The Intrinsic meanings of Ramadhan Part 18

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Muhammad H. al-'Asi

Ramadan 14, 1433 2012-08-03

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 are at the mid point in the month of Ramadhan and there is an ayah at the mid point in the ayaat about Ramadhan. This ayah- one ayah

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ

And if My subjects and servants ask you about Me I am indeed close (or) nearby, I will respond to whomever calls upon Me if he does so, so have them respond to Me and have them commit themselves to Me so they may reach that level of maturity. (Surah Al Baqarah verse 186)

There are many areas in which this meaning can flow into. We are fasting. We ask Allah to accept our meticulous fast one. Of the areas that should open to us in this timeframe of Ramadhan is the area of power. To make a long and detailed issue somewhat simple, there are two types of power: there is physical power and (we don’t want to call it spiritual power because the word has been used and over used and abused) and then there is motivational power or there is the power of a person’s morale, (not morals, not morality but a person’s morale). There is that power. During this month of Ramadhan we observe a fast that takes away from one power and gives to the other. Physically speaking we are not as strong (and) as robust (and) as muscular in the month of Ramadhan as we are in other months. We know there are some people who want to debate this but we think it is an observable fact. When it comes to our bodies, the month of Ramadhan takes away the edge of that muscular or that physical strength that we are endowed with- everyone in their own proportion of things; but on the other hand our morale or our motivation or our willpower increases substantially during this month of fasting- this has been the case for untold years. You can look at this as yourself, as an individual- and this is what Muslims have been doing to their own detriment for generations and centuries- but we can look at this in the larger scope of all of us having this boost or this thrust of morale and motivation in this month of fasting. But even though we have that, what’s being done? Does anything come of it? We realise, if we are honest to ourselves, absolutely nothing comes out of it. It’s like it’s a wasted month because the charge we have gained in our determination and resolve during this month doesn’t carry us through the coming eleven months of the year. We sort of run out of gas, (so to speak), at the end of this month. There’s no longer the motivation (and) there’s no longer the charge and the willpower to take the spirit and the essence of Ramadhan into the rest of the year. Let’s face it- isn’t that a fact? Something is wrong. First thing, if we are in the company of Allah, Allah is closer to us then our own selves.

وَنَحْنُ أَقْرَبُ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ حَبْلِ الْوَرِيدِ

… We are closer to him than his jugular vein. (Surah Qaf verse 16)

So He is closer to ourselves than we ourselves are. If we are in the company of Allah during this month what are we doing during this month?

Look brothers and sisters- there are things in life, acts, whatever efforts- these are neutral. What defines them is the criteria that Allah has given us. You’ve probably heard this on other occasions. The act of getting married or the act of two opposite sexes coming together, (because that’s the natural way), when they come together it can be done in marriage (or) in wedlock or it could be done in adultery and fornication. It’s the same act but it could cut both ways. What defines it is the information that comes to us from Allah. The same analogy applies to us in Ramadhan. We voluntarily abstain from desires that are permissible during this month of Ramadhan so that we are better able to abstain from desires that are prohibited. This is how Ramadhan is supposed to, (in one sense), function within two-billion Muslims in the world. What do we have- brothers and sisters? One of the issues that has disturbed human life and continues to destabilise societies is the issue of poverty and hunger. Poverty and hunger, (in and of themselves), just like the previous analogy can be good and they can be bad. It depends on Allah’s definition on how we experience this poverty and this hunger. In Ramadhan we voluntarily (and) out of our own freewill experience the conditions of hunger and poverty, (at least we are expected to). We had an experience that continued for a hundred year. In the past century there was Socialism and there was Communism. They tried to deal with poverty and hunger in society. They tried to eliminate it on their own terms- God excluded from this process and with a vengeance. So they went on their own reasoning and thinking trying to have the poor people in society become people of means and affluence. They wanted to bring poor people into a better condition in life. Now no one can argue that objective. We think every human being in his or her right mind would want something like that to happen but they went about doing it in the wrong manner. If we are fasting Ramadhan and if we are delving into the deeper meanings of our voluntary hunger and if we are joining the ranks and the conditions and the feelings of those who don’t have the means in life, (which we are supposed to be doing in the month of Ramadhan), then we realise that all of this attempt as rationalised as it is, (no one who is going to argue the ends, what we are arguing is the means), but what about doing that in the wrong way? So how are we supposed to do that? If we are in the presence of Allah during this month of fasting we should understand that we are working on the same objective- we want to eliminate poverty and hunger but we don’t do this by the force of a state imposing on populations and peoples their policies and their own policies and their own ijtihad i.e. their own rationale away from Allah?! When Allah is telling us during this month of Ramadhan it’s not that the physical (and) the material force of a state is going to bring about this desired end of poverty and hunger; what will bring about the desired state of eliminating poverty and hunger is for those who are affluent and rich and wealthy to equalise themselves with those who are poor and denied and hungry. This is what is meant by Ramadhan if we are truly fasting the presence of Allah. Now we’ve had that century of Socialism and Communism and we still have the after affects of it with us. It’s not gone totally and it won’t go totally. The same purpose (or) the same objective may resurface in the future sometime probably with another designation or another name but it remains at the centre of social concern (on) how to narrow the gap, (as some would say), between those who have and those who don’t have. How do you do something like that? If we are observing our fast as we are supposed to be observing it we would know that Allah is telling the affluent class i.e. the people who have a lot of money and a lot of food and can satisfy their lusts and their desires for one twelfth of the year are going to join those who are in the opposite side of society i.e. you become one of them. Hunger becomes one; thirst becomes one; depravation becomes one; the breaking of this fast becomes one. You see,

أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ

… I will respond or I will answer the question (or) the concern (or) the plea of any one who responds to Me… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 186)

In this area when we are hungry what are we thinking about? We want to approach Allah with our hunger? Are you selfish? You want to fill your stomach and all the rest around- we’re talking about the world, let’s not be insular and think we live in a neighbourhood or a family; we live in a human family and a worldly neighbourhood in which there are billions, this is not an exaggeration, of people (who) because of the physical power in this world who are living in hunger and poverty. We want to reverse that and we do so not by the force of arms or militaries or states or weapons, we do that by the strength and the force of our determination and our willpower. That’s how it’s going to result. That’s how it’s going to end. So now we have a competition of two forces in this world- the material force which we see played out around us in world affairs today and we have the force of our inner selves wherein there is our willpower, our determination, our resolve, our backbone (and) our nerves. If you want to put it in a reductionist medical way, this is a competition between the muscles and the nerves. If we are fasting this month of Ramadhan as we should be fasting in all of the world around, we should be concerned with those billions of people who we now are sharing their life, but what do we do? Let’s be honest about this- what do we do? Some people fast during the day- meaning that they don’t eat or drink basically, and then during the night they fill their stomachs. If you are understanding this fasting in its God-given and defined parameters, then you realise that you’re an oxymoron, you’re a contradiction of terms! You are hungry during the day (or) your stomach is empty during the day but when night comes you are satisfied and saturated and have a full stomach?! That’s not Ramadhan. That’s not

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ

And if My subjects and servants ask you about Me I am indeed close (or) nearby, I will respond to whomever calls upon Me if he does so, so have them respond to Me and have them commit themselves to Me so they may reach that level of maturity. (Surah Al Baqarah verse 186)

What is it? Allah says

فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي

… have them respond to Me… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 186)

OK- anyone here who has a question of “where is Allah? Where is God?” This is a question that doesn’t circulate amongst Muslims but it circulates amongst many who are not Muslim but who are more actively looking for a solution than the passive or the marginal or the inactive Muslims. “Where’s God?” Alhamdulillah, we can still remember early in life when there was a fad among Muslims in the month of Ramadhan it was chique, it was an indication of being modern and progressive- that’s the key word here, progressive- to light up during the month of Ramadhan. This is not history, this is in our lifetime. We can still remember. What are we talking about? Forty years ago; fifty years ago. Only pockets of traditionalism in the world were observing a cultural fast or a meaningless fast- they were observing it and Allah knows exactly how they are going to be compensated- but still, up until now even though there have been more numbers added to the traditional fast, we still don’t have a momentous fast! We don’t have a motivational fast! Isn’t it about time that we stop fasting this way and go the extra yards that are required to complete? Because at the end of these ayaat- we took the mid ayah- but at the end (or) in the last ayah the word ta’kulu which literally means eat is mentioned twice.

وَلَا تَأْكُلُوا أَمْوَالَكُم بَيْنَكُم بِالْبَاطِلِ وَتُدْلُوا بِهَا إِلَى الْحُكَّامِ لِتَأْكُلُوا فَرِيقًا مِّنْ أَمْوَالِ النَّاسِ بِالْإِثْمِ وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

Do not consume or circulate or use your common wealth, moneys, investments, financial transactions in an illegitimate way and then 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/sinfully while you should know better 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)

In the preceding multiple ayaat about fasting it was mentioned and it was a matter of personal instruction.

وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَكُمُ الْخَيْطُ الْأَبْيَضُ مِنَ الْخَيْطِ الْأَسْوَدِ مِنَ الْفَجْرِ ۖ ثُمَّ أَتِمُّوا الصِّيَامَ إِلَى اللَّيْلِ

… and you eat and you drink until you can distinguish with evidence day from night during Fajr; and then you maintain fasting or you complete your fast until nightfall… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 187)

Here in the last ayah the word ta’kulu is mentioned in one ayah twice which is an inference that our greed for money has more destructive social affects than our appetites for food because there’s a relationship between a personal appetite and a social greed. The world today, as it is constructed, is run by social greed and you’ve been exposed to terms. You’ve heard the words “ninety-nine percent versus one percent”, you’ve the words “the corporate world”, you have heard the words “capitalists and capitalism” you’ve heard other words that are just an extension of that hub of greed that is running the world affairs today. Our fasting is supposed to take us into the mess of world affairs so that we can sort it out when we are qualified to do that; and we don’t qualify by virtue of muscular or military or material strength- we qualify because we have liberated our intention, we have freed our willpower and we can step into these world affairs and sort them out and straighten them up. But how do we do this when we have an establishment of Mosques around the world- hundreds and thousands of Masaajid, if not millions of them- who want you and me and the rest of us to continue observe an individual fast, a personal fast (and) an egotistic fast? And that is not what Allah and His Prophet are saying and that’s not what they are teaching! How many of us abstain- we stop eating and drinking therefore we say “we are observing our fast” but at the same time that we are observing a tummy fast we are breaking our fast with our tongues?! That’s another violation of the fast or the violation of as siyam. The Prophet says you may have a person who’s observing the fast but the only proportion of that observance is hunger and thirst. The Prophet of Allah says 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. In another hadith if during this observance of the fast, in this scope and within this range, some instigator or some troublemaker comes up to you and wants to pick up a fight or is intimidating you, you say I am fasting, I am fasting. This is another way of saying my willpower overcomes- my determination is beyond this attempt of getting me involved in breaking may fast with foul words or with words of revenge. This doesn’t come from a person who is observing a fast in which determination trumps the powers of the world and the powers that be.

Dear brothers and sisters observing this fast with its exhaustive meanings…

It is ironic that some Muslims can understand that they are required to defeat their desires and lusts and greed in their own selves- they can see that very clearly- but when you come and you expand their horizons with the ayaat of Allah and the ahadith of His Prophet they can no longer see the lusts of people in power (and) they can no longer see the mechinations of people in finances; in other words they can’t see governmental greed, they cannot identify economic or military greed and concentration of power and wealth. How come? Why, (we may ask), do all Muslims stop with the ayaat and the ahadiths that speak about one person and they cannot extend that to apply it to one humanity?! What happens? Why does this gap exist? Why do we have to go through this cycle every year and after it we still have the same status quo result? Muslims are still caged in to the type of Islam that is sponsored by those who are running these Masaajid and Islamic Centres because of their power and their wealth. They don’t have any merits, they don’t have any qualifications, they don’t have any virtuous qualities! Ramadhan is an internal revolution. The larger universe is not the material-physical one, it is the inner one in yourself. We speak of no one as a person, we speak of them in these positions of influence and affluence. It’s not enough for the criminality of the Saudi Arabian Ambassador, (who was here thirty years ago and caused us to be praying in the street for almost thirty years now); he is not satisfied with dislocating Muslims from the Masjid (so) now he’s up to dislocating Muslims from their countries. We’re not speaking about forty individuals on Friday every weekend, we’re speaking about potentially four-hundred-million Muslims in that geography of the world in which he is up to no good because he has power and because of finances. We didn’t run out of the motivation of Ramadhan at the end of Ramadhan; thirty years later the spirit of Ramadhan is still in us and he will encounter that spirit of Ramadhan in the Muslims that he wants to victimise- Sunnis and Shi’is, Arabic speakers and non Arabic speakers. A criminal is a criminal and this month of Ramadhan is not going to dumb us Muslims down to look the other way when they are planning wars that will make rivers of blood flow in Muslim countries. We are not that dumb and in the month of Ramadhan we should not expect ourselves to become, within this month, that dumb! We’ve heard, just in the past few weeks, much of this hullabaloo about the promotion of this criminal and we’re not short on speaking the truth- speaking truth to power and speaking truth to wealth. We’re not disabled in Ramadhan. They can’t turn us off in Ramadhan; to the contrary our combined will being nurtured in this month of Ramadhan shall overcome their swords and their bombs and their militaries and their intelligence agencies. Why do we say this? This is big talk- why do we say this? Simply because we understand in the context of the real world around us what Allah tells us in the ayah

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ

And if My subjects and servants ask you about Me I am indeed close (or) nearby, I will respond to whomever calls upon Me if he does so, so have them respond to Me and have them commit themselves to Me so they may reach that level of maturity. (Surah Al Baqarah verse 186)

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