Before we have any talks about what we can do for Islam, we need to have the talk about what Islam has done for us. Think of all the questions people struggle to answer. The most fundamental questions of life are answered in Islam. Freedom from the pain that can trap a person in depression thinking life has no purpose. There can be no greater purpose than to dedicate yourself entirely to the Master of all creation.
When we think about the mercy of Allah we remember that one of His glorious names is Ar-Rahman, the most abundantly and entirely merciful. An entire Surah of Qur’an is known by this name of Allah. The first ayah is just His name.
By making the name just one ayah, it causes the individual to stop there and reflect solely on the mercy of Allah. The logical followup that happens when we think about the mercy of Allah is that we begin making a mental list of things we are thankful for and the apparent blessings we recognize.
After stating His name as an ayah that stands on its own, He continues to say “Taught the Qur’an.” While you are reminding yourself of Allah’s favors on you, Allah reminds us that the most significant blessing from the mercy of Allah is that He taught us the Qur’an. Out of all the favors that we experience day to day, from the very air we breathe or the lives we live, Allah mentions the Qur’an as the biggest blessing. Also Allah doesn’t restrict the blessing of Qur’an to just humanity. Another group of creation later mentioned in this surah is the Jinn and by not mentioning who He taught the Qur’an to in this ayaah, he leaves it open meaning that Quran is for both sets of creation.
Perhaps one would consider life to be a bigger blessing than Qur’an, because if you were not alive how could you appreciate and benefit from Qur’an? However Allah does not mention the events in the natural sequence, He says:
By mentioning the blessing of Qur’an before the blessing of life itself Allah is emphasizing the role of Qur’an in our lives. If we read these ayaat and it does not resonate with us that Qur’an is really that important, then we need to reevaluate the relationship we have had with the Qur’an. Why is it that some people can listen or read or recite Qur’an for hours on end, while we prefer to listen to music night and day. ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan said:
“If our hearts were truly pure, we would never get enough of the Words of our Lord…and I hate that one day passes with me not looking in the Mushaf.”
['al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah'; 7/215]
Ask Allah to put a love of Qur’an in your heart, and put the effort to learn it, and see what Allah will do for you, but until you put the effort don’t expect to gain the understanding of scholars who dedicated themselves to understand the book of Allah.
And Allah knows best.
Annually Muslims around the world unite upon an act of worship so inspiring that it begs reflection. Fasting has become one of the trademark acts of worship that Muslims all across the spectrum of piety participate in. Nowadays there are two specific things that even not so practicing Muslims take advantage of; no pork and of course, fasting. The overwhelming sadness that comes to mind when the thought of how many Muslims have forsaken the obligation of prayer is not the focus of this article.
The command of fasting is found in the Qur’an and in the Sunnah (Prophetic way).
“O you who believe! Observing As-Sawm (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious, God-conscious)” - [al-Baqarah 2:183]
Having established the command of Allah and His messenger observe fasting, it behooves us to understand the wisdoms behind this pillar of Islam.
Fasting is a Means
Allah has prescribed upon every sane Muslim that they fast the month of Ramadan if the are able. Undoubtedly it is an act of worship to participate in and therefore it must be kept in mind that fasting is a means by which one gets closer to Allah, not the goal in and of itself. It is known that fasting is more than just avoiding food, drink, and sexual relations from dawn to dusk. The prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“Whoever does not give up false speech and acting upon it and offensive speech and behavior, Allah has no need of his giving up his food and drink.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 6057.
This hadeeth is explicit in the meaning that the purpose of fasting is to cause some sort of change in the individual and reform a lifestyle of transgression beyond the bounds set by the religion.
Allah has assigned virtue to Ramadan as He has assigned virtue to other things; such as prayer, Hajj, and He has assigned virtue to certain times over other times, such as the first ten days of Thul-Hijjah, and the last ten nights of Ramadan, and Laylatul-Qadr, and Jumuah. He has assigned virtue to groups of people such as the Prophets and their companions. But it must be understood that Allah assigns virtues to these times, and places, and people, not just because those things are good in and of themselves but to show us what can be accomplished. He shows you that you can reach a certain level of spirituality during Hajj, but don’t limit it to Hajj, take it back with you. He shows you that the closeness you can reach during Ramadan is not limited to just Ramadan but you can take benefit outside of that time. He shows you that those righteous people are not just figures of history to be told of as stories, but He has honored them and raised them in status so that we may seek to emulate them.
