Monday, May 14, 2018

Preparing for the Month of the Quran "Ramaḍān"

Arabic- English Lecture:
Title: Preparing for the Month of the Quran "Ramaḍān".
Place: an-Nūr Mosque - Barking / London.
Speaker: Afla b. Amed al-Khalīlī.
Translator: al-Mu‘tașim Sa‘īd al-Ma‘walī.
Date: Monday; 01/05/2017 CE - 4 Sha‘bān 1438 AH.

Bismillah Ar-Rahmani Ar-Raheem
In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful. All praise is due to Allah. Peace and blessings of Allah be upon our beloved - the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him (PBUH)) - and those who follow him till the Day of Resurrection.
First and foremost, I would like to salute you all with the salutation of peace, with the salutation of the people of Paradise “Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh”.
Sheikh Aflah starts his talk thanking Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala (SWT) that He facilitate this gathering to take place tonight, and that he ask Allah SWT to grant us beneficial knowledge, and to cause us to act upon such knowledge, and to accept from us our deeds, and not to let us be from among those who were deprived from His Mercy and those whose deeds are rejected.

Allah SWT made it clear to every single Muslim that the only way by which the righteous deed will be accepted by Almighty Allah SWT is the way that He is ordering us and that He only order us to worship Him in the way that is pleasing to Him SWT; i.e. the way that is based on the correct knowledge.

Allah SWT mentioned two preconditions for those who are looking forward to meeting Almighty Allah SWT in the Hereafter. The verse reads:
 {فَمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو لِقَاءَ رَبِّهِ فَلْيَعْمَلْ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا وَلَا يُشْرِكْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِ أَحَدًا}
“Whoever wishes to meet Almighty Allah SWT let him do righteous deeds and let him not associate with the worship of Almighty Allah any partner beside Him”

These two preconditions have to present in every single deed legislated by Almighty Allah SWT. The first of which is the righteous deed (العمل الصالح). The righteous deed must be compatible to the way that Almighty Allah SWT asks us. For example, we are asked to pray al-Asr as 4 rakaat or 4 units. If we were to add one rakaat, Almighty Allah would not accept this addition. In fact, He wouldn’t even accept the entire prayer.

And the only way to know the divine instructions is to learn these from the Holy Quran and from the Sunnah of the Prophet Mohammed PBUH. There is no other way to know the legislated or the Sharia rules and regulations except by learning these things.

So it is not peculiar and it is not strange that the very first commandment enshrined in the Holy Quran is the word “اقرأ” meaning “read” and the second commandment is also “to read”.
Allah SWT asks us “to read” in the very first commandment mentioned in the Holy Quran and also the second commandment in the Holy Quran is “to read” as well.
{اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ} Read in the name of your Lord who created.
{خَلَقَ الْإِنسَانَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ} He made the human from a clot of blood.
Then He says: {اقْرَأْ وَرَبُّكَ الْأَكْرَمُ}. He repeats the command “to read”. He says: “Read and your Lord is the Most Generous.”

And this reflects how the reading is very important in Islam and this reflect how much significant the knowledge in Islam is.

The verse goes saying:
{اقْرَأْ وَرَبُّكَ الْأَكْرَمُ} Read and your Lord is the Most Generous.
{الَّذِي عَلَّمَ بِالْقَلَمِ} The one who taught by the pen.
{عَلَّمَ الْإِنسَانَ مَا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ} He taught the human what he never knew in the past.
And we see here the association between the knowledge and the generosity of Almighty Allah SWT. The verse describes Almighty Allah SWT of being generous and this reflects that the most generosity should be in learning the knowledge. By extension, one should adhere to the sound knowledge in order for all his rituals and ceremonial rites to be correct in the sight of Almighty Allah SWT.

What is striking in the verse that the action of teaching is ascribed to Almighty Allah SWT in more than one place within the context of the beginning of Surat Iqra (اقرأ)
{اقْرَأْ وَرَبُّكَ الْأَكْرَمُ} Read and your Lord is the Most Generous.
{الَّذِي عَلَّمَ بِالْقَلَمِ} It is Allah who taught with the pen
{عَلَّمَ الْإِنسَانَ مَا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ} who taught the human being what he never knew in the past.
So, here we find the repetition of ascribing the action of teaching to Almighty Allah SWT.
This reflects the honour of knowledge and how the knowledge is honoured.

The second precondition or prerequisite mentioned in the earlier verse:
{فَمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو لِقَاءَ رَبِّهِ فَلْيَعْمَلْ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا وَلَا يُشْرِكْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِ أَحَدًا}. We elaborated on the first precondition, i.e. the righteous deed (العمل الصالح). Now the verse goes on mentioning the second precondition for every single deed to be accepted in the sight of Almighty Allah SWT and that is not to associate any partner, and not to desire any one beside Almighty Allah SWT. That means the action or the righteous deed should be solely done for the sake of Almighty Allah SWT to please Him not apart from any created human.

