Sunday, October 30, 2005

Ramadhan - about to come to the end.


Remaining Steadfast After Ramadhaan
Shaykh Saleh Al-Fouzan
Ahadith Us-Siyaam: Ahkaam wa Adab © Huda Ramadhaan 1419AH

Sufyaan ibn `Abdillaah radhiallahu `anhu said: "O Messenger of Allah, tell me something about Islaam, which I cannot ask anyone else besides you." He said: "Say: 'I believe in Allah' and then be steadfast (upon that)." [Saheeh Muslim (38)]

The hadeeth is proof that the servant is obligated, after having eemaan in Allah, to persevere and be steadfast upon obeying Him by performing the obligatory acts and avoiding the prohibited ones. This is achieved by following the Straight Path, which is the firm Religion without drifting away from it, to the right or to the left.

If the Muslim lives through Ramadhaan and spent his days in fasting and his nights in prayer and he accustomed himself to doing acts of good, then he must continue to remain upon this obedience to Allah at all times. This is the true state of the slave, for indeed, the Lord of the months is One and He is ever watchful and witnessing over his servants at all times.

Indeed, steadfastness after Ramadhaan and the rectification of one's statements and actions are the greatest signs that one has gained benefit from the month of Ramadhaan and striven in obedience. They are tokens of reception and signs of success.

Furthermore, the deeds of a servant do not come to an end with the end of a month and the beginning of another, rather they continue and extend until he reaches death. Allah says: "And worship your Lord until the certainty (death) comes to you." [al-Hijr: 99]

If the fasting of Ramadhaan comes to an end, then indeed the voluntary fasting is still prescribed throughout the entire year. If standing in prayer at night during Ramadhaan comes to an end, then indeed, the entire year is a time for performing the night prayer. And if the Zakaat-ul-Fitr comes to an end, then there is still the Zakaah that is obligatory as well as the voluntary charity that lasts the whole year. This goes the same for reciting the Qur'aan and pondering over its meaning as well as every other righteous deed that is sought, for they can be done at all times. From the many bounties that Allah has bestowed upon his servants is that He has placed for them many different types of righteous acts and provided many means for doing good deeds. Therefore, the ardor and zeal of the Muslim must be constant and he must continue to remain in the service of his Lord.

It is unfortunate to find that some people perform worship by doing different types of righteous deeds during Ramadhaan. They guard strictly upon their five daily prayers in the masjid, they recite the Qur'aan a lot and they give in charity from their wealth. But when Ramadhaan comes to an end, they grow lazy in their worship. Rather, sometimes they even abandon the obligations, both generally, such as praying in congregation, and specifically, such as praying the fajr prayer.

And they commit forbidden acts such as sleeping over the time of prayers, indulging in places of foolishness and entertainment, and mingling in parks, especially on the day of `Eed. Obtaining help from these evils is only through the grace of Allah. Thus, they demolish what they have constructed and destroy what they have established. This is an indication of deprivation and a sign of perdition. We ask Allah for His safeguarding and protection.

Indeed, this type of people take the example of turning in repentance and ceasing from committing evil deeds as something specific and restricted to the month of Ramadhaan. And they stop doing these (good) acts when the month stops. Thus, it is as if they have abandoned sinning for the sake of Ramadhaan, and not out of fear of Allah. How evil are these people who do not know Allah, except in Ramadhaan!

Truly, the success that Allah grants His servant lies in the fasting of Ramadhaan. His assisting him to do that is a great favor, thus the calls for the servant to be grateful to his Lord. This understanding can be found in the statement of Allah after completing the favor of the month of fasting:

"(He wants that you) must complete the same number of days, and that you must magnify Allah (by saying Allahu Akbar) for having guided you, so that you may be grateful to Him." [2:185]

The one who is grateful for having fasted, will remain upon that condition and continue to perform righteous deeds.

Verily, the true way of the Muslim is that of one who praises and thanks his Lord for giving him the ability to fast and make qiyaam. His condition after Ramadhaan is better than it was before Ramadhaan. He is more receptive to obey, desiring to do good deeds and quick to enforce the obligatory acts. This is because he has gained benefit form this prominent institute of learning. It is that of one who fears for having his fast not accepted, for indeed Allah only accepts from those who fear Him.

