بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Need a quick refresher on what fasting and Ramadan are all about?
Well, here’s an extremely nice article which mentions many of the virtues of fasting and Ramadan: Fasting in Ramadan
Oh and they even have a version for kiddies. [The differences aren’t immediately obvious but they are definitely there.]
“Oh, my kids are too young for that.”
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
So I came across another article that told us why Muslims fast in Ramadan.
The only problem was that it – like most of the articles before it – failed to mention the MAIN reason that fasting was enjoined.
No, it’s not to feel empathy with the poor. [I heard that so many times when I was younger!]
What did Allah say?
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
“O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious).” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 183]
So, this is the reason that fasting was prescribed: to increase us in taqwa (piety).
What is fasting, after all? It’s staying away from three HALAL (lawful) things (food, drink and sexual intercourse with one’s spouse) from dawn to dusk during Ramadan.
Why? Well, just because Allah said so.
So, this begs the question: If we can give up the halal from dawn to dusk for 30 days, just because Allah said so, why can’t we give up the haram (unlawful) outside of Ramadan just because Allah said so?
I read or heard (can’t remember) a shaikh say something very interesting. He pointed out that many people fast but do not pray (and such a fast is invalid by the way) which did not make any sense (how could a person who wanted to increase in piety leave the prayer??).
Apart from the fact that prayer is the greater pillar, fasting was tougher than prayer! You had to do it for a whole day whereas a simple prayer could be done in 5-10 minutes.
He pointed out that these people do the more difficult act of worship and leave the easier one.
Does that make sense? Obviously not.
So, we need to make sure that we know the purpose of fasting, because if we don’t, we won’t get the benefit of performing this great act of worship.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
The Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) fasted most of Shabaan, as is well-known.
Well, one of the wisdoms behind this is that the body gets prepared for fasting.
If we were to start fasting on the first day of Ramadan, we would waste quite a few days whilst our bodies adjusted to the situation.
One of the other reasons for fasting is to increase in ibaadah (worship) before Ramadan.
You know, it’s strange. When many of us think of ways to increase our iman (faith), we generally think of praying, reciting the Quran, seeking knowledge, etc but I’ve rarely heard many people mention fasting.
Why not? Isn’t it one of the greatest acts of worship?
You know, we wonder why Ramadan is… Ramadan. One of the reasons is the fasting.
[Haven’t you ever felt that Ramadan feeling whilst fasting outside of Ramadan?]
It’s strange. We’re always talking about those who just pray during Ramadan and not outside of it.
Perhaps someone should dedicate an article to those who just fast in Ramadan and not outside of it……?
Now someone might say, “Hey, prayer is an obligation the whole year round but fasting isn’t!”
No, it isn’t but it is still great act of worship. It doesn’t matter if it is not an obligation.
Besides, paying the zakaah is obligatory only once a year but many people still give charity at the other times.
Also, Hajj can only be done once a year but many people still do Umrah at the other times of year.
So, why don’t many of us fast outside Ramadan?
Now, someone might say: “Well, we fast on Arafah and Ashoorah!”
Well, yes we do, but what about Mondays and Thursdays? What about 3 days every month?
What abut the best of all fasts: fasting every other day?
So, why don’t we all start fasting (if we haven’t started already)?
– The heat, you say? Well, it’s going to be hot in Ramadan as well, isn’t it?
An important point: If you have fasts to make up, then do those first. Don’t do any voluntary fasts if you have obligatory ones to make up.
We have less than three weeks to go before Ramadan. Let’s try to fast as much as possible, insha-Allah.
[If you’re wondering why I never talk much about fasting on this blog, it’s because I have difficulty fasting due to a variety of ailments so I don’t advertise what I don’t practice.
However, I think I should take a fresh approach to fasting and just try as much as I can outside Ramadan, insha-Allah.]
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
I thought that it would be a good idea to remind ourselves of the virtues of Ramadan from the Quran and the Sunnah.
[Yes, many of us might know these but we all need reminders now and then.]
The Month of Fasting
“O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious).” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 183]
“[Observing Saum (fasts)] for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man, etc.), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskeen (poor person) (for every day). But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast, it is better for you if only you know.” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 184]
The Month of the Quran, Guidance, Gratitude and Generosity
“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Saum (fasts) that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe Saum (fasts) must be made up] from other days. Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must magnify Allah [i.e. to say Takbir (Allahu-Akbar; Allah is the Most Great) on seeing the crescent of the months of Ramadan and Shawwal] for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him.” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 185]
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]
[*For those new to Islam, Jibreel = Gabriel (the angel).]
