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An Alternative Approach To Ramadan – Shaykh Ahmed Sa’ad al-Azhari

Shaykh Ahmed Sa’ad al-Azhari takes an alternative approach to explaining how to make the most of the blessed month of Ramadan, using excerpts from the Diwan written by the famous 11th Century scholar, Imam Sayyid Abd Allah ibn Alawi al-Haddad (may Allah be pleased with him).

* Our thanks to Ha Meem Foundation for this recording.

Resources for Seekers

Ramadan Seminar Q&A Session – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

* Originally posted on May 8, 2018

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani answers questions on the fiqh of fasting, including the nullifiers of fasts, expiation for broken fasts, and the spiritual retreat.

Among the many questions and points Shakyh Faraz addresses, he mentions that if one breaks fast deliberately or by accident, the time of fasting is not over, and one is able to fast, then one refrains from everything a fasting person refrains from until fasting ends. This is a sign of contrition and remorse.

Hasten to Break Fast

The Shaykh also mentions that one should not delay breaking fast excessively out of a mistaken sense of piety or fervor. Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said:

قَالَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ أَحَبُّ عِبَادِي إِلَيَّ أَعْجَلُهُمْ فِطْرًا

Allah Mighty and Majestic said: “The most beloved among my servants are those who hasten to break their fast.” (Tirmidhi)

Be Tactful and Considerate with Others

But one must also remember that when in a group of people who believe they are in the right to delay, one must be discreet about the matter and not make disagreement a point of contention or rancor. If you consider breaking it in such a situation do it tactfully.

These and many others points and rulings are covered in this session. And you should listen to it even if you know all the answers as there is no harm and abundant good in reviewing what one knows and strengthening one’s knowledge.

May Allah grant us eternal success in the blessed month of Ramadan and in all the months He has decreed for each and every one of us until we are brought before Him. Amin.


Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al Kallas, may Allah have mercy on him, as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age. He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersHub in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.

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The Ramadan Reader: A Guide to Fasting, Prayer, Qur’an, and Spirituality in the Month of Ramadan

A Practical Guide to Fasting, Prayer, Qur’an, and Spirituality in the Month of Ramadan

 

Fasting:

 

Prayer

 

Qur’an

 

Works of the Heart

 

See also

10 On-Demand Courses for Ramadan

We are blessed to reach another Ramadan. Let’s make the best use of our time. These On-Demand courses will help you to focus and get maximum benefits from this month of the Qur’an.

Each course contains a downloadable lesson set which you can listen to at your convenience.

1. Preparing for Ramadan: Lessons and Advice from Leading Scholars

This series of lessons by various scholars revolves around Sura al Baqara 2:183.

“Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may have taqwa.”

Each scholar unfolds the meanings of this and related verses, the practical aspects, and the hidden spiritual depths and heights one is called to attain in the blessed month of Ramadan.
Central to it all is Allah’s call to love Him and His Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace.

Scholars included in this course: Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Imam Zaid Shakir, Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, Habib Umar ibn Hafiz, Shaykh Rami Nsour, Shaykh Naeem Abdul Wali, Ustadh Abdullah Misra, Ustadh Ali Ataie, Habib Kadhim al Saqqaf, Shaykh Ahmed Saad al Azhari, Habib Muhammad al Saqqaf, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, Shaykh Qutaiba Albluwi, Ustadha Umm Umar

2. Renewal by the Book: Daily Qur’an Tafsir Based on Imam Ghazali’s Ihya

In this series Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and other scholars and teachers will be looking at points of reflection from key verses in the Qur’an. The series follows the thematic order of Imam Ghazali’s Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences). The aim is to connect the key verses of guidance from the Book of Allah with the blueprint of renewal, the Ihya, so that we experience a renewal by The Book.

3. Renewing Religion: Overview of Ghazali’s Ihya

This overview of Imam Ghazali’s great work, Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences) will serve as a blueprint for how the believer can bring their religion to life. It will aim to help the believer to not just practice the outer form of the religion properly, but to also to bring its spirit to life and practice it with excellence.

Lessons by: Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Riad Saloojee, Shaykh Walead Mosaad, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

4. 30 Sacred Acts to Transform the Heart

Our scholars in residence explore 30 simple deeds that could have a far reaching spiritual impact on our lives – and the lives of others. Whether it’s forgiving someone who’s wronged us or sharing a meal with a neighbor, these powerful lessons will remind us of the great gift the Prophet ﷺ‎ gave us: the best of character. The scholars also remind us to make the intention to put each teaching, each sacred act, into practice.