Allah SWT who mentioned just this condition “فَلْيَعْمَلْ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا وَلَا يُشْرِكْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِ أَحَدًا”. It is He who also mentioned that the pure or sincere religion is His, Almighty Allah SWT. The sincere religion, i.e. the religion that is done for His purpose, and for His pleasure is belonging to Almighty Allah SWT, Exalted is He.

Allah SWT makes it clear to us what He means by the pure religion (الدين الخالص) when He gave us the example of the milk which comes from the blood of the animal or even of the human being. And this milk if it is distorted by a very small drop of blood none of us will dare to drink it; and that is the case that should be on in the religion. I mean, the religion should be just like the milk, i.e. pure without any distort and without any dirt. And just like you don’t accept the milk that is distorted with any blood; Allah SWT, likewise, doesn’t accept the religion if there is any kind of association with any created human being.

In this lesson we want to highlight or shed light on an important form of worship, i.e. Siyam (الصيام) or fasting; be it obligatory or voluntary. And in order for us to do it in the way that is pleasing to Almighty Allah SWT taking into account that this form of worship, i.e. Siyam was prescribed not only upon this Ummah but also upon the previous nations who came before us.

The verse: { يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ}.
Almighty Allah SWT sets out the commandments to do this kind of worship with the call of “the believers”, i.e. He calls us with this term “believers” (المؤمنين) “O you who have believed” (يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا) in order to draw our attention because every single one of us is falling under that category, i.e. the Category of Believers or the Category of Muslims. So -for that verse - it is more likely to draw our attention. Then the verse goes using a very strong form of order, that is, the word “كتب”; and “كتب literally means “written upon you”. So as if it is something done in the past you have no choice or option. And thus it is more likely that you are going to comply with this commandments. And furthermore, Almighty Allah SWT concludes the verse explaining the fruit of being obedient to His commandments when He mentions the outmost purpose of fasting the month of Ramadhan when He says: {لعلكم تتقون} So that you might gain piety or righteousness.

The word “صيام” (Siyam) is a great concept. It has been used in the pre-Islamic era with Arabs in the pre-Islamic time and it means “to refrain” or “to abstain” generally from anything. And there are examples in the Arabic poetry in which the word used in its linguistic sense. In fact, in the Holy Quran that word “صيام” also was used in its linguistic sense. As for its religious sense or its technical sense it means “to refrain from eating, drinking, sexual contact, and all prohibited things from the rise of the true dawn till sunset with the intention”
By this definition we know that Siyam isn’t confined to just refraining from eating and drinking. Rather, all nullifiers and prohibitions are considered invalidators to Siyam if one doesn’t abstain from all of them.
So Siyam isn’t confined or restricted to abstaining from eating and drinking. Rather, every single sin must be avoided in all times, especially during the day of fasting. And all that (i.e. refraining from sins, eating and drinking) should be associated with the sincere and valid intention to worship solely Almighty Allah SWT from the rise of the true dawn to sunset.

Siyam is based upon two essential pillars, first of which is Imsak (الإمساك) i.e. to refrain, and the second is Niyyah (النية) or the intention.

The Sheikh starts off his explanation of the second essential pillars of fasting, i.e. intention with him saying that there are two things that should be taken into account when it comes to the Niyyah of fasting. First of which is the fact that the Niyyah (intention) must precede the day of fasting. So it must be from the night before the true dawn breaks or before the true dawn rises. So the Niyyah must precede the actual action (i.e. fasting) and that is based on the narration ascribed or attributed to the Prophet Mohammed PBUH
لا صيام لمن لم يبيت الصيام من الليل
“There is no valid Siyam for the one who didn’t have the intention from the night.”
And the second thing that the Sheikh draws our attention to is that the Niyyah must be identical to the action. So if you are going to fast the month of Ramadhan you should specify in your intention that you are going to fast the obligatory pillar of Ramadhan apart from the Nafl or the voluntary fast.
On another level, when you determine this is obligatory fasting you need also to determine the kind of obligatory fasting because the obligatory fasting itself is of different types. The Sheikh gave four examples, first of which is fasting the month of Ramadhan by the verse of Quran and consecutive narrations of the Prophet Mohammed PBUH.
Secondly, fasting the Nathr or the vow. It is translated roughly as: the vow that one made to worship Allah SWT or to do a kind of worship and if he breaks his vow, then he will have to do an expiation (Kaffarah) which is the same expiation of Yameen(اليمين)  or of the oath
(كفارة النذر كفارة اليمين)
“The expiation for vows is the expiation for an oath."
And this takes us to the third category of the obligatory fasting, which is fasting the Kaffarah or the expiation. If one made an oath or sworn by Allah that he is going to do so and so and he didn’t fulfill what he has vowed or sworn, then in this case he has to make a Kaffarah Mursalah (كفارة مرسلة) or a Kaffarah that is not a heavy one, and not Kaffarah Mughaladhah (كفارة مغلظة) (i.e. intensive Kaffarah).
And the fourth category of the obligatory fasting, that is, the fast of the one who doesn’t find the sacrificial animal in Haj if he is performing Haj style or pattern of Tamatu (تمتع). Tamatu is doing Umrah (عمرة) during the month of Haj (الحج) then you go out of the state of Umrah by doing Ihlal  (إحلال)then you enter the state of Haj or the state of Ihram bel-haj (إحرام بالحج). In this case you are combining in your journey between two rituals Umrah and Haj. So upon you is a sacrificial animal, which is called Hadi (الهدي). If you don’t find Hadi and you are mutamatti (متمتع), i.e. doing this form of pilgrimage, in this case you have to fast 10 days; three days during the days of the pilgrimage and seven days when you are back home.
So these are the four categories.  So one must distinguish first between the forms of Siyam be it obligatory or voluntary, and secondly when he determines this form he needs to determine the subcategory, i.e. which form of obligatory fasting or which form of voluntary fasting.