The Month of Tawheed (worshipping Allah alone) and Dua (supplication)
“And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright.” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 186]
To be continued…
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
I was thinking about the areas that we mess up in the most during this great month. What are the things that we could (and should) do that would help us improve our Ramadan?
1) We can (and should) sleep less.
Yes, yes, I know. You might say: “Hey most of us sleep less during this month!”
I beg to differ. I think that people snooze more in this month (or at least that’s what the people in this part of the world do) than they do outside of it.
This is NOT the month of “catching up on our sleep”.
2) We can (and should) stop wasting our time with useless activities, and instead focus on our ibaadah (worship).
Want to surf the Internet? Well, do it after Ramadan.
Part of the reason that we waste our time is that we have deceived ourselves into thinking that fasting is only achieved by staying hungry and as we are staying hungry, we are in a state of worship.
Well, no, there’s much more to fasting than just starving.
3) We can (and should) eat healthy food.
Yes, we can. Really.
Just stand in front of the mirror and repeat it a hundred times. Mass repetition is known to help the brain accept an idea, no matter how impossible it sounds.
[Oh and we can (and should) eat less as well. That would really end many a woman’s kitchen nightmares….]
4) We can (and should) stop fighting with each other in the masjid.
Completely silly question: Is there any particular reason that we all single out Ramadan for masjid fights……..?
5) We can (and should) take it hour by hour and not think too far ahead.
One of the main reasons that many of us flunk in Ramadan is that we go all out in the first few days and then fizzle out early. Instead, we need to take things step by step.
Question to all of you (if you’re still around. Everyone seems to have disappeared?): What other things are there that we can (and should) do in order to have a great Ramadan?
Yes, Ramadan is a little over six months away.
So, we need to ask ourselves two main questions:
1) How much progress have we made since the end of Ramadan 2010?
2) What are our goals for the end of Ramadan 2011 and how much progress do we need to make before we reach them?
Some of the questions that we could ask ourselves before we make a list of goals for the next Ramadan are:
a) Tawheed (worshipping Allah alone)
Has our knowledge and application of tawheed increased?
What else do we need to do to strengthen our aqeedah (creed)?
b) Salah (prayers)
How is the quality of our prayers?
Have we started doing any new prayers (e.g. Dhuha or Tahajjud) on a regular basis?
Has our Arabic improved?
Will we be able to understand the Taraweeh prayers come Ramadan?
d) The Quran
Has our relationship with the Book of Allah improved?
Do we recite it daily? And with tajweed (rules of recitation)?
How much can we understand without the use of a translation?
Have we memorised any new surahs? How much do we plan on memorising before next Ramadan?
Have we read the tafsir?
How much of the Quran do we apply?
Do we spend more on charity now?
Do we help the needy on a regular basis?
f) Adhkar (remembrance)
Have we increased in the remembrance of Allah?
Have we memorised any new adhkar?
Have we made up our missed fasts from previous Ramadans?
Do we do any of the optional fasts?
h) Seeking knowledge and doing dawah (calling to Islam)
Do we regularly attend Islamic lectures/classes?
Do we read beneficial books?
Do we spread this knowledge to others?
i) Akhlaq (Character)
Has our character improved?
Are our tongues more restrained?
Has our health improved?
Are we better equipped to handle the long qiyam al-layl prayers next Ramadan?
We don’t need to wait for Ramadan to make a change, nor should we wait for it. Rather, we should always be eager to improve no matter what time of year it is.
Everyone pretends to hold it in such high esteem and as soon as it’s gone….
Well, out of sight, out of mind.
It seems like it was an eternity ago (assuming of course that five weeks can actually be referred to as an “eternity”).
Here’s a lecture to remind us of that act of worship we did in Ramadan. The lecturer has some questions (I haven’t listened to it yet) for us to answer.
O You Who Have Fasted, Answer These Questions by Younus Kathrada
You can listen to and download the audio from here.
Yes, it might be a bit late for this but better late than never.
[According to this lecture’s youtube page, the issues discussed include:
Intentions – are they mandatory & should they be uttered?
Innovations in the calendar! Fast begins at Fajar not 10 minutes prior.
Backbiting – *eating* the flesh of your brothers/sisters.
Avoid: TV, Internet, Social Networks, Time killers
Condition of those who only abstain from food/drink
Condition of those who fast & don’t establish prayers
Brush teeth while fasting? Can we swallow spit?.
Smelling perfume & tasting food?
Continue to fast upon waking up as a junoob – in state of janabah?]
Ramadan Issues by Abu Usamah Adh-Dhahabi