Lessons by: Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Muhammad Adeyinka Mendes, Shaykh Walead Mosaad, Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, Imam Amin Muhammad, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, Dr. Ingrid Mattson, Shaykh Hamdi Ben Aissa

5. Giving Life to Surat al Kahf – Shaykh Walead Mosaad

In this seminar, Shaykh Walead Mosaad explains this key Sura of the Qur’an – a Sura the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, urged us to recite every Friday. In eight videos Shaykh Walead explains the key lessons of Sura Kahf; the four great stories in it and the four great tests they represent – the tests of faith, wealth, knowledge, and power.

6. Ramadan Explained: Virtues and Fiqh of Fasting (Hanafi) – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

This preparation course teaches the fiqh of Ramadan and fasting, according to the Hanafi school.

This essential four-part course is designed to

    1. Remind you that Ramadan is a true blessing from Allah Most High.
    2. Teach you the proper way to approach this blessing.
    3. Motivate you to make the most of this blessed month.
    4. Ensure that you understand and implement all key aspects of Ramadan, including the Prophetic sunnas according to the Hanafi school.

7. Ramadan Explained: Virtues and Fiqh of Fasting (Shafi‘i) – Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan

This preparation course teaches the fiqh of Ramadan and fasting according to the Shafi‘i school.

This essential four-part course is designed to:

    1. Remind you that Ramadan is a true blessing from Allah Most High.
    2. Teach you the proper way to approach this blessing.
    3. Motivate you to make the most of this blessed month.
    4. Ensure that you understand and implement all the key aspects of Ramadan, including the Prophetic sunnas according to the Shafi‘i school.

8. Ramadan Explained: Virtues and Fiqh of Fasting (Maliki) – Shaykh Rami Nsour

This preparation course teaches the fiqh of Ramadan and fasting according to the Maliki school.

This essential four-part course is designed to:

    1. Remind you that Ramadan is a true blessing from Allah Most High.
    2. Teach you the proper way to approach this blessing.
    3. Motivate you to make the most of this blessed month.
    4. Ensure that you understand and implement all the key aspects of Ramadan, including the Prophetic sunnas according to the Maliki school.

9. The Tafsir of Sura al-Hujurat with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Religion revolves around respect and reverence. Sura Hujurat summarizes the keys to true religion by outlining the right adab with Allah, His Messenger (peace be upon him), and with Allah’s creation. In just 18 verses, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives believers a clear roadmap on how to walk the Straight Path with excellence in conduct and attitude.

10. Living the Quran: Ghazali’s Manners of Qur’an Recital with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

In this lesson set Shaykh Faraz Rabbani will guide students through Imam al Ghazali’s work on the adab of the Qur’an and aims to inspire the student to bring the book of Allah into their life fully.

 


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A Ramadan Reader: A Comprehensive Answers Guide to Getting the Most Out of Ramadan

Preparing for Ramadan

The Complete Guide to Fasting

Imam Tahir’s 5 Simple Steps to Prepare for Ramadan

Preparing For Ramadan Advice from Habib Umar bin Hafiz

Ramadan Detox‬‏ for a Healthy Ramadan

40 Hadiths on Ramadan

Tarawih

Can I Pray 8 Rakats for Tarawih?

Should We Stop Praying Tarawih Once the Qur’an is Completed?

Is it Necessary to Perform Tarawih Prayers in the Mosque?

Is it Obligatory to Complete the Entire Qur’an During Tarawih Prayers?

Performing Tarawih Prayers Again as an Imam

Is It Valid for a Child to Lead Tarawih?

The Ruling of the Tarawih Prayer: A Confirmed Sunna

Reciting From a Copy of the Qur’an (Mushaf) in Tarawih and Other Prayers

Expiatory Payment (Fidya) for Missed Ramadan Fasts

Brief Overview of Expiatory Payments (fidya) for Missed Ramadan Fasts

Feeding People to Expiate For a Corrupted Fast

Is Expiation (kaffara) Necessary For Not Fasting in Ramadan?

When Is Expiation Required For A Fast?

How Many Expiations Are Required For Multiple Broken Fasts?

Can My Sister Pay Expiatory Payments (fidya) For Missed Fasts Due To Her Diabetes?

