Jumuah khutbah delivered by Brother Bashier Rahim on 3 June 2016 at the Ahlul Bait
(a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town
We are in the last jumuah of the month of Sha’baan and look forward to and yearn and pray that Almighty Allah affords us once again the opportunity to witness the Holy Month of Ramadaan which will start in the course of next week, Insha’Allah.
In today’s khutbah, I would like to examine some of the verses which refer to fasting in Quran and the Holy Month of Ramadaan and try to extract from it some of the
philosophical lessons that it offers us.
In Surah Baqarah, Verses 183 to 187 contains much reference to:
– the institution of fasting,
– some of the main rules of fasting,
– the relationship of fasting to the month Holy Month of Ramadaan,
– the revelation of the Quran as Allah’s communication to mankind,
– mankind’s communication with Allah,
– and so on
The first verses are preparatory in nature, as they prepare the mind of the listener to the idea of fasting. After all Almighty Allah is about to command us to do something seemingly unnatural – i.e. to stay away from eating, drinking and marital relations during the day. Almighty Allah thus does not immediately command us to fast but, out of His Kindness, first introduces the idea to us to get our “mental preparedness” and “buy-in” to the idea.
Allah thus informs us that fasting is not an institution that is only prescribed for the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad (sawa), but previous generations also had the institution of fasting incorporated into its rituals. The format of their fast might not have been the same as ours, but the institution of fasting did apply to them as well.
Thus in other places in the Quran, the fasting of great personalities like Lady Maryam (a.s) and Prophet Zakariyya (a.s) are mentioned.
And to this very day we find that fasting is a ritual that is built into the rituals of all major religions in the world. The Holy Verses then further prepare the mind of the listener by saying that its only for a certain number of days – it’s not for the whole year – it’s not even day and night – only during day time.
And then the Holy Verses prepare our minds even more for this institution of fasting by
saying that various concessions are built into the system:
– if you are sick – you don’t have to fast but can make it up some other time after Ramadaan
– if you are on a journey (as defined) – you don’t have to fast but can make it up some
other time after Ramadaan
– if you are old or cannot fast at all – then you don’t have to fast but can pay fidyah by feeding one poor person for each fast that you miss in line with the prescribed rules.
And the process of preparing our minds continues in the next verse when it says:
هْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِيَ أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَى وَالْفُرْقَانِ
“The month of Ramadan, in which was sent down the Qur’an, a guidance for the people, and clear evidence of guidance and discrimination”
The Prophet (sawa) is reported to have said the following in his khutbah of the last jumuah of Sha’baan when making reference to the upcoming Holy Month of Ramadaan:
“O People !
Indeed ahead of you is the blessed month of Allah. A month of blessing, mercy and forgiveness. A month which with Allah is the best of months. Its days, the best of days, its nights, the best of nights, and its hours, the best of hours.”
Why does Prophet (sawa) call the Month of Ramadaan as the “best of months’?
It’s because of the relationship that this month of Ramadaan has with the Holy Quran.
Ramadaan is the month in which the Holy Quran was revealed….which Holy Quran?
It’s not the beginning of the revelation of Suratul Alaq….
Rather, its the revelation of the Haqiqat/Fact/Truth/Reality of the Quran onto the heart of the Prophet (sawa) in the Night of Qadr in the Holy Month of Ramadaan that makes it the best of months
Ponder upon this point….it’s the Reality of the Quran – from the realm of Lawhin Mahfooz that was revealed in this month.
This Quran is a guidance to everybody – the general masses referred to as “An-Naas” who are very weak in applying their own minds and always need some assistance to make the correct decision – this Quran is a guidance for them – and what a great guidance it is.
But this Quran is also referred to as “and clear evidence of guidance and discrimination”
There are people who are intellectually stable and able to accurately apply their own mind to come to the correct answer – for those people, the Quran is more than the guidance that it is for the masses – for them it reaffirms what their intellect already recognizes and becomes a special form of guidance as the “discrimination” for everything they do.
Now, having prepared our minds by connecting us to history, emphasizing that fasting is only for a few days, reminding us of the various concessions, introducing the fact that the most profound event of revelation of the Reality of Quran occurred in the Month of Ramadaan – Almighty Allah has prepared our minds to such an extent that we would be willing to do anything if we were commanded to do so…..
At this point, when the listener is fully tuned in – Almighty Allah says:
فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ
“so whosoever of you witnesses the month, he shall fast therein” –
Now we are commanded to fast in the Holy Month of Ramadaan.
