The Intrinsic meanings of Ramadhan Part 16

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Muhammad H. al-'Asi

Sha'ban 30, 1433 2012-07-20

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,

We don’t know what the definition of each Muslim is about the beginning and the ending of the month of Ramadhan. It is not our style to get into trying to debate issues to death. Suffice it to say that there are clear words from Allah and His Prophet concerning the beginning and ending of the month of Ramadhan and of every lunar month of the year. The Prophet of Allah says, (we think this is a consensual hadith which means something like the following in English), you begin your fast in accordance with the visualisation of it, (and it here means the crescent moon), and you end your month of fasting according to the visualisation of the crescent moon and if there are interfering atmospheric circumstances then you consider the month of Sha’baan to be thirty days. Dear brothers and sisters- at the time of this hadith we didn’t have the scientific calculations and knowledge that we have today. This does not mean that we understand the hadith to be obsolete and this does not mean that the hadith was not meant for people who are living with advanced information pertaining to the calculation of the appearance of a crescent moon and then the disappearance of the same crescent moon. Simply stated, this hadith tells you and me and every committed Muslim that the determination of the beginning of the lunar month is the sight-ability of the hilal- whether it is actually sighted or not sighted is one of these areas in which today we are living this difference of opinion because we have some people who simply cannot advance their thoughts to think of this world as one unit, one society, one geography. This is a fact of life. When will they reach that time, if they will ever reach it is in Allah’s knowledge- not in my knowledge or your knowledge. We wish this could occur tomorrow and we could put behind us these types of divisive arguments that are played out as we see today, yesterday and tomorrow. Some people began their fast today (and) some people are going to begin their fast tomorrow. Whatever the case maybe, this is the area of mental disagreement that we share in today’s world. We’re not here to draw a judgement to say someone is better than the other or someone is more committed to Allah than the other- we’re not in that area (and) may Allah accept from everyone according to their own ijtihad. This is something else that you have not experienced from this speaker. In the course of these many years there have been silent or there have been subdued voices that have from behind the scenes tried to criticise this khutbah and this jum’ah for a lack of quotations from Allah’s Prophet concerning the month of Ramadhan. So in order for us to try to be responsive to the larger body of Muslims who will listen to this khutbah beyond this time of day today via the internet and other means will take now a healthy look at some of the information that comes to us from our beloved Prophet about this blessed month.

The Prophet of Allah is reported to have said the following concerning the month of Ramadhan, my ummah in the month of Ramadhan has been given what no other Prophet before has been given. The Prophet says when the first night passes by in the month of Ramadhan Allah Exalted and Extolled be He looks at them… Now brothers and sisters, when everyone or anyone speaks about Allah, we speak in relative terms because He is not created. So if we say Allah looks, it is not the way as we look; so let’s not get into these hair splitting philosophical arguments that take place when someone is referring to an ayah or a hadith. So Allah after the first night or when the first night of Ramadhan passes looks at those who are fasting. In another phasing of this meaning Allah takes notice of those who are fasting and whoever Allah takes notice of He will never expose to torment. This is one of the virtues of those who observe their fast as it’s supposed to be observed. As for the second of these five virtues that were given to Allah’s final Prophet and not to any Prophet preceding him, it means the breath of those who are fasting, (in this cases it may refer to the odious smell of the breath in medical terms it’s called halitosis), as far as Allah is concerned this is more pleasing to Him than the fragrance of musk. As for the third, the Angels ask forgiveness every day and every night in this month for those who are observing this fast. As for the forth, Allah Extolled and Exalted be He, orders His Jannah and He says to it prepare yourself (or) adorn yourself for My subjects and servants. They are just about to retire from the labour of their world to My domain and to My honour. As for the fifth, when the last night comes to pass Allah will have forgiven all of them. Then there’s a person listening and then he expresses himself and says is it laylat ul qadr? He replies no. Have you not seen workers who are involved in a project? Once they finish their project they are compensated for it. The same is applicable to Ramadhan- consider it like a project, once you finish the last day you are given your total compensation.

