Spirit of Ramadan

My brothers and sisters, in another day or two we will enter Ramadan. The question I ask myself and you is, will we enter Ramadan or will we allow Ramadan to enter us? If we enter Ramadan then on the 1st of Shawwal, we will exit Ramadan. But if we allow the spirit of Ramadan, the spirit of absolute obedience to Allahﷻ in the way of Rasoolullahﷺ and concern for the Pleasure of Allahﷻ in all matters to enter our hearts and lives, then we can hope that this will transform us and make us true Muttaqoon for whom Allahﷻ promised Jannah. Abu Hurairah (R) reported from Rasoolullahﷺ:

قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَمَضَانُ شَهْرٌ مُبَارَكٌ افْتَرَضَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْكُمْ صِيَامَهُ تُفْتَحُ فِيهِ أَبْوَابُ الْجَنَّةِ وَيُغْلَقُ فِيهِ أَبْوَابُ الْجَحِيمِ وَتُغَلُّ فِيهِ الشَّيَاطِينُ فِيهِ لَيْلَةٌ خَيْرٌ مِنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ مَنْ حُرِمَ خَيْرَهَا قَدْ حُرِمَ

“There has come to you Ramadan, a blessed month, in which Allah has enjoined you to fast. In it the gates of Jannah are opened, and the gates of Jahannam are shut, and every devil is chained up. In it Allah has a night which is better than a thousand months; whoever is deprived of its goodness is indeed deprived”. [Nasa’i]  

I ask Allahﷻ to grant us all, Ramadan with strong Iman, good health and free time and the guidance (Tawfeeq) to do our utmost to earn His Pleasure. My brothers and sisters, I remind myself and you that all the promises of Allahﷻ in the Qur’an are for the Muttaqoon – people of Taqwa. Not for the Muslimoon. Becoming Muslim is only the entry point, a boundary condition. Without that you are not even in the fold. But to attain levels with Allahﷻ we must make effort; to enter that blessed group of people who will be honored and granted entry into Jannah. Allahﷻ ordered us to have His Taqwa – to fear His displeasure and be aware of His presence – and said:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلاَ تَمُوتُنَّ إِلاَّ وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ

A’al Imraan 3:102.  O you who believe! Have Taqwa of Allah as it is His right that you should have Taqwa. And do not die except in a state of Islâm (as Muslims) 

Allahﷻ ordered the Muslims to develop a state of mind and heart where they fear to displease Him as it is His right that people should fear to displease Him. And He told the Muslims to make sure that they don’t die except in a state of complete submission to Him. Then Allahﷻ showed us how to develop Taqwa and gave us the means to do it. He made fasting Fardh (compulsory) upon us so that we could develop Taqwa. He said:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

Al Baqarah 2:83. O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become Al-Muttaqoon 

Islam means submission. To obey without question. It is not obedience without understanding but because we understand who Allahﷻ is. Allahﷻ gave us the example of Ibrahim (AS) and his willing submission to Him.

إِذْ قَالَ لَهُۥ رَبُّهُۥٓ أَسْلِمْ قَالَ أَسْلَمْتُ لِرَبِّ ٱلْعَـٰلَمِينَ

Baqara 2: 131   When his Rabb ordered him, “Submit ˹to My Will˺, he responded, I submit to the Rabb of all worlds.”

Ramadan comes to emphasize the fact that the Muslim obeys because Allahﷻ commanded it; and that makes ‘sense’ to him, even if he doesn’t always understand why Allahﷻ commanded it. This is an indication of his trust in Allahﷻ which comes from his love for Allahﷻ and his experience of the Glory and Magnificense of Allahﷻ. When I know that the One who can do anything, loves me and is in control of my life, what else can I ask for?

Allahﷻ made some things Halaal and some things Haraam. But in Ramadan during the hours of daylight, He made even the things which are ordinarily Halaal, Haraam. Allahﷻ made Halaal whatever is good and beneficial for the slave and Haraam whatever is evil and harmful for the slave. We forget that Allahﷻ neither benefits nor is harmed by anything and so He has nothing to gain or lose. It is His Mercy which drives the decision to show us what is harmful and beneficial for us. But in Ramadan Allahﷻ makes Haraam what is normally Halaal. Which emphasizes the fact that real benefit is in obeying Allahﷻ and real harm is to disobey Allahﷻ and not in the thing itself. When the Muslim obeys Allahﷻ and fasts he is essentially doing something which makes sense only when one understands whose command it is. It is emphasized for the Muslim that if he obeyed Allahﷻ during Ramadan and stayed away even from Halaal then how much more important is it for him to stay away from what Allahﷻ  prohibited and made Haraam throughout his life?

