Khutba to Welcome Ramadan – 1

This khutba was delivered by the Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace) to welcome the blessed month of Ramadan:

“O people! The month of Ramadan has approached you with His mercy and blessings. This is the month that is the best of all months in the estimation of Allah. Its days are the best among the days; its nights are the best among the nights. Its hours are the best among the hours.

This is a month in which He has invited you. You have been, in this month, selected as the recipients of the honors of Allah, the Merciful. In this holy month, when you breathe, it has the thawab (heavenly reward) of tasbih (the praise of Allah on rosary beads), and your sleep has the heavenly reward of worship.

Your good deeds are accepted in this month. So are your invocations. Therefore, you must invoke your Lord, in right earnest, with hearts that are free from sins and evils, that Allah may bless you; observe fast in this month, and recite the Holy Quran.

Verily! The person who may not receive the mercy and benevolence of Allah in this month must be very unfortunate having an end as bad (in the Hereafter).

While fasting, remember the hunger and thirst of tomorrow in the Day of Judgment. Give alms to the poor and the needy. Pay respects to your elders.

Have pity on those younger than you and be kind towards your relatives and kinsmen. Guard your tongues against unworthy words, and your eyes from such scenes that are not worth seeing (forbidden) and your ears from such sounds that should not be heard by you.

Be kind to orphans so that when your children become orphans they also may be treated with kindness. Do invoke that Allah may forgive your sins. Do raise your hands at the time of Salat (Prayers), as it is the best time for asking His mercy. When we invoke at such times, we are answered by Him, when we call Him, He responds, and when we ask for anything, it is accepted by Him.

O People! You have made your conscience the slave of your desires; make it free by invoking Him for forgiveness. Your back is breaking under the heavy load of your sins, so prostrate before Him for long intervals and make it lighter.

O People! If anybody amongst you arranges for the iftar (food for the breaking of the fast) of any believer, then Allah will give him a reward as if he has set free a slave. He will forgive his minor sins.

Then the companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) said: “But everybody amongst us does not have the means to do so.”

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) told them, “Keep yourself away from the Fire of Hell by inviting people for iftar, though it may consist of only half a date or simply with water if you have nothing else.”

Anybody who does not tease others in this month, Allah will keep him safe from His wrath in Qiyamah. Anybody, who respects and treats an orphan with kindness in this month, Allah shall look at him with dignity in Qiyamah. Anybody who treats well his kinsmen, in this month, Allah will bestow His mercy on him in Qiyamah, while anybody who maltreats his kinsmen in this month, Allah will keep him away from His mercy, in Qiyamah.

Whoever offers sunnah prayers in this month, Allah will give him a certificate of freedom from Hell. Whosoever offers one obligatory prayer in this month, for him the Angels will write the rewards of 70 such prayers, which were offered by him in any other months.

Whosoever repeatedly sends peace and blessings upon me, Allah will keep the scales of his deeds heavy.

Whosoever recites in this month only one verse of the Quran, he will be rewarded in a manner as if he had recited the full Quran.”

And Allah is the Guide.

Source: http://www.alhaddad.org/blog/?p=1517

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The Inner Fiqh of Fasting

The proof of Islam [hujjatu-l islam] Al-Imam Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazzali (may Allah be well pleased with him) has elucidated succinctly in his magnum opus, “ihyâ ‘ulûmu-d dîn (Revival of the Islamic Sciences), the inner dimensions of fasting.

The late “Sultan of translators” Sidi Mukhtar Holland (may Allah have mercy on him) translated the Imam’s sublime words in his earlier work entitled, “Inner Dimensions of Islamic Worship”.  We present below an extract from this widely acclaimed work.

Inner Dimensions of Fasting [sawm]

From the work entitled, “Inner Dimensions of Islamic Worship”
By the erudite Imam Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazzali
Trans. from the Ihya’ by Mukhtar Holland

Three Grades

It should be known that there are three grades of Fasting: ordinary, special and extra-special.

