The intrinsic meanings of Ramadhan Part 17

Ensuring Socio-economic Justice

Muhammad H. al-'Asi

Ramadan 07, 1433 2012-07-27

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 month of Ramadhan is an opportunity in which a larger opportunity presents itself. Fasting as an individual is one thing; fasting as an individual in a body of millions of other individuals who are fasting in the same timeframe is another thing. This act and this effort of fasting as it is meant and defined not by ourselves but by Allah and His Prophet is something we should be curious, inquisitive and probing about. It’s not something that we should observe absentmindedly or passively or traditionally and in a customary way. Allah teaches us in a way that makes us conscious of what we are doing and of our own selves, especially in this observant month of Ramadhan. At the essence of this effort of sawm, at the core of this month of Ramadhan is a word called al haqq, (which has many translations). The first effort of our mind is that we recognise (that) Al Haqq is a description, an attribute and a characteristic of Allah. When we present what Allah has given us to other people we are presenting Al Haqq; we are presenting part of Allah’s guidance, His knowledge and in an extended meaning His Self.

وَكَذَّبَ بِهِ قَوْمُكَ

And your people take issue with this… (Surah Al An’am verse 66)

Whether it is fasting or whether it is any other effort that defines who we are, Allah says

وَكَذَّبَ بِهِ قَوْمُكَ

And your people take issue with it and your people falsify it and your people lie about it… (Surah Al An’am verse 66)

When Allah tells us to do something, we know that it is our responsibility to do it; but when we do it we should do it with all of the endowment Allah has given us- primarily the endowment of thinking. When Allah speaks about permission to enter a home, it is called ist’ikdhaan, He says to us teaching us (and) speaking to our mind

هُوَ أَزْكَىٰ لَكُمْ

… it is better for you (or) it is a matter of purity for you (or) it is an elevation of you (or) it is a matter of taste… (Surah An Nur verse 28)

(But) taste here doesn’t mean the sense that you use in your mouth. We say “a person has taste” meaning he has character (or) he’s refined. So when Allah is telling us to ask permission and not just to open doors and go in some person’s house (He says)

هُوَ أَزْكَىٰ لَكُمْ

… it is better for you (or) it is a matter of purity for you (or) it is an elevation of you (or) it is a matter of taste… (Surah An Nur verse 28)

He could have just told us, without explaining to us, look if you’re going to enter somewhere you do it by knocking (or) by asking for permission to enter and that would have been that- finished. Why should He follow up that and say

هُوَ أَزْكَىٰ لَكُمْ

… it is better for you (or) it is a matter of purity for you (or) it is an elevation of you (or) it is a matter of taste… (Surah An Nur verse 28)

(It is) to teach us what we are doing. What we do, we do in the company of our thoughts.

When Allah tells us

يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ

… to look the other way if there is a matter of attraction (or) if there is a matter of temptation (or) if there’s an issue of allurement… (Surah An Nur verse 30)

Whatever the case is, Allah says look the other way. He could have said that and finish, (but) the mind that Allah gave us should resonate with what He tells us. He says once again

ذَٰلِكَ أَزْكَىٰ لَهُمْ

… that’s a matter of refinement for you (or) it’s an issue of a better character. (Surah An Nur verse 30)

When Allah tells us to fast His didn’t just tell us

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

O You, who are committed to Allah, fasting has been declared a mandatory service upon you as it has been on those before you … (Surah Al Baqarah verse 183)

He could have said it that way and finished it right there but He says

لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

… so that you may acquire this taqwa. (Surah Al Baqarah verse 183)

That is the result of this sawm, of this abstaining from physical and other attractions. The Prophet of Allah as sawm is a type of cover (or) is a concealment so if one of you is observing this sawm he should not given in to his sexual or her sexual urgings and should not give in to any of his or her physical urgings- by doing this we conceal these instincts (or) these tendencies inside of us. This is part of the meaning of al haqq that we mentioned at the beginning. We fast because it is al haqq.

