My brothers and sisters, by the Grace and Mercy of Allahﷻ, we are poised on the doorstep of Ramadan Al-Kareem. I ask Allahﷻ to grant us this great month in a state of perfect health, with plenty of time and the Tawfeeq (guidance) to intensely use it to please Him in every way that we can. Before I go forward, I want to remember and ask you to remember all those who were with us last Ramadan but are not here today. May Allahﷻ grant them Jannatul Firdous. Did they know that last Ramadan would be the last Ramadan of their lives? Had they known, what would they have done differently? That is a question, not for them, but for us. Because we have this Ramadan but we don’t know if this is to be our last. I ask Allahﷻ to grant you many Ramadans to come and the opportunity to please Him, but I remind myself and you that one Ramadan will be our last, but we won’t know which one that will be. The only solution is to treat every Ramadan as if it is going to be our last, because that may well be the case. Once we face Malakul Mawth, it is pointless to regret not having done more for Allahﷻ, which really means for ourselves, because whatever we do for Allahﷻ, is only for our own benefit. So, let us begin by asking ourselves what we plan to do for ourselves this Ramadan, in case it is our last.
Ramadan comes to help us to restore our connection with Allahﷻ. The only connection that matters and which will help us when we go into the next life.
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, so that you may become Al-Muttaqun
Fasting drives home the meaning of Taqwa – to do something only because Allahﷻ likes it, whether it makes sense, or we like it or not. In Ramadan we hold ourselves back from enjoying what Allahﷻ made Halaal only because He told us to do so. How important therefore to stop ourselves from doing what Allahﷻ made Haraam? If, during the period of the fast, we don’t eat or drink or have a physical relationship with our spouses, all of which are normally Halaal, only because Allahﷻ ordered it, how can we eat and drink Haraam, have Haraam relationships, buy and sell Haraam, deal in interest and do other things that Allahﷻ prohibited for us throughout our lives? Ramadan is time to reflect on ourselves and our lives and make changes that will correct our relationship with Allahﷻ. Believe me, a day will come when we will either be very glad, we did this, or weep tears of blood that we didn’t. The most important thing to do is therefore to set goals for ourselves to become Muttaqoon. To live our lives with only one goal: to please
Allahﷻ. Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an. Allahﷻ declared about this:
شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أُنزِلَ فِيهِ ٱلْقُرْءَانُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَـٰتٍ مِّنَ ٱلْهُدَىٰ وَٱلْفُرْقَانِ
Baqara 2: 185 The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the Criterion.
The Qur’an is the living speech of Al-Hayyul Qayyum. The Shahaba understood this and went to Rasoolullahﷺ for all matters seeking Allahﷻ’s decisions. What an amazing time, that was when they asked Rasoolullahﷺ their questions and Allahﷻ answered!! One of the most beautiful is this one:
The story of Khawla bint Tha’labah (RA) and her husband Aws Ibn al-Sâmit (R) is narrated by Imam Ahmad and Abu Dawud and quoted by Ibn Kathir in his tafsir at the beginning of Surat al-Mujadilah. Khawla (RA) narrated: “By Allah, concerning me and Aws Ibn al-Samit, Allahﷻ revealed the beginning of Surat al-Mujadilah. I was married to him, and he was an old man who was bad-tempered. One day, he came in and I raised a particular issue with him again. He became angry and said, “You are to me as the back of my mother.” Then he went out and sat for a while in the meeting-place of his people. Then he came back and wanted to resume marital relations with me. I said, ‘No way! By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Khawla, you will never get what you want from me after saying what you said, until Allahﷻ and His Messengerﷺ decide between us.’ Then I went to one of my (female) neighbors and borrowed a cloak from her and went to Rasoolullahﷺ.
