Ramadhan and the wealth fast Part 4

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Muhammad H. al-'Asi

Ramadan 10, 1431 2010-08-20

Bismillah Ar-Rahmaan Ar-Raheem. Alhumdulillah. Peace and blessings on Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wa alihi wa sallam), his Noble Companions and Family. Dear Committed brothers, dear committed sisters,

This is the second week of Ramadhan- a month of patience/obedience/discipline. For those of us who are reading the Qur’an carefully we observe that at the end of the ayaat of fasting there is an ayah that seems (to be) excluded from the meanings of fasting. What this ayah is saying, (without translating it word for word)

وَلَا تَأْكُلُوا أَمْوَالَكُم بَيْنَكُم بِالْبَاطِلِ

Do not consume/circulate/use your common wealth/moneys/investments/financial transaction in an illegitimate way… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 188)

Money should not be given and should not be received with the element of batil to it. And then

وَتُدْلُوا بِهَا إِلَى الْحُكَّامِ لِتَأْكُلُوا فَرِيقًا مِّنْ أَمْوَالِ النَّاسِ بِالْإِثْمِ وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

… you bring this type of illegitimate financial transactions to those who are ruling/rulers so that you may obtain a portion of people’s wealth wrongfully or sinfully while you should know better. (Surah Al Baqarah verse 188)

This ayah seems like it’s an economic ayah. An ayah that speaks about finances and the world of money and the market. We’re talking about fasting; this ayah wasn’t per chance placed at the end of the discourse/lesson about fasting. This ayah is integral/central to the issue of fasting. The major components of this ayah is your moneys/wealth/possessions; An Naas means peoples/populations/societies; Al Hukkam means rulers/judges/decision makers. What does this have to do with fasting? It doesn’t occur to a person who is conventionally/culturally fasting “what does this have to do with fasting?” And here is where almost from year-to-year the significant lesson of fasting escapes the hundreds and millions of Muslims in the world. They fast and they do not relate their fasting to their obligations/behaviour when it comes to the assets/finances/money that they have. The last words of this ayah

وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

… while you should know or while you should know better or while you should have gained the knowledge of this or eventually while you know this to be the case. (Surah Al Baqarah verse 188)

Know what? Our Muslim public that observes the mechanical/physical fasts do not incorporate these integrated meanings into Ramadhan. Ramadhan has to do with taqwa like we said on many previous Fridays. taqwa (is) the fear of Allah’s corrective power presence in our lives. What do we say about people who fast mechanically but they don’t gain a scintilla of taqwa in this month of Ramadhan. They don’t factor in Allah as power. What do you say about them? We say about them that they are reading the Qur’an. They are doing their personal obligations/wajibah/fara’id- fast/pray- but they are not acquiring the massive psychology of taqwa. This goes absent. This psychology of taqwa puts us face-to-face with those who interfere with this power relationship with Allah. Brothers and sisters: you cannot fast in the full meaning of the word without being conscious/aware of those monopolise power and hoard wealth. Of course you are going through the bodily requirements of the fast- you don’t eat/drink/indulge your senses during the day of Ramadhan- that is the physical aspect of the fast but they are gained meanings to this. It is not done just for this. The Prophet of Allah says you may have a person who is fasting but the only thing that he gets from this fasting is (in his exact wording), only hunger and thirst. That is what we have. We have Muslims who very technically/conscientiously observe the physical fast which to them excludes dealing with physical power. This becomes the individualisation of Ramadhan and Ramadhan is a social month! How can you fast individually and part from social Ramadhan? It can be when ignorance occupies ourselves. In this month of Ramadhan we had in our history we had very important climactic events. We had the first military encounter in Muhammadi Islamic history (i.e.) the Battle of Badr was in Ramadhan. We had the liberation of Makkah (i.e.) fathu Makkah that was in Ramadhan. We had the decisive battles against the Moguls who had wreaked destruction on the Islamic territories in Asia. They were defeated in a battle called Ain Jalut in the month of Ramadhan. So Ramadhan is a month of strength and power not in the non-Islamic imposed meaning of strength. The strength we have is from conquering our own selves. When we defeat our lusts/carnal desires/the excesses of our instincts then we’ve gained the power and the strength that belongs to us. Some people think that power is material power. We’ve had, in the course of history, many powers that had risen and fell. The Qur’an is full of ayaat that show us power in light. One of the relatively short Surahs. Just in this sequence of these few ayaat we have a panorama of historical forces and powers that reached unprecedented heights of physical and material concentration of power: Aad/Thamud/Phiraun.

أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ فَعَلَ رَبُّكَ بِعَادٍ

Have you not seen or do you not consider what Allah has done to Aad? (Surah Al Fajr verse 6)

الَّتِي لَمْ يُخْلَقْ مِثْلُهَا فِي الْبِلَادِ

This power structure/powerful establishment had no equivalent and no parallel- nothing was like it. (Surah Al Fajr verse 8)

When we are fasting in the month of Ramadhan and reading these ayaat.