Glory be to Allah….
We entering the Month of the Revelation of the Haqiqat of the Quran – and we are not left out….we are included in it…
And how are we included?
Prophet (sawa) says: “It is the month in which you are invited to be the guests of Allah.”
Now after all of this mental preparation – it is as if Allah recognizes that there will still be some of us that find this idea of fasting to be so hard.
So after saying “so whosoever of you witnesses the month, he shall fast therein”….immediately thereafter Allah repeats the concessions…
– if you are sick or on a journey – you fast your qadaa afterwards
That’s because “Allah desires ease for you and does not desire difficulty for you” – this again re-emphasizes the fact that fasting is an easy command to uphold in principle. So why did Allah command us to fast??
In the very first Verse under discussion, i.e. Verse 183 of Surah Baqarah, we are already informed that the institution of fasting can bring you Taqwa or Consciousness of Allah….that is what’s in it for you – possibility of spiritual development.
We can walk away from this upcoming month of Ramadaan in a state of heightened consciousness of Almighty Allah. But that state that we achieve varies from person to person.
And the achievement of Taqwa is not guaranteed – the Verse says “maybe you will achieve Taqwa.”
Now taking into consideration the various possible outcomes that we can achieve by fasting in the Holy Month of Ramadaan, Verse 185 ends with informing us that you are commanded to fast because:
وَلِتُكَبِّرُواْ اللّهَ عَلَى مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
“and so that you may glorify Allah for guiding you, and so that maybe you will be thankful to Him.”
This verse is indicating to us that there are 2 spiritual states or stations that one can reach through fasting, the one station is reached by every fasting person, while the other station is reached by a select group of fasting people.
The station that is reached by everyone who stays away from eating, drinking and marital relations in this month is that they are said to be in a state of “Glorification of Allah.”
This state is for every fasting person. And thus the Verse says “and so that you may glorify Allah for guiding you.”
Every fasting person is in a state of “Glorifying Allah for having guided them.”
And thus the Prophet (sawa) says in his Sermon in Welcoming the Holy Month of Ramadaan, that “your breathing in this Month is a Glorification or tasbeeh of Almighty Allah.”
And since every fasting person is in a state of tasbeeh or Glorifying Almighty Allah, this makes every fasting person special.
Thus we are encouraged to treat a fellow fasting person as special. Prophet (sawa) says:
“O People! One who gives Iftaar to a fasting person during this month will be like one who has freed someone and his past sins will be forgiven.
Some of the people who were there then asked the Prophet (s): “Not all of us are able to invite those who are fasting?”
The Prophet (s) replied: “Allah gives this reward even if the Iftaar (meal) is a drink of water.”
Why? Because a fasting person is special – and thus we make a fuss of them – irrespective of their financial well being.
But the Verse says that there is a second state that is reached through fasting in this Holy Month of Ramadaan.
“and so that you may glorify Allah for guiding you, and so that maybe you will be thankful to Him.”
This second state is not promised for everybody. Thus unlike the state of glorification where it says “so that you may glorify Allah for guiding you”, this second state is introducedwith the words “la-alla” which means so that “maybe” you will be thankful to Him.
From Allah’s perspective, Fasting in the Holy Month of Ramadaan is meant to be an expression of our gratitude to Almighty Allah for having guided us. Reaching this state of “expressing gratitude” is not achieved by every fasting person – and thus the verse says “maybe you will be thankful to Him.”
So brothers and sisters, as we approach the Holy Month of Ramadaan, let us reflect and decide on what type of fast do we intend to observe?
Do we intend to just observe a regular fast in a ritualistic sense? Even if we only do this, we will be in a state of Glorification of Allah.
But how about making this Ramadaan something more than that? How about attempting to take our level of fasting to a state where we can be considered to be among those who express gratitude to Almighty Allah through our fasting?
To be able to reach this point, our fasting will have to be more than just a mere ritual.
Prophet (sawa) thus advises us:
– “Remember the hunger and thirst of the day of Qiyamah (Judgement) with your hunger and thirst;
– give alms to the needy and poor,
– honour your old,
– show kindness to the young ones,
– maintain relations with your blood relations;
– guard your tongues,
– close your eyes to that which is not permissible for your sight,
– close your ears to that which is forbidden to hear,
– show compassion to the orphans of people so compassion may be shown to your orphans.”
And so on.
This is fasting on a very different level.