Can I Pay Fidya for Missed Days of Fasting Due to Menses?

Can a Healthy Person Skip Prayer and Fasting and Pay Expiation?

The Expiation (Kaffara) for Having Sex While Fasting

Must I Fast 180 Days as Expiation for 3 Broken Fasts?

Things that Break the Fast

Principles on what invalidates the fast

Does Watching Pornography While Fasting Break One’s Fast

Using Creams, Powders, or Topical Medications While Fasting

Does Swallowing Phlegm Break Your Fast?

Vaseline On Lips While Fasting, and Hitting Kids

Applying Medicine to One’s Teeth: Does it Invalidate the Fast?

Ramadan: Injections, Eye Drops, And Doubts

Using Chapstick While Fasting

Accidental & Forgetful Breaking of the Fast: What Is the Difference?

What Corrupts a Fast: Questions About Water Entering the Body

Bleeding Gums While Fasting

The Effect of Smoking on Fasting, and the Effect of Sins on Faith

Using Asthma Medication: Is My Fast Invalidated?

Accidentally Inhaling Perfume While Fasting

Does breathing in Air break one’s Fast?

Passionate Kissing While Fasting

Fasting and Illness

Too Sick to Fast in Ramadan, Too Poor to Pay the Expiatory Payment (Fidya)

Long-Term Illness that Prevents Fasting

How Can I Benefit From Ramadan When I Can’t Fast Due to Being Ill?

Laylat al-Qadr

When is Laylat al-Qadr?

Worship & Prayer on Laylat al-Qadr

Making Up Missed Fasts

Making Up Missed Fasts and Illness

Can I Combine My Intentions for a Missed Ramadan Fast and An Optional Sunnah Fast?

Do I Have To Make Up Missed Fasts Within A Year?

Making up Obligatory Fasts and Prayers

Making of Missed Fast

Years of Missed Fasts and Expiation (kaffara)

Breaking One’s Fast/Not Fasting Due to Hardship

Breaking One’s Fast Due to Weakness & Migraines

Can I Break My Fast If My Job Makes Fasting Too Difficult?

Fasting in Extreme Latitudes

Attending Juma, Praying and Fasting While Training to be a Firefighter

Can I Break My Fast If My Job Makes Fasting Too Difficult?

Fasting and Pregnancy

Pregnant Women & Fasting

Pregnancy & Making Up Fasts: Does She Really Have To?

The Spiritual Retreat (I`tikaf)

The Spiritual Retreat (i`tikaf)

The Three Types of I’tikaf (Spiritual Retreat)

Ramadan Advice, Benefits and Inspiration

Worship in Ramadan For a Menstruating Woman

How Do I Make The Most Of Ramadan?

Fasting Its Principles and Virtues-Imam Ghazali from al-Arab’in

Inner Dimensions of Fasting-Imam Ghazali

The Spiritual Purpose of Fasting – Closeness to Allah

Practical Tips for Fasting During Ramadan

Work Ethics for Muslims Fasting During Ramadan

Prophetic Supplications for Fasting

Virtues of Fasting in the Summer

Health Benefits of Fasting, and the Maximum Recommended Fast

General Ramadan Answers

When and Where Do I Break My Fast on a 20 Hour Airline Flight?

Should I Feel Bad for Not Fasting When I Had to Travel?

At What Age Must One Start Fasting?

Eating After Dawn & Breaking The Fast For An Invitation

The Chaining of Shayateen (Devils) During Ramadan

Does Each Makeup Prayer During Ramadan Count as 70 Makeup Prayers?

Intercourse during the month of Ramadan

Is Your Ramadan Fast Still Valid If You Stop Eating and Make Your Intention to Fast Between Fajr and Islamic Midday?

Should I Feel Bad for Not Fasting When I Had to Travel?

Brief Miscellaneous Q & A Relating to Fasting

Newlyweds Having Intercourse While Fasting During Ramadan

Fasting The White Days of Sha‘ban – Muwasala

We are now approaching the “White Days” of the month of Sha‘ban. The “White Days” are the days which follow nights in which the moon is full, namely the 13th, 14th and 15th days of each lunar month.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ encouraged his Companions to fast three days in every month and to fast these days specifically.