أَوَلَمْ يَسِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَيَنظُرُوا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ ۚ كَانُوا أَشَدَّ مِنْهُمْ قُوَّةً

Have they not taken an excursion into the history, the geography, the past and the present of the world and have they not seen what the result and outcome was of those who were stronger than they were… (Surah Ar Rum verse 9)

This takes our/any society in the world today. Can we not extend our minds into the world in history/present and see how the world was occupied with hegemonic/exploitative/concentrated/superpowers. This is what the ayaat are telling us but this is what many of us refuse to understand. What did these powers in the different eras in history, and our era included, do?

وَأَثَارُوا الْأَرْضَ وَعَمَرُوهَا أَكْثَرَ مِمَّا عَمَرُوهَا

… they agitate the world and then they construct themselves in this world… (Surah Ar Rum verse 9)

They build as you can see in history and currently how they construct their material edifice- whether it is skyscrapers/military bases/banks or other types of exploitative institutions.

وَجَاءَتْهُمْ رُسُلُهُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ ۖ فَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيَظْلِمَهُمْ وَلَٰكِن كَانُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ يَظْلِمُونَ

… and there came to them their Messengers with clear evidence; it wasn’t Allah who was going to deal them injustice, it is they themselves who deal injustice to themselves. (Surah Ar Rum verse 9)

If we are fasting Ramadhan in its healthy meaning/intended range we can’t do injustice to ourselves/others because there is always in the minutes/days/nights of Ramadhan in our mind/soul the fact that Allah’s power comes before everything else. When a Muslim settles on this fact and it is ingrained into his mettle observes Ramadhan and the other obligations of Islam with this character these superpowers that are around who frighten other people become small fish to fry. There is nothing extensive/ominous/scary about these so-called self styled/self imposed superpowers! Why do we have Muslims today who are hypnotised by these superpowers? They consider them everything. If they want to make a decision they have to consult with Washington or the other capitals of this Earthly forces. They don’t consult with Allah. In this month of Ramadhan the Israelis dictate to the Americans and then the Americans order those who rule in Islamic countries- that’s how it goes. Where’s our taqwa? If we had the massive taqwa- we’re not talking about the splinter/personal taqwa- we’re and Allah are talking about the massive taqwa that belongs to two-billion Muslims in the world. Where is that? Because we don’t have this element of taqwa in us, when we come to this last ayah in this page long instructions about Ramadhan in Surah Al Baqarah (where) Allah says (and) the inference is that it is true that we are observing a helpful month of fasting, but that is the basis and foundation of the fasting that extends for the rest of the year i.e. we should not be creatures of our greed, our avarice, monopoly of wealth, assets and resources. That is the full meaning of Ramadhan. Do we have Muslims who extend their fasting to realise that they have to cut out of society the pathogen of accumulated wealth in it?! Where’s this repeated/explained to the Muslims in the month of Ramadhan? Some Muslims put on a show. They are super rich. They don’t even know how to count their “own” money- that’s how much they have and then they come and spend “a nickel and a dime” on some Muslims in need and then they want us to believe that they are pious Muslims; that they are Muslims in the character of the Sahaba or are following the Sunnah of Rasulillah. That is what we have. This hadith of Allah’s Prophet delineates the difference between our understanding of who is a powerful individual/society and who is not. In today’s world power is military/physical power- that’s the meaning of power. (If) you have that then you have power. The Prophet of Allah is saying you’re not a tough/robust person because you’re able to wrestle someone down or to cause someone else to collapse… That’s not the definition of a robust/tough person. So what is it? …it is a person who controls himself under a barrage of emotions or when he/she is angry. Self control/discipline is the definition of power. Who’s bringing together the meanings of Ramadhan to combine them all into the discipline/self control of two billion people in the world? Let’s speak about that when we speak about fasting! But no! The powers that be want to omit it from the discourse about Ramadhan, the month of fasting and what it really means for us to observe this fast. When this is the case, of course, we no longer can take a look with the insight/foresight that we gain in Ramadhan at wealth. It’s off limits. We no longer can take a look at rulers. They also become off limits! But that is precisely the wording of the ayah that culminates the month long regiment of fasting. The last two words

وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

… and you know it… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 188)