  • Ordinary Fasting means abstaining from food, drink and sexual satisfaction.
  • Special Fasting means keeping one’s ears, eyes, tongue, hands and feet – and all other organs – free from sin.
  • Extra-special Fasting means fasting of the heart from unworthy concerns and worldly thoughts, in total disregard of everything but God, Great and Glorious is He. This kind of Fast is broken by thinking of worldly matters, except for those conducive to religious ends, since these constitute provision for the Hereafter and are not of this lower world. Those versed in the spiritual life of the heart have even said that a sin is recorded against one who concerns himself all day with arrangements for breaking his Fast. Such anxiety stems from lack of trust in the bounty of God, Great and Glorious is He, and from lack of certain faith in His promised sustenance.

To this third degree belong the Prophets, the true awliya and the intimates of God. It does not lend itself to detailed examination in words, as its true nature is better revealed in action. It consists in utmost dedication to God, Great and Glorious is He, to the neglect of everything other than God, Exalted is He. It is bound up with the significance of His words: ‘Say: “Allah (sent it down)”: then leave them to play in their vain discussions.’ [al-An’am,6:91]

Inward Requirements

As for Special Fasting, this is the kind practiced by the righteous. It means keeping all one’s organs free from sin and six things are required for its accomplishment:

1. See not what displeases God

A chaste regard, restrained from viewing anything that is blameworthy or reprehensible, or that distracts the heart and diverts it from the remembrance of God, Great and Glorious is He. Said the Prophet, on him be peace: ‘The furtive glance is one of the poisoned arrows of Satan, on him be God’s curse. Whoever forsakes it for fear of God will receive from Him, Great and Glorious is He, a faith the sweetness of which he will find within his heart.’

Jabir relates from Anas that God’s Messenger, on him be peace, said: ‘Five things break a man’s Fast: lying, backbiting, gossiping, perjury and a lustful gaze.’

2. Speak not what displeases God

Guarding one’s tongue from idle chatter, lying, gossiping, obscenity, rudeness, arguing and controversy; making it observe silence and occupying it with remembrance of God, Great and Glorious is He, and with recitation of Quran. This is the fasting of the tongue. Said Sufyan: ‘Backbiting annuls the Fast.’ Layth quotes Mujahid as saying: ‘Two habits annul Fasting: backbiting and telling lies.’

The Prophet, on him be peace, said: ‘Fasting is a shield; so when one of you is Fasting he should not use foul or foolish talk. If someone attacks him or insults him, let him say: “I am Fasting, I am Fasting!”‘

According to Tradition: ‘Two women were Fasting during the time of God’s Messenger, on him be peace. They were so fatigued towards the end of the day, from hunger and thirst, that they were on the verge of collapsing. They therefore sent a message to God’s Messenger, on him be peace, requesting permission to break their Fast. In response, the Prophet, on him be peace, sent them a bowl and said: “Tell them to vomit into it what they have eaten.” One of them vomited and half filled the bowl with fresh blood and tender meat, while the other brought up the same so that they filled it between them. The onlookers were astonished. Then the Prophet, on him be peace, said: “These two women have been Fasting from what God made lawful to them, and have broken their Fast on what God, Exalted is He, made unlawful to them. They sat together and indulged in backbiting, and here is the flesh of the people they maligned!”‘

3. Hear not what displeases God

Closing one’s ears to everything reprehensible; for everything unlawful to utter is likewise unlawful to listen to. That is why God, Great and Glorious is He, equated the eavesdropper with the profiteer, in His words, Exalted is He:

‘Listeners to falsehood, consumers of illicit gain.’ [al-Ma’idah, 5:42]

God, Great and Glorious is He, also said:

‘Why do their rabbis and priests not forbid them to utter sin and consume unlawful profit?’ [al-Ma’idah, 5:63]

Silence in the face of backbiting is therefore unlawful. God, Exalted is He, said: ‘You are then just like them.’ [al-Nisa, 4:140]

That is why the Prophet, on him be peace, said: ‘The backbiter and his listener are copartners in sin.’

