The holy month of Ramadan is here again (1)
“The number of months in the sight of the Almighty is twelve (in a year)- so ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are sacred: that is the straight path; so wrong not yourselves therein, and fight the Pagans all together as they fight you all together. But know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves.” (Q9: 36)
BRETHREN, I should begin this sermon today with a disclaimer: it is not addressed to those who are usually sad once Ramadan is at the corner. It is not meant for those who have become hostages to their bodies. It is not intended for those who are only a step above the realm of the animals: those who eat, drink and engage in excessive, and I should say, perverse sexual relations all in the erroneous belief that that is all there is to life.
Each time Ramadan appears in the corner, this group of people becomes jittery. Each time they hear the following verse being rehearsed they tremble:
“O believers! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you so that you may learn self-restraint. Fast the prescribed number of days; except if any of you is ill or on a journey, then fast a similar number of days later. For those who cannot endure it, there is a ransom: the feeding of one poor person for each missed day. Whoever does more good than this voluntarily, it is better for him. However, if you truly understand the rationale of fasting, it is better for you to fast.” (Q2:183-184)
The extremely vegetative among human beings would, however, see no rationale in fasting. Call him an hypocrite and you would discover gravitas of hypocrisy in him as he goes about pooh-poohing the divine wisdom which makes fasting in the month of Ramadan obligatory on every able Muslim. Each time the verses quoted above are recited by those who constantly derive pleasure in reciting al-Dhikr, the hypocrite begins to experience some trepidation and anxiety. To him, the month of Ramadan is a nemesis. It is a threat from which he frowns and frets; it is seen as plot not a writ for divine redemption nor a pathway to celestial prosperity.
This sermon is, therefore, addressed not to the above but to you – those who usually rejoice with the advent of Ramadan. I hasten to call your attention to the fact that the month of Ramadan is less than two weeks from today. Going by the calendar at my disposal, today is the 18th day of Sha’aban, 1436 A.H. Traditionally, the month of Sha’aban is deemed a holy month because it precedes the holy month of fasting, the month of Ramadan. While it is good to fast some days in this month, it should be borne in mind that such an exercise is essentially for those who are able and capable. Therefore, if one fears that after fasting in Sha’aban, he will lose strength or freshness for the fasts of Ramadan he should not fast in Sha’aban. This is because fasting in Ramadan is obligatory, while fasting in other days of the lunar calendar is optional. Our leader, may the peace and blessings of Allah be on his soul, in an hadith reported by Abu Hurayrah, says: “Do not fast after the first half of the month of Sha’aban is gone.” In another tradition, he is reported to have said as follows: “Do not precede the month of Ramadan with one or two fasts.”
Brethren, if it is consensual that today is the 18th day of the month of Sha’aban, 1436 years after the migration of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, (upon him the choicest blessings and mercies of Allah) from Makkah to Madinah, it means, therefore, that the month of Ramadan would begin in less than two weeks from today depending on the sighting of the moon and the location of each Muslim community across the world. Since the month of Ramadan is not an ordinary one, it is important that we prepare adequately for it.
In other words, the month of Ramadan is a month of spiritual examination and training. It is a month of high social and communal value. Ramadan helps you discover the human in you, the same way it awakens your spiritual potentials. Ramadan comes to bond the individual to and with his community; it functions in waking the community up to its strength in the individual.
Ramadan frees Muslims from their appetitive and vegetative bondages; it raises them up to such heights as are open only to the angels and the chosen ones among the servants of the Almighty. If humanity gets to know of its huge blessings, so goes the tradition, they would have requested the Almighty to make fasting a whole year, not just a month or twenty-nine days, as is presently the case.
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK
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