During this month the act of fasting soften’s our hearts. This condition makes it easier to be kind to poor, to forgive others, to keep family relations. And this condition of fasting creates an awareness in us so that we can fast with our tongues by not speaking that which is inappropriate or looking at that which is forbidden or listening to that which is forbidden. Often we look for ways to pass time in Ramadaan….try to pass your time in doing any of these positive things that the Prophet (sawa) mentioned.
Don’t pass time in meaningless entertainment and speaking nonsense.
Ramadaan is a month in which the recommended Ibaadah can literally keep you awake 24 hours. So it’s up to us to decide what level of fasting we intend to observe and whether we want to be counted among those whose fasting is an expression of gratitude to Almighty Allah.
REMEMBERING IMAM KHOMIENI
On 4 June we remember the passing on of the leader of the Islamic Revolution and founder of the modern day Islamic Republic of Iran, i.e. Imam Khomeni (May Allah elevate his blessed soul).
As we end this month of Sha’baan, in which Munajaat Shabaniyya is recommended to be recited, which is a munajaat that is recorded to have been recited by all the Infallibles, we also remember Imam Khomeini’s love and attachment to this whispered supplication and particularly a portion in it which seems to have fashioned the direction of his life.
It is narrated that as early as 1930, when Imam Khomeini used to teach an Akhlaaq class, that he always ended the class with reference to this particular portion of the Munajaat Shabaniyya:
“O God, grant me total separation from other than You and attachment to You; brighten the vision of our hearts with the light of looking upon You, so that they may pierce the veils of light and attain the source of magnificence, and our spirits be suspended from the splendor of Your sanctity.”
This was the focus of Imam Khomeini’s life right to the end….to pierce the veils of light that separate us from Allah and thereby reaching the source of magnificence.
It is this spiritual achievement of Imam Khomeini, together with the religiosity of the Iranian people in general, that made the revolution successful and causes it to grow from strength to strength.
Imam Khomeini was not some overly gifted politician…he was beyond politics…he was a man of God who showed that you can develop yourself to the point where your actions truly become Allah’s actions (in a spiritual sense). It is this reality that many cannot come to grips with, and out of jealousy are eternally stuck with fighting it instead of embracing this reality.
Whether you believe in Wilayatul Faqih or not, Imam Khomeini showed that the only system that offers any real solution to the world is one based on Islam and the teachings of the Prophet (sawa) AND his noble family. During his time communism fell, and he forecast that it would happen.
USA and the Western World tried to destroy the revolution, but today are standing at its door to embrace it. Imam Khomeini taught us that true spirituality cannot be devoid of your social and political responsibility. And therefore, when our spirituality is at its peak at the end of Ramadaan, he announced the final jumu’ah to be the jumu’ah of Quds and the oppressed. But within our own Muslim ranks, we refuse to come to terms with Imam Khomeini’s contribution to dignifying Islam. When it comes to Quds, some leaders say that we have it all wrong, the real Quds Day is when a certain person in history liberated it and therefore that day should be commemorated as Quds Day!
For every success of Imam Khomeini, people try to bring some empty alternative to show that we don’t need the Islamic Revolution. So when Saudis kill 4000 Iranians in Haj and Iran decides to boycott the Haj, people say “Alhamdulillah, Shia will not be there this year!”
People say Haj means nothing to Shia and that’s why they won’t care to go! Have such people even understood the basic requirements before Haj becomes an obligation that it should be safe? If Saudi’s cannot guarantee the safety of the Iranians, how is Haj then an obligation in that year?
Exactly 2 years ago, at the beginning of Ramadaan, the so-called ISIS khilafate was announced…another supposed opposition ultimately to Iran and the system left by Imam Khomeini.
Where is it today?
After so much chaos and destruction, they are slowly becoming wiped out, Sayed Ammar al-Hakim beautifully says:
“The Sunni and Shiite blood is mixing with each other in the liberation battle of Fallujah, the blood of all Iraqi ethnicities Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen, and all Iraq religions Yazidi, Shabak and Christians, will all mix with each other in the liberation battle of Mosul by the will of Almighty Allah.”
And we too pray that ISIS is completely annihilated and Iraq and Syria are liberated from these satans, Insha’Allah.
In conclusion, on behalf of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Center and the Ahlul Bait Foundation of South Africa, under the leadership of Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider, I extend our best wishes to all of you during this Holy Month and pray that Almighty Allah accepts our fasting and ibaadat and encourage you all to participate in our programmes at our centers every night as advertised across the country, Insha’Allah