I sat before him, told him what my husband had done to me, and began to complain to him about my sufferings because of my husband’s bad temper. Rasoolullahﷺ said, ‘O Khawlah, your cousin (i.e. your husband) is an old man, so fear Allahﷻ with regard to him.’ I did not leave him until Qur’an was revealed concerning me. Heﷺ was overcome as he usually was when Qur’an was revealed to him, and when it was over, heﷺ said, ‘O Khawlah, Allahﷻ has revealed Qur’an concerning you and your husband.’ Then heﷺ recited to me:
قَدْ سَمِعَ ٱللَّهُ قَوْلَ ٱلَّتِى تُجَـٰدِلُكَ فِى زَوْجِهَا وَتَشْتَكِىٓ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ وَٱللَّهُ يَسْمَعُ تَحَاوُرَكُمَآ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ سَمِيعٌۢ بَصِيرٌ
ٱلَّذِينَ يُظَـٰهِرُونَ مِنكُم مِّن نِّسَآئِهِم مَّا هُنَّ أُمَّهَـٰتِهِمْ إِنْ أُمَّهَـٰتُهُمْ إِلَّا ٱلَّـٰٓـِٔى وَلَدْنَهُمْ وَإِنَّهُمْ لَيَقُولُونَ مُنكَرًا مِّنَ ٱلْقَوْلِ وَزُورًا وَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَعَفُوٌّ غَفُورٌ
وَٱلَّذِينَ يُظَـٰهِرُونَ مِن نِّسَآئِهِمْ ثُمَّ يَعُودُونَ لِمَا قَالُوا۟ فَتَحْرِيرُ رَقَبَةٍ مِّن قَبْلِ أَن يَتَمَآسَّا ذَٰلِكُمْ تُوعَظُونَ بِهِۦ وَٱللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ
فَمَن لَّمْ يَجِدْ فَصِيَامُ شَهْرَيْنِ مُتَتَابِعَيْنِ مِن قَبْلِ أَن يَتَمَآسَّا فَمَن لَّمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَإِطْعَامُ سِتِّينَ مِسْكِينًا ذَٰلِكَ لِتُؤْمِنُوا۟ بِٱللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِۦ وَتِلْكَ حُدُودُ ٱللَّهِ وَلِلْكَـٰفِرِينَ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
Mujadilah 58:1-4 Indeed Allah has heard the statement of her (Khaulah bint Tha’labah) that disputes with you (O Muhammadﷺ ) concerning her husband (Aus bin As-Samit), and complains to Allah. And Allah hears the argument between you both. Verily, Allah is All-Hearer, All-Seer. Those among you who make their wives unlawful (Az-Zihar) to them by saying to them You are like my mother’s back. They cannot be their mothers. None can be their mothers except those who gave them birth. And verily, they utter an ill word and a lie. And verily, Allah is Oft-Pardoning, Oft-Forgiving. And those who make unlawful to them (their wives) (by Az-Zihar) and wish to free themselves from what they uttered, (the penalty) in that case (is) the freeing of a slave before they touch each other. That is an admonition to you (so that you may not return to such an ill thing). And Allah is All-Aware of what you do. And he who finds not (the money for freeing a slave) must fast two successive months before they both touch each other. And for him who is unable to do so, he should feed sixty of Miskin (poor). That is in order that you may have perfect Faith in Allah and His Messenger. These are the limits set by Allah. And for disbelievers, there is a painful torment. Rasoolullahﷺ told me, ‘Let him release a slave.’ I said, Ya Rasoolullahﷺ, he does not have the means to do that.’ Heﷺ said, ‘Then let him fast for two consecutive months.’ I said, ‘By Allahﷻ, he is an old man, he is not able to do that.’ He said, ‘Then let him feed sixty poor people with a Wasq of dates.’ I said, Ya Rasoolullahﷺ, he does not have that much. ‘Heﷺ said, ‘Then we will help him with a Faraq of dates.’ I said, and I will help him with another Faraq, Ya Rasoolullahﷺ. ‘Heﷺ said, ‘You have done right and done well. Go and give it in charity on his behalf, then take care of your cousin properly.’ And I did so.”
Forgiveness and mercy are the symbols, the innate character, and the signature of Islam. Do we have these? Let us clean our hearts from all grudges, hatred, and resentment of others. Forgive others and seek forgiveness because when we meet Allahﷻ, we will need His Forgiveness.
