Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Camp of Taqwa

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

InsyaAllah the long awaited Camp of Taqwa, the Holy Month Ramadhan is just around the corner. Are we all ready for this? Hopefully we all are insyaAllah or at least getting ready for it now before it is too late.

Prophet Muhammad (SAW) 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." [al-Nasai (no.1992)]

From the many important lessons to be learnt from fasting are:


Fasting has been legislated in order that we may gain taqwa as Allah (SWT) 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. (2:183).

Talq ibn Habeeb (rh) 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." [Ibnul-Mubaarak]

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 newness to Allah unless it slid from pure Iman (faith in Allah). Thus, it is pure Iman - and not habits, desires, nor seeking praise or fame, nor its flee - that should be what initiates an action. Not forgetting the preparation showed, to earn the reward of Allah and to seek His good pleasure. So Fasting is a mean of attaining taqwa, since it helps prevent a person from many sins that one is prone to. 

The Prophet (SAW) said: "Fasting is a shield with which the servant protects himself from the Fire." [Imam Ahmad Musnad (3/241)] 

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? If not, we better check back upon the way we fast all this while. Are we truly fasting? What about our eyes, ears, hand, feet, desire, thinking and our heart? Are they all fasting too?


The Prophet (SAW) 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." [Bukhari (11/48I)]

The Prophet (SAW) said: "Whosoever reaches the month of Ramadhaan and does not have his sins forgiven, and so enters the Fire, then may Allah distance him."[Ahmad (2/246) and Bayhaqi (4/204)]

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 Taraaweeh 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 those 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 Ahmad  (rh) said: "Allah has mentioned صبر (patience) in over ninety places in The Al-Quran."

The Prophet (SAW) said: "The month of Patience, and the three days of every month, are times for fasting." [Ahmad (2/163) and al-Nasai (1/327)]

The Prophet (SAW) also 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." [Bukhari & Muslim]

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. As 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 زكة (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 disbeliveers, hypocrites, heretics and also the Jihad against our own Nafs (Desire) - 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 (SWT) 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. (8:65-66).

Thus, without knowledge and patience, nothing remains, except zeal and uncontrolled emotions, shouts and hollow slogans, speech that does 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, insyaAllah.


The Prophet (SAW) said: "Whosoever does not abandon falsehood in speech and action, then Allah the Mighty and Majestic has no need that he should leave his food and drink." [Bukhari (4/99)]

He (SAW) 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 say: I am fasting, I am fasting." [Ibn Khuzaymah & Haakim]

These narrations point towards the importance of truthfulness and good manners. Thus, this blessed month teaches 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.

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 (SAW). 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 (SAW) said: "It may be that a fasting person, receives nothing from his fast, except hunger and thirst." [Ahmad (2/441) & Ibn Maajah (I/539)]


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 days - as occurs today to many of the Muslims in Africa, Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq. Indeed, the unity of the Muslims - and their aiding and assisting one another - is one of the great fundamentals upon which the Deen of Islam is built, as Allah (SWT) said: 

And hold fast altogether to the rope of Allah and do not be divided. (3:103)
The Believers - men and women - are friends and protectors to one another. (9:44) 

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 (SAW) to pray the five daily Prayers in congregation, and that it has been made twenty-seven times more rewarding 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 (SAW) 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 those that are with Him." 

Likewise, even in our everyday actions such as eating, Islam teaches us collectiveness. Thus, when some of the Companions of the Prophet (SAW) 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." 

Thus, Ramadhan is a time to increase our sense of unity and brotherhood, and our commitment to Allah and His Deen. 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 (bigoted party spirit), nor sectarianism - in order to realize that which is of benefit to the Islamic UMMAH and to establish the Islamic society that every Muslim aspires 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 those who are prevented from His Mercy and forgiveness. Indeed He is the One who Hears and He is the One to Respond.

As for now, I would also like to announce that there will be a brief hiatus in my 'serious writing' in my own blog throughout this Holy Month of Ramadhan. Let's enlive Ramadhan as if we are going to die and this is our very last Ramadhan. Here is a short clip of the very popular verses on fasting and Ramadhan (you guys might call it cliche' but have we really practise and attain what were prescribed from these verses?)

والله علم
والسلام عليكم

1 comment:

LukeHackem said...

huh, talk about having patience and steadfastness.. that was a marathon post right there bro..