4. Do not what displeases God

Keeping all other limbs and organs away from sin: the hands and feet from reprehensible deeds, and the stomach from questionable food at the time for breaking Fast. It is meaningless to Fast – to abstain from lawful food – only to break one’s Fast on what is unlawful. A man who Fast like this may be compared to one who builds a castle but demolishes a city. Lawful food injurious in quantity not in quality, so Fasting is to reduce the former. A person might well give up excessive use of medicine, from fear of ill effects, but he would be a fool to switch to taking poison. The unlawful is a poison deadly to religion, while the lawful is a medicine, beneficial in small doses but harmful in excess. The object of Fasting is to induce moderation. Said the Prophet, on him be peace: ‘How many of those who Fast get nothing from it but hunger and thirst!’ This has been taken to mean those who break their Fast on unlawful food. Some say it refers to those who abstain from lawful food, but break their Fast on human flesh through backbiting, which is unlawful. Others consider it an allusion to those who do not guard their organs from sin.

5. Avoid Overeating

Not to over-indulge in lawful food at the time of breaking Fast, to the point of stuffing one’s belly. There is no receptacle more odious to God, Great and Glorious is He, than a belly stuffed full with lawful food. Of what use is the Fast as a means of conquering God’s enemy and abating appetite, if at the time of breaking it one not only makes up for all one has missed during the daytime, but perhaps also indulges in a variety of extra foods? It has even become the custom to stock up for Ramadan with all kinds of foodstuffs, so that more is consumed during that time than in the course of several other months put together. It is well known that the object of Fasting is to experience hunger and to check desire, in order to reinforce the soul in piety. If the stomach is starved from early morning till evening, so that its appetite is aroused and its craving intensified, and it is then offered delicacies and allowed to eat its fill, its taste for pleasure is increased and its force exaggerated; passions are activated which would have lain dormant under normal conditions.

The spirit and secret nature of Fasting is to weaken the forces which are Satan’s means of leading us back to evil. It is therefore essential to cut down one’s intake to what one would consume on a normal night, when not Fasting. No benefit is derived from the Fast if one consumes as much as one would usually take during the day and night combined. Moreover, one of the properties consists in taking little sleep during the daytime, so that one feels the hunger and thirst and becomes conscious of the weakening of one’s powers, with the consequent purification of the heart.

One should let a certain degree of weakness carry over into the night, making it easier to perform the night Prayers (tahajjud) and to recite the praises (awrad). It may then be that Satan will not hover around one’s heart, and that one will behold the Kingdom of Heaven. The Night of Destiny represents the night on which something of this Kingdom is revealed. This is what is meant by the words of God, Exalted is He:

‘We surely revealed it on the Night of Power.’ [al-Qadr, 97:1]

Anyone who puts a bag of food between his heart and his breast becomes blind to this revelation. Nor is keeping the stomach empty sufficient to remove the veil, unless one also empties the mind of everything but God, Great and Glorious is He. That is the entire matter, and the starting point of it all is cutting down on food.

6. Look to God with Fear [khawf] and Hope [raja’]

After the Fast has been broken, the heart should swing like a pendulum between fear and hope. For one does not know if one’s Fast will be accepted, so that one will find favor with God, or whether it will be rejected, leaving one among those He abhors. This is how one should be at the end of any act of worship one performs.

It is related of al-Hasan ibn Abil Hasan al-Basri that he once passed by a group of people who were laughing merrily. He said: ‘God, Great and Glorious is He, has made the month of Ramadan a racecourse, on which His creatures compete in His worship. Some have come in first and won, while others have lagged behind and lost. It is absolutely amazing to find anybody laughing and playing about on the day when success attends the victors, and failure the wasters. By God, if the veil were lifted off, the doer of good would surely be preoccupied with his good works and the evildoer with his evil deeds.’ In too full of joy to indulge in idle sport, while for one who has suffered rejection laughter will be precluded by remorse.

Of al-Ahnaf ibn Qays it is reported that he was once told:

‘You are an aged elder; Fasting would enfeeble you.’ But he replied: ‘By this I am making ready for a long journey, Obedience to God, Glorified is He, is easier to endure than His punishment.’

Such are the inwardly significant meanings of Fasting.

Importance of Observing Inward Aspects

Now you may say: ‘Suppose someone confines himself to curbing his appetite for food and drink and his sexual desire, to the neglect of these inward aspects. According to the experts in jurisprudence his Fast is valid. So what are we to make of this?’

