09-01-2005, 09:38 PM
Ramadaan, an Opportunity for Reform
Shaykh Saalih ibn Humayyid
22, Ramadaan 1425 (5, November 2004)
All praise is due to Allaah Lord of all the worlds. Peace and blessings of Allaah be upon the Messenger, his household and companions.
Fellow Muslims! Fear Allaah as He should be feared and be dutiful to Him. Make good use of the seasons of benefits for they have been opened for you. Be frequent in knocking the door of repentance before it is closed against you. Heedlessness prevents repentance and sins lead to loss. The one who seeks others besides Allaah will suffer ignominy and disappointment and the one who works for others besides Allaah will subject his deeds to wastefulness. All doors are closed except the doors of Allaah. The real bliss lies in worshipping Him alone, the real respite lies in serving Him alone and the real wealth lies in showing correct need for His mercy.
Dear Muslims! Days and years move quickly but many people are forgetful in their deluge and they turn away from remembrance. Allaah says,
"And He it is Who has put the night and the day in succession, for such who desires to remember or desires to show his gratitude." (Al-Furqaan 25:62)
Since the days of humans in this world are limited, Allaah has blessed His servants with seasons of blessings. He honoured them with days and nights that nobler, more virtuous and more meritorious. By His mercy, He blessed His servants with periods in which they can amend for their shortcomings. So these days of yours are among the best days and these last ten days are the most virtuous days.
Brethren in faith! Man is in dire need of reviewing himself in these excellent days. It is an opportunity to work for change and reform in the life of every individual and the life of the Ummah. The Messenger of Allaah said, "When Ramadaan comes the doors of Paradise will be opened, the gates of Hell will be closed and the devils will be fettered." (At-Tirmidhee)
In another version of the hadeeth, he said, "On the first night of Ramadaan, the devils and rebellious jinn will be chained down; gates of Paradise will be opened and none of its gates will be closed; gates of Hell will be closed and none of them will be left open; and an announcer will proclaim: 'O you seeker of good deeds, come forward, and O you seeker of bad deeds, keep away.' And Allaah liberates some people from Hell every night of Ramadaan."
It is an opportunity for self-examination and reform. 'O you seeker of good deeds, come forward, and O you seeker of bad deeds, keep away.'
Fellow Muslims! In order to have more reflection and have a serious sense of review and in order to deeply understand the importance of this opportunity, have you pondered over a supplication that the Muslims do in this noble month, especially in these last days when these days are getting ready to go? It is a supplication accompanied by a strong feeling from lively hearts. In this supplication, people raise there hands to their Lord saying, "O Allaah! Make this month a witness for us, not against us." Have you thought deeply about this supplication? Do you understand its essence, implications and results?
Dear fasting Muslims! Indeed, the testimony of the month of Ramadaan is always reliable. Ramadaan is a season that comes annually and testifies over each individual and the Ummah. It witnesses your condition. Is it going to testify for us or against us? Is it going to ridicule us or deem us fortunate? How did we receive it and what about our negligence regarding it? Do we work assiduously during Ramadaan and be negligent in other days of the years?
Fellow Muslims! Days, limbs, times and places are witnesses. Our reflection over the testimony of this month for us or against us is a great and sincere opportunity for self-examination and change. 'O you seeker of good deeds, come forward, and O you seeker of bad deeds, keep away.'
The testimony of the great month of Ramadaan might be unique. Why? Because Ramadaan is a month of patience, control of the will, resistance of the inclinations of the soul. Ramadaan is the arena that differentiates between lofty minds and weak ones. This testifying month is the real opportunity for a Muslim to review himself internally. It is the axis of successful education.
In order to understand this Ramadaan testimony the more, let us look at some of the qualities of fasting and the conditions of the fasting Muslims. Fasting is a secret between the servant and his Lord. Allaah regards fast as solely His. According to a qudsee hadeeth, Allaah says, "Fasting is for Me and it is Me that is going to reward it. [My slave] abandons his food and drink and desire because of Me."
Brethren in faith! Fasting through abandonment of apparent things like eating, drinking and sexual intercourse is easy for many people. Ibn Al-Qayyim said, "People can see that a fasting Muslim abandons apparent things that invalidate fasting. But as regards the fact that he abandons these things for the sake of Allaah is something beyond human knowledge. That is the reality of fasting." Compare this to the Prophet's saying, "He who fasts the month of Ramadaan with eemaan and a hope to get reward from Allaah, his past sins will be forgiven. And he who observes Laylatul-Qadr with eemaan and a hope to get reward from Allaah, his past sins will be forgiven."
Dear brethren! Ponder over the situation of some fasting Muslims regarding the excessive food they eat [after breaking their fasting] and their wastefulness in foods, drinks and spending. The media helps them in this regard by making huge advertisements for various kinds of foods.
Reflect over some heedless people as they waste these virtuous hours and nights in fun and pastime and other useless things. Some even use their Ramadaan hours in harmful and forbidden things. They turn the night to the day and the day to the night, thereby depriving themselves and their societies the benefits of this month. Some satellite channels contributed to this pathetic situation through immoral programs they broadcast.
