Friday Nasiha: Fasting With Qur'an, Easy Obligations And Tools Of Hope

Friday Nasiha - Weekly Reminders for Successful Life
This week's Friday Nasiha gives advice on how to make Qur'an your focal point in Ramadan; why Prophet Muhammad ﷺ nurtured gentleness in Islam's obligations; and the power of the Tasmiyah - bismillah.

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Living the Qur'an
Centre of Life
Al Baqara, The Cow (Qur'an, 2:183)

"O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you, that you may become righteous."
(Qur'an, 2:183)

Fasting, in one form or another, has always been an important and often necessary part of religious life, discipline and experience in every faith. As a means par excellence to come nearer to God, to discipline the self, to develop the strength to overcome the temptations of flesh, it needs no emphasis. Yet Islam turns fasting, as it does every other act of worship and devotion, into something different and unique, the life-giving centre of life.

How does it impart new meaning and force to Fasting?

Put simply: by prescribing for it the time of Ramadan. This may sound like making things too simplistic, or trivializing the important. But Ramadan is no trivial event. For it is the month ‘in which was sent down the Qur'an: the Guidance for mankind, with manifest truths of guidance and the Criterion [by which to judge the true and the false’ (Al-Baqarah 2:185). It was on a night in Ramadan that the last Divine message began to come down: ‘Read in the name of your Lord...’ (Al-`Alaq 96:1). That is why we must fast in Ramadan, says the Qur'an.

Ramadan therefore centres the entire discipline of Fasting on the Qur'an. The sole purpose is to prepare us for receiving the Divine guidance, for living the Qur'an, for witnessing the Truth and Justice that it perfects, for striving to make the word of God supreme.

How is this purpose achieved?

The fruit of Fasting ought to be that rich inner and moral quality which the Qur'an calls taqwa. The most basic condition for being guided by the God, too, is taqwa. The significance is plain to see. Fasting, linked to Ramadan in which Allah’s guidance came down, generates a taqwa which becomes directed on the supreme goal of entering the world of the Qur'an and of living therein, instead of being a spiritual ecstasy to be frittered away in the delights of soul. It becomes the key with which can be unlocked all the doors leading to the blessings which the Qur'an has to offer; honour, prosperity and freedom from fear and anxiety in this-world; success, Paradise and God’s good pleasure in the life-to-come. No time for Fasting other than Ramadan could have made taqwa such a potent force.

More importantly, the fulfillment of being guided by the Qur'an comes about when we strive to discharge the mission it entrusts to us. For, having the Book of God — a weighty word — places on our shoulders a heavy responsibility: to hear is to make it heard, to know is to act, to have is to share, to say shahadah is to do shahadah. This means an unflinching pursuit to create a new self within us, and to create a new world of Quranic ideals outside us.

This is the sole purpose for which a new Ummah was created and charged with the mission of bringing man to God by witnessing to His guidance. Otherwise, when the Qur'an came, the world was not devoid of godly men who fasted, and stood in prayers before God, and wept.

Compiled From:
"No Time Like Ramadan Time" - Khurram Murad

Understanding the Prophet's Life
Making Obligations Easy

The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him), hated to let his Companions nurture a pointless feeling of guilt. He kept telling them that they must never stop conversing with the One, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful who welcomes everyone in His grace and benevolence and who loves the sincerity of hearts that regret and return to Him. This is the profound meaning of at-tawbah offered to everyone: sincerely returning to God after a slip, a mistake, a sin. God loves that sincere return to Him and He forgives and purifies.

The Prophet ﷺ himself exemplified that in many circumstances. Once, a Bedouin came and urinated in the mosque: the companions rushed on him and wanted to beat him up. The Prophet ﷺ stopped them and said: "Leave him alone, and just throw a bucketful of water on his urine. God has only sent you to make obligations easy, and not to make them difficult." (Bukhari)

Aishah reports that once, a man came to the Prophet ﷺ and told him: “I am lost!” The Prophet ﷺ asked: "Why?" The man confessed: "I had intercourse with my wife during the fasting hours of Ramadan." Prophet Muhammad ﷺ answered: "Give charity!" The man replied: "I own nothing!" Then he sat down at a short distance from the Prophet ﷺ. Some time later, a man arrived, bringing a dish of food. The Prophet ﷺ called out: "Where is the man who is lost?" "Here," he answered. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ told him: "Take this food and give it away in charity." "To one poorer than myself? My family has nothing to eat!" "Well then, eat it yourselves," the Prophet ﷺ replied with a smile. (Bukhari and Muslim)

That gentleness and kindness were the very essence of his teaching. He kept saying:
"God is gentle (Rafîq) and he loves gentleness (ar-rifq) in everything." (Bukhari and Muslim)

He ﷺ also said: "He gives for gentleness what He does not give for violence or anything else." (Bukhari) He declared to one of his companions: "There are in you two qualities that God loves: clemency (al-hilm) and forbearance [nobleness, tolerance] (al-anâ)." (Muslim) He invited all his companions to that constant effort of gentleness and forgiveness.

Compiled From:
"The Invocation of God" - Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, pp. 33, 34

Tool of Hope

"Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Raheem" (In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful) is a benediction with which every Muslim should commence any task, in order to receive the blessings of Allah. When these words are uttered with intention and full understanding, the following benefits are obtained:

     1) The person becomes aware that the work to be done should not be against the orders of Allah.

     2) The person receives encouragement and is given inspiration from Allah's two great virtues - Graciousness and Mercy. He/she receives the blessings of Allah and is, thus, saved from temptation.

Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Raheem is the most powerful tool of hope for all Muslims and should be recognised as such. As long as Muslims realise that they have Allah to turn to in times of sorrow and to remember in times of joy and happiness, that if they practise the requirements of Islam to the best of their ability, they have grasped the true spirit of this magnificent phrase.

Compiled From:
"Words That Moved the World" - Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad, pp. 16-20


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