On the Eve of Ramadan

EsinIslam Ramadan Explorer

By Salman al-`Awdah

When the crescent moon is sighted, the Muslims will start offering the normal supplications on each other's behalf: "May Allah bless you throughout the month." "May you receive the greatest of rewards."

Fasting during this month is a quintessential act of worship that demonstrates the beliefs and principles of Islam.

Our belief in Allah and His perfection and our admission of our submission to Him in worship are all realized when we abstain from food and drink during this month.

A fasting person believes in his Lord and is aware that Allah is watching over him. He is aware that Allah knows what he does openly and in secret and that Allah knows the innermost secrets of his heart.

If a person abstains from food and drink without having the intention to worship Allah, then he is not fasting.

Likewise, if a person makes a firm intention to break his fast, then his fast is broken, even if he did not eat or drink anything.

This cultivates within the heart of the believer consciousness of Allah, making him aware of Allah at all times and circumstances, even when he is committing sin.

This makes him more ready and eager to work righteousness and to shun evildoing. Since he is constantly aware that Allah is watching over him, he fears Him and feels shy to do anything wrong.

Fasting also confirms our belief in Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) since we perform our fasts in the manner that he outlined for us.

We begin and end our fasts at the times he instructed and conform to the rulings and manners that he prescribed.

Fasting was prescribed by Allah for the people who were given the Scriptures before us, but that does not mean they fasted in the same manner that we do.

When we fast the way we do, it confirms that we believe that Muhammad

(peace and blessings be upon him) is Allah's final Messenger.

It shows that we love him and follow him in our worship. This should cause us to take more care in following the Sunnah and in taking the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as our example for all of our dealings in life.

By preferring hunger and thirst to the pleasures of this world, we show our faith in the Unseen.

We demonstrate our belief in the Hereafter, our hope for reward, and our fear of punishment, knowing that our fasting pleases Allah and is a way for us to attain the reward of Paradise.

This gives us a balanced perspective. We should not look only at worldly considerations. We must consider both this world and the next.

We must put Allah's pleasure and our obedience to Him before anything else, even if it means missing out on some comforts in this world.

Our decisions must not be based purely on material considerations like wealth, leisure, and prestige. Fasting also brings out the best in our mores and manners. Fasting requires patience. Fasting and patience are almost one and the same. Allah says:

{Seek help in patience and prayer} (Al-Baqarah 2: 153)

Some commentators have said that patience here refers to fasting. Ramadan has been called "the month of patience". We must keep in mind that the reward for patience is none other than Paradise.

Patience is the pinnacle of good conduct. Without it, a believer cannot rise to the challenges he faces in his religion and the crises that face him in his worldly life.

Salvation in the Hereafter and happiness in this life are the double reward of having patience. Patience is the elixir that has the power to transform the difficulties of life into its pleasures and its worries into relief.

If only our disgruntled young men, our weeping elderly, and our discontented women could learn patience, they would come to see that it is the cure for all ills, the solution to all problems, and the way to surmount all obstacles.

The Islamic code of conduct is also evident in how the fasting person's soul is elevated through worship and through a reduction in its ties to worldly things.

The soul in this state naturally becomes closer to its Creator and glorifies Him. A human being is defined as human because of his soul more than he is defined as such by his physical form.

It is equally evident in how the fasting person commiserates with the suffering of those who are in want, even though the fasting person experiences these feelings on a temporary basis through a voluntary act of worship.

This is why Ramadan is the "month of charity" as the Caliph `Uthman used to call it. At the end of this month, there is a special, obligatory charity that the Muslims participate in so they can all share the joys of the `Eid celebrations.

Even the poor offer this charity if they are able. It also reveals itself in the self control that the fasting person must exhibit. A fasting person is conscious of his efforts all the time which helps him refrain from behaving inappropriately.

Many fasting people become aware of this fact even outside of Ramadan. Fasting brings about a stronger collective identity for the Muslims.

Muslims all over the world experience the fast together, emphasizing the brotherhood of Islam and reinforcing the sense of allegiance that Muslims are supposed to have for one another.

It shows us that we must free ourselves from the ties that compromise this loyalty and place our other ties with people in their proper context, so that none of them will compete with the spiritual ties must exist between all Muslims.

How many of us wish that all the Muslims were capable of starting and ending their month of fasting on the same day, so that Muslim unity might be further emphasized and the divisions that have developed between us and tear us apart might be done away with.

Even if this cannot be achieved, there is no excuse why the Muslims of one country cannot begin and end their month of fasting together.

This is especially relevant for the Muslims living in the United States, Australia, and other Western countries. It is thoroughly unacceptable that one Muslim will still be fasting while his neighbor is celebrating `Eid and considers fasting on that day impermissible.

It is equally wrong when one Muslim fasts considering it to be the Day of `Arafah while his very own neighbor is celebrating `Eid Al-Adha.

In order to get beyond this problem, we are going to have to be honest, toss aside our vested interests, factionalism, and nationalism, and give precedence to the spirit of community over ourselves.

Will Ramadan return to the way Muslims used to know it, full of spirit, life, and giving? Or will it continue to be full of sleep, laziness, and wasting time, and will we continue to spend our nights in culinary pleasures, amusements, and misconduct? O Allah! Return the Muslims to their religion in a most beautiful way and unite them in their obedience to you.

Protect them from evil and correct for them their deeds. Accept their deeds from them and pardon their shortcomings.

Help them to work every act of righteousness and keep them away from all sin. And praise be to Allah, the Lord of All the Worlds.

Shaykh Salman was born in the village of Al-Basr near the city of Buraida in 1375 A.H. / 1955 A.C to a rich family which was known for its nobility and good name.

The Shaykh became known for his intelligence at an early age. After completing his secondary studies, Shaykh Salman enrolled in the Arabic language faculty at the university of Imam Muhammad Bin Saud in Riyadh. He studied there for two years before transferring to the Shari'ah Faculty where he obtained his degree.

On receiving his degree, Shaykh Salman returned to al-Qaseem where he studied at the Academic Institute at Buraida. He then transferred to the Shari'ah and Usul ad-Deen Faculty at the Imam Bin Saud Islamic University - Qaseem Campus, where he worked as a lecturer and continued his university studies. He received his Masters degree with a thesis on "The Estrangeness of Islam".

EsinIslam Ramadan Team

©  EsinIslam.Com

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