1) Fearfulness of Allah and its virtue.
2) The objective of fasting is to attain piety, and what that means.
3) How does the heart fast, and the effect of rectifying the heart on the rest of the body.
4) The situation of the pious fasting people.
5) How do we prepare for Ramadan.
I advise and remind you and myself, O people, to be conscious and fearful of Allah, for might and honour lies in fearing Allah and only the people of Taqwa, or piety and righteousness, are the people of joy and pride. Piety, O Muslims, is a great treasure and beloved to us. It is the treasure of the Dunyah, (this life) and of the life to come.
For Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala says which translates as: “Take provisions for your journey, but the best provision is Taqwa, or piety and righteousness” (Al-Baqarah: 197).
Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala made having Taqwa a condition of acceptance of deeds when he says which translates as: “Verily Allah accepts only from those who are Muttaqeen, or pious and righteous” (Al-Ma’idah: 27).
We are promised forgiveness and reward for having Taqwa because Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala says which translates as: “Whoever fears Allah (i.e. has Taqwa) and keeps his duty to him, He will expiate from him his sins, and will enlarge his reward” (At-Talaq: 5).
The people of Taqwa - piety and righteousness are the people of high rank in the Hereafter as well as in this life. For Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala says which translates as: “That home of the Hereafter (i.e. Paradise), We shall assign to those who do not rebel against the truth with pride and oppression in the land nor do mischief by committing crimes. And the good end is for the Muttaqeen: [i.e. pious and righteous persons who fear Allah much (abstain from all kind of sins and evil deeds which he has forbidden), and love Allah much (performs all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)]” (Al-Qasas: 83).
Times have changed drastically through the centuries from the early generations to our evil generation; the early generation’s only aim in life was to please Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala. It seems that our concern is only for material things. Excessive wealth has resulted in heedless hearts and has blinded the vision of our people. It has put clouds – thick clouds – in front of our eyes so that we have become blind, unable to see the way. We see those who are higher in rank and have more wealth as the best among us. The poor or the miserable in our scale are those who have less money or provision than us. This indeed is a terrible state of heedlessness and gross ignorance of the true and correct scale with which mankind is judged. Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala says which translates as:
“And strain not your eyes in longing for the things We have given for enjoyment to various groups of them (unbelievers), the splendor of the life of this world, that we may test them thereby. But the provisions (good reward in the Hereafter) of your Lord are better and more lasting. And enjoin the prayer on your family, and be patient in offering them (your prayers). We ask not of you a provision: We provide for you. And the good end (Paradise) is for the Muttaqeen, ” (pious, righteous, slaves who fear Allah and are aware of Allah” (Ta Ha: 131-132).
Thus my dear brothers, it is actually the righteous and pious who are truly the happy ones in this life. By worshipping Allah, they will occupy the highest ranks in Paradise in the Hereafter.
O Believers, with the blessed month of Ramadan fast approaching us. A month in which Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala has made obligatory upon you to fast so that you might become righteous, pious, fearful and conscious of Allah.
Brothers! The objective of fasting is to enhance the state of our piety. Piety in ourselves is represented by our fear of Allah, working in accordance with His revelation and being satisfied with whatever little he provides – as well as our preparation for the day of departure.
The particular type of piety that we will try to gain in Ramadan is the very sensitive type. The fasting person can only acquire this, because he gives up what he desires to avoid that which he is fearful of, (which is the punishment of Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala).
Even though following all obligations and commandments and avoiding all prohibited matters in Islam lead to the state of piety and Taqwa, fasting has an extra special relationship between itself and Taqwa.
Brothers! We as human beings are at the mercy of our limbs, such as our eyes, ears, hands, tongues, stomachs and the private parts. The heart is the commander and controller of all of these. The heart ‘fasts’ when it directs its worship and service completely and purely for the sake of Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala. It does this by submitting to His Glory, seeking closeness to Him, addressing and approaching Him and supplicating to Him.
A heart is purified from associating others with Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala by staying away from innovation and sin. A pious heart sees desire, lust, oppression, evil, hatred, envy and taking part in disputed arguments to be diseases that are fatal. These destroy individuals and ruin nations. A pious heart will shun these evil things, it’s fasting will not allow it to indulge in them.