We should attempt to fast all three days if we are able, since Sayyidah ‘A’ishah said of the Prophet ﷺ: “I did not see him fasting in any month more than Sha‘ban.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim)

If we are unable to do so, we should attempt to fast the fifteenth, since the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said that when this night comes we should spend it in prayer and fast the following day.

Please check the moon sighting in your locality.


With gratitude to our Content Partner: Muwasala.org.


 

The Month of Sha’ban: Prelude to Ramadan – Imam Zaid Shakir

Imam Zaid Shakir

* Courtesy of Imam Zaid’s Facebook page

Sha’ban is a month of good that introduces the great month of Ramadan. The Prophet, peace upon him, used to fast voluntarily during this month more so than in any other month. One of the motivations for that, as we will mention below, is that Sha’ban is the month during which the deeds performed by the servant ascend to God.

Usama b. Zayd relates: “The Prophet, peace and mercy of God upon him, used to fast so many days in succession that we said, ‘He will never break his fast.’ At other times he would go without fasting for so long until we said, ‘He will never again fast;’ except for two days, which he would fast even if they occurred during the times he was not fasting consecutive days.

Furthermore, he would not fast in any month as many days as he fasted during Sha’ban. I said: ‘O Messenger of God! Sometimes you fast so much it is as if you will never break your fast, at other times you leave fasting for such a long stint it is as if you will never again fast [voluntarily]; except for two days that you always fast.’ He asked: ‘Which two days are those?’ I replied: ‘Monday and Thursday.’ The Prophet, peace upon him, said: ‘Those are two days in which the deeds are presented to the Lord of the Worlds. I love that my deeds are presented while I am fasting.’ I said: ‘I do not see you fasting in any month like you fast during Sha’ban.’ The Prophet, peace and mercy of God upon him, said: “That is a month occurring between Rajab and Ramadan that many people neglect. It is a month in which the deeds ascend to the Lord of the Worlds, be He Mighty and Majestic, and I love for my deeds to ascend while I am fasting.” Related by Imam Ahmad and Imam Al-Nasa’i.

–  Imam Zaid Shakir

 

Below is Imam Zaid’s recent visit to SeekersGuidance, click below to watch.


About Imam Zaid Shakir

Imam Zaid Shakir is a co-founder, and senior Faculty Member of Zaytuna College located in Berkeley, CA. He is amongst the most respected and influential Islamic scholars in the West. As an American Muslim who came of age during the civil rights struggles, he has brought both sensitivity about race and poverty issues and scholarly discipline to his faith-based work.

Born in Berkeley, California, he accepted Islam in 1977 while serving in the United States Air Force. He obtained a BA with honors in International Relations at American University in Washington D.C. and later earned his MA in Political Science at Rutgers University. While at Rutgers, he led a successful campaign for divestment from South Africa, and co-founded New Brunswick Islamic Center formerly Masjid al-Huda.

After a year of studying Arabic in Cairo, Egypt, he settled in New Haven, Connecticut and continued his community activism, co-founding Masjid Al-Islam, the Tri-State Muslim Education Initiative, and the Connecticut Muslim Coordinating Committee. As Imam of Masjid Al-Islam from 1988 to 1994 he spear-headed a community renewal and grassroots anti-drug effort, and also taught political science and Arabic at Southern Connecticut State University. He served as an interfaith council Chaplain at Yale University and developed the Chaplaincy Sensitivity Training for physicians at Yale New Haven Hospital. He then left for Syria to pursue his studies in the traditional Islamic sciences.

For seven years in Syria, and briefly in Morocco, he immersed himself in an intense study of Arabic, Islamic law, Quranic studies, and spirituality with some of the top Muslim scholars of our age. In 2001, he graduated from Syria’s prestigious Abu Noor University with a BA in Islamic Sciences and returned to Connecticut, serving again as the Imam of Masjid al-Islam, and writing and speaking frequently on a host of issues. That same year, his translation from Arabic into English of The Heirs of the Prophets was published by Starlatch Press.

