Monday, June 13, 2016

Ramadan and Behavioral Reform

It is well-known that the supreme goal of fasting is to attain righteousness. In confirmation, Allah Almighty says (what means): {O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.} [Quran 2:183]

Righteousness is to safeguard oneself from the punishment of Allah. This safeguard is not only attained by abstention from food and drink but also by disciplining the soul through it. That is why the educational dimensions of fasting should be contemplated by the Muslim. In the following, I am going to briefly touch on some of them.

First: fasting and upbringing:

1- It protects from illegal sexual acts. It was narrated on the authority of Ibn Mas‘ood, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said:
O young people! Those of you who can afford to marry, should marry, for it helps to lower the gaze and refrain from unlawful sexual acts. Those who cannot marry should fast, for it will protect them from committing unlawful sexual acts (because fasting breaks the intensity of desire).[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

2- It elevates the soul, raises ambitions, and reforms the heart. In confirmation, Allah Almighty says (what means): {O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.} [Quran 2:183] It was narrated on the authority of Mu‘aath, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “Fasting is a protective shield.”[An-Nasaa’i] That is, a shield that protects from all evils, and this includes, of course, the protection of the heart.

3- It instills patience and strong endurance while taking the nature of the human soul into consideration. Patience in abstaining from food and drink helps the Muslim to endure what reforms his body and soul. It is a month of Jihad. After mentioning fasting and Hajj, Allah Almighty mentions Jihad in His saying (what means): {Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you.} [Quran 2:190] That is the month in which the Battle of Badr and the Conquest of Mecca took place. In it, care is given to the human soul by not imposing anything beyond its capacity upon it, as Allah Almighty says (what means): {And eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct to you from the black thread [of night].} [Quran 2:187]

Furthermore, It was narrated by Al-Bukhari in the story of Salmaan and Abu Ad-Dardaa’, may Allah be pleased with them, that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “No doubt, your Lord has a right on you, your body has a right on you, and your family or wife has a right on you. So give each his right that is due to him.” It is from the Sunnah to hasten to break the fast and delay the suhoor (meal taken before fasting). It was narrated on the authority of Abu Tharr Al-Ghifaari, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “The people of my community will remain upon goodness as long as they hasten to break their fast and delay their suhoor.” [There is a debate about its chain of narrators] It is proven in an authentic narration from the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, that “he forbade them to practice wisaal (fasting all day and night continuously).”

4- ‘Umrah performed in Ramadan equals Hajj. It was narrated in an authentic Hadeeth that he, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “‘Umrah to be performed in Ramadan equals Hajj or Hajj with me.” The performer of ‘Umrah senses some meanings of Hajj in his ‘Umrah (that he performs in Ramadan).

5- It confirms the interconnection between the calls of the Messengers. Allah Almighty says (what means): {O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.} [Quran 2:183] When the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, came to Medina, the Jews were in the habit of fasting ‘Aashooraa’, thereupon, he said, as proven in an authentic narration: “No doubt, we are closer to Moosa (Moses) than you.” It was narrated on the authority of Waathilah ibn Al-Asqa‘, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “The Books of Ibrahim (Abraham) were sent down on the first night of Ramadan, the Torah on the sixth night of Ramadan, the Gospel on the thirteenth night of Ramadan, and the Quran on the twenty-fourth night of Ramadan.”[Ahmad, and its narrators are reliable]

6- To share the feeling of the poor and needy. Whoever suffers from hunger will feel the pain of the hungry everywhere in the world, and whoever undergoes the difficulties of fasting and qiyaam (night prayers) will feel the trouble of the persecuted and the naked, barefoot people all over the world. Without doubt, this will prompt him to give in charity and sympathize with others.

7- To accustom the servant to forgive others. It was narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, that he said: The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “When anyone of you is fasting, let him neither have sexual intercourse (with his wife) nor quarrel; and if anyone abuses or fights with him, let him say ‘I am fasting.’”[An-Nasaa’i]
Also, just as Allah forgives the one who forgetfully eats or drinks (while fasting), the servant should forgive the one who wrongs him.

8- To reflect upon the creatures of Allah Almighty in His immense universe, where fasting depends on sighting the new moon. According to a Prophetic hadith, “Fast on sighting it (the new moon).”According to another, “Do not fast unless you sight it (the new moon).”

9- To accustom the servant to be keen on improving the quality of and multiplying good deeds. It was narrated by Ibn Katheer in his Tafseer on the authority of Imam Malik, may Allah have mercy upon him, that he was informed that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was shown the lifetime of the people before him or as much as Allah willed. Apparently, he regarded the lifetime of the members of his community too short to do the deeds that others were able to do due to their longevity. On that, Allah Almighty gave him the night of Al-Qadr, which is better than one thousand months. Allah Almighty says (what means): {[Fasting for] a limited number of days...} [Quran 2:184], but the night of Qadr equals one thousand months. What counts then is not the multiplicity in so much as the righteousness of the deed. In confirmation, He, the Almighty, says (what means): {that He might test you as to which of you is best in deed.} [Quran 11:7]

10- To accustom the Muslim to be generous. According to a Prophetic hadith, “He who serves a fasting person with anything to break his fast will have the like of his reward.”

