Important Lessons From Ramadaan
Al-Istiqaamah, Ramadaan 1417 AH

Allah – the Most High – said: "The month of Ramadaan in which the Qur’aan
was revealed, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance of
the Criterion between right and wrong. So whosoever of you sights the
crescent for the month of Ramadaan, he must fast that month." [Soorah
al-Baqarah 2:185]

Allah’s Messenger, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, said:

"Islaam is built upon five: Testifying that none has the right to be
worshipped except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah,
establishing the Prayer, giving the Zakaah, performing Hajj to the House,
and fasting in Ramadaan." (1)

He sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said:

"There has come to you Ramadaan, a blessed month, in which Allah has made it
obligatory to fast. During it the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates
of Hellfire are closed, and the rebellious devils are chained. In it is a
night (Laylatul-Qadr) which is better than a thousand months. He who is
deprived of its good truly has been deprived." (2)

>From the many important lessons to be learnt from fasting are:

[1] Gaining Taqwaa

Fasting has been legislated in order that we may gain taqwaa, as Allah – the
Most High – said: "O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it
was prescribed upon those before you in order that you may attain taqwaa."
[Soorah al-Baqarah 2:183]

Talq ibn Habeeb (d. 100H) – rahimahullah – said:

"When fitnah (trial and tribulation) appears then extinguish it with
taqwaa." So he was asked as to what taqwaa was, so he replied: "Taqwaa to
act in obedience to Allah, upon a light (i.e. eemaan, faith) from Allah,
hoping in the Mercy of Allah. And taqwaa is leaving the acts of disobedience
to Allah, upon a light from Allah, due to the fear of Allah." (3)

This is one of the best definitions of taqwaa. For every action must have
both a starting point and a goal. And an action will not be considered as an
act of obedience, or nearness to Allah, unless it starts from pure eemaan
(faith in Allah). Thus it is pure eemaan – and not habits, desires, nor
seeking praise or fame, nor its like – that should be what initiates the
action. And the [goal of the] action should be to earn the reward of Allah
and to seek His good pleasure." (4) So fasting is a means of attaining
taqwaa, since it helps prevent from many sins that one is prone to. Due to
this, the Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said: "Fasting is a shield
with which the servant protects himself from the Fire." (5) So we should ask
ourselves, after each day of fasting: Has this fasting made us more fearful
and obedient to Allah? Has it aided us in distancing ourselves from sins and

[2] Seeking Nearness to Allah

The Prophet sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam said:

"Allah said: Whosoever shows enmity to a friend of Mine, I shall be at war
with him. My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more beloved to
Me than the obligatory duties that I have placed upon him. My servant
continues to draw nearer to Me with optional deeds so that I shall love
him." (6)

The Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said:

"Whosoever reaches the month of Ramadaan and does not have his sins
forgiven, and so enters the fire, then may Allah distance him." (7)

So drawing closer to Allah – the Most Perfect – in this blessed month, can
be achieved by fulfilling one’s obligatory duties; and also reciting the Qur
’aan and reflecting upon its meanings, increasing in kindness and in giving
charity, in making du`aa (supplication) to Allah, attending the taraweeh
Prayer, seeking out Laylatul-Qadr (the Night of Power and Pre-Decree), a
night which is better than a thousand months, attending gatherings of
knowledge, and striving in those actions that will cause the heart to draw
closer to its Lord and to gain His forgiveness. Our level of striving in
this blessed month should be greater than our striving to worship Allah in
any other month, due to the excellence and rewards that Allah has placed in
it. Likewise from the great means of seeking nearness to Allah in this month
is making I`tikaaf (seclusion in the mosque in order to worship Allah) – for
whoever is able.