In 2003, he moved to Hayward, California to serve as a scholar-in-residence and lecturer at Zaytuna Institute, where he taught courses on Arabic, Islamic law, history, and Islamic spirituality. In 2004, he initiated a pilot seminary program at Zaytuna Institute, which was useful in Zaytuna College’s refinement of its Islamic Studies curriculum and its educational philosophy. For four years, students in the pilot program were engaged in the study of contemporary and classical texts. In 2005, Zaytuna Institute published, Scattered Pictures: Reflections of An American Muslim„ an anthology of diverse essays penned by Zaid Shakir. He co-founded the Lighthouse Mosque, Oakland, CA. in 2007. He authored an award-winning text, Treatise for the Seekers of Guidance, a translation and commentary on Imam Harith al-Muhasibi’s work, Risala al-Mustarshideen in 2008. He is co-founder and chairman of United For Change since 2009. The mission of United For Change is, through modern discourse, to create awareness of the broadest and most consuming topics within the Muslim community. The aim is to leverage the diversity through cooperation and goodwill and address the obstacles that have proven to be divisive.  His most recent work is Where I’m Coming From: The Year In Review, a new collection of his essays from 2010. Imam Zaid has also authored numerous articles and research papers on a wide range of topics.

He is a frequent speaker at local and national Muslim events and has emerged as one of the nation’s top Islamic scholars and a voice of conscience for American Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Imam Zaid has served as an advisor to many organizations, and influential leaders. He is ranked as “one of America’s most influential Scholars” in the West; by The 500 Most Influential Muslims, edited by John Esposito and Ibrahim Kalin, (2009). Imam Zaid is a signatory along with religious and spiritual Leaders from around the world who presented the UN Secretary General with a declaration in support of the Paris Climate Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, marking the largest number of nations ever signing an international agreement. Inspired to work with religious groups on sustainable living and climate change in 2017, Imam Zaid is a Green Faith partner in action for the earth. The mission is to inspire, educate, organize, and mobilize people of diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds globally for environmental action. In 2018, CNN listed him among 25 influential American Muslims.

While many have cited Imam Zaid as example of Islamic moderation, his critics have questioned his moderate credentials by citing his expressed hope for the conversion of America to Islam and adoption of Islamic law in America. Dr. Ingrid Mattson stated that Imam Zaid is solidly grounded in the Islamic legal, ethical and intellectual tradition, which all Muslims share, as well as his personal understanding of the current political context.


 

Muharram: Mankind’s Memorial – Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

* Originally Published on 3/10/2016

Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said explains why Muharram, the first in the Islamic calendar, is an especially auspicious month on many levels.

 

The Prophets Before Muhammad ﷺ

For one, it celebrates the achievement of the prophets who preceded Prophet Muhammad, – on him peace and blessings, in particular the struggle and victory of Moses. Following the Migration, the Prophet – and on him salutations – discerned that the Jewish tribal federations in Madinah observed a ritual fast annually on the tenth day of Muharram. The Jews’ claim to commemorate the day in gratitude for Moses’ victory over Pharaoh prompted the Prophet – on him peace and blessings – to assert, “The obligation is greater on us [the Muslims] to be grateful to God for Moses’ victory.”
This emphatic statement reveals, on one level, the spiritual connection between the Seal of the Prophets – on him peace and blessings – and his ‘brother-prophets’ who preceded him; on another level, through his innate ability to connect with every God-centred tradition, Muslims are at once given to understand the need to learn from others. And the elemental lesson here is that all prophetic traditions, rites and customs – past and present – actually form a composite whole: remembrance and gratitude to God, – cherisher of mankind, all praise to Him.

Mankind’s Achievement

Furthermore, the achievement of every prophet is universal, that is to say, their sacrifice and striving is mankind’s achievement. The victory God granted to Moses was not based on material strength or logistical superiority, but on the strength of faith that Moses possessed. Moses’ armour cladding was his Faith, and Truth his spear of submission; he won through despite Pharaoh’s vast resources in men and materiel. Faith, as embodied by Moses, persuaded first Pharaoh’s sorcerers and then many other reasonable minds, whilst the snake of Unfaith, quite literally, was swallowed up.