The righteous predecessors would struggle to complete and perfect their deeds, hoping afterwards, that it would be accepted and fearing that it would be rejected. From the reports of `Alee, "Be more concerned with having your deeds accepted than the deed itself. Did you not hear Allah say: 'Verily Allah, only accepts those from those who fear Him. (i.e. possess taqwaa).' [5:27] "[Lataa'if ul Ma`aarif, p. 246]

`Aa'ishah said: "I asked the Messenger of Allah concerning the ayah: 'And the one who are given what they are given and their hearts tremble with fear.' Are they the ones who drink alcohol and steal?" He said: "No, o daughter of as-Siddeeq. Rather, they are the ones who fast and pray and give in charity yet fear that it won't be accepted from them. They are the ones who rush to do good deeds and they are the first to do them." [Saheeh Sunan at-Tirmidhee 3/79-80]

So be warned and again be warned of turning backward after having attained guidance of going astray after persevering. And ask Allah to provide you with duration in doing righteous deeds and continuity in performing good acts. And ask Allah that He grant you a good end, so that He may accept our Ramadhaan from us.

To Shout Back

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Friend or Foe?

Friend or Foe? Posted by Picasa

When I look at this photo in Yahoo! today, I keep wondering whether these pictures are those of friends of foe. Those in the photo looks to aggressive to be friends. Anf I understand that they are in a foreign land, univited guest - staying there after invading that land. For a good cause they say. But who can really vouch for that - its just who says it and when. And today I read that 2000 of these 'invaders' have been killed. But has anyone kept record of the body count of the local population killed by these 'invaders' directly or indirectly?

And the mosque in the background, loooks intact. I hope it will remain that way untill these 'invaders' leave - if they will ever leave!

Its the fasting month now and as a MuslimI should not be saying all these, I should not even be suspicious of their being there as uninvited 'guest' in that country.

Allahu-akbar! Allahu-akbar! Allahu-akbar!.

To Shout Back

Thursday, October 20, 2005

My mood and my mind

Going through my hard disks, I realized that I have downloaded many images while surfing the Internet. I don’t really know why I downloaded these images but it depended on my mood at the time. Over a period I saw that I have varied mood. I can download a scene of statues holding up the National Flag (Malaysia by the way), or I can go to the extreme of downloading pictures of beautiful women. Or even I downloaded cartoons, many humorous ones. Or when I felt that women are exploited, like those book covers or the pom-pom girls I download them, just to question myself as to whether that are these really necessary. Why have women in those situations at all? Or I may see half naked women, not obscene but tempting enough I download them. But why images of women? They are smoother than men, for example if you see Arny when he was ‘smooth’ as compared to what he is today. But women can be fat as well. And I may download some cartoon characters where in then original they move about, and when I download them I cannot make them move.

Sometime I think of food or maybe a bunch of roses.

One picture that frightened me was of the dark cloud taken by two different coloured lenses. I presume that was the recent Katrina.

I am blogging them, to remind me of my mood swing. Its funny really, when one sees what rubbish one have collected over period of time. But one picture is worth a thousand words.

What goes on in my mind? Its not the question of that I have done it but why did I do it.

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To Shout Back

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Ramadan in Islamic History


Ramadan In History
By: Sheikh Abdullah Hakim Quick. Ph.D.
The Message - Canada/January 1997

All praises to Allah (SWT), Lord of the worlds. He who revealed in His Glorious Quran, "Oh you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those who came before you that you may keep your duty to your Lord (having taqwa),"2:185. And may blessings and-peace of Allah (SWT) be upon His last Messenger Muhammad ibn Abdullah, forever.

