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Important Lessons to be learnt from Ramadaan


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.”

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.”

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.”

“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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

So drawing closer to Allah – the Most 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.”

 

3: ACQUIRING PATIENCE

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

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

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.

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.”

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.

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.”

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.

5: SENSING MUSLIM UNITY

The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
“Fast when they fast, and break your fast when they break their fast, and sacrifice the day they sacrifice.

Imam at-Tirmidhi (d.275H) – rahimahullah – said:
“Some of the People of Knowledge explained this hadith by saying: Its meaning is to fast and break the fast along with the jama’ah and the majority of people.”

Thus, in this blessed month we can sense an increased feeling of unity and of being a single Ummah due to our fasting and breaking our fast collectively. We also feel an increased awareness about the state of affairs of the Muslims and of the hardships that they endure, because: “During the fast, a Muslim feels and experiences what his needy and hungry brothers and sisters feel, who are forced to go without food and drink for many many days – as occurs today to many of the Muslims in Africa.”

Indeed, the units of the Muslims – and their aiding and assisting one another – is one of the great fundamentals upon which the Religion of Islam is built, as Allah – the Mort High – said: And hold fast altogether to the rope of Allah and do not be divided.” [Surah al-‘lmran 3:103].  Allah – the Most High – also said: “The Believers – men and women – and friends and protectors to one another.” [Surah al-Towbah 9:44].

Shaykhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728H)- rahimahullah – said:
“The welfare of people will not be complete – neither in this world, nor in the Hereafter – except with ijtima’ (collectiveness), ta’awun (mutual cooperation), and tanasur (mutual help); mutual-co-operation in order to secure benefits, and mutual help in order to ward off harm. It is for this reason that man is said to be social and civil by nature.

Thus we see that Islam lays great importance in bringing hearts together and encouraging ijtima’ (collectiveness). This is not only reflected in the month of Ramadhan, but also in the other acts of worship as well. So, for example, we have been ordered by the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to pray the five daily Prayers in congregation, and that it has been made twenty-seven times more rewardful than praying it individually. Likewise, this similar collective spirit is demonstrated in the act of Hajj (Pilgrimage). Even in learning knowledge and studying it, blessings have been placed in collectiveness, as Allah’s Messenger sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “No people gather together in a house from the houses of Allah, reciting the Book of Allah and studying it amongst themselves, except that tranquility descends upon them, mercy envelops them, the angels surround them, and Allah mentions them to there that are with Him.”

Likewise, even in our everyday actions such, as eating, Islam teacher us collectiveness. Thus, when some of the Companions of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to him: O Messenger of Allah, we eat but do not become satisfied. He replied: “Perhaps you eat individually?” They replied: Yes! So he said: “Eat collectively and mention the name of Allah. There will then be blessings for you in it.”

Indeed, even in the etiquettes of sitting the spirit of collectiveness is demonstrated. So, one day the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam came across the Companions who were sitting in separate circles, so he said to them: “Why do I see you sitting separately!”

Similarly, Abu Tha’labah al-Khurhani radiallahu ‘anhu said: Whenever the people used to encamp, they used to split-up into the mountain passes and valley’s. So Allah’s Messenger sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Indeed your being split-up in there mountain passes and valley’s is from Shaytan.”  Thereafter, whenever they used to encamp, they used to keep very close together, to such an extent that it was said: If a cloth were to be spread over them, it would cover them all.

Thus, Ramadhan is a time to increase our sense of unity and brotherhood, and our commitment to Allah and His Religion. And there is no doubt that this sense of unity necessitates that: “We all work together as required by Islam as sincere brothers – not due to hizbiyyah (bigotted party spirit), nor sectarianism – in order to realise that which is of benefit to the Islamic Ummah and to establish the Islamic society that every Muslim aspirer for – so that the Shari’ah (Prescribed Law) of Allah is applied upon His earth.”  So we must examine ourselves during the month of Ramadhan and ask: What is my role – and each of us has a role – in helping this precious Ummah to regain its honour, and return to the Ummah its comprehensive unity and strength, and victory that has been promised to it! Likewise, we should reflect upon our own character and actions and ask. Are they aiding the process of unity and brotherhood, or are they a harm and a hindrance to it!

So we ask Allah to grant us the ability to change ourselves for the better, during this blessed month, and not to be of there who are prevented from His Mercy and Forgiveness. Indeed He is the One who Hears and He is the One to Respond.

Source: Al-Istiqaamah Magazine, Issue No.5 ,Jan 1997

Who MUST fast in Ramadan?


Question: For whom is fasting Ramadaan obligatory?

Answer:
Praise be to Allaah.
Fasting is obligatory for a person if he fulfills five conditions:

  1. He is a Muslim
  2. He is accountable (mukallaf)
  3. He is able to fast
  4. He is settled (not travelling)
  5. There are no impediments to fasting

If these five conditions are met, then it is obligatory for a person to fast.