Truth over Falsehood

Muharram, which commemorates Moses’ achievement, is therefore our achievement, insofar as it is a timeless commemoration of the victory of Truth over Falsehood. It should be obvious that ‘victory’ does not at all relate to feat of arms, economic gain or tribal boast (after all, Pharaoh’s dethroning was not, strictly speaking, a battlefield victory; Moses and his people, instead of gaining mastery in Egypt, actually became exiles in the desert for 40 years). Rather, Muslims must understand ‘victory’ as standing firm in Faith, to prevail in the face of adversity.
For this reason, the Prophet – on him peace and blessings – considered the Treaty of Hudaybiyya a great victory; this, despite his not accomplishing what he had initially set out to do in the events leading to the famous treaty: namely, the performance of Umrah, the opportunity to visit the Sacred Mosque. On the other hand, the Prophet – and on him salutations – discerned in the bitterness of defeat at ‘Uhud and at Hunayn the sweet fragrance of victory. How so, when he suffered great personal loss at ‘Uhud and humbling at Hunayn? On both occasions, despite the temporary impediments, God’s Religion was preserved. Faith defeated unfaith because Truth strove on whilst Falsehood briefly strutted but ultimately vanished.
Victory, therefore, is to prevail after enduring the test. It is the natural outcome of firm conviction, of standing firm, regardless of the intensity or even duration of adversity. It is the absolute conviction that God is present all along.
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The Triumph of Faith

The sacred month of Muharram, celebrating the advent of the Islamic New Year, provides Muslims with a direct linkage to the triumph of Faith – and even more deep connections to the Prophet – on him peace and blessings. And in all God’s Creation, none embodied Faith as did the Prophet, – on him the finest salutations! For Muharram also commemorates the Hijra, the Prophet’s Migration from Makkah, then the seat of Unfaith and irrational pride, to Madinah, the emergent site of Faith and reason.
Oppressed by Unfaith, in Makkah the Prophet – on him peace and blessings – would say, “Leave me to call upon God alone.” But he was denied even this basic human right, as was his dignity, his person and his property. The Prophet’s Hijrahas yet to be fully appreciated by even his own people. It was not a simple matter of relocation: in making Hijra, the personal sacrifice of the Prophet – on him peace and blessings – remains a thing of wonder: his daughters Fatimah, Zaynab, Ruqaiyya and Umm Kulthum were left behind. One can only begin to understand the scale of his sacrifice if there is an appreciation of the wider social context of Makkah’s tribal society, then dominated by the most ruthless of enemies. The Prophet – on him peace and blessings – in wrenching himself from his daughters, sacrificed all that was dear to him in this world. How could such a man, the epitome of parental love, sacrifice so? As if to say, “My daughters are safer under God’s Gaze than under my wing,” he could so sacrifice because he knew intimately the nature of God’s Protection. Great was his sacrifice, yes, but his trust in God was still greater.
What special influence can cause such repeat action, on such scale? It was repeated by the Imam Hussain, grandson of the Prophet – on him the finest salutations. Like his father and grandfather before him, the Imam Hussain strived hard against the oppression of the weak by the strong, against social injustice and against aggression in all its forms. Sallying out from Madinah, like his grandfather had done on so many occasions, the Imam Hussain died the desired death on the dusty plains of Kerbala, but his spirit of sacrifice lives on. The Imam Hussain’s death must not be reduced to the heroic end of ancient epics, although certainly true; it was the supreme sacrifice that is for God’s Sake. Sacred sacrifice indeed. Muharram may just as easily be called the ‘month of sacrifice’.

The Prophet’s Migration

And yet the story of Muharram has no ending, for our commemoration of its sanctity and significance has so many deep spiritual channels and confluences.
The Islamic calendar self-consciously celebrates the Hijra of the Prophet – on him peace and blessings. And Arab tradition, hitherto without a universal calendar, in so doing, itself migrated from culture to civilization. Confused by conflicting despatches, the despair of regional governors compelled the Caliph ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab to initiate a systematic Time Record. Far more edifying and significant is the process that led to the institution. A brilliant example of democratic counsel ended with agreement over the Muslims’ need for a calendar, but there remained uncertainty over the precise start date. Three proposals were championed, each possessing enormous meaning: the birthday of the Prophet, on him peace and blessings; the day that he died; and the beginning of the Hijra.
The very fact that the Prophet’s birthday was cause celebre in the eyes of his Companions has great significance of its own. In fact, some of the Companions clamoured for the month of Rabi Awwal to become the first month of the new Islamic calendar, citing the Prophet’s birth, his anointment to the office of prophet, the actual commencement of the Hijra, and the Prophet’s death in Rabi Awwal.
The day of the Prophet’s departure from this world remains, of course, the single greatest distress to all Muslims in all times, and the argument for the Islamic calendar to be pegged to the Prophet’s death was a powerful one.
However, the third option – the case for the Hijra as the start of the Islamic calendar –reveals much about the intellect of ‘Ali ibn Abu Taalib. The man recognised as the last of the rightly-guided Caliphs quite rightly surmised that the Hijra marked an epochal change, ushering in a new dawn for humanity that swept away the cobwebs of dead history. The Hijra-Migration was nothing short of a new world order, and this one could be precisely pinpointed in time.
Although the Arabian months pre-dated Islam, Uthman ibn Affan made a powerful intervention: he cited the long-held sacred status of Muharram and explained that its position in the calendar of Islam’s rites and rituals, coming after the Hajj climax, represented a new beginning after individual purification, thus symbolically mirroring the fresh start for humanity after the purification of Religion itself. Uthman’sintervention was decisive and the ‘Hijri Calendar’ was thus founded.
As Islam makes no sharp distinction between the prophets – God in His Book expressly forbids otherwise – both the achievements and sacrifices of Moses and of Muhammad – on them peace and blessings – are symbolically bound by the month of Muharram. And we have seen how the inheritors of faith, such as the Imam Hussain, have emulated and preserved the spirit of sacrifice. This sacrifice has a name: ‘Islam’. And ‘Islam’ is trust in, and submission to, the Divine Will. And as their inheritors in faith, our lives are thus connected by the commemoration of Muharram.
May God gather us in the company of the Family of Prophets and preserve the faithful, and peace and blessings upon Muhammad, mercy to all the worlds.