وَقُلِ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكُمْ

And say this haqq is from your Sustainer… (Surah Al Kahf verse 29)

Now what is al haqq? Some people say “al haqq is truth.” That’s partially correct. Some people say “al haqq is justice”. That is partially correct. Some people say “al haqq is what is legal.” Some people say “al haqq is a right.” (We don’t mean right here in the moral vocabulary, we mean the right here in the legal vocabulary). That is also partially correct. (When) you put together all of these partially correct meanings you get a sense of what al haqq means. When we fast, we attain to this haqq and we attain to it in the manner in that we mentioned (i.e.) with the activation of our minds. Ibrahim (alayhi as salaam), in activating his mind, asked Allah and then Allah answered him

قَالَ أَوَلَمْ تُؤْمِن

… have you not committed yourself to Me? (Surah Al Baqarah verse 260)

He said

قَالَ بَلَىٰ وَلَٰكِن لِّيَطْمَئِنَّ قَلْبِي

… of course but I want my heart to settle down (or) I want to be self assured… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 260)

There was no criticism of this behaviour. Has anyone criticized Ibrahim and said “he shouldn’t have said that or he shouldn’t have spoken to Allah the way he did?” No. No Islamic person in his right mind questioned the character of Ibrahim when these ayaat were revealed to tell us how he behaved. We can’t be exhaustive here. The Prophet of Allah forbid a person from marrying his wife’s aunt- maternal aunt or paternal aunt. (It’s) haraam. You can’t do that. You can’t combine between a wife and her aunt in marriage but it wasn’t left at that; the Prophet of Allah explained it, he said if you do that you will have shredded your wombs that’s in reference to, (number one), the sanctity of intra-family relationships and then, (number two), in reference to what happens genetically in the exchange of this type of liquids between or within these types of marriages. Now we speak about al haqq (and) we ask our class of physicians or medical students and the medical profession that we, Muslims, have- forget about these who are not Muslims- have they presented to us to the satisfaction of the mind when it comes to the benefits of fasting (or) this sawm that we are talking about. This is a valid question that we should present to ourselves with all of this fasting that goes on from year to year- do we have a few books in our Islamic libraries, (we should have a library by itself), that speak about the benefits, the advantages, the health benefits (and) the physical advantages of as sawm? Do we have that? What does this say about ourselves? How are we practising this sawm every year? It’s something that we do one twelfth of the year and we don’t have our minds trailing this practice to produce for us some information about how this is wholesome and healthy?! We don’t. So this is a sad remark about who we are and what we are doing.

Now, once again, it’s not within the course of these khutbahs to reflect on the inner meanings (and) the inner dimensions of ourselves- that’s because there’s a crowd of speakers and lecturers who have saturated this area. (When) you go to a Masjid (or) you go to a halaqa (or) a study circle (or) you attend khutbahs and you will find that there is voluminous wordings about fasting. It seems like it’s endless. There’s, (and your attention is required), an inner world that we are in. You rescue yourself, you live in a world inside of you. Forget about the world you have outside. You have your senses and your sensory reception of the world outside but now to part from your senses- you’re not smelling, you’re not hearing, you’re not seeing; you’re inside of yourself. You begin to discover that there is an area, a vast area, between your body and your blood and then your determination and your will-power. All of this is inside of you. Some of the meanings of al haqq in this month of as sawm is to have you probe, investigate and discover this internal world or this internal universe inside of you. You will begin to realise that you have tendencies and you have urges (or) desires- some of them are very strong (and) some of them are faint and you have a galaxy of emotions and feelings in between. This month of Ramadhan is meant for your disciplinary character to take charge of these internal tendencies that otherwise could run a mock. The sphere of your internal self also relates to the world outside- you look at yourself within yourself; that’s one dimension but then you look at yourself in the larger social world around. We’re not speaking about the physical world, (we’re not speaking about trees and cars and buildings and these things), we’re speaking about the social self- the self of society outside which is not material. This is another arena, (whether you are conscious of it or not), in which you dwell and some of you define that self for yourselves. Some of you may consider your social selves as a certain sect or denomination, some of you may consider yourselves a certain nationality or culture and there are other social selves, (that you as a matter of your own decision and choice), that you belong to. The observance of this fast is supposed to take you inside of your individual and personal self, (that is larger than the physical and the material world around), and it should also take you into the dimensions of your social self so (that) you are conscious and you are cognisant of who you are. When you do this- if you do this and not many Muslims who are fasting Ramadhan do any of this even though it is a requirement- Allah is there to say to you

فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ

… I am with you (or) I am near to you (or) I am in close proximity to you (or) I am inside of you… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 186)

Inside of this area (that) we were just speaking about. In other words He is saying “here I am. Can you see Me? Can you hear Me? Can you detect Me?”

