Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Battle of a Lifetime

I have nothing new to say about the merit of fasting and night prayer and the merit of this noble month.

Indeed, the vast majority of Muslims possess knowledge about this, making it needless to exert a lot of effort in this area. Rather, it is more appropriate for a person addressing people on this occasion to draw their attention to the fact that the biggest problem in the lives of Muslims nowadays is the wide gap between knowledge and application and that the key to the matchless success in the lives of the Companions is the almost non-existent gap between knowledge and application – indeed, no such gap existed at all – and that the response of this generation to what they learned was a historic one, as it was prompt, complete, and unconditional.

This is 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab, who, despite his remarkable abilities, took ten years to memorize Soorat Al-Baqarah. What is the secret behind this?

The secret is that 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, grasped that it is shameful for a sane person, or semi-sane person, to memorize words and not apply them and that it is not proper for him to pass a verse without first applying it. If he came across a command of charitable spending, he would rush to spend. Likewise, if he passed by a command to engage in righteousness, pray at night, or fast, he would comply. Hence, when the verse {Never will you attain the good [reward] until you spend [in the way of Allah] from that which you love...} [Quran 3:92] was revealed, Ibn 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, gave the most beloved part of his wealth in charity. Another example is Abu Ad-Dahdah, may Allah be pleased with him, who, when the verse {Who is it that would loan Allah a goodly loan...} [Quran 2:245] was revealed, immediately gave part of his wealth in charity. Moreover, his guided wife said to him: profitable is your bargain, O Abu Ad-Dahdah. And look at 'Uthman ibn 'Affan, may Allah be pleased with him, who equipped the army of Al-'Usrah and bought the Roomah well; and look at Ibn Rawahah, may Allah be pleased with him, who sat in the sun for hours outside the mosque because he heard the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, say, "Sit," although the order was not addressed to him. Another example is Abu Ayyoob Al-Ansari, may Allah be pleased with him, who ceased to eat garlic and onion because the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam, would not eat them. Likewise, when the verse of hijab was revealed, the women of Al-Ansar did not leave the mosque before complying with the revealed command. Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq was one of those examples. He brought all his wealth to be spent in the cause of Allah. The members of this peerless generation responded to their Lord when He Invited them to that which gave them life and they vied with one another in transforming the sharia into living examples that walked on earth. The secret behind these honorable people, who dealt most properly with Allah and His Messenger, was the absence of a gap between knowledge and application. Then, what elevated this unique generation is the astonishing compatibility between their duties and actions.

On the other hand, the secret behind the kind of life our poor generation lives and the reason behind our diseases and failure is that immense gap between knowledge and application; such an evil gap that prevented us from following the example of those geniuses, which would make us the best descendants of the best ancestors. There is hardly a Muslim who does not know the merit of fasting and the merits of Ramadan. However, there is a far big distance between this knowledge and the reality, a distance estimated in light years and that needs light-speed planes to traverse it.

Most Muslims surely know the verse that reads (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]

And the verse that reads (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]

And also the verses that say (what means): {Indeed, We sent it down during the Night of Decree. And what can make you know what is the Night of Decree? The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit descend therein by permission of their Lord for every matter. Peace it is until the emergence of dawn.} [Quran 97:1-5]
Moreover, Muslims are hardly unaware of the following hadiths:

"On the first night of the month of Ramadan, the devils and the Jinn are shackled and the gates of Hell-fire are shut, and no gate among them will be opened; the gates of Paradise are opened, and no gate among them will be closed; and a caller calls, 'O seeker of good! Come near!' and 'O seeker of evil! Stop!' there are those whom Allah frees from the Fire. This happens every night."

"Whoever lives during the month of Ramadan and then dies without being forgiven will be admitted to Hell and Allah will keep him away."

"Whoever fasts Ramadan out of faith and pursuit of reward (from Allah) will have his past sins forgiven, and whoever performs qiyam al-layl (voluntary night prayer)during the night of Al-Qadr (pre-destination) out of faith and pursuit of reward (from Allah) will have his sins forgiven. Ramadan expiates the sins committed during the period until the next Ramadan."

"Islam is built upon five (pillars): Testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establishing prayer, giving zakah, performing Hajj, and fasting Ramadan..."

"Fasting is a shield. When anyone of you is observing fast, he should neither indulge in obscene language nor raise his voice; and if anyone reviles him or tries to quarrel with him, he should say: 'I am fasting.' By Him in Whose Hand the soul of Muhammad is! The smell that comes out of the mouth of a fasting person is sweeter to Allah than the fragrance of musk.

Allah says, 'He has abstained from food and drink, and sexual pleasures for My sake; fasting is for Me, and I will bestow its reward, and every good deed has ten times its reward.'"

