The Likeness of Ramadan and Wimbledon – Part 3
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
[Note #1: Yes, it only took me a year to finally getting around to finishing Part 3...
My apologies to the sister who has been waiting for this. I hope that it's not a disappointment and I hope that it makes sense. I had to rush at the end.
It's not the end because there's a part 4 too (which deals with what happens after tournament - which is why I'll post it after Ramadan, insha-Allah.)]
[Note # 2: The editing is not the best, shall we say.
Also, please excuse me if I seem to be jumping from point to point (no pun intended) or if there is some repetition from Parts 1 and 2. It's a bit difficult to plan a layout when you're the first person in history to compare Ramadan and Wimbledon. [Or at least I think I am.]
A note: If there are any mistakes (especially in creed!) that I’ve made when making the analogies then please be sure to correct me. Jazakumullahu kheira.
Let’s continue with what happens during the tournament…
DURING THE TOURNAMENT
There are two major signs of a great champion.
The first sign is that he knows how to dominate his opponents when he is in good form. So when he wins, he wins big (i.e. domination) and he wins often (i.e. consistency).
And when does he win big? Generally, it’s in the important matches e.g. in the finals.
He overwhelms his opposition because he is so much better than them. His peak level is much better than his opponent’s peak level. On his good days, everything is clicking and he’s firing on all cylinders. It’s a joy to behold.
What are the good days of a believer? It’s when his ibaadah (worship) is going well. It’s when he has khushoo (humility) in his prayers. It’s when he is being a companion of the Quran.
When one’s ibaadah is going well, everything seems easy. You’ll find that nothing really worries you. Big problems will seem like little problems.
[Here we all need to ask ourselves: do we have those days? If we do then alhamdulillah. If not, then why not? What can we do to have these types of days?]
On the other hand, when one’s ibaadah is not going well, everything seems difficult. You’ll find that every thing annoys you. Little problems will feel like big problems.
How does a believer “dominate” others? Well, it’s by doing much more ibaadah than them at any given time.
That’s what the great believers did:
كان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يصلي حتى ترم ، أو تنتفخ ، قدماه ، فيقال له ، فيقول : ( أفلا أكون عبدا شكورا
Narrated Al-Mughirah ibn Shubah (radiallahu anhu): The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) used to pray so much that his feet used to become oedematous or swollen, and when he was asked as to why he prayed so much, he would say, “Shall I not be a thankful slave (to Allah)?” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 8, Hadeeth No. 478]
أحب الصلاة إلى الله صلاة داود عليه السلام ، وأحب الصيام إلى الله صيام داود ، وكان ينام نصف الليل ويقوم ثلثه ، وينام سدسه ، ويصوم يوما ويفطر يوما
Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Al-Aas (radiallahu anhuma): Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) told me, “The most beloved prayer to Allah is that of Dawood (alaihissalam) and the most beloved fasts to Allah are those of Dawood. He used to sleep for half of the night and then pray for one third of the night and again sleep for its sixth part and used to fast on alternate days.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 2, Hadeeth No. 231]
[A point to note: Dawood (alaihissalam), also called "David" by the Christians, was a king. Despite this, he used to fast and pray so much!]
دخلت مع أبيك على عبدالله بن عمرو . فحدثنا ؛ أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ذكر له صومي . فدخل علي . فألقيت له وسادة من أدم حشوها ليف . فجلس على الأرض . وصارت الوسادة بيني وبينه . فقال لي : ” أما يكفيك من كل شهر ثلاثة أيام ؟ ” قلت : يا رسول الله ! قال ” خمسا ” قلت : يا رسول الله ! قال ” سبعا ” قلت : يا رسول الله ! قال ” تسعا ” قلت : يا رسول الله ! قال ” أحد عشر ” قلت : يا رسول الله ! فقال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم : ” لا صوم فوق صوم داود . شطر الدهر . صيام يوم وإفطار يوم “
Abu Qatadah reported that Abu al-Malih informed me: I went along with your father to Abdullah ibn Amr, and he narrated to us that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) was informed about my fasting and he came to me, and I placed a leather cushion filled with fibre of date-palms for him. He sat down upon the ground and there was that cushion between me and him, and he said to me: Does three days’ fasting in a month not suffice you? I said: Messenger of Allah, (I am capable of observing more fasts). He said: (Would) five (not suffice for you)? I said: Messenger of Allah, (I am capable of observing more fasts) He said: (Would) seven (fasts) not suffice you? I said: Messenger of Allah, (I am capable of observing more fasts). He (the Prophet) then said: (Would) nine (fasts not suffice you)? I said: Messenger of Allah, (I am capable of observing more fasts). He said: (Would) eleven (fasts not suffice you)? I said: Messenger of Allah, (I am capable of observing more fasts than these). Thereupon the Messengerof Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: There is no fasting (better than) the fasting of Dawood which comprises half of the age, fasting a day and not fasting a day. [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 2597]
Everyone has a peak level. The peak level of the Prophets (alaihimissalam) and the Sahaabah (radiallahu anhum) was more than our peak level.