That is why it is so critical to know Allahﷻ, to be connected to Allahﷻ, to be conscious of Allah and to be concerned about His pleasure and approval for all that we say or do because to Him is our return. Ramadan comes to emphasize this for us every year; that we are the slaves of Allahﷻ and in being true to that is our salvation. Ramadan comes to teach us obedience. It comes to teach us the meaning of Uboodiya. It comes to teach us the meaning of being Abdullah and Amatullah and to do that because we love Allahﷻ above all else. So, what is the benefit of being a Muttaqi? Allahﷻ began His Book with the promise of Hidaya for the Muttaqeen.  

ذَلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لاَ رَيْبَ فِيهِ هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ

Baqara 2: 2. This is the Book (the Qur’an), in which there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqun

In Suratul Fatiha He ordered us to ask for Hidaya – guidance. Guidance to the path of Righteousness – Siratal Mustaqeem. And in the next Sura He said that such guidance is only for those who fear to displease Him – the Muttaqoon. Allahﷻ’s promises are for the Muttaqoon, and they are those on Siratal Mustaqeem. This is the path of Rasoolullahﷺ who is the first among the Muttaqoon and success is only for the Muttaqoon. This is the Sunnah, and this is how the Sunnah is Fardh in terms of our lives.

قَالَ مُوسَى لِقَوْمِهِ اسْتَعِينُوا بِاللّهِ وَاصْبِرُواْ إِنَّ الأَرْضَ لِلّهِ يُورِثُهَا مَن يَشَاء مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَالْعَاقِبَةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ 

A’araaf 7; 128.  Musa said to his people: “Seek help in Allah and be patient. Verily, the earth is Allah’s. He gives it as a heritage to whom He wills of His slaves, and the (blessed) end is for the Muttaqoon.

Allahﷻ assured us that success is His to give and that He gives it to those who are just and who fear to displease Him – Al-Muttaqoon

تِلْكَ الدَّارُ الْآخِرَةُ نَجْعَلُهَا لِلَّذِينَ لَا يُرِيدُونَ عُلُوًّا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فَسَادًا وَالْعَاقِبَةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ 

Qasas 28: 83.   That home of the Hereafter (Jannah), We shall assign to those who rebel not against the truth with pride and oppression in the land nor do mischief by committing crimes. And the good end is for the Muttaqoon

To help us to get there, Allahﷻ ordered:

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

Baqara 2: 183   O believers! Fasting is prescribed for you—as it was for those before you—so perhaps you will become mindful ˹of Allah˺

I remind myself and you that all the promises of Allahﷻ are conditional. If we want Allahﷻ to respond to us, we must respond to Him.

Guidance is the result of obedience. It makes no sense to seek guidance and then do the opposite of what Allahﷻ tells us to do. We asked Allahﷻ for Siratal Mustaqeem – the path of Rasoolullahﷺ. Then what sense does it make to go against the Sunnah? I remind myself and you that Allahﷻ sent Rasoolullahﷺ and this Deen with him for our benefit, so that by emulating him we can lead lives of grace and become blessings for all those who share this planet with us.

The blessing of Ramadan is to help us to develop Taqwa which is the secret of solving all our worldly problems and becoming deserving of Allahﷻ’s forgiveness. Allahﷻ declared the benefit of Taqwa and said:

وَمَن يَتَّقِ ٱللَّهَ يَجْعَل لَّهُۥ مَخْرَجًا وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ

وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُۥٓ

Talaq 65: 2-3   And whoever is mindful of Allah, He will make a way out for them, and provide for them from sources they could never imagine. And whoever puts their trust in Allah, then He ˹alone˺ is sufficient for them. 

Not only did Allahﷻ promise to help the Muttaqi but said that He would help him in ways that he couldn’t imagine. Finally, the reward of Taqwa is Tawakkul. When the slave is concerned about the pleasure of Allahﷻ and makes effort to gain it, Allahﷻ grants him peace of mind and freedom from all anxiety and stress.

Tawakkul is to have total trust in Allahﷻ and the reward for that is that Allahﷻ will become sufficient for him. I remind myself and you that this sufficiency is not only for this life but much more importantly for the Hereafter where we will need it the most. What can you say about the one for whom Allahﷻ said that He would be sufficient? I ask Allahﷻ for this for us all. To make us Muttaqoon, solve our problems and extract us from our difficulties, to keep us in the ranks of the Mutawakkiloon and to fill our hearts with His Noor and Grace and Love and to be sufficient for us in this world and the next. I ask Allahﷻ to make this Ramadan the best in our lives and enable us to maximize its blessings and earn the Ridha (Pleasure) of Allahﷻ.