"Whoever fasts a day for the sake of Allah, Allah will keep his face away from Hell-fire at a distance of seventy years."

"Take to fasting, for there is nothing like it."

"There is a gate in Paradise that is called Ar-Rayyan, through which only those who observe fasting will enter on the Day of Resurrection. None else will enter through it. It will be called out: 'Where are those who observe fasting?' So, they will stand up and proceed toward it. When the last of them will have entered, the gate will be closed, and then no one will enter through that gate."

And Allah Almighty made it incumbent upon Himself to quench – on the Day of Judgment – the thirst of a person who got thirsty on a hot day for the sake of Allah.

So, I ask you by Allah, my dear brothers: Are not the hadiths and verses quoted above known to the vast majority of Muslims!

Dear brothers in Islam! the real challenge facing every sensible person who seeks salvation and knows the nature of these good and blessed occasions lies a few minutes away from this yearly charging station – situated on a servant's path to his Lord – of which, if he passes by it quickly and inattentively, he will have to walk for a whole year, in danger of dying of thirst or hunger, and he may not live to witness the next Ramadan.

The real challenge does not lie in knowledge that we learn, but in deeds that we do; in how we should turn these texts that we memorize into a reality; and how to breathe a new life into these texts so that they be raised from death.

The campaign that should be launched by sane people, who tend the hearts and seek the hereafter, is a national campaign for immunization against the paralysis of resolve. The chronic disease, which should cause panic among the people of knowledge, is the influenza of endless worldly aspirations and flimsy excuses that now numb resolve, hinder work, and lead a lot of people to presume, after accomplishing the least amount of worship, that this is the best ever to be done, and that Allah is now pleased with them.

If young people are keen to go to clubs for body building, we have to help them build their hearts during Ramadan, for the true life is that of the hereafter.

Surprisingly, sportspeople hold lengthy camps prior to decisive matches and major championships, with the aim of winning the champion's title. But, which championship deserves more serious effort and real preparation? What is the real championship for which wise people should compete with one another?

The true champion and winner, who is in an enviable position, is the one who will attain salvation from the divine punishment. the slogan that should be raised nowadays above people's heads in squares, roads, newspapers, and on lampposts, in a prominent manner before every Muslim, always reminding and stimulating them, is: {And I hastened to You, my Lord, that You be pleased.}

My brothers in Islam! Let us proceed to our Lord at the highest speed. We have no time to waste. We have already wasted such an amount of time that was sufficient to address our shortcomings, raise our ranks, and erase our sins.

We have no time to waste in listening to a trivial song or watching a match in which there is absolutely no benefit for us.

We have no time to watch drama series or such worthless things or to sit at cafes and street corners.

Indeed, by Allah! There is no time to lose. With the first moment of Ramadan, I will rush at the maximum speed toward my goal: salvation, emancipation from Hell, and the pleasure of Allah. I will not look around me. I will not turn my eyes from my goal. I am not a fool to buy a mirage. I am not such a foolish person who wastes his life in things that do not raise his rank in the sight of his Lord. I am not stupid to anger my Beloved God.

Let us raise the slogan: "It is high time to fulfill our covenant with Allah Almighty." "This is the time to meet His kindness with kindness, His forbearance with shyness, His sustenance with gratitude, and the good health He bestows with good deeds."

By Allah! The One Who does these actions, says these words, punishes like this, and has these names and attributes should not be disobeyed, and none other than Him should be obeyed or worshipped.

If it were not for His forbearance, a servant who disobeys his Lord secretly may not be able to supplicate Him in prayer. Indeed, a person who forgets his Lord while fulfilling his desires and only remembers Him when in need may not be able to do so if it were not for the grace of the Almighty Lord.

What bad servants we are! We sleep, and our Lord never sleeps. We show ingratitude, and our Lord shows gratitude. We sin, and our Lord forgives and pardons. We repent and He accepts our repentance then we return to sinning, and He Gives us respite. Then, we repent once more and He accepts our repentance. By Allah, what evil servants we are!
During this Ramadan, no sound will rise above the sound of battle. Indeed, the next Ramadan will be the struggle of a lifetime.

The coming Ramadan is the struggle for getting emancipation from Hell. It is the struggle of repentance, giving up smoking, lowering one's gaze, wearing the hijab, divorcing music once and for all, keenness to be in the mosque in time for takbeerat-ul-Ihram (saying Allahu Akbar to start the prayer) returning to the Quran, dutifulness to parents, upholding ties of kinship, and returning people's rights to them.

The coming Ramadan is the struggle of my new birth. I will come out of it a new person, Allah willing.

The next Ramadan is a battle in which survival is for the most pious, victory is for the purest, salvation is for the most refined, and success is for the one who has patience.