Fasting for Others.

Answered by Shaykh Farid Dingle

Question: Assalamu alaykum

I want to fast for my parents health. How should I go about it?

Answer: Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

That is a very good idea. May Allah give success in this endeavour.

All you need to do is pray (dua) for their health while you are fasting. There is no other intention or rite that you have to observe.

The Prophet mentioned among the three whose supplication would not be rejected by Allah, ‘the fasting person until they break their fast.’ [Tirmidhi and others]

I pray Allah gives them health and strong iman, and that He accepts your genuine works.

Wassalam,
[Shaykh] Farid Dingle

Shaykh Farid Dingle grew up in a convert family in Herefordshire, UK. In 2007, he moved to Jordan to pursue traditional studies. Shaykh Farid continues to live in Amman, Jordan with his wife and kids. In addition to continuing his studies he teaches Arabic and several of the Islamic sciences.

Shaykh Farid began his journey in sacred knowledge with intensives in the UK and Jordan (2004) in Shafi’i fiqh and Arabic. After years of studying Arabic grammar, Shafi’i fiqh, hadith, legal methodology (usul al-fiqh) and tafsir, Sh. Farid began specializing in Arabic language and literature. Sh. Farid studied Pre-Islamic poetry, Umayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid, and Andalusian literature. He holds a BA in Arabic Language and Literature and continues exploring the language of the Islamic tradition.

In addition to his interest in the Arabic language Shaykh Farid actively researches matters related to jurisprudence (fiqh) which he studied with Shaykh Hamza Karamali, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, and continues with Shaykh Amjad Rasheed. 

Conquering Mount Sawm, by Tushar Imdad-ul-Haq Bhuiya

Especially motivating for those dreading the long summer fasts, the following diary entries, written by British educator Tushar Imdad-ul-Haq Bhuiya, should provide reassurance that keeping hunger at bay isn’t as hard as it seems.Although describing the challenge of keeping a voluntary fast, the lessons are just as relevant for Ramadan.

After reading extracts from Brad Pilon’s Eat. Stop. Eat, encouragement from my teacher and reflection upon the Sunna, I decide to embark on the ultimate challenge for a food-loving Muslim: a voluntary fast. (And since it’s British summer time, the fast lasts from 02:30 till 9PM – 19½ hours!). What encouraged me was last Ramadan’s experience; we British Muslims dreaded the long summer fast of 2012 – the longest of its kind for almost 30 years! And yet, we did it. It wasn’t that hard. Indeed, I found this extract from a hindsight entry made last year under the title ‘Miracle of Fasting’:

“I somehow fasted from 4.50am till 9.30PM, possibly my longest ever. And it wasn’t hard – despite my normally having 3 square meals and 2 tea-breaks in that time! Allah made it easy, put baraka in my suhur and gave me energy, Alhamdulillah!”

