Today we are going to talk about a deed that you are all probably already doing, or have just completed. I am not going to tell you do it though, but rather how to go about doing it. Unfortunately for the most part we have gotten used to this deed during the month of Ramdan, it’s become a superficial routine. Some of us even approach it lazily. What is this most beloved deed we aren’t treating very well? The most beloved deed of today is fasting.
If we look at the life of the Prophet (saw) and the instances when he would choose fasting over other forms of worship, we notice something interesting. Abu Qatada reported that the Messenger of Allah, (saw) was asked about fasting Mondays and he said, “That is the day on which I was born and the day when I was sent.” [Muslim] So the Prophet (saw) chose out of all forms of worship fasting in praise to Allah (SWT) for bringing him into this world, for his very existence; that in addition to choosing him (saw) as the Last and Final Messenger through the revelation of the Qur’an. And in another hadith the Prophet (saw) said, “Actions are presented on Mondays and Thursdays, so I like my actions to be presented while I am fasting.” [at-Tirmidhi] So, yet in another instance the Prophet (saw) has chosen again fasting to be the most noble of conditions to be in when his deeds are presented to Allah [SWT].
So, why does Allah [SWT] love fasting ? What does Allah expect to see in our hearts while we are fasting? First, what does fasting mean. It means ‘holding yourself back from; abstaining.” So, basically, when you are fasting you are saying, “No!” to your “self” that is heavy with desires. Why is it important to say “no” to your ‘self’ and it’s desires? It’s absolutely crucial because oftentimes we take on our ‘selves’ and their desires as gods, we worship ourselves by fulfilling whatever our selves desires. We become slaves to ourselves. Those of us who call themselves ‘Shopoholics’ know the feeling well. We take fulfilling our desires as our life’s project, so they take control over us and we end up being enslaved to them. So, when fasting we are telling our selves, “Forget it. You aren’t getting your basic needs of food, drink, and intercourse during this month except when Allah [SWT] says so. Not whenever you do.”
Have you ever seen an addicted smoker? One who is absolutely broke? Have you seen him looking around for a cigarette? You might have seen him literally begging someone for a cigarette, ready to take an insult for the sake of a smoke. Or you might even have see him searching for half smoked cigarettes on the ground. Or have you seen a person working hard all week, only to spend his wages on booze and a bit of ‘fun’ during the weekend; only to go back to work again Monday to perpetuate that vicious cycle . Do you see how their desires have them on a leash. They are trapped and enslaved . So, be thankful to Allah [SWT] O’ Muslims that Allah [SWT] has blessed you with this form of worship. One through which you break free from this ‘god’ this ‘idol’ [your self and it’s desires] that can take control over you, and eventually enslave you. Snap out of it! You are a slave to Allah! What helps you do this, it is fasting. When you fast, you break free from becoming a slave to your self and others, to becoming exclusively a slave to Allah. You are in Ramadan training yourself for this always vacant job position ‘Slave to Allah.’
So let’s look at Ramadan differently this year. Let’s imagine that Ramadan is a guest from Allah [SWT] sent to our homes. Whoever hosts it has hosted the guest of Allah [SWT] and Allah will be pleased with him, and who doesn’t, well, I feel sorry for you . He approaches your door carrying gifts full of glad tidings, forgiveness, mercy, and a night worth more than a thousand nights. He knocks at your door. Will you let him in? Will you leave him at the door? Let’s say we all let him in. How are we going to host him? The Prophet (saw) said, “When any of you is fasting [and] if anyone reviles him or quarells with him, he should say ‘I am fasting’.” [Bukhari/Muslim] So while Ramadan is in our homes, are we going to curse , yell, quarrel or argue. If a person of importance was visiting our home,we would be on our best behavior and will be Shhhhh-shhhhhing and eyeing our families with that look that says, “Later when the guests leave!” What about around the guest of the All Merciful, Ramadan? Allah [SWT] will not love for us to say to, or in front, of Ramadan that which He [SWT] does not love.
Furthermore, when Ramadan is visiting we become so weak, unproductive,and are yawning a yawn per second. Resist! Understand that your now downtrodden ‘self’ is angry; it wants it’s desires fulfilled or else! Or else what? It will completely take over you. It wants to see you go down, and it will try and put you down. Are you going to let it? In fact, many non-Muslims call Ramadan the ‘enemy to civilizations [an impediment to advancement]’ ; they claim that it makes people unproductive and lazy. Do you know where they get that notion? From us. Get the picture?
I want to apologize to Ramadan for being a poor hostess these past few years. I wasn’t hosting it as I should such an honorable guess. I didn’t understand you were a guest sent from the All Merciful. I wonder if there were times I left you at the door? Or let you in, and oscillated between being a good and bad hostess? Or maybe I left you after Iftar, to go and enjoy the night with my friends. I left you my dear guest behind, instead of taking you with me. Maybe, because I knew you would only come with me if I went to the Masjed for Taraweeh, or for Dawah work, or to give in charity. I don’t think you would have liked to come with me to the gatherings full of idle talk with my friends during the nights of Ramadan. I am so sorry!
You know what, I have a better idea this Ramadan. Let’s open the door wide to Ramadan and let him take over our homes for 30 days. Listen with him to the Qur’an that he loves to listen to. Join him in his remembrance of Allah [SWT]. I guarantee if we do so, Ramadan will not want to leave us and we him. Eventually he will have to leave of course, but I am sure he will miss us and want to come back next year to visit, Insha Allah. And above all he will go to Allah and attest that this year we were the best hosts ever:
`Abdullah ibn `Amr reported that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “The fast and the Qur’an are two intercessors for the servant of Allah on the Day of Resurrection. The fast will say: ‘O Lord, I prevented him from his food and desires during the day. Let me intercede for him.’ The Qur’an will say: ‘I prevented him from sleeping at night. Let me intercede for him.’ And their intercession will be accepted.” [Ahmad]
Hopefully we will be deserving of the reward of fasting, which is exclusively known to Allah, for the Prophet (saw) said that Allah says “Every deed of the son of Adam is for him, except fasting, it is for Me and I will reward it”
So let’s repent on the past Ramadans when we did not host it as we should’ve, before and after Iftar and living in it’s shadow the rest of the year. O’ Allah this Ramadan we understands that you have sent it to emancipate us from being lowly slaves to our desires to becoming energized and productive slaves to You. We love you O Allah for giving us Ramadan.