Imam Zaid Shakir's Ramadan Motivator Speech

Imam Zaid Shakir
Imam Zaid Shakir delivers a talk on Ramadan at the Islamic Society of Britain's Living Islam 2011 festival.

A brief transcript is included for this video.

Link to video {}

"(Du`a) As-salam`alaykum,
An American poet, Robert Frost wrote a poem,
'Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow [...]

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Indeed, I'd like to stay here with you and enjoy ourselves, but there are promises to keep, which is why I have to go immediately to Sheffield for a programme after this (conference at Living Islam).

The month of Ramadan is the month in which the Qur'an has been revealed. Qur'an is a guidance for Muslims, it is a means to prayer, to worshipping God. The significance of the month is therefore a connective between the difference elements we read about. We read about the revelation itself in the Qur'an. Elsewhere we read about taqwah (Qur'an, 2:185) - that fasting is connected to God consciousness, which translates into a willingness to fulfil His orders.

Ramadan is therefore about fasting, taqwah and Qur'an. But what is our relationship with all three? Through fasting we became more accutely aware of Allah's commands. We're voiding those things that were otherwise lawful, that which is ordinarily halal and good for us - the tayyibaat, like drinking cold water at iftar which makes us feel so good when opening the fast.

If we can for one twelfth of the year avoid what is ordinarly good for us, how easy is it to leave those filthy things that are bad for us? And this is how we increase our taqwah. This quality opens up our hearts and illuminates it.

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, "Taqwah is here", pointing to his heart three times.

The conditions of taqwah are to affect our heart. Our hearts become more receptive to the message. Allah says the Qur'an is a guidance for people WITH taqwah. As Ramadan is the month of Qur'an, it's asking us to increase reading, it's a connection between these elements.

The Prophet ﷺ also said, "All of the actions of people are for Allah, and good deeds are multipled up to 700x and more. Excepet fasting, that is for Him."

Fasting is exempted from those multiplied deeds. It's not limited in numerical terms of reward. Fasting involves patience. And patient people have no limit to their reward. Allah says patient people wil be given their reward without measure in Jannah. Fasting lasts an entire month, it's not a 5 minutes salat or a cheque for zakat, or a week for Hajj. That's done, quickly over with. But fasting is for an entire day, not five separate times during the day like prayer.

In England, the summer fasts are longer and will be in the coming years. Someone said to me, 'it's not fair, in Makkah they have shorter days.' Well, our days in winter were short so we're balancing things out, alhamdulillah. Even our fasts are an opportunity to purify ourselves by fasting longer! We remember the words of the Prophet that fasting is half of patience, and "Ramadan is the month of patience".

We're challenged each day in Ramadan. Some days we feel tired, other days we have a headache, cramps and pains. But we persevere. There are hard times, but there are easy times.

Ramadan is a metaphor for our entire life, like our life's journey. As we move, we have easy years, with easy money and fulfilled needs and difficult years where we struggle. We have good friends some years, and for other periods we're lonely. Sometimes our Islam is clicking and some years it's a struggle to hold on to.

The most important thing we need in life and what we need in Ramadan is: PATIENCE.

Insha'Allah we will realise at the end of our lives that we haven't struggled in vain. We didn't miss those opportunities for material gain by investing in interest or indulging in haram business. We gained something better. We passed on the haram and we stayed patient. We don't do all of that in vain without reward. We do it for Allah's pleasure."

Watch part 2 on YouTube {}
Image:: flickr


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