So I went to sleep last night, after a late Isha, with the intention that if Allah would get me up at Tahajjud, only then would I fast with the following intentions:

  1. To follow the exalted Sunna, which should suffice us from having any other motive (though, as with other Sunnas, modern scientific findings help us appreciate the worldly benefits)
  2. To discipline my mind and nafs (self/soul) not to think about food all the time, and therefore
  3. Have a more productive day

02:50 AM

Allah woke me at 2:05AM and I knew He wanted me to try this experiment (perhaps so I could share it with SeekersHub Global readers!). I scrambled to the kitchen to prepare an odd suhur of instant porridge, last night’s pizza & chips leftovers, tea, a date and orange juice. Suitably stuffed, and after some fervent du’a, I’m ready to face the day… after the small matter of sleep!

1:15 PM

Breakfast wasn’t an issue as I was still full from suhur. No headaches or tiredness either. Skipped my compulsory tea-break at work without fuss. This is a big deal as, normally, the first moment after finishing my lesson at 10:30  I’d be rushing to the kitchen to make a cuppa! Got some less intensive down-time for the next few hours. Over half way now: so far, so good.

From a teacher’s point of view I find the ability to fast extraordinary. The nafs is like a teenager/child. Where it knows it has options, it’ll test the boundaries and ask for more than it deserves. However when the boundaries are clear from the outset of the day and one has made the firm resolve NOT to eat until sunset, the nafs grows quiet and barely a squeak of defiance is ever heard!

4:30

Three hours later and still no pangs, Alhamdulillah. I got a slight headache after hours of study on a Seekers Guidance course,  email checking and internet research. The research was worth it though: found out about The Fast Diet which contains much of the inspiration that got me started.

Now, after a brief rest, am pretty energized whilst tutoring the first of two lessons. Only two problems I’ve encountered so far: tendency to do excessive or useless internet jobs, and a longing for Maghrib time to come!

7:00

Last lesson done. Slight headache. Will rest for 20 mins before Tai Chi class at 7:30.

10:00

OK, Tai Chi was agony on my legs for some reason (found out later that this was due to my incorrect posture in one of the positions!) But Maghrib came upon me far from passing out due to hunger.

Conquering Mount Sawm…From the Outside

So if I could climb and conquer Mount Sawm outside Ramadan, anyone can. I’ll leave you with a few top tips that helped me get there:

  1. Have a strong intention for Allah.
  2. Consume a hearty, nutritious (I did have porridge remember!) suhur
  3. Read inspiring literature about benefits of the fast: if you’re not up to date with the two world famous and highly popular diets that lead incredible scientific support to the Sunna fasting system, then do read The Fast Diet by Mosley and Eat.Stop.Eat by Pilon
  4. Keep really busy. I’m sure you noticed my day was quite packed with different activities including work, study and fitness.
  5. Ponder that if millions of other Muslims around the world can do it, so can you. Mothers do this to get over the fear of childbirth. Fasting is not nearly as painful. If you need motivation outside Ramadan, when you are struggling to fast when most people aren’t, then there are a few things to consider: a) Your worship is especially likely to be more sincere. Keep your fast secret (as is recommended with all voluntary acts) and enjoy the special connection you have with Allah, knowing that you are fasting sincerely for His pleasure alone; b) The health benefits you learn from acting upon point 3 above is enough to inspire anyone to take up fasting weekly. Non-Muslims throughout the UK are ‘fasting’ Monday and Thursday due to the proven long-term benefits to health. As Muslims we have even more motivation; c) Although, not everyone is fasting, you can be sure that the ‘ulema of Taqwa, awliya and saliheen all fast regularly. It’s certainly comforting to know you are united with them in following the Sunnah of regular voluntary fasting.
  6. Allow yourself a Sunna qaylula (afternoon nap) after Zuhr; in long summer days this means you can get through plenty of work before your nap. Many nap straight after work. When you wake, it’s just the final lap with the finish line in sight.
  7. Enjoy and take advantage of the fact that you can be so much more productive on a fast day.

The Thought is Scarier Than the Experience

As we’ve all experienced, the thought of fasting – of not having one’s regular meals, of skipping one’s normal snacks – is actually a lot more frightening than the fast itself. Ironically, this is like productivity generally: the anticipation of how difficult it will be to achieve important goals is normally much worse than the actual experience.

And so the upshot is also the same: stop worrying; just do it! Ramadan Mubarak to all reading this and I’d be so grateful if you could remember me in your duas when you break your fasts.

Fruit Photo by Michael Stern. Clock picture by Christine Callahan.

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