As for idle utterances, it is surprising that many fasting Muslims, even from among those who are regarded as righteous and knowledgeable, indulge in them. As a result of their talkativeness, they lose their decorum and wisdom. They sometime commit backbiting, slander, lying and showing-off. It is known that excessive mingling, especially in times of worship, leads to idle talk and waste of time and distracts from worship. For example, consider the situation of many of those who perform i'tikaaf, may Allaah guide them and put them aright. They perform this important act or worship in groups. They initiate discussions and widen the topics. The place of I'tikaaf sometimes attracts visitors and gatherings that make this worship lose its essence and spirit. A wise scholar said, "If you want people to leave you alone, do not talk to them, for the most means by which relate with one another is through talking. So, whoever does not talk to them they leave him alone.
Dear brethren! Have now realized, after pondering over the testimony of Ramadaan, that we seriously need to reform ourselves and that we are optimistic of a better tomorrow? Means of remedy and success are not far-fetched. We are a nation of the Qur'aan and the followers of Muhammad, blessings and peace be upon him. The path of reform is explained in the following verse:
"Indeed, Allaah will not change the condition of a people as long as they do not change their state themselves." (A-Ra'd 13:11)
It also lies in the clear call of Ramadaan: 'O you seeker of good deeds, come forward, and O you seeker of bad deeds, keep away.'
Reform is not only about criticism and blaming the enemies. The truthful Muslim who is serious and wishes himself and his Ummah well should rather fear Allaah and understand the purpose of this life. He should make good use of his time and reform himself, so that he can live a serious and balanced life, from being submerged by permitted things at the expense of obligatory acts. He should also train himself on consistence upon righteous deeds and upon following the Sunnah sincerely.
Dear Muslims! These last ten days is a real opportunity to improve our condition. This is not difficult, by the grace of Allaah, for him who is sincere in his resoluteness. Al-Mundhir ibn 'Ubayd said, "'Umar ibn Abdil-'Azeez became the caliph after the Jumu'ah prayer and I would recognize his condition after the 'Asr prayer."
One of the indications of change, strong will and resolution in this month is to strive hard to do righteous deeds in these last ten days as a way of emulating the Messenger of Allaah. For, he has regarded the entire Ramadaan an opportunity for making efforts in performing righteous deeds, though he used to strive more in the last ten days. 'Aaishah said, "In Ramadaan, the Messenger of Allaah would make efforts [in doing act of worship] more than he would do in other months. And he would make efforts during the last ten days more than he would do in other days of Ramadaan."
The quest for change becomes more manifest when one endeavors to attain Laylatul-Qadr, thereby working assiduously to attain the highest degree through repentance, abstention from sins and determination to reform. Ponder over the following hadeeth. The Messenger of Allaah said, "May he be disgraced the one who attained the month of Ramadaan and the month ended without his sins be forgiven."
Dear brethren! Show Allaah the good that is in you through your fasting, night prayers, I'tikaaf, recitation of the Qur'aan, remembrance of Allaah, charity, supplications, self-examination, repentance and a resolution to do only righteous deeds. 'O you seeker of good deeds, come forward, and O you seeker of bad deeds, keep away.'
Dear Muslims! It is for a great wisdom that the verse of supplication come came along with verses of fasting. Allaah says,
"And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad (peace be upon him)) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright." (Al-Baqarah 2:186)
It is also for a great wisdom that the verses of fasting are ended with this great admonition,
"Thus does Allaah make clear His Ayât (proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, revelations, verses, laws, legal and illegal things, Allaah's set limits, orders) to mankind that they may become pious." (Al-Baqarah 2:187)
Fellow Muslims! Ramadaan is one of the seasons of good and blessings. The pious Muslims seize the opportunity of this month to perform more righteous deeds. It is a season that enables the sinners and the negligent ones to remember Allaah and repent from their sins and shortcomings. The prosperous is the one who uses this month to renew his determination, increase his acts of righteousness, hold fast to the Rope of Allaah and equip himself with piety. Ibn Al-Qayyim said, "When the cloud of high-mindedness emerges amid the darkness of inactivity and that is followed by the light of resoluteness, the land of the heart is illuminated with the light of its Lord."
However, those with high-mindedness and resoluteness should recognize the human nature and weakness. Allaah says,
"Allaah wishes to accept your repentance, but those who follow their lusts, wish that you (believers) should deviate tremendously away (from the Right Path). Allaah wishes to lighten (the burden) for you; and man was created weak (cannot be patient to leave sexual intercourse with woman)." (An-Nisaa 4:27-28)
It is in this regard that one the scholars said, "It is a mistake that someone should embark on a good deed only to abandon it later when one feels that one could not attain the goal of that righteous deed, and then join the group of lazy people who are low-minded. The correct path which is the path of wisdom and happiness is to continue being resolute in attaining the required goal and putting efforts in that regard until one's energy is exhausted."
Dear brethren! Fear Allaah and know that living to witness this month and performing righteous deeds in it is a great blessing. So compete with one another for righteous deeds. Make efforts to attain Laylatul-Qadr in order to gain Allaah's favour.
May Allaah accept our fasting and night prayers and our other righteous deeds.
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