Submission to the decree of Allah
Fasting is an act of worship through and through. One takes something that is halal (permissible) specifically food and drink and sex with lawful partners, for no other reason expect seeking the pleasure of the Creator of everything, one deprives himself of such things. The believers hope that Allah will bless this act of submission and guide their hearts to make them deserving of His Mercy and Forgiveness. Allah says:
“O you who have believed, respond to Allah and to the Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life. And know that Allah intervenes between a man and his heart and that to Him you will be gathered.” – [Al-Anfal 8:24]
There are some that question why one might find comfort in submission to an entity one does not see or hear. Let it be known, that all acts of worship are not prescribed for the benefit of Allah, because if all of the world was to disbelieve in Allah, it would decrease nothing in His kingdom. Obedience to the command of Allah is a necessity of the individual who seeks purification. One strives to adhere to these laws knowing that the benefit is for the worshipper. Wether people recognize it or not, everyone submits to something, wether it is the dollar, or their own desires, or the elusive satisfaction that can be found in fame and power. Despite these attractions, Muslims seek to submit to the one and only entity worthy of worship. A submission that does not leave a person mindless, but rather, motivates him or her, and pushes them to reach lofty goals of human capability, and be of a benefit to humanity.
This submission is such that, if done properly, aligns your desires to be wholesome and disciplined. For example, if Allah shows you that you have the ability to abstain from something that is usually permissible, than you have it in your ability to keep yourself from falling into that which is haraam (forbidden).
Also, fasting is a demonstration of submission because of its time restriction. We eat when Allah has allowed us to eat, we abstain from food, drink and sexual indulgence when He has told us to. And finally we even celebrate Eid al-Fitr after a month of worship because Allah has decreed that time to be a celebration. A celebration of the recognition that we surrender ourselves to God, and by doing so, liberate ourselves from the shackles of false objects of worship, and manmade ideologies that may inherently be just. And we liberate ourselves from a mentality that restricts itself to the life of this world, forgetting about a time when we will be brought back to our Lord, and recompensed for our actions.
Detachment from Carnal Desires
We all know that it is completely natural to desire food, drink and sexual gratification, these are all things that the physical self is attracted to. However, when we fast, we detach ourself from succumbing to the physical so that we can work on our spiritual component. You are less distracted by the material and you have more time to develop your spirituality to establish a connection with Allah.
A Part of Imaan (Faith)
For a person to deprive himself of something that he normally has access to and indulges in, requires a great deal of faith. This is especially true if one leaves these things because they believe the one that legislated doing so watches them everywhere and at all times. Only a person who has this faith would persevere through hunger and thirst even when people are not looking to see if he is observant. It is because of this that Allah has said in a hadeeth Qudsi:
“All the deeds of the son of Adam are for him: the good deeds will be multiplied ten times to seven hundred time, except fasting, which is for Me and I will reward for it accordingly. He abandons his (sexual) desire, food and drink for Me. Indeed, there are two joyous and pleasurable moments for the fasting person: one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other is when he will meet his Lord (in the Hereafter). Indeed, the unpleasant odor emanating from the mouth of the fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than the scent of musk.” - [Al-Bukhari & Muslim].
So that you may Glorify Allah
After a month of worship, Allah gives the believers a holiday of celebration in which they repeat the takbeerat (glorification of Allah). Allah says:
“The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.” – [Al-Baqarah 2:185]
We glorify Allah understanding that His pleasure is dearer to us than the following of our inclinations to disobey Him. We glorify Him for the guidance that allowed us to stay away from what comes naturally to us. We glorify Him after the fast that we were able to finally break our fast with His provision. And we glorify Him for a time in which He makes our reformation and purification easy.
Fasting and Ramadan is filled with many more virtues and wisdoms than mentioned in this post but the ones that were mentioned are meant to inspire us to change ourselves for the better and to remind ourselves of the beauty of this deed.