Oh you who believe, Ramadan is a sacred month wherein Almighty Allah (SWT) is constantly testing His creation and giving humanity the opportunity to achieve infinite, endless Bliss. Fasting is a complete purification and a means to developing the consciousness of Allah's (SWT) presence. The consciousness of Allah (SWT), Taqwa, is a protection against the schemes of Shaitan, and the suffering of this world. Allah (SWT) has informed us that, "Whoever keeps his duty to Allah (has taqwa), He ordains a way out for him and gives him sustenance from where he imagines not. And whoever trusts in Allah, He is sufficient for him. Surely Allah attains His purpose. Allah has appointed a measure for everything."(65:2)

Many Muslims today have a misconception about fasting and the activities of a fasting person. They go into a state of semi-hibernation, spending most of their daylight hours in bed. If they fear Allah (SWT) , they wake up for prayer, but then return to sleep immediately. This unnatural sleep makes them become lazy, dull witted and often cranky.

Ramadan is actually a time of increased activity wherein the believer, now lightened of the burdens of constant eating and drinking, should be more willing to strive and struggle for Allah (SWT). The Prophet (pbuh) passes through approximately nine Ramadans after the Hijrah. They were filled with decisive events and left us a shining example of sacrifice and submission to Allah (SWT).

In the first year after the Hijrah, the Prophet (pbuh) sent Hamza ibn Abdul Muttalib with thirty Muslim riders to Saif al Bahr to investigate three hundred riders from Quraish who had camped auspiciously in that area. The Muslims were about to engage the disbelievers, but they were separated by Majdy ibn Umar al-Juhany. The Hypocrites of Al-Madinah, hoping to oppose the unity of the Muslims, built their own masjid (called Masjid al-Direr). The Prophet (pbuh) ordered this masjid to be destroyed in Ramadan.

On the seventeenth of Ramadan, 3 A.H., Almighty Allah (SWT) separated truth from falsehood at the Great Battle of Badr. The Prophet (pbuh) and 313 of his companions set out to intercept a caravan of their own goods that had been left in Makkah. It was led by Abu Sufyan, himself, and estimated at 60,000 dinars. They were met, instead, by a well equipped army of the nobility of Quraish, intent on putting out the light of Islam. Despite being outnumbered three to one and appearing weak and unseasoned, the Muslims defended their faith with a burning desire to protected the Prophet and meet their Lord through martyrdom. Allah (SWT) gave them a decisive victory on this day of Ramadan, that would never to be forgotten.

In 6 A.H., Zaid ibn Haritha was sent to Wadi al-Qura at the head of a detachment to confront Fatimah bint Rabiah, the queen of that area. Fatimah had previously attacked a caravan led by Zaid and had succeeded in plundering its wealth. She was known to be the most protected woman in Arabia, as she hung fifty swords of her close relatives in her home. Fatimah was equally renowned for showing open hostility to Islam. She was killed in a battle against these Muslims in the month of Ramadan.

By Ramadan of 8 A H., the treaty of Hudaibiyya had been broken and the Muslim armies had engaged the Byzantines in the North. Muhammad (pbuh) felt the need to strike a fatal blow to disbelief in the Arabian Peninsula and conquer the city of Mecca. Allah (SWT) had declared His Sanctuary a place of peace, security and religious sanctity. Now the time had come to purify the Kaabah of nakedness and abomination. The Prophet (pbuh) set out with an army having more armed men than Al-Madinah had ever seen before. People were swelling the army's ranks as it moved toward Makkah. The determination of the believers, guided by the Will of Allah (SWT), became so awesome that the city of Makkah was conquered without a battle, on - 20 Ramadan. This was one of the most important dates in Islamic history for after it, Islam was firmly entrenched in the Arabian Peninsula. During the same month and year, after smashing the idols of Makkah, detachments were sent to the major centers of polytheism and al-Lat, Manat and Suwa, some of the greatest idols of Arabia, were destroyed.

Such was the month of Ramadan in the time of the Prophet (pbuh). It was a time of purification, enjoining the good, forbidding evil, and striving hard with one's life and wealth. After the death of the Prophet (pbuh), Muslims carried on this tradition and Allah used the true believers to affect the course of history. Ramadan continued to be a time of great trials and crucial events.