So Allah expects us- while fasting the month of Ramadhan- to know information/news pertaining to wealth and rulers. But because we have a displaced/misplaced taqwa, (if we do have that), all of these issues are cancelled. You can’t speak about this in Ramadhan because it’s going to cause you/me/the average Muslim to open our eyes to the real world. And Ramadhan is not supposed to be an activity/season of obedience to Allah?!?!!? The elements of Ramadhan- sabr/patience, ta’a/obedience and then discipline/nidham/intidham are the salient features of Ramadhan. As sabr/patience… Allah and His Prophet are saying in ayaat and ahadith if you have the patience to control your own inner self with all the desires that it has (or) if you voluntarily abstain from something/a desire/lust that is halaal… That’s what we do in Ramadhan- eating/drinking/having sex with your wife/husband is halaal. In Ramadhan we voluntarily abstain from that. So if we voluntarily abstain from things that are desirable to us that are halaal then we can abstain from things that are desirable to us that are haraam! What’s wrong with you? You can fast in the month of Ramadhan and you can deny yourself… Your stomach tells you “I’m hungry why don’t you feed me; I’m thirsty why don’t you give me water; I feel the urge for a relationship with my other significant half” These are all halaal but during the days of Ramadhan we can’t partake in this because we are developing this element of patience. If we had Muslims who have been cultured and educated by this patience we’d have the best armed forces in the world. (Take a) look at the armies/militaries of the world. They need their candy bars. They have to have “their three squares a day.” They have to be entertained. They bring them women to entertain them (and) dance in front of them. This is the real world that our Ramadhan and our lives are in. Compare these troops who are occupying our lands who satisfy their carnal desires/instincts i.e. their stomachs and their sexual organs- they satisfy them night and day to a Muslim who is in control of him/herself? They don’t need that. They can go hungry for days/weeks/months living on the bare minimum. Why? Because they practised Ramadhan and they took their graduation from Ramadhan into the real world. So if they become warriors they have this necessary element of sabr in them. They’re not going to be defeated. How is a committed Muslim who observes Ramadhan entertained? He/she is entertained by offering their ibadaat to Allah. Speaking to Allah is their “entertainment.” Allah speaking to them is “entertainment.” These other occupiers/invaders of Muslim lands come with their bellies/instincts and then they spend their nights and days satisfying the satanic urge in them. The Muslims are “high.” (We’re going to borrow the words that are used), the Muslims “get high” on their relationship with Allah- a relationship in the real world that brings these meanings to us. The Prophet of Allah says a person does not share my commitment... Who’s that person? A person who goes to sleep at night on a full stomach when his/her neighbour goes to sleep hungry while he knows it i.e. while the person who says he is a Mu’min knows that his/her neighbour are hungry when they went to sleep. The Prophet of Allah says such a person does not share my commitment. This is a serious statement. Why is it conveniently taken out of circulation? This is a hadith. You people who emphasize the hadith so much more than the ayaat- well here’s a hadith! Why don’t you emphasize this hadith?! Because it’s going to disturb your relationship with the powers that-be? Is that why? And if it disturbs your relations with the powers that-be that means you practically don’t have a relationship with Allah because if you had that relationship, the powers that-be would have been trivial and miniscule. But now they occupy your horizons. You can’t see anything except the powers that-be! and “Oh Allah! Oh yes! Allah. We’ll give lip service.” The facts of our lives. Like we have always tried to extend this meaning from the individual to the society and look at the checker geography that we have- a very rich area and next to it- it’s neighbour- a very poor area. Do these people who have these riches share the commitment of Allah’s Prophet? You take Allah’s Prophet’s hadith and you be the judge.

Brothers and sisters, committed Muslims…

This is a hot day in the month of Ramadhan and we humbly beg your pardon if the khutbah had extended itself. We have been on the streets for twenty-seven years. This is the month of Ramadhan that is supposed to be the month of caring and sharing. When we experience in the month of Ramadhan hunger- that’s a pain. Hunger is not something that can be dismissed but this pain and experience is supposed to generate a feeling of mercy; and that feeling of mercy is supposed to generate social justice. Hunger-mercy-social justice in Ramadhan but its as if the ayaat and ahadith are speaking to corpses.

There’s nothing that’s been kept away from you, (who come here on Friday), as pertains to this Islamic Centre. In the past week since last Friday twice, (we don’t hide anything), a Saudi satellite TV channel contacted yours humbly and said “would you mind to present your ideas on the Masjid around which there is a growing controversy in New York.” As has been our “belief/conviction”- if there are no strings attached/no red lines, the truth has to be presented. So when no one placed any strings on us (and) no one gave us any red lines i.e. “You can’t speak about this/that/or the other. Go ahead. Speak your mind.” So we went to one of these places a studio in Arlington, Virginia and expressed ourselves for a few minutes and then the line was cut. They said “they had technical difficulties.” The second time, (which was just yesterday)… The other program over the weekend was just half an hour; yesterday’s program was one hour and the same thing. On three different times in the hour, we begin to speak and then we find that we’re cut off. We don’t know. Allah knows better and knows all the details. The striking element in all of this is (the satellite TV channel) presenting yours brotherly here to their public. The satellite TV channel is basically concentrated in the Arab countries. It’s not beamed over here- in North America. They introduced this humble self in the second i.e. yesterday’s program as “the elected Imam of the Islamic Centre in Washington DC.” This is an elected Imam in Washington DC then why is it for twenty-seven years he can’t even go to the Masjid, Hajj and Umrah?! Are they having difficulties among themselves? Do they not have enough information? Are they super smart or super dumb? Allah knows best. This is the month of Ramadhan in which we will gain more patience; we will feel more mercy and more determined to have social justice.

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