Ramadan Advice – Part 2

DEGREES OF FAST:

 Imam Al Ghazali teaches us that the fast has levels. Part of our journey to Allah subhanuwata’ala is to realise who we are, and what we want to be, and once we become knowledgeable of who we are and what we want to be, we can leave the old self, and practice how we wish to, accordingly.

 Imam Al Ghazali teaches us that there are three levels:

 THE FAST OF THE AWAM (layman)

To abstain from food, drink, and marital relations, by guarding the stomach and genitals, from that which they desire. The fast of the layman does not go beyond this, and every one of their actions is exactly like it was before Ramadhan. The layman fasts to save himself from Hell. It’s not about love, it’s not about commitment, and it’s not about fasting because Allah deserves to be worshipped. The layman is not concerned with that. This is the vast majority of our community.

 THE FAST OF THE HAWAS (elite)

To abstain from sin by guarding the hearing, eye sight, tongue, and limbs from evil acts. Those of the elite, guard their external limbs to protect their internal senses. They consider lying during the fast, breaks it. To say a bad word, breaks the fast, and often they would repeat their fast because even though their outward form of the fast is perfect, they felt that their inner reality stripped the reward of the fast, and so they would fast again in hope that this would compensate the inner-indiscretions. Their focus is Allah’s Pleasure, to be in His Rahma, in His Light. The elite go beyond the wajib – they make the Sunnah, wajib for themselves. Many say that the elite are the saaliheen and are those that have devoted their life entirely to Allah subhanuwata’ala.

 THE FAST OF THE HAWAS OF THE HAWAS (the elect from the elite)

To abstain from all other than Allah, Exalted be He, by guarding the heart from worldly thoughts. These people are chosen from the baraka of their good deeds – they are the auliya. Their concern is to rid the heart completely, of any thought concerning the world. The fast of the elect would consider their fast broken if their heart glanced at anything other than Allah and took pleasure from it. Their fast would break if anything other than Allah crossed their mind and heart. Their lives are all about the Divine, in everything they do. Their lives mean nothing to them if it is not attached to Allah subhanuwata’ala.

 FASTING; OUTER FORM, INNER REALITY:

 THE OUTER FORM is the fiqh taken from the Sunnah (covered in the next class)

 THE INNER REALITY, scholars tell us that when the inner is rectified, the outer rectifies by default. If done the other way around, it becomes two jihads because the correction of the outer does not correct the inner. The secret of the outer, is its inner. The outer does not last and the inner is who we are. While our bodies are being eaten in the grave, our soul continues to live. The outer, is the fast of the layman.

 Imam Al Ghazali tells us to, ‘take care of our soul, take care of our soul, take care of our soul’. It is our soul that makes us human, not the body. We share our form with everything else that has form in creation, animals, trees, etc, but we have been made for more and when you neglect yourself, you either become abase, ruled by your appetites, or you become empty. The inner form manifests on the outer, so your love and attachment and your sincerity to Allah subhanuwata’ala, manifests on the outer. The fast of the elite and the elect, are from the inner realities of fasting.

 Ibn Ata’illah in his Kitab al-Hikam said “Actions are erect forms and their soul is the existence of sincerity within them”. Meaning, without sincerity, you are like a statue, cold, lifeless, without feeling for Allah subhanuwata’ala. Take a look at the prayer in our lives; it is erect like a statue. The Prophet salAllahu alaihi wasalam said that there will come a time that the only benefit the prayer will bring is exercise.

 How is it that we rid ourselves of this sadness and this emptiness of form? By infusing sincerity, proximity, and having God consciousness. This would not allow you to get it wrong. Your actions are nothing except outer forms, without this.

“Many of those fasting take nothing from their fasts except for hunger and thirst” – The Messenger salAllahu alaihi wasalam (Ahmad and Ibn Majah).

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