Their peak level meant long night prayers, frequent fasting, frequently giving charity, consistently helping those around them, etc.
[Of course, their "off peak" level was perhaps 0.5% lower so....]
When did they reach their peak? In Ramadan, of course, and especially in the last 10 days.
كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أجود الناس ، وكان أجود ما يكون في رمضان حين يلقاه جبريل ، وكان يلقاه في كل ليلة من رمضان فيدارسه القرآن ، فلرسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أجود بالخير من الريح المرسلة
Narrated Ibn Abbas (radiallahu anhu): Allah’s Messenger (salallahu alaihi wasallam) was the most generous of all the people, and he used to reach the peak in generosity in the month of Ramadan when Jibreel* met him. Jibreel used to meet him every night of Ramadan to teach him the Quran. Allah’s Messenger (salallahu alaihi wasallam) was the most generous person, even more generous than the strong uncontrollable wind (in readiness and haste to do charitable deeds). [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 1, Hadeeth No. 5]
كان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إذا دخل العشر شد مئزره ، وأحيا ليله ، وأيقظ أهله
Narrated Aishah (radiallahu anhu): “With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. work hard) and used to stay up at night, and used to wake his family.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 3, Hadeeth No. 241]
So, we too need to learn the art of “stepping on the accelerator”. We have to speed up (i.e improve) at the important times (i.e. Ramadan and Dhul Hijjah).
Also, we should learn to take advantage of the times of ease in order to do things which are pleasing to Allah.
What are the “times of ease”? Well, the following hadeeth tells us when these times occur:
اغتنم خمسا قبل خمس : حياتك قبل موتك ، و صحتك قبل سقمك ، و فراغك قبل شغلك ، و شبابك قبل هرمك ، و غناك قبل فقرك
The Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Take advantage of five before five others: your life before your death, your health before you fall ill, your free time before you become busy, your youth before your old age, and your wealth before you become poor.” [Sahih Al-Jaami, Hadeeth No. 1077.]
Another hadeeth summarises it even further:
نعمتان مغبون فيهما كثير من الناس : الصحة والفراغ
Narrated Ibn Abbas (radiallahu anhu): The Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) health and free time.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 8, Hadeeth No. 421]
[Wasting time is worse than death, remember?]
Another way that the believer “dominates” is by doing all his actions with excellence:
إن الله كتب الإحسان على كل شيء . فإذا قتلتم فأحسنوا القتلة . وإذا ذبحتم فأحسنوا الذبح . وليحد أحدكم شفرته . فليرح ذبيحته
The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam said: “Verily Allah has prescribed ihsan (proficiency, perfection) in all things. So if you kill then kill well; and if you slaughter, then slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters.” [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 4810]
The highest level that a believer can reach is ihsan, where he worships Allah as though he sees him:
قال : فأخبرني عن الإحسان . قال : ” أن تعبد الله كأنك تراه . فإن لم تكن تراه فإنه يراك
“He (Jibreel) said: Then tell me about ihsan. He (the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam)) said: It is to worship Allah as though you see Him and while you see Him not, yet truly He sees you.” [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 1. This is only a part of the entire hadeeth, which is famously known as the "Hadeeth of Jibreel" or "Umm Muawiyah's Favourite Hadeeth."]
Due to a champion’s consistency, his good days are not few and far between, rather they are quite frequent. He wins easily on most days.
However, we shouldn’t just be great in the important times, we need to be great throughout the year i.e. we need to be consistent with our ibaadah.
Consistency in good deeds is one of the main traits of a believer.
And it’s not just being consistent with the obligatory duties – it’s also being consistent with the voluntary acts.