Imam ibn al-Qayyim (d. 751H) – rahimahullah – said:

"Allah also prescribed I`tikaaf for them, the objective being that the heart
becomes fully preoccupied with Allah – the Most High – concentrated upon Him
alone, and cut-off from being preoccupied with the creation. Rather, the
heart is only engrossed with Allah – the Most Perfect – such that loving
Him, remembering Him, and turning to Him takes the place of all the heart’s
anxieties and worries, so that he is able to overcome them. Thus all his
concerns are for Allah, and his thoughts are all directed towards
remembering Him and thinking of how to attain His Pleasure and what will
cause nearness to Him and what leads him to feel contended with Allah
instead of people. This in turn prepares him for being at peace with Allah
alone, on the day of loneliness in the grave, when there will be no one else
to give comfort, nor anyone to grant solace, except Him. So this is the
greater goal of I`tikaaf. (8)

[3] Acquiring Patience

Imaam Ahmad (d.241H) – rahimahullah – said:

"Allah has mentioned sabr (patience) in over ninety places in His Book." (9)

The Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said:

"The month of Patience, and the three days of every month, are times for
fasting." (10)

Ibn `Abdul-Barr (d.464H) – rahimahullah – said:

"What is meant by the month of Patience is the month of Ramadan …So fasting
is called patience because it restrains the soul from eating drinking,
conjugal relations and sexual desires." (11)

He sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said:

"O youths! Whoever amongst you is able to marry, then let him do so; for it
restrains the eyes and protects the private parts. But whoever is unable,
then let him fast, because it will be a shield for him." (12)

So fasting is a means of learning self-restraint and patience. With patience
we are able to strengthen our resolve to worship Allah alone, with
sincerity, and also cope with life’s ups and downs. So – for example – with
patience we are able to perform our Prayers calmly and correctly, without
being hasty, and without merely pecking the ground several times! With
patience we are able to restrain our souls from greed and stinginess and
thus give part of our surplus wealth in Zakaah (obligatory charity). With
patience we are able to subdue the soul’s ill temperament, and thus endure
the ordeal and hardships of Hajj, without losing tempers and behaving badly.
Likewise, with patience we are able to stand firm and fight Jihaad against
the disbelievers, hypocrites and heretics – withstanding their constant
onslaught, without wavering and buckling, without despairing or being
complacent, and without becoming hasty and impatient at the first sings of
hardship. Allah – the Most High – said: "O Prophet, urge the Believers to
fight … So if there are one hundred who are patient, they shall overcome two
hundred; and if there be one thousand, they shall overcome two thousand, by
the permission of Allah. And Allah is with the patient ones." [Soorah
al-Anfaal 8:65-66].

Thus, without knowledge and patience, nothing remains, except zeal and
uncontrolled emotions, shouts and hollow slogans, speech that does not
strengthen, but rather weakness, and actions that do not build, but rather
destroy! So in this month, we should strive to develop a firm resolve for
doing acts of obedience, and to adorn ourselves with patience – having
certainty in the saying of our Messenger sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam: "And
know that victory comes with patience, relief with affliction, and ease with
hardship." (13)

[4] Cultivating Good Manners

The Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said:

"Whosoever does not abandon falsehood in speech and action, then Allah the
Mighty and Majestic has no need that he should leave his food and drink."

He sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam also said:

"Fasting is not merely abstaining from eating and drinking. Rather, it is
also abstaining from ignorant and indecent speech. So if anyone abuses or
behaves ignorantly with you, then say: I am fasting, I am fasting." (15)

These narrations point towards the importance of truthfulness and good
manners. Thus, this blessed month teaches us not only to abstain from food
and drink, but to also abstain from such statements and actions that may be
the cause of harming people and violating their rights – since the Messenger
sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said whilst describing the true Believer: "A
Muslim is one from whom other Muslims are safe from his tongue and his
hand." (16) Thus it is upon us as individuals, to examine the shortcomings
in our character, and to then seek to improve them – modelling ourselves
upon the character of the last of the Prophets and Messengers, and their
leader, Muhammad sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam – aspiring also for the
excellence which he mentioned in his saying: "I am a guarantor for a house
on the outskirts of Paradise for whoever leaves off arguing, even if he is
in right; and a house in the centre of Paradise for whosoever abandons
falsehood, even when joking; and a house in the upper-most of Paradise for
whosoever makes his character good." (17) So by shunning oppression,
shamelessness, harbouring hatred towards Muslims, back-biting, slandering,
tale-carrying, and other types of falsehood, we can be saved from nullifying
the rewards of our fasting – as Allah’s Messenger sallallahu `alayhi wa
sallam said: "It may be that a fasting person receives nothing from his
fast, except hunger and thirst." (18)

[5] Sensing Muslim Unity

The Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said:

"Fast when they fast, and break your fast when they break their fast, and
sacrifice the day they sacrifice." (19)

Imaam at-Tirmidhee (d. 275H) – rahimahullah – said:

"Some of the People of Knowledge explained this hadeeth by saying: Its
meaning is to fast and break the fast along with the jamaa`ah and the
majority of people." (20)

Thus, in this blessed month we can sense an increased feeling of unity and
of being a single Ummah due to our fasting and breaking our fast
collectively. We also feel an increased awareness about the state of affairs
of the Muslims and of the hardships that they endure, because: "During the
fast, a Muslim feels and experiences what his needy and hungry brothers and
sisters feel, who are forced to go without food and drink for many many
days – as occurs today to many of the Muslims in Africa." (21) Indeed, the
unity of the Muslims – and their aiding and assisting one another – is one
of the great fundamentals upon which the Religion of Islaam is built, as
Allaah – the Most High – said: "And hold fast altogether to the rope of
Allaah and do not be divided." [Soorah Aal `Imraan 3:103]. Allaah – the Most
High – also said: "The Believers – men and women – and friends and
protectors of one another." [Soorah al-Tawbah 9:44]

Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728H) – rahimahullah – said: "The welfare
of people will not be complete – neither in this world, nor in the
Hereafter – except with ijtima` (collectiveness), ta`awun (mutual
co-operation), and tanassur (mutual help); mutual co-operation in order to
secure benefits, and mutual help in order to ward off harm. It is for this
reason that man is said to be social and civil by nature." (22)

Thus we see that Islaam lays great importance in bringing hearts together
and encouraging ijtima` (collectiveness). This is not only reflected in the
month of Ramadaan, but also in the other acts of worship as well. So, for
example, we have been ordered by the Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam to
pray the five daily Prayers in congregation, and that it has been made
twenty-seven times more rewardful than praying it individually. (23)
Likewise, this similar collective spirit is demonstrated in the act of Hajj
(Pilgrimage). Even in learning knowledge and studying it, blessings have
been placed in collectiveness, as Allah’s Messenger sallallahu `alayhi wa
sallam said: "No people gather in a house form the houses of Allah, reciting
the Book of Allah and studying it amongst themselves, except that
tranquillity descends upon them, mercy envelops them, the angels surround
him, and Allah mentions them to those that are with Him." (24) Likewise,
even in our everyday actions such as, eating, Islaam teaches us
collectiveness. Thus, when some of the Companions of the Prophet sallallahu
`alayhi wa sallam said to him: O Messenger of Allah, we eat but to do not
become satisfied. He replied: "Perhaps you eat individually?" They replied:
Yes! So he said: "Eat collectively and mention the name of Allah. There will
then be blessings for you in it." (25) Indeed, even in the etiquettes of
sitting the spirit of collectiveness is demonstrated. So, one day the
Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam came across the Companions who were
sitting in separate circles, so he said to them: "Why do I see you sitting
separately!" (26) Similarly, Abu Tha`labah al-Khushanee radiallahu `anhu
said: Whenever the people used to encamp, they used to split-up into the
mountain passes and valleys. So Allah’s Messenger sallallahu `alayhi wa
sallam said: "Indeed your being split-up in these mountain passes and
valleys is from Shaytaan." Thereafter, whenever they used to encamp, they
used to keep very close together, to such an extent that it was said: If a
cloth were to be spread over them, it would cover them all. (27)

Thus, Ramadaan is a time to increase our sense of unity and brotherhood, and
our commitment to Allah and His Religion. And there is no doubt that this
sense of unity necessitates that: "We work together as required by Islaam as
sincere brothers – not due to hizbiyyah (bigoted party spirit), nor
sectarianism – in order to realize that which is of benefit to the Islaamic
Ummah and to establish the Islaamic society that every Muslim aspires for –
so that the Sharee`ah (Prescribed Law) of Allaah is applied upon His earth."
(28) So we must examine ourselves during the Ramadaan and ask: What is my
role – and each of us has a role – in helping this precious Ummah to regain
its honour, and return to the Ummah its comprehensive unity and strength,
and victory that has been promised to it? Likewise, we should reflect upon
our character and actions and ask: Are they aiding the process of unity and
brotherhood, or are they a harm and a hindrance to it?

So we ask Allah to grant us the ability to change ourselves for the better,
during this blessed month, and not to be of those who are prevented from His
Mercy and Forgiveness. Indeed He is the One who Hears and He is the One to


M. L. Ghandi