Ninety-two years after the Hujrah, Islam had spread across North Africa, Iran, Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria. Spain was under the tyrannical rule of King Roderic of the Visigoths. Roderic had forced his six million serfs and persecuted Jews to seek the aid of the Muslims of North Africa in order to be delivered. Musa ibn Husair, the Umayyad governor of North Africa, responded by sending his courageous general Tariq ibn Ziyad at the head of 12,000 Berber and Arab troops In Ramadan of that year, they were confronted with a combined Visigoth army of 90,000 Christians led by Roderic, himself, who was seated on a throne of ivory silver, and precious gems and drawn by white mules. After burning his boats, Tariq preached to the Muslims warning them that and Paradise lay ahead of them and defeat and the sea to the rear. They burst with great enthusiasm and Allah (SWT) manifested a clear victory over the forces of disbelief. Not only was Roderic and his forces completely annihilated, but Tariq and Musa succeeded in liberating whole of Spain, Sicily and of France. This was the begining of the Golden Age of Al-Andalus where Muslims ruled for over 700 years.

In the year 682 A.H., Salahuddin al-Ayyubi, after battling with the Crusaders for years, finally drove them out of Syria and the whole of their occupied lands in the month of Ramadan. The Muslim world was then destined to meet one of its most frightening challenges.

In the seventh century A.H. the Mongols were sweeping across Asia destroying everything that lay in their path Genghis Khan called himself "the scourge of God sent to punish humanity for their sins. "In 617 A.H. Samarkand, Ray, And Hamdan were put to the sword causing more than 700,000 people to be killed or made captive. In 656 A.H. Hulagu, the grandson of Genghis Khan, continued this destruction. Even Baghdad, the leading city of the Muslim world, was sacked. Some estimates say that as many as 1,800,000 Muslims were killed in this awesome carnage. The Christians were asked to eat pork and drink wine openly while the surviving Muslims were forced to participate in drinking bouts. Wine was sprinkled in the masjids and no Azan (call to prayer) was allowed. In the wake of such a horrible disaster and with the threat of the whole Muslim world. and then Europe being subjected to the same fate, Allah (SWT) raised up from the Mamluks of Egypt, Saifuddin Qutz, who, united the Muslim army and met the Mongols at Ain Jalut on 26th Ramadan, 468 A.H. Although they were under great pressure, the Muslims with the help of Allah (SWT), cunning strategy and unflinching bravery, crushed the Mongol army and reversed this tidal wave of horror. The whole of the civilized world sighed in relief and stood in awe at the remarkable achievement of these noble sons of Islam.

This was the spirit of Ramadan that enabled our righteous forefathers to face seemingly impossible challenges. It was a time of intense activity, spending the day in the saddle and the night in prayer while calling upon Allah (SWT) for His mercy and forgiveness.

Today, the Muslim world is faced with drought, military aggression, widespread corruption and tempting materialism. Surely we are in need of believers who can walk in the footsteps of our beloved Prophet (pbuh),the illustrious Sahabah, Tariq ibn Ziyad, Qutuz, Salahuddin and the countless heroes of Islam. Surely we are in need of believers who are unafraid of the threats of the disbelievers, yet kind and humble to the believing people; Muslims whose fast is complete and not just a source of hunger and thirst.

May Allah (SWT) raise up a generation of Muslims who can carry Islam to all corners of the globe in a manner that befits our age, and may He give us the strength and the success to lay the proper foundations for them. May Allah (SWT) make us of those who carry out our Islam during Ramadan and after it, and may He not make us of those who say what they do not do. Surely Allah (SWT) and His Angels invoke blessings and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad. Oh you who believe send blessings and peace to him forever.

To Shout Back

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Pestles in Malay society

Pestles Posted by Picasa

These are pestles, the Malays use them and the Thais (I understand) also use them. I am not sure about other people. Don’t really know who started using them. The Malays, as far as I know uses them to pounce their ‘sambal’ in them. “Sambal’ is a concoction odd semi-soft food staff in which chili is added to give the whole semi-solid mixture the ‘hot’ taste. And most Malays love them. The most famous in Malaysia is of course the Malay ‘sambal belacan’#, a sort of mixture of saltish prawn paste concoction that you pick up (using hands and while having your rice meals) with ‘ulam’; the raw green vegetable, used as appetiser with your rice dishes. And green raw vegetables (and ‘ulam’) have their own food goodness in them.