A fasting heart draws closer to Allah by obedience and humble submission to Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala. It fully admits the responsibility of performing all the obligations of Islam as well as refraining from all the acts prohibited by Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala. This type of heart sincerely worships Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala alone. Lusts and desires do not distract it nor does greed divert it. This is a strong and pious heart whose fasting, prayer and all other actions are purely for the sake Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala. In fact, the whole of its life and death are for Him.
The Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said, as recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim: “He who fasts the month of Ramadan out of sincere belief and seeking the reward of its fasting, will be forgiven for all the sins he has committed prior to it”.
If the heart is rectified then the limbs will be rectified. They will follow the lead shown by the heart, be obedient to Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala and stay away from His prohibitions.
Therefore, the stomach too will be protected with what it gets in the way of food and drink for the sake of Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala. The rest of the body will thereby have self-control from indulging in desires and lusts, due to a high level of piety in the heart. This is a heart that accepts the commandments of its Lord and stays away from His prohibitions with full submission. Guided and pious is he who refrains from over-eating and prevents his limbs from evil actions and harming others.
Not being constantly full of food weakens or even prevents Satan from having a stronghold on such a person. Regarding this, the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said: “Satan runs in the veins of the son of Adam just like his blood” (Al-Bukhari, Abu Dawud, Ahmad and Ibn Majah). Not having a constantly full stomach enables the limbs to do good deeds with ease. It softens the heart and makes it easy for tears of piety to be wept, which reduces the effect of Satan.
Look around yourselves my dear brothers, may Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala preserve your Deen, and increase your piety. Look at those weak people who are hungry in the morning but stuff their stomachs at night. These people are hostages, imprisoned by their own lusts and desires. Do they truly fulfil the meaning of Taqwa when they eat all these different types of food while a small portion of food will leave them, or any hungry person, happy and satisfied?
A small portion of that food might wipe the tears away from some hungry person. Do they give in charity and be pious? If they do give, then how much do they give and how sincere are they? What do they do to protect themselves from committing sins?
Indeed those who make Ramadan a month of over eating and excessive spending are wretched miserable people. They do not realise anything but hunger – hunger that their stomachs cannot handle and thirst which their veins cannot tolerate.
What kind of piety and how much resistance exists in these people? These people are the people of no defense or determination in the face of hunger. Their hearts become harder the more they eat, resulting in oversleeping and laziness. Those who only desire to eat and dress well – those who surrender in defeat - in a battle against a few bites, where they have to abstain from for a few hours, such people are not worthy of an exalted and honorable life – the life of martyrs. Allah is the Greatest!
Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala has ordained fasting to purify us and distinguish between the pious and the impious. He, who starts his day abstaining from food and drinks with his objective being the pleasure of his beloved, - Allah, gets the reward of: “Fasting is for me and I shall reward it”. This was narrated by the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) that Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala said this regarding the fasting person (Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
So far I have discussed the situation of the stomach, but what about the predicament of the head? What kind of a fast does a person have who does not abstain from lying and giving false testimony? What did he actually abstain from? All he achieves from fasting is hunger and thirst. All he achieves by praying at night is staying up late and becoming tired. Where is the piety of the ears and eyes and the abstention from idle talk?
Listening to music, viewing obscene pictures and hearing stories that involve obscenity are wide spread among such people. These people take a lot of short cuts during their fasting, such as sleeping all day and staying up late in the evenings – but not for the sake of worship, rather to take part in frivolous activities.
The irony is that whilst these people are fasting and at their place of work, they deal with people with a bad attitude and are very slow in performing their responsibilities. On the other hand, when it comes to having fun and playing games then they suddenly become very energetic – but during times of seriousness and worship they are at their laziest.
My dear brothers! Make this month of Ramadan a month of piety. It is a great season for accountability. It is a wide-open field for competition (in doing good deeds) and a month in which souls are purified and hearts draw closer to their Creator.
