Ramadan Advice – Part 3

SO WHAT IS THE POINT OF THE FAST? :

When we understand the act of Ibadah, then you will find the light and the beauty of the act of ibadah and it becomes a pleasure to perform;

 THE WISDOM:

 It protects the senses:

Look at the fast of the elite. The senses are protected from ugliness on a personal and collective level – yourself, your families are protected, your neighbour is protected, your community is protected. And it is through this protection, you start to beautify what goes in – through your tongue, your eyes, your ears, etc.

 It teaches one patience and fortitude:

“Patience is half of faith” – The Prophet salAllahu alaihi wasalam. The Deen is acquired through patience. Through patience we learn fortitude – both are learned through the virtue of the other.

 Increases one in gratitude:

“Half of faith is gratitude” – The Prophet salAllahu alaihi wasalam. The scholars say that because of both narrations, whoever has conquered both patience and gratitude, has conquered the Deen in its entirety. Fatema Az Zahra visited her father salAllahu alaihi wasalam one night, and she visited him with a heavy heart because she put her sons to bed crying, because they were hungry. She did not visit her blessed father to complain, but to take advice. The Prophet salAllahu alaihi wasalam asked her to harness to patience and to return home, and everything will be good, because the faithful are tested. But after she leaves, the Prophet salAllahu alaihi wasalam comes out of his house and raises his hands and asks Allah, “O Allah, You bear witness that the house of Muhammad is hungry”. The Prophet salAllahu alaihi wasalam says nothing but this, because the Knowledge of Allah is sufficient for him. It is narrated that either Angel Gibrael alaihi salaam or one of the Angels under him in charge of provision, descends and says to the Prophet salAllahu alaihi wasalam, “Allah asks you to choose” – to choose between wealth or poverty. And there is nothing wrong with either as Prophets have been sent having both – Sayyidina Suleiman and Dawud alaihi salaam had vast worldly kingdoms and command over them, and over the unseen – the jinn, and even the winds. Whereas Sayyidina ‘Isa alaihi salaam was reported to have had only two things – a comb and a cup. And when walking by a man who was combing his hair using his fingers, Sayyidina Isa looked at his comb and gave it to him. When he came to a well and saw that someone was drinking out of it, he looked at his cup and gave it to him. It is narrated that when Allah subhanuwata’ala took ‘Isa alaihi salaam back, he left this world without actually owning anything. The Messenger salAllahu alaihi wasalam was given a choice, and he said that he chose to fast the fast of Dawud alaihi salam, so that he could experience poverty on one day, and gratitude on the other. It is very difficult in the 21st century world that we live in, to experience either, but as soon as something is taken away, like our health or our wealth, only then we appreciate. But the Prophet salAllahu alaihi wasalam teaches us balance through patience and gratitude – not complete abstinence so that we can never know what it is to be grateful, and not complete indulgence, so that we can never know patience. The prophet salAllahu alaihi wasalam said that there are two happinesses for the fasting one; the first elation is when he breaks his fast, and the second elation is when he meets Allah subhanuwata’ala knowing that he has reached Him having fasted for His sake.

 Increases one in generosity:

Why? Because when you come to break your fast, you are ashamed for the person you have become – that you are so dependent on food when the vast majority of the world is in abject poverty. At least you get to break your fast on food, and clean water, and you are healthy. That is why it is a fard to pay the Zakat at the end of the fast because by that time, you should have increased in generosity through realising how lucky you are and how much provision you have compared to most people around the world. Therefore, observing the fard of the zakat shouldn’t be a problem because your soul should have awakened to the fact that you don’t need as much as you thought and therefore surely, you have enough to give. Your nafs will tell you that you need the excess that you have and the shaytan puts poverty in your mind – in case, in case, in case, and you become essentially, miserly on false ideas.

 Helps one experience poverty:

Practice is very different to theory. Experiential knowledge is vastly different to theoretical knowledge. Even if you see poverty on TV, you can return to your full plate of food (if not eating it while watching) and you go back to your usual ways of the self, your heart doesn’t really move. But with fasting, you have food in your fridge, but you cannot eat it; there may be food on the table, but you cannot eat it. Even water – you can’t have it at all. Fasting brings you the experiential knowledge.

Teaches you about yourself (one’s ability to submit):

The strange thing about fasting is that it is very difficult to fast outside of Ramadhan. But Ramadan throws you into obligation which is the only time you learn that your life outside of Ramadan, is essentially, excessive and unnecessary. Ramadhan breaks you, and teaches you about your ability to submit. We must ask ourselves then, why can’t we perfect acts of worship outside of Ramadhan? You know it can be done, because you have the ability to do it when it is prescribed.

Helps one conquer the nafs – the carnal desire through discipline:

The nafs will tell you; O I can’t be bothered, or, let me have one last slice of that chocolate cake; etc. The carnal desire will call to impatience during times of hardship and ingratitude in times of ease. It calls to evil. And it’s not just one of the many callers, it is THE dominant caller and it goes on, round the clock, 24 hours. It is in your sleep, in your day to day living, in everything you do. Fasting subsides your nafs. The stomach and genitals are the two hardest desires to break. RE – Imam Al Ghazali’s volumes on these two carnal desires, despite all other carnal desires. But fasting teaches you.  The stomach and genitals are deprived and weakened, and when they are weakened, they cannot be bothered to satisfy themselves. This should teach you that you can overcome any issues you may have for the rest of the year, ie your bad habits of lying, etc, etc, that, you can conquer your bad habits because you abstained from the most essential part of your physical survival, food and water.

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