#Belacan (or sometimes spell as belachan) is a Malay condiment prepared from fermented shrimp. Some may descibe it as “Notoriously pungent, belacan is used as an ingredient in many dishes, or eaten on its own with rice.” But I would decribe is as “ Reddish brown shrimp paste and smells just a bit better than Gorgonzola cheese.”

But sometimes the Malays use the pestles to soften staff like dried squids or hard ‘ulam’ like old fruit of ‘jering’ (Pithecellobium jiringa),
jering Posted by Picasa

a sort of seed they eat also used as “ulam’.

Very useful really this pestles device to the Malays. Most cannot live without them.

And I presume the Thais also use them for the same thing.

A drawback about using this pestles thing by the Malays is that when they live (and they tend to now especially those who have migrated to the towns and Cities) in apartments (or even condos) they still want to use the device for making their ‘sambal’, whereas they can easily use electrically driven food mixer. But they insist, “The ‘sambal’ does not taste the same” they say. You can imagine the noise the device creates when these Malays start pounding on them in their kitchen in an apartment (or a condo). When they lived in their own ‘kampong’ houses, it was alright as nobody really cares and also these houses are far apart. But in an apartment the noise will echo through the whole structure making all the neighbouring units hearing (and sharing the noise) the noise. Of course the person pounding will not realise this. If only they know. One of the mitigating mean to avoid the ‘spread’ of the noise is to pounce on a thick piece of cloth or on a soft sponge. But how many such Malay housewives realise this?

When it comes to this situation, sometimes one has to politely tell the creator of the noise or sometimes just live with (and get used to) the noise. But when they start pounding in early morning preparing for breakfast or late at night for their late dinner or even at 4.00 in the morning preparing meals for their early school going children, (or cooking for the night last meal during the fasting month of Ramadan) then can one tolerate it? It’s a social wake up call for a change.

To Shout Back

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Ramadan Lesson Learnt


Important Lessons From Ramadan
Al-Istiqaamah, Ramadan 1417 AH

Allah – the Most High – said: "The month of Ramadaan in which the Qur’aan was revealed, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance of the Criterion between right and wrong. So whosoever of you sights the crescent for the month of Ramadaan, he must fast that month." [Soorah al-Baqarah 2:185]

Allah’s Messenger, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, said:

"Islaam is built upon five: Testifying that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establishing the Prayer, giving the Zakaah, performing Hajj to the House, and fasting in Ramadaan." (1)

He sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said:

"There has come to you Ramadaan, a blessed month, in which Allah has made it obligatory to fast. During it the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hellfire are closed, and the rebellious devils are chained. In it is a night (Laylatul-Qadr) which is better than a thousand months. He who is deprived of its good truly has been deprived." (2)

From the many important lessons to be learnt from fasting are:

[1] Gaining Taqwaa

Fasting has been legislated in order that we may gain taqwaa, as Allah – the Most High – said: "O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed upon those before you in order that you may attain taqwaa." [Soorah al-Baqarah 2:183]

Talq ibn Habeeb (d. 100H) – rahimahullah – said:

"When fitnah (trial and tribulation) appears then extinguish it with taqwaa." So he was asked as to what taqwaa was, so he replied: "Taqwaa to act in obedience to Allah, upon a light (i.e. eemaan, faith) from Allah, hoping in the Mercy of Allah. And taqwaa is leaving the acts of disobedience to Allah, upon a light from Allah, due to the fear of Allah." (3)

This is one of the best definitions of taqwaa. For every action must have both a starting point and a goal. And an action will not be considered as an act of obedience, or nearness to Allah, unless it starts from pure eemaan (faith in Allah). Thus it is pure eemaan – and not habits, desires, nor seeking praise or fame, nor its like – that should be what initiates the action. And the [goal of the] action should be to earn the reward of Allah and to seek His good pleasure." (4) So fasting is a means of attaining taqwaa, since it helps prevent from many sins that one is prone to. Due to this, the Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said: "Fasting is a shield with which the servant protects himself from the Fire." (5) So we should ask ourselves, after each day of fasting: Has this fasting made us more fearful and obedient to Allah? Has it aided us in distancing ourselves from sins and disobedience?

