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Newsletter for July 2013
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Ramadan--the month of righteousness, reflection and giving is here. Allah swt called it His Month. This is a special time to ask for His Mercy. May we benefit from this month to reinforce our Islarmic identity and connection to Allah. May we pray to Allah to grant us pardon and well-being in this world and the next.
Happy Ramadan to all our readers,
THE JOYS OF RAMADAN FASTING
Fasting an exercise in self-restraint
By Shahid Athar, M.D., F.A.C.E., F.A.C.P.
Fasting was ordained to us to learn self restraint.
"O you who believe fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you so that you can learn self restraint". (Quran 2:183)
The Arabic word is Taqwa is translated in many ways including God consciousness, God fearing, piety, and self restraining. Thus we are asked to fast daily for one month from dawn to dusk and avoid food, water, sex and vulgar talk during that period.
But why do we need to fast? It is our experience that temptations and ways of the world tend to spoil out purity and austerity. Thus we indulge in food all of the time, snacking and nibbling the whole day, leading to obesity. We drink too much coffee, or tea, or carbonated drinks. . When we argue, we leave our decency aside and resort to vulgar talk and even physical fighting.
Now when one is fasting, he or she cannot do all of that. When he looks at the mouth watering food, he cannot even taste it and he has to give up snacking and nibbling as well as smoking cigarette if he does. No constant coffee, tea or Coke drinking either. Sexual passions have to be curtailed and when he is provoked to fight, he says "I am fasting that I cannot respond to your provocation".
To achieve God consciousness or God nearness, a better word, we are advised to do additional prayer and read the Quran. The medical benefits of fasting include lowering blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and a small reduction in weight and psychological tranquility. These effects will last if the lessons learned during Ramadan are carried after Ramadan is over.
Fasting is a special act of worship which is only between humans and God since no one else knows for sure if this person is actually fasting. Thus God says in hadith qudsi that "Fasting is for Me and I only will reward it". In another hadith, the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) has said "If one does not give up falsehoods in words and actions, God has no need of him giving up food and drink".
courtesy: Ali Hassan Jarchavi
The article has been edited for this website.
Laws and Virtues Pertaining to the Month of Ramadân, Sadaqatul Fitr
Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wa alehi wasallam said: "On the first night of Ramadân, the Shayateen (devils) and the rebellious jinnat are imprisoned. All the doors of Jahannam (hell) are closed and all the doors of Jannah are opened. A caller calls out, "O seeker of good, advance and O seeker of evil, refrain (from evil). Many people are emancipated from Jahannam by Allah Ta'ala and this takes place every night." (Tirmizi, Ibn Majah)
Similarly Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wa alehi wasallam has stated: "The person that keeps fast with conviction and hope of reward, all his past sins are forgiven and the person that makes qiyâm (remains awake for ibâdat) on the Night of Power (Laylatul Qadr) with firm conviction and hope of reward will have all his past sins forgiven."
(Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)
Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wa alehi wasallam also mentioned that Allah says: "The reward for good deeds of the son of Adam (alaihis salâm) are multiplied between ten and seven hundred times besides fasting, as fasting is for Me, and I will grant its recompense (in accordance to My status). The fasting person discards his passions and eating for My sake. The fasting person experiences two occasions of happiness - one at the time of iftâr (terminating the fast)
and the second at the time of meeting Allah Ta'ala, and the smell that emerges from the mouth of a fasting person is more precious in the sight of Allah than the fragrance of musk. Fasting is a shield. When a person is fasting, he should not utter any obscene utterance nor should he quarrel. If anyone does quarrel or initiate an argument then say: "I am fasting." (
Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)
Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam has also mentioned: "This is the month of blessings. In it lies the Night of Power (Laylatul Qadr) which is more virtuous than a thousand months. Allah has made it's (the month of Ramadân's) fasting fard and the qiyâm (standing) of the night (i.e. tarâwîh) nafl (i.e. a practise of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam). In this month the reward of a nafl (optional) action equals that of a fard (obligatory practise) and one fard action equals seventy fard actions in reward. In this month a believer's rizq (sustenance) is increased. A person that feeds a fasting person, his sins will be forgiven and he will be freed from Jahannum and he will receive the same reward as that of the fasting person. This reward is attained by merely giving a sip of milk or water or one piece of date. Whoever fed a fasting person, Allah shall grant the giver to drink from my haud (fountain), a drink after which that person shall never feel thirsty again until he enters jannah." (Mishkât)
It is sunnah to partake of Sehri. Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam said:
"Eat sehri, as in it lies great blessings." (Sahih Bukhari) The difference in our fasting and that of the Ahlul Kitab (Jews and Christians) lies in the partaking of food at the time of sehri. (Sahih Muslim) This sunnah may also be achieved by merely eating one or two morsels or having something to drink. The sunnah time for sehri is the last portion of the night, whereas to hasten with iftâr is sunnah. When a person clearly comes to know of the setting of the sun,
he should commence with his iftâr. He should not delay. It is preferable to break one's fast with dates, otherwise with water as this is also a cleanser.
The dua at the time of iftâr is:
"O Allah, for You have I fasted and upon Your sustenance I break my fast." (Sunan Abi Dawood)
To make an intention is a pre-requisite for fasting. To make this intention from the night is preferable. However, the fast of Ramadân will be valid even if a person made his intention before the passing of half the day.
Abstaining from Sin
Whilst fasting, special importance should be given to abstain from sin. It is stated in a hadith that "the person who does not abstain from evil acts and speaking lies, Allah is not in need of his fast. (Sahih Bukhari)
Backbiting, slandering, arguments, not guarding one's eyes from looking at evil, bad thoughts, shaving or trimming of the beard and allowing one's trouser or garments to cover the ankles. One should abstain from all these types of sins especially in the month of Ramadân. If a person gives due importance to refrain from these sins in the month of Ramadân, then it is hoped that it will become easy for him to refrain from them throughout the year. The objective of fasting is to inculcate the quality of taqwa (piety) as Allah mentions in the Quran: "So that you attain piety." A person refrains from eating and drinking for the sake of Allah for a stipulated time, but how foolish will it not be to refrain from those things which are always harâm (forbidden).
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