سئل النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم : أي الأعمال أحب إلى الله ؟ قال : ( أدومها وإن قل ) . وقال : ( اكلفوا من الأعمال ما تطيقون )
Narrated Aishah (radiallahu anha): The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) was asked, “What deeds are loved most by Allah?” He said, “The most regular constant deeds even though they may be few.” He added, ‘Don’t take upon yourselves, except the deeds which are within your ability.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 8, Hadeeth No. 472]
كان لرسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم حصير . وكان يحجره من الليل فيصلي فيه . فجعل الناس يصلون بصلاته . ويبسطه بالنهار . فثابوا ذات ليلة . فقال : ” يا أيها الناس ! عليكم من الأعمال ما تطيقون . فإن الله لا يمل حتى تملوا . وإن أحب الأعمال إلى الله ما دووم عليه وإن قل ” . وكان آل محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم إذا عملوا عملا أثبتوه .
Aishah (radiallahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) had a mat and he used it for making an apartment during the night and observed prayer in it, and the people began to pray with him, and he spread it (the mat) during the day time. The people crowded round him one night. He (the Prophet) then said: “O people, perform such acts as you are capable of doing, for Allah does not grow weary but you will get tired. The acts most pleasing to Allah are those which are done continuously, even if they are small.” And it was the habit of the members of Muhammad’s (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) household that whenever they did an act they did it continuously. [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 1710]
A great champion knows that when things are going well, he should continue with those tactics and not change them.
He understand the meaning of the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
When things are going well, keep following the same pattern.
For example, for most of us, Ramadan is a pretty good month. We manage to get so much done during it.
When we know that this pattern works for us, why do we stop?? Why don’t we continue with it beyond Ramadan?
The second sign is that when he gets into trouble, he knows how to gut out a win. Those are the matches that others may have lost, but he fought and fought until he broke his opponent’s will.
As I’ve mentioned before, the scholars pointed out that there are three types of patience:
a) Patience upon doing good
[This would be the "consistency" that I referred to earlier in the post.]
b) Patience upon refraining from evil
c) Patience in the face of trials and tribulations. This is the least form of patience.
It might be very easy to do good deeds in times of ease but what about in times of calamity?
Sadly, many people give up. They don’t “gut it out”. No, they just give up. Where is the patience?
Patience has so many virtues. Here are just a few of them:
وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ
الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُوا إِنَّا لِلَّـهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ
أُولَـٰئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَاتٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ ۖ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُهْتَدُونَ
“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Saabireen (the patient ones, etc.), who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” They are those on whom are the Salawaat (i.e. blessings, etc.) (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided-ones.” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 155-157]
لَتُبْلَوُنَّ فِي أَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنفُسِكُمْ وَلَتَسْمَعُنَّ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ وَمِنَ الَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا أَذًى كَثِيرًا ۚ وَإِن تَصْبِرُوا وَتَتَّقُوا فَإِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ
“You shall certainly be tried and tested in your wealth and properties and in your personal selves, and you shall certainly hear much that will grieve you from those who received the Scripture before you (Jews and Christians) and from those who ascribe partners to Allah, but if you persevere patiently, and become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious) then verily, that will be a determining factor in all affairs, and that is from the great matters, [which you must hold on with all your efforts].” [Surah Aal-Imran (3) : 186]
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلَاةِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ
“O you who believe! Seek help in patience and prayer. Truly! Allah is with As-Saabireen (the patient ones, etc.).” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 153]
وَكَأَيِّن مِّن نَّبِيٍّ قَاتَلَ مَعَهُ رِبِّيُّونَ كَثِيرٌ فَمَا وَهَنُوا لِمَا أَصَابَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ وَمَا ضَعُفُوا وَمَا اسْتَكَانُوا ۗ وَاللَّـهُ يُحِبُّ الصَّابِرِينَ
“And many a Prophet (i.e. many from amongst the Prophets) fought (in Allah’s Cause) and along with him (fought) large bands of religious learned men. But they never lost heart for that which did befall them in Allah’s Way, nor did they weaken nor degrade themselves. And Allah loves As-Saabireen (the patient ones, etc.).” [Surah Aali-Imran (3) : 146]