Kaafirs are excluded from the first condition. The kaafir is not obliged to fast and his fast is not valid. If he becomes Muslim he is not obliged to make up fasts from before.

The evidence for that is the verse in which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“And nothing prevents their contributions from being accepted from them except that they disbelieved in Allaah and in His Messenger (Muhammad) and that they came not to As-Salaah (the prayer) except in a lazy state, and that they offer not contributions but unwillingly” [al-Tawbah 9:54]

If the contribution is not acceptable even though it benefits others, because of their kufr, then other acts of worship may be even more unacceptable.

He does not have to make up fasts if he becomes Muslim because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Say to those who have disbelieved, if they cease (from disbelief), their past will be forgiven” [al-Anfaal 8:38]

And it was proven in mutawaatir reports that the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not tell those who became Muslim to make up the obligatory duties that they had missed.

Question: Will the kaafir be punished in the Hereafter for not fasting if he did not become Muslim?

Answer: Yes, he will be punished for not fasting, and for not doing any other obligatory duties, because if the Muslim who obeyed Allaah and adhered to His laws will be punished for that, then it is more apt that he (the kaafir) should be punished. If the kaafir is to be punished for the blessings of Allaah that he enjoyed, such as food, drink and clothing, then it is more appropriate that he will be punished for doing haraam actions and not doing obligatory duties. This is by way of analogy.

With regard to the texts, Allaah says that those on the Right (i.e., the believers) will say to the disbelievers:

‘What has caused you to enter Hell?’

They will say: ‘We were not of those who used to offer the Salaah (prayers),

Nor used we to feed Al-Miskeen (the poor);

And we used to talk falsehood (all that which Allaah hated) with vain talkers.

And we used to belie the Day of Recompense’”

[al-Muddaththir 74:42]

These four things are what will cause them to enter Hell.

“We were not of those who used to offer the Salaah (prayers)” means they did not pray; “Nor used we to feed Al-Miskeen (the poor)” means they did not pay zakaah; “And we used to talk falsehood (all that which Allaah hated) with vain talkers” means things like mocking the verses of Allaah; “And we used to belie the Day of Recompense.”

The second condition:

He should be accountable (mukallaf). The one who is mukallaf is one who is has reached the age of puberty and is of sound mind, because a minor or one who is insane is not accountable. Puberty is reached when one of the three signs is noticed.

The one who is of sound mind is the opposite of one is insane, which is one who has lost his mind, whether he is insane or feeble-minded. Everyone who has lost his mind, in whatever sense, is not accountable and he is not obliged to do any of the obligatory duties of Islam, be it prayer, fasting or feeding the poor; he does not have to do anything at all.

The third condition:

Being able to fast. The one who is unable to fast does not have to fast, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe Sawm (fasts) must be made up] from other days” [al-Baqarah 2:185]

But being unable to fast falls into two categories: temporary inability and permanent inability.

Temporary inability is that which is mentioned in the verse quoted above, such as one who is sick but hopes to recover, and the traveller. These people are allowed not to fast, then they have to make up what they missed.

Those who are permanently unable to fast, such as one who is sick and has no hope of recovery, or those who are elderly and are unable to fast, are mentioned in the verse (interpretation of the meaning):

“And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskeen (poor person) (for every day)” [al-Baqarah 2:184]

As Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) interpreted it, it refers to the old man and old woman who are not able to fast, so they should feed one poor person for each day.

The fourth condition:

He should be settled (not travelling). If he is travelling then it is not obligatory for him to fast, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe Sawm (fasts) must be made up] from other days”

[al-Baqarah 2:185]

The scholars are agreed that it is permissible for a traveller not to fast.

It is better for the traveller to do that which is easier. If fasting is likely to be harmful then it becomes haraam to fast, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

And do not kill yourselves (nor kill one another). Surely, Allaah is Most Merciful to you” [al-Nisa’ 4:29]

This indicates that whatever is harmful to a person is forbidden to him.

If you ask, what is the degree of harm which makes fasting haraam?

The answer is:

Harm may be physical, or someone advises him that fasting may harm him. With regard to physical harm, that means that the sick person feels that fasting is harming him and causing him pain, and will delay his recovery and so on.

With regard to being advised, this means that a knowledgeable and trustworthy doctor tells him that it will harm him.

The fifth condition:

There should be no impediments. This applies specifically to women. Women who are menstruating or bleeding following childbirth should not fast, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Is it not the case that when she gets her period, she does not pray or fast?”

So she should not fast and her fast is not valid in this case, according to scholarly consensus. And she has to make up the days missed, also according to scholarly consensus.

Al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 6/330.

And Allaah knows best.

By IslamQ&A

 

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