You must realize that those versed in the external requirements of the law base their formal stipulations on evidence less cogent than the proofs we have advanced in support of these internal prerequisites, especially those relating to back-biting and the like. However, scholars of external legality are concerned only with such obligations as fall within the capacity of ordinary heedless people, wholly caught up in the affairs of this world.

As for those learned in knowledge of the Hereafter, the meaning the attach to validity is acceptance, and by acceptance the mean attainment of the goal. According to their understanding, the goal of Fasting is the acquisition of one of the qualities of God, Great and Glorious is He, namely steadfastness (samadiya), as well as following the example of the angels by abstaining as far as possible from the desires of the flesh, for they are immune to such passions. The human status is superior to that of the animals, since man is able by the light of reason to tame his lust; yet it is inferior to that of the angels, in that he is subject to carnality and put to the test in combat with its temptations.

Whenever man falls prey to lust, he sinks to the lowest of the low and joins the animal herd. Whenever he curbs his desires, he ascends to the highest of the high and attains the angelic level. The angels are near the presence of God, Great and Glorious is He, so those who follow their example and model themselves on their character will likewise draw near to God, Great and Glorious is He. To resemble one who is near is to be near. This nearness, however, is not spatial but qualitative.

If this is the secret of Fasting among men of profound spiritual understanding, what benefit is to be derived from postponing a meal only to combine two meals after sunset, while indulging in all other passions the whole day long? If there were any good in such conduct, what could the Prophet, on him be peace, have meant by saying: ‘How many of those who Fast get nothing from it but hunger and thirst?’

This is why Abul-Darda’ said: ‘How fine is the sleep of the wise and their non-Fasting! Don’t they just put to shame the Fasting and wakefulness of fools! A mere atom from those possessed of certainty and true piety is better and weightier than seeming mountains of worship by the misguided.’ For the same reason one of the scholars said: ‘How many who Fast are not keeping Fast, and how many who do not keep Fast are Fasting!’

The Fasting non-Faster is he who keeps his limbs and organs pure of sin while still eating and drinking; the non-Fasting Faster is he who goes hungry and thirsty while giving full licence to his limbs and organs. Those who understand the significance of Fasting and its secret meaning are aware that he who abstains from food, drink and sexual intercourse, while breaking Fast by involving himself in sin, is like one who performs his ablution by wiping part of his body three times (in compliance with the external legal requirement), yet neglects what is really important, namely the actual washing. Because of this stupidity his ritual Prayer is rejected. By contrast, he who does not abstain from eating, yet does Fast in the sense of keeping his organs free from all that is unworthy, is comparable to the one who washes the proper parts of his body only once each. God willing, his ritual Prayer is acceptable, since he has paid due attention to the essentials, even if he has omitted the details. But he who combines the two may be compared to one who not only washes each part of the body, but does so three times each, for he attends to essentials and details alike, and this constitutes perfection.

The Prophet, on him be peace, once said: ‘The Fast is a trust, so let each of you keep this trust!’ And when he recited the words of God, Great and Glorious is He: ‘Surely God bids you to restore trusts to their owners.’ [an-Nisa 4:58], he touched his ears and his eyes, saying: ‘Hearing is a trust and sight is a trust.’ If speech were not likewise a trust of the Fast, the Prophet, on him be peace, would not have said: ‘Say: “I am Fasting!”‘ In other words: ‘My tongue has been entrusted to my care, so how can I release it to answer your insults?’

It therefore becomes apparent that every act of worship has both an outer and an inner aspect, a husk and a kernel.

— Al-Ghazali, A. Inner Dimensions of Islamic Worship. Trans. Muhtar Holland. Leicestershire: The Islamic Foundation, 2006.

And Allah is the Guide.

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The Outer Fiqh of Fasting

As the fast of Ramadan is a once-a-year religious obligation, it is highly recommended to refresh our memories with the outward rulings pertaining to this sacred act.

In this regard, we present here the summary of the Fiqh or “jurisprudence” of Fasting according to the Hanafi and Shafi’i madhahib or “schools of jurisprudence”.

Hanafi

Shafi’i

And Allah is the Guide.