And the Niyyah must be certain, or in other word, one should be sure about his fasting, i.e. he mustn’t be hesitant in regard to whether he fast or he doesn’t fast. He cannot be hesitant and enters the day of fasting with a hesitant or uncertain Niyyah. So this must be clear from the very beginning whether he is going to fast or he doesn’t fast. Otherwise, if the Niyyah isn’t certain, then the fasting wouldn’t be acceptable. And the other thing is that one should be sincere in his Niyyah, i.e. he doesn’t fast in order to show off people that he is fasting or that he is righteous and doing a lot of voluntary acts. Rather, he must be doing that for the sake of pleasing Allah SWT and for the sake of gaining his pleasure.

The core of fasting is to abstain and refrain from eating and drinking. And this can be divided into two categories. The first category is the one upon which the scholars have agreed, in other word, there is no disagreement or dispute between the scholars of Islam upon this category. For example, eating, drinking and having sex with one’s spouse. All of these three things are nullifiers and invalidators to fasting without any difference between the scholars of Islam. So this is the first category which is a consensus of scholars of Islam.

The second category of the nullifiers of fasting are that which is contentious and disputed by the scholars of Islam, i.e. they didn’t reach to a conclusion as to whether they are going to invalidate the Siyam or not.
And there is a number of examples. For example, intentional vomiting; if one is intentionally have committed vomiting or he caused himself to vomit this is a disputable issue whether his fasting is null and void or not. The other example is committing sins during the day of fasting; the scholars of Islam also differed as to whether committing sins during the day of fasting nullifies the actual Siyam or not. The third example of the disputable issues that the Sheikh mentioned is Hijamah or cupping. Cupping is to take the false blood from your body. The scholars of Islam based on different narrations disputed whether cupping is nullifying to fasting or not.

The first category upon which the scholars have agreed unanimously is eating or drinking, and this is nullifying to Siyam by consensus of scholars, provided that there are certain conditions which must be met. The first of which is that he eats on purpose, i.e. he eats intentionally without forgetfulness. The second thing is that he eats what could really nourish and feed the body; and this is during the day of fasting with the intention that he is breaking the fasting by doing so.

Based on the aforementioned principle that if one eats or drinks out of forgetfulness, then according to the majority opinion his fasting is still valid and this is in accordance with the Prophet’s PBUH statement
إنما أطعمه الله وسقاه))
“It is Allah SWT who caused him to drink and to eat during the day of fasting.”

The Sheikh will conclude his session by general attentions or remarks; first of which is the fact that Siyam is a great school which trains one  and instills in his heart the piety that turns his behavior, and instills in his heart the righteousness; and this is a fulfillment of the Prophet (PBUH)   who says:
الصيام جنة))
“Fasting is a shield.”, or “Fasting is a shelter.”
فإذا كان يوم صوم أحدكم ... فإن سابه أحد أو قاتله فليقل: إني صائم))
“If one of you is fasting and someone approaches him insulting him or trying to fighting him let him say: “I am fasting”.”
And the Prophet (PBUH) was reported to have said:
الغيبة تفطر الصائم وتنقض الوضوء) )
“Backbiting breaks the fasting and nullifies the ablution.”
The other prophetic tradition:
من لم يدع قول الزور والعمل به فليس لله حاجة في أن يدع طعامه وشرابه))
“However leaves the false statement and acting upon such statement then Allah SWT is in no need of him leaving his food and drink.”
So it is really a great opportunity for each one of us to train himself to be a pious person. It is a great opportunity for every single of us to make it a starting point to clean the sheet and make our record of deeds on the sight of Allah SWT crystal clear. And the first step to prepare yourself to the month of Ramadhan is to repent to Almighty Allah SWT.

Lecture transcribed and edited freely by Bint Ibadh

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