Ramadan – The Connections

All praise and thanks be to Allahﷻ who He granted us Ramadan in good health and Iman and time to enable us to get the maximum benefit. Did we do that? Today is the last Friday in this blessed month. Those of us who came this far, still have a couple of days before it ends. Let us remember that we don’t know if this was our last Ramadan. Let us feel a genuine sense of regret that this month came and has almost gone. Are we satisfied with what we achieved in it? If not, let us make as much Istighfaar as we can and make Tawba and change our lives. It may be our last chance and we may not get another. One Ramadan will be our last.

Ramadan came to remind us about the most critical connection in our lives, the connection with Allahﷻ. The guide to that connection is Muhammadﷺ and his Sunnah is the Field Book of guidance. Allahﷻ created us for a purpose. People ask, ‘Why am I here? What is my purpose?’ Our Creator Allahﷻ answered that question for us and said?

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ ٱلْجِنَّ وَٱلْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ

Zariyaat 51: 56   And I (Allah) created not the jinn and humans except that they should worship Me (Alone).

What is Ibaadah? Ibaadah is not worship rituals alone, but it is to obey Allahﷻ in every aspect of our lives, in every decision, action, and word. It is to make Allahﷻ supreme in our lives. He is supreme. But we need to acknowledge that and start living our lives the way He ordered us to. Factor Allahﷻ into the equation because He is in it anyway. A Muttaqi – a person of Taqwa is someone who lives his life by one criterion alone – does it please Allahﷻ? That is not a mystery either. That is why Allahﷻ sent us His beloved Messengerﷺ to answer that question by demonstrating the answer. We answer the question: Does it please Allahﷻ? with another question: Is it according to the Sunnah of Rasoolullahﷺ? If it is, then it will please Allahﷻ. But if it is against the Sunnah, then it will displease and anger Him. A person who lives his life by this criterion is a Muttaqi. All the promises in the Qur’an are for the Muttaqoon – people of Taqwa. For them Allahﷻ promised the highest reward, without limit. Allahﷻ sent Ramadan to make us Muttaqoon.

إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ مَعَ ٱلَّذِينَ ٱتَّقَوا۟ وَّٱلَّذِينَ هُم مُّحْسِنُونَ

Nahl 16: 128   Truly, Allah is with those who have His Taqwa and those who are Muhsinun (those who are focused on excellence)

What is a higher reward than to know that Allahﷻ is with the Muttaqi and the Muhsin? Allahﷻ is not specifying the quantum of reward. He simply says that He is with the Muttaqi. That is limitless reward. What more can we ask, if Allahﷻ is with us? The requirement is At-Taqwa. The rewards of Taqwa are innumerable. Allahﷻ relieves the difficulties of the Muttaqi. Taqwa results in Tawakkul – total reliance on Allahﷻ alone. For the Mutawakkil, Allahﷻ says that He becomes sufficient for him in the Dunya and Aakhira.

وَمَن يَتَّقِ ٱللَّهَ يَجْعَل لَّهُۥ مَخْرَجًا

وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ

Talaq 65: 2-3   And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him.

Taqwa is the spirit of obedience to the One we love the most. The evidence of Taqwa must be seen in the changes we make in life. In our decisions, our actions, our speech, our attitude towards Allahﷻ’s commands and the Sunnah of Rasoolullahﷺ. To help us to do this, Allahﷻ sent Ramadan.

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

Baqara 2: 183   O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun

The first thing to do is to thank Allahﷻ for helping us to reach Him by not only sending this special month but for loading it with all the blessings that it comes with. Reward of Nafl equal to Fardh. Reward for Fardh, 70 times the reward in other days. Gates of Jannah open. Gates of Jahannam shut. Shayateen chained. So, when we still do stuff in Ramadan that we know we should not do, we know who is the culprit, right?

Abu Huraira (R) reported: That Rasoolullah said, Allah said, ‘Every deed of the son of Adam is for him, except for fasting. It (Fasting) is for Me and I will reward it.’ Fasting is a shield, so when one of you fasts, he should not be obscene or boisterous. If someone insults him or fights him, let him say: Indeed, I am fasting. By the One in whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, the breath from the mouth of a fasting person is more pleasant to Allah than the scent of musk. The fasting person has two moments of relief he enjoys: when he breaks his fast, he is joyful, and when he meets his Rabb he is joyful for his fasting.

In another narration, Rasoolullah said, “Allah said, ‘He abandons his food, drink, and desires for My sake. Fasting is for Me and I will reward it. A single good deed (will be rewarded with) up to ten times the like of it.’

And in another narration, Rasoolullah  said, “Every deed of the son of Adam is multiplied, a single deed as ten times the like of it up to seven hundred times. Allah said, ‘Except for fasting, as it is for Me and I will reward it. He leaves his desires and his food for My sake.’” [Muttafaqun Alaihi – Bukhari & Muslim]

When the slave reflects on the bounties of his Rabb, that not only does He make it easy to do good deeds by chaining Shayateen, but multiplies the rewards of the deeds, he bows his head in thankfulness. He feels a special sense of closeness to Allahﷻ and wants to talk to Him. Allahﷻ says:

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِى عَنِّى فَإِنِّى قَرِيبٌ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ ٱلدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا۟ لِى وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا۟ بِى لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ

Baqara 2: 186   And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the dua of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be rightly guided.

There are different ways to demonstrate our respect, and love for those we love. The way to express our love for Allahﷻ is to obey Him and for Rasoolullahﷺ is to make his Ittiba – emulate him. When we obey Allahﷻ we start to feel the Baraka (blessing) of that in our lives. Ramadan comes to reiterate the importance of obedience.