It may very well be that in this month we will not add an abundant amount of prayer in our lives, or we may not read a lot of Qur’an after Ramadan, but that does not mean that we entirely forego the opportunity in this month. Establish a small good deed if you are able and take it outside of Ramadan, or leave a bad habit and keep it that way for the rest of your life. The prophet of Allah said:
“The best deeds are those which are consistent even if they are small.” Narrated by Al-Bukhari
“Life is either for a person or against him, its hours and seconds, days and years pass him by leading him (by his actions) to the Love and Good Pleasure of Allah until he is amongst the people of ultimate success and the Gardens of Paradise, or they are against him, leading him (by his actions) to the Fires of Hell and to the Anger of the One, the Just Ruler [Allah]
Life, it will either make you laugh and rejoice for an hour over which you will cry for an eternity (in the Hereafter) or it will make you cry for an hour over which you will laugh and rejoice for an eternity (in the Hereafter)
Life is either a great blessing for a person, or an adverse affliction against him…”
Allah says in His book:
“But whosoever turns away from My Reminder (i.e. neither believes in this Quran nor acts on its orders, etc.) verily, for him is a life of hardship, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Resurrection.” Surah Ta-Ha 20:124
There are many things to point out about this Ayah, of them is that the repercussions of turning away from the remembrance of Allah is felt immediately starting in this life. It does not matter how much wealth, fame, power, or prestige you may have, if you turn away from the remembrance of Allah, then there will always be a part of you that will feel empty and unfulfilled. The nourishment of the soul is the connection to Allah.
Also this Ayah references those who rejected the signs of Allah for whatever reason, either they were too caught up in the distractions of this world that they thought that maintaining a relationship to the religion would hinder their goals, or they did not accept the truth when it came to them, so on the day when family members will be running away from each other, there will even be some people who were blind, imagine the fear and humility on that day. May Allah save us from such a terrible ending.
But it is also crucial to point out that a scene like this is entirely avoidable if you respond to the call of Allah and His messenger and seek knowledge in the religion so that you may understand what Allah wants from you.
“O you who have believed, respond to Allah and to the Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life. And know that Allah intervenes between a man and his heart and that to Him you will be gathered.” Surat al-Anfaal 8:24
Also the ones who do remember Allah will taste the sweetness of Iman in this life and the hereafter. The results of all acts of worship are evident in daily life if they were sincerely for the sake of Allah. If you expect some sort of material gain in this world for your hard work then this is not always the case. Indeed the people who are the richest are those who are content with what they have. And Allah does not grant contentment to all of His slaves, in fact among His slaves are those whose lives He constricts so much so that they never really feel happy. So perhaps it can be said that the compensation in this world for your worship is contentment. Of course Allah can also reward you in this life, but the true reward must be sought in the hereafter, because as is evident, nothing in this dunya lasts, so why wouldn’t you want that which is better and longer-lasting.
“He has certainly succeeded who purifies himself,
And mentions the name of his Lord and prays.
But you prefer the worldly life,
While the Hereafter is better and more enduring.
Indeed, this is in the former scriptures,
The scriptures of Abraham and Moses.” Surat Al ‘Ala 87:14-19
It has been said:
“Someone clinging to a board in the sea is not more in need of Allah and His kindness than someone at home, among his people and property.”
Calling upon Allah is something that we are obligated to do as part of our religion. Supplication to Allah is manifested most beautifully in the daily Salat. The appropriate etiquette of calling upon Allah is fulfilled in that we praise Him, and show our desperation by prostration and we also ask Allah to send peace and blessings upon the Messenger of Allah.
Also there is something very special about the nature of du’a; it is the essence of worship. Worship is characterized by the pillars of love, fear, and hope. As a perfection of our monotheism, we do not direct these actions of the heart to anyone other than Allah in the same way that we direct them to Allah. What is also significant is that du’a is an act of worship that combines all the pillars of worship. We call upon Allah mainly because of our love for Him, and we fear His punishment and hope in His mercy.
Asking of Allah is so natural that even those who are not muslim call upon Allah. From the manifestations of the natural beliefs engrained in humanity is a need to call upon the Creator. Even an atheist, who rejects the concept of an all-powerful creator submits in a time of extreme need and desperation. Allah mentions in the Qur’an the polytheists who would give a share of their worship to other than Allah, but when they were truly in need they naturally abandoned those that could not even help themselves until they arrived to shore.
