بسم الله الرحمان الرحين الحمد لله رب العالمين و صلاة و سلام على أشرف النبين و إمام المتقين سيدنا و مولانا محمد المصطفى و على أهل البيت الطاهرين
Imagine that you are a foot-soldier on a battlefield. Behind you is a mounted horseman, in pursuit trying to kill you. Battered and beaten, you flee from the enemy. As you run, he strikes you left and right, blow after blow.. Injured and dazed, you look into the near distance and see a friendly castle. With the enemy right behind you, you run towards the castle. Dropping your sword and shield, you make haste across the bridge, and with your last ounce of strength, you pull up the draw-bridge. You collapse, exhausted and disheveled, thanking God for safety and your respite…
The battlefield is your life. The enemy attacking you is Shaytaan, whispering into your hearts. And the castle is Ramadan.
When we think of Ramadan, we often think of not eating or drinking during daylight hours. This is literally how we explain it to others. Some of the more adventurous amongst us mention abstinence. We make frequent mention of the health benefits, or that fasting reminds us of how the poor feel.
This is certainly part of Ramadan, no doubt. But these tangible benefits can be achieved through other means. Like any act of worship, fasting is simply a vehicle. Allah does not need you to abstain from food, drink or sex during the day, he is the Self-Sufficient, without need. So why fast?
Allah says in the Qur’an:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
O you who believe, fasting is decreed upon you, as it was decreed upon those before you so that you may become God-Concious – Surah Baqarah
While these other benefits are beneficial, the purpose of fasting ultimately is so that we may attain a sense of awareness of God in our daily lives, as a means to purify us, and to remember God. Humans need food and drink to survive, but when a person consciously denies himself sustenance, that feeling of hunger is a reminder that he is only doing this for the sake of God.
One of the definitions of spirituality in Islam is the abasement of the lower-self (nafs) and the elevation of the will of God. Obeying God’s decree and denying your nafs it’s want will increase your spiritual connection to Allah; an experiential connection beyond parroting a dhikr without any understanding.
You might be wondering, what makes fasting unique? When you think of any other act of worship, you are actively doing something, be it verbalizing your faith, or praying, or giving charity. But fasting is the only act of worship where you do not do something. The Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم said:
“Allah said, ‘All the deeds of Adam’s sons (people) are for them, except fasting which is for Me, and I will give the reward for it.’ Fasting is a shield or protection from the fire and from committing sins. If one of you is fasting, he should avoid sexual relation with his wife and quarreling, and if somebody should fight or quarrel with him, he should say, ‘I am fasting.’ By Him in Whose Hands my soul is’ The unpleasant smell coming out from the mouth of a fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than the smell of musk. There are two pleasures for the fasting person, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord; then he will be pleased because of his fasting.”
When a soldier takes time off, does he simply rest and relax? No, he trains and re-energizes for the battle ahead. May this Ramadan allow us to spiritually recharge and be ready for the tests and trials of life ahead of us. Ameen.
Here are some practical steps and tips to take advantage of this Ramadan:
- Consign yourself to a regiment of the Qur’an every day, even if it is just one page, even if in English;
- Do not use Ramadan as an excuse to become lazy at work, such that people see Ramadan as the time when the Muslims’ productiveness reduces.
- Spend time in the masjid, and not just during Taraweh. The masjids should feel like our second home;
- Do not overeat, overeating will make you lazy, lethargic, and skip out on extra acts of worship;
- Cut out the Beyonce and and replace it with dhikr of Allah. On your commutes to school and work, repeat Allahumma salli ‘ala saydinaa Muhammad wa ‘ala Aali Muhammad (O God, send your blessings upon Muhammad, and upon the family of Muhammad);
- If you are an Ahmadi, visit a mainstream Muslim masjid a few times this month for Taraweh and regular prayers;
- Calm down…Do not get upset, and let things slide…
May Allah make this a month of reflection for us, a month of dhikr, a month of recitation of the Qur’an; May Allah purify our sins, and reconnect our hearts with Allah; May Allah help the Muslims all around the world, especially in Somalia where they have been affected by the droughts; Oh Allah, do not allow our hearts to go astray after they have been guided, O Allah, keep us firm upon your religion, O Allah, aid Islam and the Muslims; O Allah, allow us to witness the Night of Decree, O Allah, revive our hearts like you revive the deserts; O Allah, guide the Ahmadis to Islam; O Allah, fill our hearts with the love of you and of your Prophet Muhammad.
و صلى الله على سيدنا و مولانا محمد و على آله و صحبه و سلم