This fasting, (if it goes its course), should remind you and me of who we are. If we deny Allah, we don’t exist. There is a saying by one of these philosophers who say “I think therefore I am.” In the month of Ramadhan we should understand that I am with Allah therefore I am. If a person doesn’t learn this lesson, he doesn’t exist- whether it’s one person, one society (or) one population. If they don’t know that they are with Allah (and) if they don’t affirm that they are with Allah they don’t exist! Does this become a rationale for genocide? Someone will come and say “hey look- there is a Muslim preacher (or) there is a Muslim khateeb (or) there’s a Muslim person who’s saying if they or if he or if his people are not with Allah they don’t exist- they are professing that (or) they are saying that; so don’t blame us if we go and butcher them and massacre them and declare wars against them.” We are not saying this to justify bloodshed. We are saying this so that we can resume our role so that none of this bloodshed will ever happen. This is like going full circle. We want to go full circle so that we can come back and resume whom we are when Allah says

فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي

… so have them call upon Me… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 186)

Have these people in this month of Ramadhan who are observing the physical fast in the flesh and in the blood respond to Me. In the month of Ramadhan our body (or) our physique suffers but our spirits soar; our bodies are down low but our morale is up high. This is the affect of fasting and it should remind everyone here in the street that this happens in Ramadhan and outside of Ramadhan- our bodies suffer but our internal self takes off. It is, (without the connotations here), high. Who’s experiencing this type of fasting- you ask yourself. If you take in the meanings that were just expressed about this haqq of fasting, then listen to Allah’s Prophet when he is saying whoever does not part with or whoever does not leave the expression of falsehood and the character of falsehood and the action of falsehood (i.e.) if you don’t abstain from az zur (which is) any falsity of words and meanings and you don’t divorce that character that goes with it then Allah has no need for you to abstain from your food and from your drinks.

Dear committed Muslims in Ramadhan…

Speaking about the social self i.e. us (is) an area that is left up to everyone else to define and work on except ourselves?! When someone wants to come and regenerate this social self, then he is accused of mixing politics with religion or he is accused of terrorism or he is accused of a slue of other accusations. Ask yourself, when you physically break your fast at the end of the day and when you say O Allah: for you I have abstained and with Your provision I break my fast, did you take notice of what you said? It is Allah’s rizq that you have in front of you, it is not yours. It belongs to Allah. Have you taken notice of that? If you’ve taken notice of that, then how come you have some of it and other people don’t have any of it or a portion of it or much of it? Why? (It’s) a simple question if you have the God-given (and) activated mind in yourself! Why is it? Why does this same social self has poverty and hunger and starvation and Muslims becoming non- Muslims because of it and the rest of the maladies that accompany it, (we have all of that), and then some of us gorge on three meals at one time?! We’re saying O Allah: for you I have abstained and with Your provision I break my fast?! Is Allah unjust? He wants to give some people more and others less? Is this al haqq that we understand Allah with? Or is it the function of our own determination and procedures? If it belongs to us and it’s going in the wrong direction we have to set it on the right direction not the wrong direction. If we can’t muster the determination to do so in this month of Ramadhan (and) if a person’s spirit is lagging behind because his or her body is lagging behind then that spirit and that internal self is an adjunct to the material and physical body but if that body trails behind that elevated spirit then the person is observing and practising the sawm of Ramadhan, as sawm up haqq, as it is supposed to be practised. You can take this and can extend it to what is happening to the social self that belongs to us in the Muslim world, (as it is called)- how does the wars, sectarianism, the accusations of other Muslims, the takafiri mentalities that they are trying to convince certain countries and populations with relate to our observance of Ramadhan and to our becoming part of this haqq?

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