[2] Seeking Nearness to Allah

The Prophet sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam said:

"Allah said: Whosoever shows enmity to a friend of Mine, I shall be at war with him. My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more beloved to Me than the obligatory duties that I have placed upon him. My servant continues to draw nearer to Me with optional deeds so that I shall love him." (6)

The Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said:

"Whosoever reaches the month of Ramadaan and does not have his sins forgiven, and so enters the fire, then may Allah distance him." (7)

So drawing closer to Allah – the Most Perfect – in this blessed month, can be achieved by fulfilling one’s obligatory duties; and also reciting the Qur’aan and reflecting upon its meanings, increasing in kindness and in giving charity, in making du`aa (supplication) to Allah, attending the taraweeh Prayer, seeking out Laylatul-Qadr (the Night of Power and Pre-Decree), a night which is better than a thousand months, attending gatherings of knowledge, and striving in those actions that will cause the heart to draw closer to its Lord and to gain His forgiveness. Our level of striving in this blessed month should be greater than our striving to worship Allah in any other month, due to the excellence and rewards that Allah has placed in it. Likewise from the great means of seeking nearness to Allah in this month is making I`tikaaf (seclusion in the mosque in order to worship Allah) – for whoever is able.

Imam ibn al-Qayyim (d. 751H) – rahimahullah – said:

"Allah also prescribed I`tikaaf for them, the objective being that the heart becomes fully preoccupied with Allah – the Most High – concentrated upon Him alone, and cut-off from being preoccupied with the creation. Rather, the heart is only engrossed with Allah – the Most Perfect – such that loving Him, remembering Him, and turning to Him takes the place of all the heart’s anxieties and worries, so that he is able to overcome them. Thus all his concerns are for Allah, and his thoughts are all directed towards remembering Him and thinking of how to attain His Pleasure and what will cause nearness to Him and what leads him to feel contended with Allah instead of people. This in turn prepares him for being at peace with Allah alone, on the day of loneliness in the grave, when there will be no one else to give comfort, nor anyone to grant solace, except Him. So this is the greater goal of I`tikaaf. (8)

[3] Acquiring Patience

Imaam Ahmad (d.241H) – rahimahullah – said:

"Allah has mentioned sabr (patience) in over ninety places in His Book." (9)

The Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said:

"The month of Patience, and the three days of every month, are times for fasting." (10)

Ibn `Abdul-Barr (d.464H) – rahimahullah – said:

"What is meant by the month of Patience is the month of Ramadan …So fasting is called patience because it restrains the soul from eating drinking, conjugal relations and sexual desires." (11)

He sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said:

"O youths! Whoever amongst you is able to marry, then let him do so; for it restrains the eyes and protects the private parts. But whoever is unable, then let him fast, because it will be a shield for him." (12)

So fasting is a means of learning self-restraint and patience. With patience we are able to strengthen our resolve to worship Allah alone, with sincerity, and also cope with life’s ups and downs. So – for example – with patience we are able to perform our Prayers calmly and correctly, without being hasty, and without merely pecking the ground several times! With patience we are able to restrain our souls from greed and stinginess and thus give part of our surplus wealth in Zakaah (obligatory charity). With patience we are able to subdue the soul’s ill temperament, and thus endure the ordeal and hardships of Hajj, without losing tempers and behaving badly. Likewise, with patience we are able to stand firm and fight Jihaad against the disbelievers, hypocrites and heretics – withstanding their constant onslaught, without wavering and buckling, without despairing or being complacent, and without becoming hasty and impatient at the first sings of hardship. Allah – the Most High – said: "O Prophet, urge the Believers to fight … So if there are one hundred who are patient, they shall overcome two hundred; and if there be one thousand, they shall overcome two thousand, by the permission of Allah. And Allah is with the patient ones." [Soorah al-Anfaal 8:65-66].