“And when they board a ship, they supplicate Allah, sincere to Him in religion. But when He delivers them to the land, at once they associate others with Him” Surat Al-’Ankabut 29:65
An experience like this is enough to shake someone’s false belief that anyone but God can rescue you from the dilemmas you face. And if it is to Allah that we turn when we are in a state of desperation, then why would we put our hope in anyone but Him when it comes to any other affair of our lives.
It is also important to mention that many think that because we have such an organized religion, that our Lord is completely unknowable and we can have no relationship with Him. Far from the truth, in fact we are encouraged to call upon Allah in times of need and humble ourselves before His majesty.
“And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.” Surat al-Baqarah 2:186
Allah has also made some times more virtuous than others and we should take advantage of them when we ask of Allah.
Abu Hurayrah narrates that the Messenger of Allaah said, “Our Lord, the Blessed and Most High, descends every night to the lowest heaven when only the last third of the night remains and says, ‘who is calling upon Me so that I may respond? Who is seeking My forgiveness so that I may forgive Him.’” Reported by Saheeh Muslim [ Eng. Trans. 1/365 no. 1656]
Also ibn Rajab al-Hambali has said:
“Were you to go to the door of the governor, he would not receive you or give you any attention, perhaps he will even prevent you from getting near him. But the King of kings is saying ‘Whoever comes to me walking, I will go to him running,’ yet you turn away from Him and run after another!”
And Allah will answer inshaAllah (God Willing) if we show our patience and protect our limbs from that which is unlawful and keep ourselves from sustaining our bodies on that which is unlawful.
Abu hurayrah also narrates that the messenger of Allah said :
“Allah the Almighty is good and accepts only that which is good. Allah has commanded the faithful to do that which he commanded the messengers, and the Almighty has said: “O ye messengers ! Eat of the good things and do right”. And Allah the Almighty has said : “O ye who believe! Eat of the good things wherewith We have provided you” Then he mentioned [the case of] a man who, having journeyed far, is dishevelled and dusty and who spreads out his hands to the sky [saying] : “O Lord! O Lord!” – while his food is unlawful, his drink unlawful, his clothing unlawful, and he is nourished unlawfully, so how can he be answered !”
Related by Muslim
Also in a hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah, the prophet says:
“Your supplications will be answered as long as you are not impatient by saying, ‘I have supplicated to my Lord but He has not answered.’” [Saheeh Bukhaaree [ Eng. Trans. 8/236 no. 352]]
When we want something from our parents, we ask over and over again to show our great desire for something. But when we ask from Allah we need to be consistent in showing how we expect good from Allah, and our reliance on Him.
And remember du’a is the weapon of the believer.
I don’t want to get caught up in details, but details make me, me
It’s an interesting thing when you see a dead man be
Walked on a hollow path in an empty road until the end, I could see
No stone left unturned and this we’ll discuss over a cup of tea
Now I was a young man, prematurely aging
Whispers from the depths of my soul persistently raging
Who are we, and what is me, am I alone or right at home?
In retrospect, I realize how much I did neglect,
Of words so potent and prevailing,
Often cast away from where they were once hailing
You see, I saw the fire on the mountain
And I’ve seen the sea split.
I’ve seen the moon divide in two,but this I say to you
You can see a sign and then forget,
But the blame is on you and you shall regret
I’ve seen His mercy cause the earth to swallow men
And provide for us while we heedlessly deny
Our need for Him, but we continue to belie
That one day our souls will be raised
And if you lived upright you won’t be phased
But for those who ignore, they’ll be blazed
Of past experiences I do narrate,
Desires to know, quite innate.
But when ignored they do frustrate;
Becoming thereafter conjecture you speculate
So I say, know now, search now, and be now
A dead man is dead when he doesn’t know
Once yearning fulfilled, results it will show
I looked at my life and saw some despair,
I looked a little harder to see who might care.
To whom could I go when there is no-one there?
Just a lonely kid with no hope to spare.
But I tell you now, a physical death does no man wrong.
It’s the massacre of the soul that hurts so long.
This news I hope you can bare
The feelings I had were simply too rare
A glimmer of hope shaded by doubt
There the whole time, and I found out
At the end of the earth, I stood to declare
I found a light that I must share.