In another hadith from Allah’s Prophet, in reference to the significance and to the virtues and to the merits of Ramadhan, he says if people knew the true value of Ramadhan my ummah would desire that the whole year become Ramadhan. There are some facets concerning the month of Ramadhan as pertains to when we break our fast. When the time to break your fast approaches you should do so as expeditiously as possible. The same applies, but in reverse manner, to the sahar (or) the suhur. When you eat anything at the beginning of the fast of the day- that is to be postponed until the last minutes possible provided it is done also within its timeframe. This doesn’t mean (that) when Allah’s Prophet is teaching us to eat to break our fast in an immediate sense that we break our fast before the timeframe approaches and when he advises and teaches us to delay our suhur he’s not advising us to delay it to the extent when the day has already began or the sun has already risen.

(In) another hadith that refers to the merits and the credits and the value of Ramadhan- whoever makes the effort to stay up additional hours during the night as a matter of conviction (and) as a matter of counting this effort with Allah… Because some people, its human nature, put on a show. Some people want to be recognised by other people. Some people think that the weight of public opinion is more than the weight of Allah’s observance of your act or what you’re doing. Whatever the case is, that is not ihtisaaban. Whoever observes this fast as a matter of iman and as a matter of ihtisaab Allah will efface all of his preceding errors, mistakes, sins and even crimes.

(In) another hadith that flows into the meaningful time of Ramadhan- whoever provides food or sustenance to a person who is observing the fast then he gains the equivalent of the compensation for that fast without taking away from the merits of the person who is fasting. What is it about the month of Ramadhan that should stand out in our mind? One of the aspects of the month of Ramadhan that we should be conscious of is that Al Qur’an delivers more meanings in the month of Ramadhan. This harkens back to the ayah in which Allah says

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ

The month of Ramadhan is the month in which the Qur’an has become accessible… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 185)

Don’t fall into these partial meanings and these physical meanings and these distracting meanings which tell you the month of Ramadhan is the month in which the Qur’an descends or the Qur’an comes down. No. It means the month of Ramadhan is the month in which the Qur’an becomes accessible. It is not that the Qur’an is never accessible or it’s not that the Qur’an is not accessible in other months! It is that the Qur’an is more accessible during this month of Ramadhan. It is more accessible because of the transformation in ourselves that is supposed to take place during this month of Ramadhan when we are liberated from this duniya, when we are free from our desires and our lusts, when we are no longer under the pressure of our own body and it’s own demands, when we break loose from this body and it’s chains the meanings of the Qur’an open up even more than they have opened up previously. So in this month of Ramadhan our Islamic literature says to us the Angel Jibreel during this month of Ramadhan would teach further meanings of this Qur’an to the Prophet. It has the sense that, (and we’re taking translations license here), Jibreel would tutor the Prophet concerning the meanings of this Qur’an in the month of Ramadhan. So if that was with Allah’s Prophet, it is with everyone who is in the footsteps and in the character of Allah’s Prophet.

During the month of Ramadhan the Prophet of Allah was the most generous person on Earth. We say this without any exaggeration and we say this without any self in it. We belong to Allah’s Prophet (and) we try to second his motions. He was very generous in all other months but he was particularly and emphatically generous during this month of Ramadhan. If you want to give, you give during this month of Ramadhan. Giving has many expressions. You can give out of your wealth. If you have extra money you give to those who are in need- no questions asked, no second thoughts. Also, giving is an emotional issue. You can give out of your emotions. There are people who are emotionally starving in this world. Just like there are people who are physically hungry in this world there are other individuals who are in their own selves lacking the emotional attachment, the sympathy, the pity, the compliments (and) the attachment to others. A person can give in the month of Ramadhan in this area and this is needed in family circles, it is needed in circles of friendship and acquaintances, it is needed in the work force. Wherever a person finds himself working there are also other people around him or her, it is in the neighbourhood with neighbours. There are many channels and many avenues for this emotional giving. Many times, because we Muslims have been stuck in a physical and materialistic world when some says the word giving, we immediately think about money, we think about finances but giving is much more than that. A smile on your face to a person who is broken hearted or a person who needs emotional upliftment goes a long way, a helping hand goes a long way. In this month of Ramadhan our Prophet teaches us to be giving. As sadaqa is giving. Az zakah is giving. Al ihsan is giving. Another hadith of the Prophet says and smiling to the face of your brother is sadaqa. (Do) you see how the line is blurred between what you physically give and what you emotionally give? These meanings have to be accentuated in this month of Ramadhan.