I remind myself and you, that all Ibadaath are tools to reach Allahﷻ. The Ibaadah is not an end in itself. It is a means to gain the closeness (Qurb) of Allahﷻ. Every Ibaadah is a manifestation of obedience to Allahﷻ and the Ittiba of Rasoolullahﷺ. We pray Salah because Allahﷻ ordered us to, in the way that Rasoolullahﷺ demonstrated for us. We fast because Allahﷻ commanded us to, in the way that Rasoolullahﷺ did and showed us. We pay Zakat as Allahﷻ commanded us to and according to what Rasoolullahﷺ taught us. We do Hajj because Allahﷻ called us to His House and perform the rituals there, as Rasoolullahﷺ showed us. The purpose of all these acts of worship is only one – to gain Allahﷻ’s Qurb. Therefore, we must monitor the effectiveness of our Ibaadah. Are we getting the benefits that that Ibaadah is designed to give us?

About the purpose of fasting Allahﷻ told us that He prescribed it to make us Muttaqoon. To make us people who are concerned about the pleasure of Allahﷻ in every aspect of our lives. Let us check how we are doing. Have we become more obedient? What is the evidence? What has changed in our lives? Remember that with Allahﷻ only action counts. That is why in the Ayat-ul-Karima which I recited for you, Allahﷻ puts the conditions for accepting duas as obedience and faith in Him.

Above all else, let us guard what goes into our mouths and what goes into our pockets. Our food and our earnings. Make sure that these are Halaal and Allahﷻ will accept our duas. If these two are doubtful or Haram, then dua and Ibadaath are not accepted. In Ramadan, to please Allahﷻ, we stayed away from Halaal. This is to emphasize for us the importance of staying away from Haram throughout our lives. Let us not waste our fasts. Let us get the maximum benefit because this may be our last chance.

Abu Huraira reported: Rasoolullah said, “Whoever does not leave evil words and deeds while fasting, Allah does not need him to leave food and drink.” (Hadith Sahih – Bukhari)

Rasoolullah also said, “The true fast is not to merely abstaining from food and drink, rather the true fast is to abstain from futile activities and obscene talk.”

Please note that the No. 1 qualifier for ‘futile activities and vain and obscene talk’ is social media. Let us detox ourselves permanently and get out of all social media. Keep one to make free international calls. Get out of everything else. Write letters, emails, call people, meet people. All these are healthy activities which build relationships which are good for us. Social media forwards, TikTok shorts and all the rest of it only increase negativity, anger, frustration, depression and unhappiness. Social media is toxic. There are any number of studies to prove it. A recent study published in the New York Times links a spike in teenage suicides to the inception of FB and Insta in particular but almost all other social media. Ramadan is a good opportunity to free yourself from this slavery.

Finally, we come to the peak of our Rabb’s Mercy and Generosity where in the last ten nights He gave us a night, the worship during which is more than, not equal to, but more than worshiping Him continuously for 83 years and 4 months, i.e., 1000 months. And to enhance our reward, He didn’t tell us when exactly it is. Rasoolullahﷺ told us to search for it in the odd nights of the last 10 nights of Ramadan. Given that odd and even depends on when the moon was sighted, it could be any of the last 10 nights and therefore we are encouraged to engage in worship on all the nights. This is where being in Itikaaf is such a good thing, because you can be assured that you got Laylat-ul-QadrIn-sha-Allah. Allahﷻ said:

إِنَّآ أَنزَلْنَـٰهُ فِى لَيْلَةِ ٱلْقَدْرِ

وَمَآ أَدْرَىٰكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ ٱلْقَدْرِ

لَيْلَةُ ٱلْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِّنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ

تَنَزَّلُ ٱلْمَلَـٰٓئِكَةُ وَٱلرُّوحُ فِيهَا بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِم مِّن كُلِّ أَمْرٍ

سَلَـٰمٌ هِىَ حَتَّىٰ مَطْلَعِ ٱلْفَجْرِ

Qadr 97: 1-5   Verily! We have sent it (Qur’an) down in the night of Al-Qadr (Decree) And what will make you know what the night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is? The night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months (worshipping Allah for a thousand months, i.e., 83 years and 4 months). Therein descend the angels and the Ruh [Jibreel] by Allah’s Permission with all Decrees. Peace! (All that night, there is Peace and Goodness from Allah) until the appearance of dawn.

Ayesha (RA) reported: I asked: “Ya Rasoolullah ! If I realize Laylat-ul-Qadr, what dua should I make in it?” He () replied, “You should ask: Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun, tuhibbul-‘afwa, fa’fu ‘anni (O Allah, You are Most Forgiving, and You love forgiveness; so forgive me).” [Tirmidhi].

What a beautiful dua this is and how beautifully it shows the connection between the Abd and his Rabb. “You are Most Forgiving, and You love forgiveness; so, forgive me.” Not because I deserve it. But because it pleases You. And because You like to do it. And because this is in keeping with your Majesty and Grace.

I ask Allahﷻ to forgive us all and to accept our fasting, our recitation of Qur’an, our Qiyam, our Sadaqa and all that we did for the Allahﷻ’ sake. I ask Allahﷻ to cover us with His Mercy and Forgiveness. I ask Allahﷻ to protect the Ummah of Muhammadﷺ from all evil and relieve us from our oppressors, and to help us find solutions to our problems. I ask Allahﷻ to be with us and to provide us from sources we can’t imagine. I ask Allahﷻ to demonstrate His Power and Glory and Generosity to us so that we can bear witness to it and sing His praises and thanks. I ask Allahﷻ to accept all the duas we made and to give us what we asked with Khair and Aafiya and to add to that from His Mercy and to give us what He wants to give us as His gift.

آمين يارب العالمين