Thus, without knowledge and patience, nothing remains, except zeal and uncontrolled emotions, shouts and hollow slogans, speech that does not strengthen, but rather weakness, and actions that do not build, but rather destroy! So in this month, we should strive to develop a firm resolve for doing acts of obedience, and to adorn ourselves with patience – having certainty in the saying of our Messenger sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam: "And know that victory comes with patience, relief with affliction, and ease with hardship." (13)

[4] Cultivating Good Manners

The Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said:

"Whosoever does not abandon falsehood in speech and action, then Allah the Mighty and Majestic has no need that he should leave his food and drink." (14)

He sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam also said:

"Fasting is not merely abstaining from eating and drinking. Rather, it is also abstaining from ignorant and indecent speech. So if anyone abuses or behaves ignorantly with you, then say: I am fasting, I am fasting." (15)

These narrations point towards the importance of truthfulness and good manners. Thus, this blessed month teaches us not only to abstain from food and drink, but to also abstain from such statements and actions that may be the cause of harming people and violating their rights – since the Messenger sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said whilst describing the true Believer: "A Muslim is one from whom other Muslims are safe from his tongue and his hand." (16) Thus it is upon us as individuals, to examine the shortcomings in our character, and to then seek to improve them – modelling ourselves upon the character of the last of the Prophets and Messengers, and their leader, Muhammad sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam – aspiring also for the excellence which he mentioned in his saying: "I am a guarantor for a house on the outskirts of Paradise for whoever leaves off arguing, even if he is in right; and a house in the centre of Paradise for whosoever abandons falsehood, even when joking; and a house in the upper-most of Paradise for whosoever makes his character good." (17) So by shunning oppression, shamelessness, harbouring hatred towards Muslims, back-biting, slandering, tale-carrying, and other types of falsehood, we can be saved from nullifying the rewards of our fasting – as Allah’s Messenger sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said: "It may be that a fasting person receives nothing from his fast, except hunger and thirst." (18)

[5] Sensing Muslim Unity

The Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said:

"Fast when they fast, and break your fast when they break their fast, and sacrifice the day they sacrifice." (19)

Imaam at-Tirmidhee (d. 275H) – rahimahullah – said:

"Some of the People of Knowledge explained this hadeeth by saying: Its meaning is to fast and break the fast along with the jamaa`ah and the majority of people." (20)

Thus, in this blessed month we can sense an increased feeling of unity and of being a single Ummah due to our fasting and breaking our fast collectively. We also feel an increased awareness about the state of affairs of the Muslims and of the hardships that they endure, because: "During the fast, a Muslim feels and experiences what his needy and hungry brothers and sisters feel, who are forced to go without food and drink for many many days – as occurs today to many of the Muslims in Africa." (21) Indeed, the unity of the Muslims – and their aiding and assisting one another – is one of the great fundamentals upon which the Religion of Islaam is built, as Allaah – the Most High – said: "And hold fast altogether to the rope of Allaah and do not be divided." [Soorah Aal `Imraan 3:103]. Allaah – the Most High – also said: "The Believers – men and women – and friends and protectors of one another." [Soorah al-Tawbah 9:44]

Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728H) – rahimahullah – said: "The welfare of people will not be complete – neither in this world, nor in the Hereafter – except with ijtima` (collectiveness), ta`awun (mutual co-operation), and tanassur (mutual help); mutual co-operation in order to secure benefits, and mutual help in order to ward off harm. It is for this reason that man is said to be social and civil by nature." (22)