The Prophet of Allah used to break his fast, (as is well known), on rutab or tamraat. These are simply two types of dates. If he didn’t find any he would break his fast with water. There are health issues (and) there are medical issues involved here and we leave those to who are experts in these fields. At the time of iftar Allah’s Prophet taught us to say, (there is longer versions of this and there are shorter versions of this, we are going to go with the shorter version) Oh Allah for You I have fasted... You see- listen closely, I’m not fasting for myself, I’m not fasting for my family I’m not fasting for the other person, I’m not fasting just because of the tradition or the culture or the custom says I fast- that’s not the fasting that is required. Oh Allah for you I have fasted and with your provisions I have broken my fast... Abstaining is done for Allah and consumption is done with what Allah has provided us. … The thirst now has dissipated and the veins now in our bodies are saturated. That’s the short version of it. When we come to the books of fiqh, (as we said at the beginning of this khutbah, this khutbah is a filler, so to speak, concerning the types of good willing Muslims out there who say “well this khutbah which is given on Massachusetts Avenue by that particular person is lacking in the Prophet’s hadith”; OK- this is a make up one for those who consider it like that. We are sorry that they cannot follow us very accurately but we are extending our hands and ourselves to them), we find that there are conditions for the fast and they count them like this: (there are) three conditions for a person to qualify to fast. (The) first one they tell us is Islam. Brothers and sisters, (as your humble brother always requests you), please think when you read. These Fuqaha’ are not infallible. These Fuqaha’ can make mistakes and this is one of the areas in which yours truly is pointing out one of the mistakes they made. They say Al Islam is a condition for fasting and we tell them al iman is a condition for fasting. These two words Al Islam and Al Iman are mentioned in the Qur’an and in this specific area Allah says

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

O You, who are committed to Allah, fasting has been declared a mandatory service upon you as it has been on those before you so that you may take heed of Allah, so that your awareness of Allah will become a barrier to the punishment and the penalty of Allah. (Surah Al Baqarah verse 183)