Abu Hurairah (R) said: Rasoolullahﷺ said, “It is not lawful for a Muslim to forsake his (Muslim) brother beyond three days; and whosoever does so for more than three days, and then dies, will certainly enter Jahannam.”[Abu Dawud]
Aisha (RA) reported: Rasoolullahﷺ said: O Allah, You are forgiving and generous. You love to forgive. So, forgive me. [Tirmidhi]
Abdullah ibn Amr (RA) reported: Rasoolullahﷺ said: Be merciful to others and you will receive mercy. Forgive others and Allah will forgive you. (Musnad Ahmad)
Abdullah Ibn Amr (RA) reported: Rasoolullahﷺ said: Be merciful to others and you will receive mercy. Forgive others and Allah will forgive you. [Musnad Ahmad]
The question to ask is, “Do I want Allahﷻ to forgive me?” Because it is not about others. It is about us. It is about me. Let us not be garbage collectors. Hate is garbage. Arrogance is garbage. Jealousy, greed, envy, self-righteousness and all such negative emotions are garbage. Let us clean our hearts of all garbage, like we clean our houses from material garbage. Material garbage only stinks. Emotional garbage has negative consequences in this life and the next. Let us use Ramadan to purify our hearts and dedicate them only for the Glory and Magnificence of Allahﷻ.
Allahﷻ sent His guidance through His Blessed Word, His Book, Al-Qur’an Al-Majeed, to help us to reach our home and final destination safely. Our destination is Jannatul Firdous and the way to reach it is to make the right choices. Allahﷻ sent us the Criterion for decision-making, Al-Furqan, so that we can safely navigate the journey of our lives. Allahﷻ sent a guide, His Messengerﷺ, to purify and prepare us to receive the Word of Allahﷻ, to explain it to us and to demonstrate how it is to be followed. The Word of Allahﷻ and its Field-book, the Sunnah of Rasoolullahﷺ are our guides in this life, so that we can be saved from Jahannam.
Let us therefore set goals for ourselves with respect to the Qur’an. How much more than usual will I read in Ramadan? What do I intend to do about understanding it better and most important of all, what do I intend to do about living my life according to the Qur’an? The best example of that is the life of Rasoolullahﷺ and so what is my plan to implement the Sunnah in my life. I warn myself and you to break out of our minimalist thinking when it comes to living Islam and ask Allahﷻ to kindle in our hearts love for Him and His Messengerﷺ so that we race and compete to do the most. Not hunt for Fatwas to justify doing the least. This is a trap of Shaytaan and the greatest danger. Let us use Ramadan to save ourselves from this trap.
Ramadan is the month for dua. When the slave fasts and makes efforts to please Allahﷻ, Allahﷻ responds with His Glorious Mercy and said:
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 Muhammadﷺ) 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 or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be rightly guided.
Let us use this month to ask Allahﷻ because only Allahﷻ likes those who ask. Allahﷻ promised to accept our duas but put two conditions. He said, “Let them obey Me and believe in Me.” Obedience comes first. We obey Allahﷻ because He is our Creator and created us to worship Him, which is the highest form of obedience. It is when we obey Allahﷻ that He kindles the light of guidance in our hearts. We obey Allahﷻ because we love Him.
Allahﷻ ordered us to ask Him and warned those who don’t. He said:
وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمُ ٱدْعُونِىٓ أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِى سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ
Ghafir 40:60 And your Rabb said: Call (make dua to) Me, I will respond to your (invocation). Verily! Those who scorn My worship [don’t believe in Islam and don’t make dua] they will surely enter Jahannam in humiliation!
Al-Nu’man ibn Bashir reported: Rasoolullahﷺ said, “Supplication is worship itself.” Then, Rasoolullahﷺ recited the Ayah, “Your Rabb said: Call upon Me and I will respond to you. Verily, those who disdain My worship will enter Jahannam in humiliation.” (40:60)
Dua is worship and worship is dua. That is why it is not permissible to make dua to anyone other than Allahﷻ because it is not permissible to worship anyone other than Allahﷻ. Let us learn to connect to Allahﷻ through dua.
We obey Allahﷻ because we believe that one day we will stand before Him, and we want that day to be the best day of our lives. Ramadan is the time to reflect and sincerely ask ourselves whether we really believe in the meeting with Allahﷻ. The test is to check our actions. When actions match belief, that is truthfulness. When they don’t, that is hypocrisy. We know what happens to those who are truthful and those who are hypocrites. We must choose. Ramadan is the time to make that choice before we are called to account.