Thus we see that Islaam lays great importance in bringing hearts together and encouraging ijtima` (collectiveness). This is not only reflected in the month of Ramadaan, but also in the other acts of worship as well. So, for example, we have been ordered by the Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam to pray the five daily Prayers in congregation, and that it has been made twenty-seven times more rewardful than praying it individually. (23) Likewise, this similar collective spirit is demonstrated in the act of Hajj (Pilgrimage). Even in learning knowledge and studying it, blessings have been placed in collectiveness, as Allah’s Messenger sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said: "No people gather in a house form the houses of Allah, reciting the Book of Allah and studying it amongst themselves, except that tranquillity descends upon them, mercy envelops them, the angels surround him, and Allah mentions them to those that are with Him." (24) Likewise, even in our everyday actions such as, eating, Islaam teaches us collectiveness. Thus, when some of the Companions of the Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said to him: O Messenger of Allah, we eat but to do not become satisfied. He replied: "Perhaps you eat individually?" They replied: Yes! So he said: "Eat collectively and mention the name of Allah. There will then be blessings for you in it." (25) Indeed, even in the etiquettes of sitting the spirit of collectiveness is demonstrated. So, one day the Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam came across the Companions who were sitting in separate circles, so he said to them: "Why do I see you sitting separately!" (26) Similarly, Abu Tha`labah al-Khushanee radiallahu `anhu said: Whenever the people used to encamp, they used to split-up into the mountain passes and valleys. So Allah’s Messenger sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said: "Indeed your being split-up in these mountain passes and valleys is from Shaytaan." Thereafter, whenever they used to encamp, they used to keep very close together, to such an extent that it was said: If a cloth were to be spread over them, it would cover them all. (27)

Thus, Ramadaan is a time to increase our sense of unity and brotherhood, and our commitment to Allah and His Religion. And there is no doubt that this sense of unity necessitates that: "We work together as required by Islaam as sincere brothers – not due to hizbiyyah (bigoted party spirit), nor sectarianism – in order to realize that which is of benefit to the Islaamic Ummah and to establish the Islaamic society that every Muslim aspires for – so that the Sharee`ah (Prescribed Law) of Allaah is applied upon His earth." (28) So we must examine ourselves during the Ramadaan and ask: What is my role – and each of us has a role – in helping this precious Ummah to regain its honour, and return to the Ummah its comprehensive unity and strength, and victory that has been promised to it? Likewise, we should reflect upon our character and actions and ask: Are they aiding the process of unity and brotherhood, or are they a harm and a hindrance to it?

So we ask Allah to grant us the ability to change ourselves for the better, during this blessed month, and not to be of those who are prevented from His Mercy and Forgiveness. Indeed He is the One who Hears and He is the One to Respond.

Footnotes (summarized):

1. Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim
2. Saheeh: an-Nisaa’ee, authenticated in al-Albaanee’s Takhreej ul-Mishkaat
3. Ibn al-Mubaarak in Kitaab uz-Zuhd and ibn Abee Shaybah in Kitaab ul-Eemaan
4. Risaalatut-Tabookiyyah of Imam ibn al-Qayyim
5. Hasan: Ahmad, authenticated by al-Albaanee in Saheeh ut-Targheeb
6. Al-Bukhaaree
7. Saheeh: Ahmad and al-Bayhaqeee, authenticated by al-Halabee in Sifat us-Sawmin-Nabee
8. Zaadul Ma`aad of Ibn al Qayyim
9. Related by Ibn al Qayyim in Madaarij us-Saalikeen
10. Ahmad and an-Nasaa’ee, authenticated by al-Albaanee in Irwaa al-Ghaleel
11. At-Tamheed of Al Haafidh ibn Abdul Barr
12. Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim
13. Saheeh: Ahmad, at-Tabaraanee in al-Kabeer, authenticated by al-Hilaalee in as-Sabrul Jameel
14. Al-Bukhaaree
15. Saheeh: Ibn Khuzaymah and al-Haakim, who authenticated it.
16. Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim
17. Saheeh: Abu Daawood and al-Bayhaqee, authenticated by al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah
18. Saheeh: Ahmad and ibn Maajah, authenticated in Saheeh ut-Targheeb
19. At-Tirmidhee, authenticated by al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah
20. Jaami`ut-Tirmidhee
21. From the words of Shaykh Bin Baaz, as occurs in Majmoo` al-Fataawaa wa Maqaalat Mutanawwi`ah
22. Al-Hisbah fil-Islaam of Ibn Taymiyyah
23. Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim
24. Muslim
25. Hasan: Abu Daawood, authenticated by al-Haafidh al-`Iraaqee in Takhreejul-Ihyaa
26. Muslim
27. Saheeh: Abu Daawood and Ibn Hibbaan, authenticated by al-Albaanee in Takhreej ul-Mishkaat
28. Suaalu wa Jawaabu Hawla Fiqhil-Waaqi` of Sh. Al-Albaanee

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