قُلْ يَا عِبَادِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمْ ۚ لِلَّذِينَ أَحْسَنُوا فِي هَـٰذِهِ الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةٌ ۗ وَأَرْضُ اللَّـهِ وَاسِعَةٌ ۗ إِنَّمَا يُوَفَّى الصَّابِرُونَ أَجْرَهُم بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ
“Say (O Muhammad): “O My slaves who believe (in the Oneness of Allah Islamic Monotheism), be afraid of your Lord (Allah) and keep your duty to Him. Good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world, and Allah’s earth is spacious (so if you cannot worship Allah at a place, then go to another)! Only those who are patient shall receive their rewards in full, without reckoning.” [Surah Az-Zumar (39) : 10]
أن ناسا من الأنصار سألوا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ، فلم يسأله أحد منهم إلا أعطاه حتى نفد ما عنده ، فقال لهم حين نفد كل شيء أنفق بيديه : ( ما يكون عندي من خير لا أدخره عنكم ، وإنه من يستعف يعفه الله ، ومن يتصبر يصبره الله ، ومن يستغن يغنه الله ، ولن تعطوا عطاء خيرا وأوسع من الصبر
Narrated Abu Said (radiallahu anhu) : Some people from the Ansar asked Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) (to give them something) and he gave to everyone of them, who asked him, until all that he had was finished. When everything was finished and he had spent all that was in his hand, he said to them, ‘”(Know) that if I have any wealth, I will not withhold it from you (to keep for somebody else); And (know) that he who refrains from begging others (or doing prohibited deeds), Allah will make him contented and not in need of others; and he who remains patient, Allah will bestow patience upon him, and he who is satisfied with what he has, Allah will make him self-sufficient. And there is no gift better and vast (you may be given) than patience.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 8, Hadeeth No. 477]
Ramadan is a great time to be patient.
Has Ramadan not been so good thus far? Well, join the club.
However, if we want to prove our servitude to Allah, we need to gut it out, be patient and keep working until the end of Ramadan.
And at the time of writing this post, Ramadan has NOT ended. We still have 4-5 more days to go, so we can still have a great end to this month, insha-Allah.
We just need to be patient in continuing to do the good deeds and keeping away from sins.
In fact, these sorts of matches only add to the champions legacy and to his greatness. Later on, he’ll look back and realise that this match was good for him.
We’re all going to have to undergo hardships and tests if we want to enter Paradise:
حفت الجنة بالمكاره . وحفت النار بالشهوات
Anas ibn Malik (radiallahu anhu) reported: “The Paradise is surrounded by hardships and the Hell-Fire is surrounded by temptations.” [Sahih Muslim, Hadith No. 6778]
We can’t expect the big prize if we’re not willing to slog it out, now can we?
أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَكُوا أَن يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ
وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ ۖ فَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ اللَّـهُ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ الْكَاذِبِينَ
“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested. And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test).” [Surah Al-Ankabut 29 : 2-3]
أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تُتْرَكُوا وَلَمَّا يَعْلَمِ اللَّـهُ الَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا مِنكُمْ وَلَمْ يَتَّخِذُوا مِن دُونِ اللَّـهِ وَلَا رَسُولِهِ وَلَا الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَلِيجَةً ۚ وَاللَّـهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ
“Do you think that you shall be left alone while Allah has not yet tested those among you who have striven hard and fought and have not taken Waleejah [(Batanah - helpers, advisors and consultants from disbelievers, pagans, etc.) giving openly to them their secrets] besides Allah and His Messenger, and the believers. Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do.” [Surah At-Tawbah (9) : 16]
أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُم مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْا مِن قَبْلِكُم ۖ مَّسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَاءُ وَالضَّرَّاءُ وَزُلْزِلُوا حَتَّىٰ يَقُولَ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ مَتَىٰ نَصْرُ اللَّـهِ ۗ أَلَا إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللَّـهِ قَرِيبٌ
“Or think you that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, “When (will come) the Help of Allah?” Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allah is near!” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 214]
أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَعْلَمِ اللَّـهُ الَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا مِنكُمْ وَيَعْلَمَ الصَّابِرِينَ
“Do you think that you will enter Paradise before Allah tests those of you who fought (in His Cause) and (also) tests those who are As-Saabirin (the patient ones, etc.)?” [Surah Aal-Imran (3) : 142]
However, the hardship we face is nothing compared to the ease that we get in Paradise. [Remember this post?]
