Shaykh Naeem Abdul Wali discusses how Ramadan is a protection for us and also a reflection of the people of Paradise.
The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, has told us: “O mankind, a tremendously blessed month overshadows you.” And that is the blessed month of Ramadan. In the Prophetic language, this odd concept of overshadowing is indicative of the Divine Mercy overshadowing people. Protecting them.
Fasting is a shield for us. It is protection for us. Allah Most High is calling us to suspend in our days three aspects of our physicality that defines us as creatures. Creatures that, in order for them to survive – individually or as a species – these three things must exist within them.
First, they must have food. Second, they must have drink. Third, they must be able to procreate.
The Creatures of Paradise
Now, the paradisial person is the person who arrives to Paradise as we’ve learned from tradition. Also, in the Qur’an we learn, directly or by inference, but particularly through tradition – through Hadith – that the paradisial human being will exist in a realm where food and drink and even the appearance of the procreative act will exist.
But they don’t exist as a means, a sabab, that Allah has placed in the Path of Allah. That is, working through creation. That requires that the creatures engage with food, drink, or sexual intercourse in order for them to survive as individuals or as a species.
Paradisial Qualities Are Fundamental to Islam
In this realm, in the Dunya or the lower realm, this is the Path of Allah. But in the paradisial realm it is not. There, these things are merely a pleasure, a gift. They are not tied to a causal means for us to survive.
This is a very significant aspect of fasting. It is that Allah asks us to suspend, during the daytime, food, drink and sexual intercourse. In suspending that we clothe ourselves in qualities that are much more paradisial. This idea of clothing ourselves in paradisial qualities is a very fundamental aspect of what it means to be Muslim.
One can see this in all the fundamentals of Islam, whether it be the Shahada, the prayer, fasting, paying zakat, or making the pilgrimage. Each of these pillars has a direct relationship with the paradisial realms.
Abstinence Here Is Being There
Fasting is this hidden act of worship. It is hidden in a sense, as Allah is hidden. Its hiddenness defines us in a very fundamental way in terms of abstinence. Abstinence or imsak is legally what fasting is.
It is to abstain from food, drink, and sexual intercourse during specific times with an intention for the pleasure of Allah. Particularly in Ramadan, for once it enters these acts must be done. They are an obligation.
Allah is asking us to abstain, to withhold something of our inherent creation that is in this realm. In that suspension, in that abstinence, we begin to reflect more of the paradisal qualities.
We begin to become more like the creatures of Paradise.
Shaykh Naeem Abdul Wali studied with Shaykh Mahmud Effendi in Istanbul. He is currently a resident scholar at Sunna Institute in Houston, Texas.
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