans and shout, and when the time comes to stand firm, they cannot do so, they waver!

Lesson 4: Striving for Ihsaan (perfection of deeds) and Staying Away from Show Off

Ihsaan means to perfect one's deeds, i.e. to worship Allah as if one sees Him, and even though one does not see Him, He sees all. Al-Hasan al-Basri said: "By Allah, in the last twenty years, I have not said a word or taken something with my hand or refrained to take something with my hand or stepped forth or stepped back, except that I have thought before I have done any action, 'Does Allah love this action? Is Allah pleased with this action?' So when one is fasting, he should gain this quality of watching himself and also staying away from show off. That is why Allah said in a Qudsi narration: "Fasting is for Me and I reward for it." [Al-Bukhari] Allah singles out fasting from all other types of worship saying: "Fasting is for Me," because no one knows whether you are fasting or not, except Allah.

For example, when one is praying or giving charity or performing Tawaaf (circumambulating the Ka'bah), one can be seen by the people, so one might do the action seeking the praise of the people. Sufyaan ath-Thawri used to spend the nights and the days crying and the people used to ask him, "Why do you cry, is it due to the fear of Allah?" He said: "No." They said: "Is it due to the fear of the Hellfire?" He said: "No. It is not the fear of Hellfire that makes me cry, what makes me cry is that I have been worshipping Allah all these years and doing scholarly teaching, and I am not certain that my intentions are purely for Allah."

Lesson 5: Refinement of Manners, Especially Those Related to Truthfulness and Discharging Trusts

The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: "Whoever does not abandon falsehood in word and action, then Allah has no need that he should leave his food and drink." [Al-Bukhari] What we learn from this is that we must pay attention to the purification of our manners. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: "I was sent to perfect good manners." [Maalik] So we must check ourselves; are we following the behavior of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )? For example: Do we greet with Salaam those we don't know and those we do know? Do we follow the manners of Islam, by telling the truth and only telling the truth? Are we sincere? Are we merciful to the creation?

Lesson 6: Recognizing That One Can Change for the Better

The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: "Every son of Adam sins and the best of the sinners are those who repent." [Ibn Maajah] Allah provides many opportunities to repent to Him and seek His forgiveness. If one was disobedient they can become obedient.

Lesson 7: Being More Charitable

Ibn `Abbaas  may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him said: "The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) was the most generous amongst the people, and he used to be more so in the month of Ramadan when Jibreel (Gabriel) used to meet him on every night of Ramadan till the end of the month…" [Al-Bukhari] The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “He who gives food for a fasting person to break his fast, will receive the same reward as him, without nothing being reduced from the fasting person's reward." [At-Tirmithi]

Lesson 8: Sensing the Unity of the Muslims

The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “Those of you who will live after me will see many differences. Then you must cling to my Sunnah [tradition] and that of the rightly guided Caliphs. Hold fast to it and stick to it.” [Abu Dawood] In Ramadan we sense that there is a possibility for unity, because we all fast together, we break the fast together, we all worship Allah together, and we pray the `Eed prayer together. Therefore, we sense that unity is possible. It is possible for Muslims to be a single body, but this will only be achieved when obedience is done purely for the sake of Allah.

Lesson 9: Learning Discipline

Fasting in Ramadan makes us adhere to discipline and commitment, strictness that does not lead to fanaticism or going outside the bounds that Allah has laid down. One cannot knowingly break the fast before the sunset, as this will not be accepted by Allah. Muslims should learn to be very committed in their lives, because they are people of an important message, which they mold their lives around.

Lesson 10: Teaching the Young to Worship Allah

It was the practice of the people of Madinah, that during the fast of `Aashoora (the 10th day of Muharram which is now only a recommended fast) to get their children to fast with them. When the children would complain, their parents would distract their attention by giving them a toy made of cotton to play with, until the children would break their fast with their parents. [Al-Bukhari] So the young should be brought to the Masjid and they should pray with their parents, in order to habituate them to become worshippers of Allah. If one does not encourage children to fast when they are young, they will find it very difficult to fast for thirty days when they reach the age of puberty and become obliged to fast. This is why the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “Command your children to pray at the age of seven and beat them at the age of ten [if they do not pray].” [Al-Hakim]

Lesson 11: Caring for One's Health

Fasting has many medical benefits and it teaches Muslims to take care of their health and to build strong bodies. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “A strong believer is better and is more beloved to Allah than a weak believer, and there is goodness in both.” [Muslim]

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