The real champions LOVE the challenge of these tough matches. This is what they’ve been waiting for. Now, they can show everyone what they’re made of.
The real slaves of Allah LOVE calamities.
Yes, you read that right.
دخلت على النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وهو يوعك فوضعت يدي عليه فوجدت حره بين يدي فوق اللحاف فقلت يا رسول الله ما أشدها عليك قال إنا كذلك يضعف لنا البلاء ويضعف لنا الأجر قلت يا رسول الله أي الناس أشد بلاء قال الأنبياء قلت يا رسول الله ثم من قال ثم الصالحون إن كان أحدهم ليبتلى بالفقر حتى ما يجد أحدهم إلا العباءة يحويها وإن كان أحدهم ليفرح بالبلاء كما يفرح أحدكم بالرخاء
Abu Saeed Al-Khudri (radiallahu anhu) said: “I entered upon the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) when he was suffering from a fever, and I placed my hand on him and felt heat with my hand from above the blanket. I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, how hard it is for you!’ He said: ‘We (Prophets) are like that. The trial is multiplied for us and so is the reward.’ I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, which people are most severely tested?’ He said: ‘The Prophets.’ I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, then who?’ He said: ‘Then the righteous (as-Saalihoon), some of whom were tested with poverty until they could not find anything except a cloak to put around themselves. One of them will rejoice at calamity as one of you would rejoice at ease.’” [Sunan ibn Majah, Hadeeth No. 4024. Graded "sahih" by Al-Albani in Sahih Sunan ibn Majah, Hadeeth No. 4024.]
The greater the person is in his commitment to Allah, the more he will be tested:
يا رسول الله أي الناس أشد بلاء قال الأنبياء ثم الأمثل فالأمثل يبتلى العبد على حسب دينه فإن كان في دينه صلبا اشتد بلاؤه وإن كان في دينه رقة ابتلي على حسب دينه فما يبرح البلاء بالعبد حتى يتركه يمشي على الأرض وما عليه من خطيئة
Saad ibn Abee Waqqas (radiallahu anhu) said: “I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, which people are most severely tested?’ He said: ‘The Prophets, then the next best and the next best. A person is tested according to his religious commitment. If he is steadfast in his religious commitment, he will be tested more severely, and if he is frail in his religious commitment, his test will be according to his commitment. Trials will continue to afflict a person until they leave him walking on the earth with no sin on him.’” [Sunan ibn Majah, Hadeeth No. 4023. Graded "hasan sahih" by Al-Albani in Sahih Sunan ibn Majah, Hadeeth No. 4023.]
What does a champion do in order to win matches, especially the high-stakes ones?
What does a believer do on the big occasions like the last ten nights of Ramadan?
He plans his tactics ahead of time, keeping in mind who his next opponent is. He consults with his coaches and other relevant people in order to come up with a good game plan.
A believer plans his Ramadan day beforehand. If he has any questions, he refers it to the people of knowledge, as Allah has commanded.
He starts the match off with confidence, believing that he can win. He plays his own game and doesn’t let his opponent get inside his head.
A believer starts off Ramadan with good thoughts about Allah, and with high ambitions. He hopes for the reward for his fasts and his prayers.
من قام ليلة القدر إيمانا واحتسابا ، غفر له ما تقدم من ذنبه ، ومن صام رمضان إيمانا واحتسابا غفر له ما تقدم من ذنبه
Narrated Abu Hurairah (radiallahu anhu): The Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “Whoever established prayers on Laylatul Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven; and whoever fasts in the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 3, Hadeeth No. 125]
[Note: As I've mentioned before, the sins that are being referred to here are minor sins not the major ones.]
The believer doesn’t worry about what others are doing. He just goes ahead and worships Allah, even if he is the only one in his house who is doing so.
Also, he doesn’t let Shaytan (the devil) toy with him and divert him from the remembrance of Allah. He just focuses on his own worship.
He uses his strengths to win “cheap” points and preserve energy. He doesn’t want to exert himself at the beginning of the match, especially if it is in the early rounds.
The intelligent believer does not overdo it in the first few days of Ramadan. He paces himself and does the ibaadaat (acts of worship) which are easy for him (his “strengths”) and then gradually works up from there. He also tries to get “cheap points” wherever he can.
