Monday, July 6, 2015

Ramadan what it mean.

Fasting during Ramadan was ordained during the second year of Hijrah. Why not earlier? In Makkah the economic conditions of Muslims were bad. They were being persecuted. Often days would go by before they had anything to eat. It is easy to skip meals if do not have any. Obviously fasting would have been easier under the circumstances. So why did not then?

They answer may be that Ramadan is not only about skipping meals. While fasting is an integral and paramount part of it, Ramadan offers a comprehensive program our spiritual overhaul. The entire program required the peace and security that was offered by Madinah. Yes, Ramadan is the most important month of the year. It is the month that believers wait with eagerness. At the beginning of the Rajab – two full months before Ramadan -the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, used to supplicate thus: ”O Allah! Bless us during Rajab and Shaban, and let us reach Ramadan (in good health).”

During the Ramadan the believers get busy seeking mercy Allah’s mercy, forgiveness, and protection from hellfire. This is the month for renewing our commitment and re-establishing our relationship with our creator. It is the spring season for goodness and virtues when righteousness blossoms throughout the Muslim communities. “If we combine all the blessings of the other eleven months, they would not add up to the blessings of Ramadan.” Said the great scholar and reformer Shaikh Ahmed Farooqi. It offers every Muslim an opportunity to strengthen his Iman, purify his heart and soul, and to remove the evil effects of the sins committed by him.

“Any one who fast during this month with purity of belief and with expectation of a good reward (from the creator), will have his previous sins forgiven,” said Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. “Any one who stands in prayers during its nights with purity of belief and expectation of a reward, will have his previous sins forgiven.” As other hadith tell us, the rewards for good deeds are multiple manifold during Ramadan.

Along with the possibility of a great reward, there is the risk of a terrible loss. If we let any other month pass by carelessly, we just lost a month. If we do it during Ramadan, we have lost everything. The person misses just one day’s fast without a legitimate reason, cannot really make up for it even if he/she will fast everyday for the rest of his/her life. And of the three people that Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, cursed, one is the unfortunate Muslim who finds Ramadan in good health but does not use the opportunity to seek Allah’s mercy.

One who does not fast is obviously in this category, but so also the reason who fasts and prays but makes no effort to stay away from sins or attain purity of the heart through the numerous opportunities offered by Ramadan. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him warned us: "There are those who get nothing from their fast but hunger and thirst. There are those who get nothing from their nightly prayers but loss of sleep.”

Those who understood this, for them Ramadan was indeed a very special month. In addition to fasting, mandatory Salah, and extra Tarawih Salah, they spent the whole month in acts of worship like voluntary Salah, Tilawah (recitation of Our'an), and Dhikr etc. After mentioning that this has been the tradition of the pious people of this Ummah throughout the centuries, Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi notes: "I have seen with my own eyes such ulema and mashaikh [scholars and men of religious knowledge] who used to finish recitation of the entire Qur’an everyday during the Ramadan. They spent all most the entire night in prayers. They used to eat so little that one wondered how they could endure all this. These great valued every moment of Ramadan and would not waste any of it in any other pursuit… watching them made one believe the astounding stories of Ibadah and devotion of our elders recorded by history.

This emphasis on these acts of worship may sound strange – even misplaced – to some. It requires some explanation. We know that the term 'Ibadah (worship and obedience) in Islam applies not only to the formal acts of worship and devotion like Salah, Tilawah, and Dhikr, but it also applies to worldly acts when performed in obedience to Shari'ah and with the intention of pleasing Allah. Thus a believer going to work is performing 'Ibadah when he seeks Halal income to discharge his responsibility as a breadwinner for the family however a distinction the two. The first category consists of direct 'Ibadah, acts that are required for their own sake. The second category consists of in direct 'Ibadah - worldly act that become ‘Ibadah through proper intention and the observation of Shari'ah. While the second category is important for it extends the idea of ‘Ibadah to our entire life there is also a danger because by their very nature these acts can camouflage other motives. (Is my going to work really 'Ibadah or am I actually in the rat race?). Here the direct ‘Ibadah comes to the rescue. Through them we can purify our motives, and re-establish our relationship with Allah.

Islam does not approve of monasticism. It does not ask us to permanently isolate ourselves from this world, since our test is in living here according to the Commands of our Creator. But it does ask us to take periodic breaks from it. The mandatory Salah (five daily prayers) is one example. For a few minutes every so many hours throughout the day, we leave the affairs of this world and appear before Allah to remind ourselves that none but He is that none but He is worthy of worship and of our unfaltering obedience. Ramadan takes this to the next higher plane, providing intense training for a whole month.

This spirit is captured in I’ttikaf, a unique 'Ibadah associated with Ramadan, in which a person gives up all his normal activities and enters a mosque for a specific period. There is great merit in it and every Muslim community is encouraged to provide at least one person who will perform I’ttikaf for the last ten days of Ramadan. But even those who cannot spare ten days are encouraged to spend as much time in the mosque as possible.

Through direct ‘Ibadah we “charge our batteries”; the indirect ones allow us to use the power so accumulated in driving the vehicle of our life. Ramadan is the month of rebuilding our spiritual strength. How much we benefit from it is up to us.

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