11- To bring up the Muslim to call to Allah. Allah Almighty says (what means): {The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion.} [Quran 2:185] Reality confirms that those who embrace Islam in Ramadan are numerous.

12- It is a good opportunity to educate children and accustom them to worship, as shown in the hadith of Ar-Rubaiyy‘ bint Mu‘awwith, may Allah be pleased with her, about accustoming the children to fasting.

13- To accustom the Muslims to draw nearer to Allah. In the Noble Verses of fasting, Allah Almighty says (what means): {And when My servants ask you [O Muhammad] concerning Me—indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.} [Quran 2:186] Concerning the occasion on which it was revealed, it is reported that a Bedouin said: “O Messenger of Allah! Is our Lord near so that we should talk to him privately or far so that we should call upon Him?” The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, kept silent, and then Allah Almighty revealed that Quranic Verse.

14- To accustom the Muslim to observe (the commandments of) Allah. In confirmation, Allah Almighty says (what means): {Allah knows that you used to deceive yourselves, so He accepted your repentance and forgave you.} [Quran 2:187]

15- To accustom the Muslim to control his behavior. It was narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “Whoever does not abstain from saying false speech or acting upon it (while fasting), Allah is not in need of his hunger and thirst.” [Al-Bukhari]

16- To remind the Muslim that the real life is in Paradise. It was narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “My Ummah has been given five characteristics in Ramadan that were never given to any other community before it: the bad smell of the mouth of the fasting person is sweeter in the sight of Allah than the scent of musk; the angels continue to ask forgiveness for them until they break their fast; every day, Allah increases in His Paradise and says: “My righteous servants are about to get rid of their burdens and come to you;” the rebellious devils are chained up so that they cannot do in it what they usually do at any other time; and, finally, it is forgiven for them (the fasting persons) on its last night.”It was said: “O Messenger of Allah! Is it the night of Al-Qadr?” He, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “No, but the worker is given his reward once he finishes his work.”[Ahmad]

17- To accustom the Muslim to keep his tongue (from evil). According to a Prophetic hadith, “When anyone of you is fasting, let him neither have sexual intercourse (with his wife) nor quarrel; and if anyone abuses him or fights with him, let him say ‘I am fasting.’”[An-Nasaa’i]

18- To bring up the Muslim to sense the real happiness in this world and seek it in the Hereafter. It was narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “The fasting person rejoices twice: once on breaking his fast and a second time on meeting his Lord.” [Al-Bukhari] At its end comes the eid, where people express joy for completing their worship and giving zakah Al-Fitr in order to disseminate pleasure among the poor.

19- To fulfill the right of the wife. In the story of Ibn ‘Amr, may Allah be pleased with him, with the Messenger of Allah, he, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said to him: “Have I not been informed that you always fast and never leave fasting?” Then he said to him at the end: “No doubt, your soul and wife have a due right on you.” [Al-Bukhari]

20- To accustom the soul to giving and to sacrifice. Allah Almighty says (what means): {... And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship]—a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]...} [Quran 2:184] That was in the beginning. Whoever could fast and liked to leave fasting, the ransom would be due on him, as narrated by Al-Bukhari on the authority of Salamah Ibn Al-Akwa‘, may Allah be pleased with him.

21- To sense the meanings of family bonding in Ramadan. In confirmation, Allah Almighty says (what means): {They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them.} [Quran 2:187] It is reported from Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with them, and some taabi‘is (the generation after the Companions), may Allah Have mercy upon them, that it means that they are a source of tranquility for you just as you are a source of tranquility for them. [Jaami' Al-Bayaan, At-Tabari] The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, used to awaken his family to stand at night (in prayer).

In order for a woman to observe voluntary fasts, she should seek the permission of her husband, as narrated by Al-Bukhari on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him.

22- To accustom the Muslim to be punctual. The time of breaking the fast is at sunset, and abstention (from food and drink) is at the time of azan of the Fajr; and it is not valid, according to the sharia, to delay breaking the fast or to take the suhoor early.

Second: Zakah Al-Fitr and upbringing

1- To accustom the Muslim to correct his mistakes. Sadaqat (almsgiving) Al-Fitr was ordained to purify the fasting person from idle deeds and ill speech. It was narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, that “It (zakah Al-Fitr) purifies the fasting person from idle deeds and ill speech (committed during Ramadan).”

2- To feel responsible for others and share in social solidarity by fulfilling this obligation: “The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, enjoined Sadaqat Al-Fitr.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

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