So al iman over here is a condition for fasting. The civil description of citizens is Islam and fasting is not binding on those who are in a civil sense Muslims. So if we could just activate our minds a little, the ayaat are in front of us and the hadiths are in front of us and then the thinking out of all of this by the Fuqaha’ and the Ulema’ and the Scholars is all in front of us, (and we don’t do this to disrespect anyone, we only do this so that we can approach Allah with a sound understanding of things). So let us place what they all have said to us (i.e.) that a condition of fasting is Al Islam and tell them a condition for fasting is al iman. And then al aql. Obviously fasting is not a responsibility of a person who’s insane (or) a person who plays insanity (or) a person who’s IQ may be ten or twenty. Thinking, the intellect, the mind, the sanity- that’s a condition for fasting. Then al bulugh, reaching the age of responsibility. Here also we part company with those who emphasize reaching the age of puberty. Obviously that is the physical condition of what we are talking about, but the lost dimension here is the responsibility that comes with puberty. So wouldn’t it be more socially sensitive to say reaching the age of responsibility. Let us work this terminology into our fiqh literature. Then, from Allah’s Prophet’s hadiths there are foundations for the fasting. The first one obviously is the commencing of the month of Ramadhan. What do we do at this time? We abstain in the physical sense, (we’re speaking physically here), from consumption of our two major appetites- the one for food and water and the other one for sex. Then there has to be a niyah, there has to be an intention. Without going into the many pages of discussions about this, it suffices to make a major intention at the beginning of the month of Ramadhan that you’re going to fast the whole month without having to repeat that intention every day. Then there is what invalidates the fast (or) what breaks your fasting. If you intentionally eat anything, that breaks the fast. If you intentionally drink anything, that breaks the fast. If you are injected with any nutrient into your bloodstream, that breaks the fast. Coitus breaks the fast. What is makrooh is something that doesn’t break the fast but it shouldn’t be done during the month of Ramadhan- one of them is bloodletting. You let blood out of your system. The other one is the sexual arousal in both male and female. It is something that doesn’t break the fast but it is something that is discouraged from happening during this month of Ramadhan. Breathing smoke or dust doesn’t break your fast but it is something very discouraged in the month of Ramadhan. Before and after speaking of these physical traits of Ramadhan we should understand that Ramadhan is a season that brings the best of us out. It brings our best character out into the open. The morality that is involved, the inter-connectedness with other people that is involved, the social responsibilities that are involved, the concern towards those who don’t have in life- you can give them whatever word you want. Anyone who doesn’t have what is necessary in life, we owe them in the month of Ramadhan, our attention and our care. This can be expressed in many ways but don’t lose sight of this fact, which means to be overtly generous; giving whatever that may be for those who are in need. Don’t tell us “there are not people in the world that don’t need.” Don’t be local- need is a global issue. If you’re not satisfied with someone who says they need in your vicinity- believe it, there are billions of people in the world who need who are outside of your vicinity. This is a shrinking world- you have no excuse now that there is no information, no transportation (and) no communication. All of that is flowing very rapidly now. In the month of Ramadhan just like it is haraam to break your fast with food, it is haraam to break your fast with bad words. Injurious words break the fast. This is an area not many people concentrate on because we’ve moved into a materialistic world. We fast because we don’t eat or drink (or) we don’t satisfy our appetite but no one is saying that “I am fasting also because I refuse to say a bad word concerning a certain person.” In the Islamic wordiology there is al gheebah and al nameemah. A person has a bad character and you may say something about that person (i.e.) his or her bad character- that invalidates your siyam even if it’s the truth. We don’t mean the social character of a person, we’re talking about his or her private character because we have a private character and we have a social character. The social character has to be in the public eye in Ramadhan and outside of Ramadhan and this means those who are making decisions, who are disturbing lives and who are killing people. We can’t say “oh- we are fasting. We can’t take notice of a social character of a certain decision maker.” That’s not what it means. We’re speaking about the personal or individual characters of people. Even speaking about this factual issue can break a person’s fast. In the month of Ramadhan, don’t get into arguments. The first or second sentence you notice that you’re getting into an argument, stop. Don’t say a further word to maintain your fast. There is no argumentations in the month of Ramadhan. The Prophet of Allah says concerning this area it may happen (or) it may occur that we have people or we have a person who is fasting but the only thing that he or she has of the fast is hunger and thirst. The implication over here is fasting is much more than abstaining from food and water; it is abstaining from foul language, it is abstaining from character assassination, it is abstaining from hurting the feelings of others without others justification.

Dear brothers and sisters, dear committed Muslims- all…

It is true that we in the month of Ramadhan go into ourselves and we score a victory in the area of our own selves. This is the primary victory, this is the essential victory to score the other worldly victories out there. To do this we need thinking minds. This is the absent element that has been dogging us for all of these years (i.e.) the absent mind. We need minds that are present, minds of that are aware of what’s happening such as, (we are looking at a social character here, we are not looking at an individual and his personal traits), the Saudi Ambassador who caused this Jum’ah to be out in the street. As of yesterday, he has become the Head of Intelligence. “A CIA asset” by his own admission has become the Head of Intelligence of the land of the Haramayn Ash Sharifayn- Makkah and Al Madinah, Al Hejaz, Jazeerah Al Arab. They want you to say “Oh, in Ramadhan you have to be dumb! You can’t think about these things happening.” Another primary CIA asset who was the Head of Egyptian Intelligence for many years has gone on to accountability with Allah- from Egypt to Cleveland Ohio where medicine could not rescue him and he had to go on now to His Creator and Maker who will hold him accountable for all the decisions he has made, especially that which is called “rendition, hand over of innocent Muslims- whose crime in his book is that they are committed to Allah and His Prophet- to the torture chambers of torturers and persecutors in other countries around the world.” Some people are contemplating the idea of giving that criminal a state funeral?! It is true that we are supposed to fast Ramadhan, but that doesn’t mean we close our eyes and play ostrich and be dumb down and make believe nothing is happening. No! This Ramadhan should sensitise us to this area of the social pollution that is around us.

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