“Cheap points” just means those deeds that are easy. It doesn’t mean that they are less rewarding.
We have so many acts in the sunnah which are EASY but which have huge rewards, so we should be sure to pay attention to those.
He tries to use his strengths so that the opponent doesn’t use his weakness against him. In the meantime, he also tries to improve his weaknesses.
Shaytaan (the devil) loves to use our weakness against us. However, we must not let him.
We need to do two things:
a) Use our strengths to overcome our weakness – For example, suppose a man is not the best of husbands. Perhaps he is very harsh with his wife and he is aware of it but is unable to get rid of this harshness.
Suppose his strength is prayer. He does all his sunnah and nafl prayers. He also does qiyam al-layl.
This man should continue doing these acts and not let Shaytan make him think that he is hopeless just because of his weakness. He should strive to pray as much as he can and improve his khushoo so that his iman rises, and his taqwa (piety) increases, which will in turn make it easier for him to be more aware of how bad his attitude towards his wife is. It will also make it easier for him to rectify himself.
Also, if he is unable to get rid of this weakness, then at least he will have many good deeds (resulting from the prayer) that will cancel out the sins he may have earned through his bad treatment of his wife.
So, his strength can help him overcome his weakness.
b) Improve our weaknesses – Yes, we all have weaknesses. That doesn’t mean we don’t try to improve ourselves.
We need to try to make our weakness less of a weakness, if you will.
Remember that every player has different strengths. Very few players are strong in all aspects of play.
Every believer is different. They don’t all have the same strengths. Some are strong in prayer, some in fasting, some in memorising the Quran, some in dawah (calling to Islam), etc.
Not everyone is strong in every aspect and we need to realise that. Too often, we want to be excellent in everything and end up being good at nothing.
Of course, there are people who are excellent in all aspects. The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) being the best example.
“Oh, but he’s the Prophet!”
أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال : من أنفق زوجين في سبيل الله ، نودي من أبواب الجنة : يا عبد الله هذا خير ، فمن كان من أهل الصلاة دعي من باب الصلاة ، ومن كان من أهل الجهاد دعي من باب الجهاد ، ومن كان من أهل الصيام دعي من باب الريان ، ومن كان من أهل الصدقة دعي من باب الصدقة . فقال أبو بكر رضي الله عنه : بأبي وأمي يا رسول الله ، ما على من دعي من تلك الأبواب من ضرورة ، فهل يدعى أحد من تلك الأبواب كلها ؟ . قال : نعم ، وأرجو أن تكون منهم .
Narrated Abu Hurairah (radiallahu anhu): Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “Whoever gives two kinds (of things or property) in charity for Allah’s Cause, will be called from the gates of Paradise and will be addressed, ‘O slaves of Allah! Here is prosperity.’ So, whoever was amongst the people who used to offer their prayers, will be called from the gate of the prayer; and whoever was amongst the people who used to participate in Jihad, will be called from the gate of Jihad; and whoever was amongst those who used to observe fasts, will be called from the gate of Ar-Raiyan; whoever was amongst those who used to give in charity, will be called from the gate of charity.” Abu Bakr said, “Let my parents be sacrificed for you, O Allah’s Messenger! No distress or need will befall him who will be called from those gates. Will there be any one who will be called from all these gates?” The Prophet replied, “Yes, and I hope you will be one of them.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 3, Hadeeth No. 121]
من أصبح منكم اليوم صائما ؟ قال أبو بكر : أنا . قال فمن تبع منكم اليوم جنازة ؟ قال أبو بكر : أنا . قال : فمن أطعم منكم اليوم مسكينا ؟ قال أبو بكر : أنا . قال : فمن عاد منكم اليوم مريضا ؟ قال أبو بكر : أنا . فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ما اجتمعن في امرئ إلا دخل الجنة
Abu Hurairah (radiallahu anhu) reported that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: Who amongst you is observing fast on this day? Abu Bakr said: It is I. He (again) said: Who amongst you has followed the bier (i.e. followed a funeral) today? Abu Bakr said: It is I. He (the Prophet) again said: Who amongst you has served food to the needy? Abu Bakr said: It is I. He (again) said: Who amongst you has today visited the sick? Abu Bakr said: It is I. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: He must get into Paradise who combines in himself (all these noble qualities and virtues). [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 5880]
Also, a lesser player may have a strength that a player greater than him does not e.g. the former might have a fantastic forehand but the latter might not.
