Dr Umar Faruq Abd-Allah reminds us of the ultimate purpose of fasting Ramadan: to find Allah Most High.
Allah says in the Qur’an:
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
I did not create jinn and mankind except to worship Me. (Sura al Dhariya 51:56)
So we were created to do this. We were created to fast. We were created to pray. We were created to pay zakat. We were created to make Ramadan and Hajj and to do other types of worship like dhikr and like vows that bring us close to Allah, and so forth.
Ramadan: The Great Guest
The month of Ramadan is a great month. It is the great guest that we all welcome every year with fervor. And it’s an amazing thing that although this is the time of the year which physically is the most demanding on the Muslims as an Umma, it is the time of the year that we all welcome with great joy and great fervor. And may you find that joy in your heart every single day and every single night of this month.
The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace said, that patience (sabr) or endurance is half of faith. People who do not have sabr, they cannot believe in Allah. We have got to be able to do the things that the belief requires, and we have to be able to avoid the things the belief requires us to avoid. And that is an act of sabr, of patience and perseverance.
The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace said, said that fasting is half of sabr, so therefore that also makes fasting one-quarter of Iman.
The Gate of Worship
And the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace said, said that fasting is the gate of worship (bab al ‘ibada). And he urged his blessed wife Aisha, Allah be pleased with her, to always keep knocking at the door of God. So she asked what is that door. And the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace said, said it is hunger. That is, it is fasting.
So we ask that we utilize this month properly. This is a great month. This is a unique opportunity. And this is what our lives are all about. The month of Ramadhan is of course conspicuously the month of fasting, because that is the main thing that we do during the daylight hours. Of course also it is the month of prayer because during this month standing up in prayer doing tarawih is one of its important elements.
We want to join these two together with the same intensity and never forget that the same wisdom that is there in the divine legislation for fasting is also there in the divine imperative that we pray special prayers in Ramadan.
Making Up for Lost Prayers
Of course we need to remind ourselves that some of us may have had lapses in our lives and there may have been days and years when we didn’t pray. And if that’s the case, then in Ramadan and also at other times of the year, you should have a very diligent program to be making up all the prayers that you missed.
Because this is a debt that you owe to Allah. And in the month of Ramadan, if you have prayers that you haven’t made that’s what you should be doing. You should be making them up and not praying tarawih when others are praying tatarawih. You should be making up your prayers.
This is very, very important: until the obligatory prayers are made up there is no room for voluntary or for supererogatory prayers. You have to focus just on the obligatory prayers and then making up those prayers that have been missed.
You need to sit down you need to make a list. You need to determine reasonably how many prayers did you miss and then begin to work at that. Keep a record of what you’re doing in any case. This is a great month. The act of worship, of prayer, is one that is in its entirety and act of heedfulness.
Practice Heedfulness with Each Breath
In prayer we go into the prayer with Allahu Akbar. We invoke Allah to envelop us in the Hadra, in the presence of His absolute greatness that makes all creation fade in His glory and greatness.
And when we pray we aspire to attain that kind of prayer that the great Sahaba and the great Salaf had in which they would not even be aware of who was on their right hand or their left hand as they prayed and they wouldn’t be thinking about anything but Allah until they came out of it. That’s the nature of prayer.
One of the amazing things about fasting is that fasting doesn’t require that kind of total
heedfulness. The more heedful that you are in fasting then the greater the fast is, the more lofty it becomes, the more fulfilling. So we should be heedful of every breath we take in the days of Ramadan. Every moment that we spend.
The mere fact of giving up our passions for food and drink and marital relations and the other things that are not allowed during the time of fasting, this in itself is sufficient to plant the seed of heedfulness, so that it grows into a great tree that bears fruit.
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