The gates of paradise are open and the gates of hellfire are sealed. The devils get chained up during this month. Therefore, there are many new opportunities to perform good deeds – and the rewards for them are multiplied. Mercy, forgiveness and protection from the hellfire are the rewards for these actions. Provision is the reward of having Taqwa and there is an opportunity this month to smell - the smell of Jannah and get exposed to the season of mercy from Allah.
Those who fast and have Taqwa are those who are always alternating between prayer, recitation of the Qur’an, remembrance of Allah, keeping good relationships with their relatives and being kind to others – this is whilst they continue in their everyday work and other duties.
So seek well all your lives and expose yourselves to the seasons of mercy from your Lord. The best amongst you are those who have long lives and do well while the worst are those who live long and do evil.
I urge all you righteous people who are fasting to search amongst your relatives and neighbours for the poor and needy amongst them. Search also for the strangers amongst your brothers, be good to them and make them happy - ask them to share your provisions. Remember the hunger and thirst of your poor fellow Muslims, remember the tears of the miserable ones and the situation of those who have no dwellings, remember too the loneliness of those who are away from their families. Supplicate for them in the month of piety and accountability.
Did he who slept with a full stomach whilst the people around him were hungry truly fulfil the meaning of piety when he could have given them food and satisfied them? Did he fulfil his duties of this month when he saw a believer in a miserable state and could have helped him, but chose not to do so?
O Believers! Fast with the due rights of fasting so that you may attain piety.
He who is pious and conscious of Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala – Allah will stay with him and therefore never allow him to be defeated. Such a person will always be guarded for this guard never sleeps. He will also always be guided.
If Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala is always with you then what is there to be afraid of?
But, if Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala is against you, then who on Earth could be of benefit to you?
Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala says which translates as: “O you who believe! Fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you might attain piety. Fasting is for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is sick or on a journey, then the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man), they have they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a poor person (for every missed day). But whoever does well of his own accord, it is better for him. And if you fast it is better for you if only you know. The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, 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 fast that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number (of 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 and glorify Allah for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him” (Al-Baqarah: 183–185).
All thanks are due to Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala. He made fasting a protection for us and a means to enter paradise. I thank and glorify Him. He guided us to the best path, and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam). I bear witness that there is nothing worthy of worship except Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala alone, with no partners or associates. I also bear witness that Muhammad (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) is His slave and Messenger. He sent him (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) to us as a favour and bounty from Himself.
O Allah! Send prayers upon, and have mercy for and bless Muhammad (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam), his household, his companions and all those who follow in their footsteps until the day of judgement.
O people! Fear Allah and be pious. Days, nights, months and years were created so that you may perform good deeds therein. Your lives are for a fixed-term, which is very quickly passing and will very soon be gone forever.
Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala has created these days and nights in Ramadan and made some superior to others in virtue.
Not a day passes but there is a responsibility and a duty that Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala has set for His slaves. There are seasons of mercy and blessings that Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala grants to whoever he wills among His servants for He is the most Forgiving and most Merciful.
Ahead of us all is a great month full of virtuous days and nights. So do well and utilise them, take advantage of in the same way that the Salaf, or early generation of Muslims, did.
They did not prepare for Ramadan by preparing and consuming more food and drinks, rather they prepared with acts pleasing to their Lord, such as acts of worship and generosity. They were obedient servants to their Lord and generous and kind towards their brothers. The best example for all of these acts was their leader, Prophet Muhammad (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam), who used to be at his most generous during Ramadan.
Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated in the books of Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim that: “The Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) was the most generous amongst all the people in spending - and he used to be at his most generous during the month of Ramadan when he used to meet the angel Jibreel who used to meet him every night until Ramadan ended. Jibreel used to recite the Qur’an for the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam)”.
So whenever he met Jibreel he used to be more prolific in spending and giving in charity. He used to be as fast as the wind (in giving to charity) and would exert a great deal of effort in this.
Also, unlike other times or months, the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) used to stay up all night in prayer and would wake up his whole household for worship. Imam Al-Bukhari and Muslim reported that A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her said: “The Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) whenever the last ten days of Ramadan started, would stay up all night and wake his (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) household and prepare for very strenuous worship”.
This is the way leading to Taqwa (piety), be knowledgeable, perform good deeds and have glad tidings.