This would stop a player from getting too arrogant and would force him to improve.
It also adds to the drama.
A person who might be considered “less religious” might have a strength that a person who is considered “very religious” might not.
And this is something that we all need to ponder over. Perhaps each person has been “kept in check” by way of another, who is stronger in one aspect, so as to stop him from getting arrogant and instead cause him to strive more in order to please Allah.
A great tennis player will always try to keep improving and he’ll keep getting better round by round so he’ll hit his peak by the final round.
The great believers try to keep improving all the time. They are never satisfied with themselves and their ibaadah.
In Ramadan, they time themselves well. They start strong and get stronger, not weaker, as the month progresses so that they will have reached the peak of their ibaadah in the last ten nights.
Just in time for Laylatul Qadr.
Remember that the point of improving is to win more matches and to win them easily. Improving is not a goal in itself, rather it is a means to an end.
We need to remember why we want to increase in our ibaadah. The more we strive, the greater our rewards will be and the bigger that house in Paradise.
So, doing more ibaadah is just a means, not the end. The end is earning Allah’s Pleasure.
The tougher the opponent and the bigger the occasion, the more a champion needs to raise his game and the more he does so.
As mentioned in the hadeeth in the earlier part of this post, the greater a person’s iman (belief), the more they are tested and the more they can withstand those tests.
Trials and tribulations show the true mettle of a person which is why one should ultimately be grateful that Allah tests them and strive to pass the test with flying colours.
What if a champion is easily winning the match?
Well, he makes sure that he doesn’t get ahead of himself. He continues to take it point by point. He doesn’t relax until he has won the match and the tournament.
Remember that Iblees (the devil) was a good guy at one time? Look at him now.
If one’s Ramadan is going well, don’t let Shaytan fool you into thinking that you can now rest on your laurels. You need to take things on a day by day basis and not get ahead of yourself.
You can’t. You have to strive until the end of Ramadan and then you need to strive until death.
Also, he makes sure not to give away any free points. After all, how many matches have turned on just one point?
Nobody knows until the end of the match what the “big” points were.
One shouldn’t say “Oh this is a little good deed, I won’t get any benefit from it” because many ahadeeth have come to us about the people of the past who did a very little thing (like moving a harmful object from the road) and got forgiven as a result of it.
Also, one shouldn’t say “Oh it’s just a little sin” because many ahadeeth have been narrated to us of people whose lives were destroyed because of “little” sins that they committed.
We have no idea what will cause us to get forgiven or what might cause us to get punished, therefore we should try to do whatever good we can and try to keep away from all sins.
In reality, all the points are important. Yes, they have degrees of importance but they all contribute to the win after all.
A champion therefore tries to win every point.
In tennis, a win is a win matter how many points you win by.
However, for us, the more good deeds we do, no matter how little they are, the more reward there will be at the end.
Not all the deeds have the same importance but they will all contribute towards building that wonderful mansion in Paradise.
So, we need to try to do as many good deeds as we possibly can and not let any opportunity pass us by.
What if the crowd isn’t supporting the champion? What if they don’t appreciate his efforts at all?
Well, how many a champion has been left unappreciated. True champions don’t care about the crowd reaction though. They can thrive even in the most adverse conditions.
They don’t care if they get booed or cheered. They keep doing what they have to do – which is to win the match.
If they start to get affected by the crowd reaction, then they look over to their box for support from their family and friends.
What if you have no one to support you? What if everyone seems to be against you?
Well, if Allah is with you, it doesn’t matter who is against you.
A believer shouldn’t let himself get affected by other people’s reactions, whether they are good or bad. He should continue trying to work for the hereafter.
If he really starts to get depressed, he should first do dua (supplication) and then seek advice and support from some righteous Muslims.
Besides, playing the game is enough for the champion to forget about the crowd. For him, playing is freedom from the shackles of the outside world. He loves the court because he is free to do what he loves.
For the believer, the deen of Islam is the freedom from the shackles of the world. Ibaadah and seeking knowledge are the things which make him happy and he doesn’t find them burdensome.
They are what keep him calm and make him forget about the hostile environment that might be around him.
Now, what if the champion is losing? What if he’s down 2 sets to love and down a break in the third?