Let us roll up our sleeves and vie with one another to attain salvation and flee a Lord with severe punishment to an Oft-Forgiving and Ever-Merciful Lord, and flee a Lord who exacts retribution to an All-Kind and gentle Lord. All people proceed in life and sell their soul, thus emancipating them or leading them to destruction; "A wise man is the one who calls himself to account and does noble deeds to benefit him after death; and a foolish person is the one who subdues himself to his temptations and desires and seeks the fulfillment of his vain desires from Allah."

It is high time, dear brothers, to pause for reflection and be truthful and frank with ourselves. We should admit our crimes against ourselves and against our Lord. Then, we should conduct a comprehensive revolution of correction at all levels in our lives, in order to return to the straight path.

Dear brother! Ramadan is about to come and knock on your door once more at the same time, without delay. As usual, it comes carrying various kinds of good, mercy, forgiveness, and tranquility. It will stand before your door as usual, but unfortunately, you, also as usual, will not welcome it properly.

Is it not high time that it finds a surprise waiting for it? Let it find us different persons. Let us receive it with our hearts, and not our bellies. Let it find our houses filled with recitation of the Quran, prayer, and qiyam al-layl instead of the traditional lanterns. Let it find the place of the TV empty and find us having simple meals and perceive in our eyes a desire for worship and being free to entertain it and draw from its blessings.

This is Ramadan as it has always been: shackled devils, opened gates to Paradise, closed gates to Hell, and ideal conditions for the return of those who have long been away. This is Ramadan – the best source of hope for those who hope for forgiveness.

Be a different person during Ramadan this year. It may be your last chance and your last meeting with this blessed month.

Tens of people were with us during the past Ramadan, and most of them were young and healthy. But, that Ramadan was their last chance, and they, regrettably, got out of it with no gain.

They intended to make the best use of the next Ramadan, but they were not given respite or enabled to achieve their desire.

What will you do, my dear brother? You are too stingy to spend one dinar or dirham. Why are you not too stingy to waste your life-time, which is passing? Is it not high time for the counter of sins to stop and for the counter of good deeds to work at maximum capacity?

For the tenth or twentieth time, Ramadan is coming to knock on your door. Another opportunity for achieving a real championship is about to start. So, it is time for you to put an end to failed attempts. You do not know; perhaps this will be the last attempt.

Are you not eager for the taste of winning? Do you not yearn for coronation, real medals, and a sign that carries your name and is raised high to declare your win among all people – This is My servant. Bear witness that I am pleased with him.

Until when will you continue to come to your Lord with little goods? Are you not ashamed of your bad goods, weak resolve, and your standing in the last row, even though you are the keenest on standing at the forefront when it comes to worldly interests?

Say (what means): {Indeed, I have vowed to the Most Merciful abstention, so I will not speak today to [any] man.} [Quran 19:26] Be patient, for the good end is for the righteous. Allah Almighty says (what means): {And be patient and your patience is not but through Allah.} [Quran 16:127] He also says (what means): {Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without account.} [Quran 39:10] No one wins or attains salvation except through help from Allah, the Exalted, and patience.

There are people who were patient in fasting, qiyam al-layl, and jihad, and so they received their rewards from their Lord. So, be patient, and Paradise is there, waiting for you.

Make yourself patient by reminding yourself of the descent of the angels of death to you. If patience is not yet attained, think about the first night in the grave, the blowing of the trumpet, and people coming out of the graves in panic and unaware of what will befall them. Consider the flying of records: {Then as for he who is given his record in his right hand, he will be judged with an easy account and return to his people in happiness. But as for he who is given his record behind his back, he will cry out for destruction and [enter to] burn in a Blaze.} [Quran 84:7-12]

Jump to your feet now, O hero, and advance at the highest speed. There is no time to lose. Take one deep breath that will be sufficient for you the whole month. Put a stone on your belly, a band on your eyes, and a muzzle on your mouth, and block your ears to all but the mention of your Lord. Proceed while saying, at the top of your voice: "None will outrun me to Allah Almighty." Beware of stopping before you see the crescent of the 'eed (feast); no, rather before you hear the voice of the giver of glad tidings telling you that this is the best of your days since your mother gave birth to you.

In the Quran, Allah Almighty says (what means): {And [He also forgave] the three who were left behind [and regretted their error] to the point that the earth closed in on them in spite of its vastness and their souls confined them and they were certain that there is no refuge from Allah except in Him. then He turned to them so they could repent. Indeed, Allah is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful.} [Quran 9:118]

Dear brother! If your soul prompts you to slacken, play, or return to your weak resolve, remind it of all this. If it does not yield, do not obey it, and prostrate to your Lord and draw close to Him.

 


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