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Sawm – Fast

As we go through life, it is easy to become pre-occupied with satisfying our material needs. Some religions institute retreats for a few chosen people who dedicate themselves fully to religious service and renounce the worldly struggle for survival. Islam takes a more moderate approach where once a year everybody takes a “retreat” together.

By abstaining from food and drink and intimate sexual relations during daylight hours for the duration of the month of Ramadan, the 9th month of the lunar calendar, and by spending more time during this month in prayer, recitation of the Qur’an, and reflection, we train ourselves not to become slaves to our material needs and desires and heighten our awareness of Allah and our spiritual dimension and destiny.

Because fasting is a communal affair, with joint fast-breaking in the evenings, it also strengthens the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood regarded as so important in Islam. The fasting month is concluded with the festival of  fast-break or ‘Idu-l Fitr, prior to which everybody, having learnt the hardships of hunger and thirst, has to give some charity to allow those in need to join in the joy of the celebrations.

The experience of fasting prepares us for another important Islamic principle: that nobody really believes if he fills his stomach whilst his neighbour goes hungry.

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Salat Al-Tajiyyah

“The Salutation of the Crowning Adornment” [salatu-t tajiyyah] is a benediction that has found universal fame. It was written by Habib Abu Bakr b. Salim, Allah illuminate his resting abode, who is laid to rest in Aynat, Hadramawt. He is known by the epithet, “honour of creation” [fakhru-l wujud]. His saintliness and piety is widely acknowledged.

This salutation is an overflowing spring of blessings and is certainly one of the favourite benedictions of all lovers of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. Many saints [awliya] and pious [salihin] have embraced Salatu-t Taj as part of their daily litany and attained much Enabling Grace [tawfiq] as a result.

The benefits of this prayer are so vast that they cannot be completely encompassed. Its recitation brings the reader purity of heart, clarity of intellect and vision of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. Regular recitation increases sustenance, protects from the evils of magic and jinn, and removes calamities.

The many references to the blessed night journey and ascension to the Heavens [al-isra wa-l mi’raj] of the Holy Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, makes this benediction a favourite to be recited on the night of 27th Rajab, wherein that momentous event is widely believed to have happened.

Success is from Allah!

Audio

Arabic text & English translation

The Salutation of the Crowning Adornment

By the honour of creation, our master & guide,
Habib Abu Bakr ibn Salim

In the name of Allah, the Universally Merciful, the Singularly Compassionate

O Allah, bestow blessings upon our master and patron, Muhammad; the owner of the crown, the ascent, the Burāq, and the standard. [He is] the thwarter of affliction, disease, drought, illness, and pain. His name is written on high, served, and engraved in the Tablet and the Pen. [He is] the leader of all – Arabs and non-Arabs.

His body is sanctified, fragrant, pure, and illumined in the house and the sanctuary. [He is] the sun of brightness, the full moon in darkness, the foremost one in the highest fields, the light of guidance, the cave of refuge for mortals, the lamp that dispels the night. [He is] the best-natured one, the intercessor of nations. [He is] the owner of munificence and generosity.

And Allah is his Protector, Gabriel is his servant, the Burāq is his mount, the Ascent is his voyage, the Lote-Tree of the Furthermost Boundary is his station. And two Bow-Lengths or nearer is his desire; his desire is his goal; and he has reached his goal.

[He is] master of the Messengers, seal of the Prophets, intercessor for sinners, bosom friend of strangers, mercy to the worlds, respite of those who burn with love, goal of those who yearn, sun of Gnostics, guiding lamp of seekers, illumination of those in close proximity, beloved of the poor, strangers and destitute.

[He is] master of humans and jinn, Prophet of the two sanctuaries, leader of the two Qiblas, our means [to salvation] in the two abodes, owner of “two Bow-Lengths or nearer”, beloved of the Lord of the two Easts and the two Wests, grandfather of al-Ḥasan and al-Ḥusain, our patron and the patron of humans and jinn.

[He is] Abu l-Qāsim MUḤAMMAD, son of ‘Abdullah, a radiant light from the Life-Giving Luminosity of Allah. O you who yearn for the radiance of his beauty! Send blessings and utmost greetings of peace upon him, his family and companions.

And Allah is the Guide!

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