Well, that fat lady hasn’t started to sing yet so he’s not out of it.The match will only end after his opponent wins matchpoint.
He needs to stop thinking about the current score, and stop getting distracted by bad calls and the crowd, and needs to refocus on the match. Now, he HAS to take things point by point, because each one is important.
He can still win but he needs to grind it out. He needs to show the heart of a champion.
So, what if Ramadan has been a disaster so far? What can one do?
Well, as I mentioned earlier, we need to “gut it out”.
Ramadan is not over. It will end only when the new moon is sighted.
So, there are still some days left, so we can still make a “comeback”.
We need to stop thinking about the fact that we have wasted most of the month and we need to focus on the few remaining days.
We need to squeeze each day for what it’s worth. We can’t afford to waste any day or any hour at this stage. Every hour is important now.
We just need to focus on the ibaadah and not on anything else.
We can attain Allah’s forgiveness this Ramadan but we need to work for it. If we are true believers, our actions need to reflect that.
So, how can the champion grind out a win?
Well, firstly he needs to believe that he can win.
The memory of past matches can inspire a champion and prove to him that he is indeed capable of winning at this stage.
Then, he needs to think things out in the changeover. He needs to figure out what he’s doing wrong and then he needs to change his tactics.
Then he needs to go out and apply his new tactics.
How can we make this a good Ramadan after all?
Firstly, we need to believe that we can still have a good Ramadan.
Then, we need to think of times past when our ibaadah was good (our glorious past). That will inspire us to new heights.
Then, we need to stop and think why our Ramadan has been not good so far. After this we need to decide what we can do to improve in these last few days of this great month.
Then, we need to go out and do those things.
What if the tactics aren’t working?
Well, if they seem to be the wrong tactics, then he needs to change tactics again.
If it looks likes it might take a while for the match to turn, then he should be patient and keep applying these new tactics until he breaks his opponent.
What if our new plans aren’t working?
If the new plan is not good, then change it.
It it is good, then stick with it. We might not feel the changes in a day but perhaps after a few days we’ll feel the impact and realise that our iman has become stronger.
What if it still isn’t working?
Well, a champion dies trying. He need to motivate himself and keep going until the end even if he loses.
What if the Ramadan isn’t looking any better?
Well, a believer gives it his all and he dies trying. Remember the man who killed 99 people? He tries until the end and in doing so, attained Paradise.
A believer CANNOT give up. He needs to keep motivating himself until the end, even if things look bleak.
The audience always likes a good effort and they appreciate those who give their all.
Human beings love the underdogs and they love effort. This is from the mercy that they have.
Now what about the Mercy of the Most Merciful? Do you think that Allah will not guide and reward those who are truly sincere and those who are struggling in His cause???
What if he loses? Well, it’s just a game.
He’ll have another shot at glory.
What if you end with a disastrous Ramadan?
Well, your life is not over. You still have a chance to attain Allah’s Mercy. Ramadan isn’t the only time to do that.
However, the loser doesn’t celebrate at the end, does he?
However, don’t celebrate Eid as though you had a great Ramadan. Take that time out to think about your life and what changes you need to make.
It’s amazing. How can a person who sinned all throughout Ramadan and another who tried hard to do good during Ramadan enjoy Eid the same way?
They can’t because the winner and loser are not equal.
What if he wins? Well, he can enjoy the win for now (until he needs to get back to work).
It’s still a game though.
What if you had a great Ramadan? Okay, you can enjoy Eid.
What about after that? You need to get back to work because you need to go on until death. Ramadan isn’t the end.
The entrance to Wimbledon has a verse from Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” states:
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
A person might have had a bad Ramadan which caused them to wake up and return to the path.
Another one might have had a great Ramadan that caused him to get lax and go astray.
So, whether we had a good Ramadan or a bad Ramadan, what ultimately matters is how we build on the present to improve in the future.
Ultimately, this world is a test.
Both the good and the evil are both tests.Hardship and ease are both tests.
كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ ۗ وَنَبْلُوكُم بِالشَّرِّ وَالْخَيْرِ فِتْنَةً ۖ وَإِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ
“Everyone is going to taste death, and We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good, and to Us you will be returned.” [Surah Al-Anbiya (21) : 35]
We need to treat them both the same and worship Allah no matter what the situation is.
To be continued…
Part 4, insha-Allah, will deal with what happens after the tournament…