يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
"O who believe, fasting is decreed for you as it was decreed for those before you; perchance you will guard yourselves. (2:183)
Ramadan - The Gates of Allahs Mercy
Shaykh Muhammad Nazim Adil al-Haqqani
The Prophet (s) gave good tidings about this holy month. The first third of this Holy Ramadan is the days of mercy for all people, ten days, the second ten days are the days of forgiveness of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala, and the last one-third, is freedom from Hell for believers--Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala freeing them from Hell. Therefore, believers who try to keep the Lords orders during the days of Blessed Ramadan by fasting and during the night by praying Tarawih1 and night prayers (tahajjud), may be rewarded by our Lord giving them immunity, safety (bara`a) from Hell, and they have been given good tidings of Paradise.2
The whole spiritual structure of mankind is built on cleanliness, and it is impossible for a person to improve his spiritual station without first attaining complete cleanliness, physically and spiritually. Fasting is a beginning for spiritual cleanliness. The first step is the common level of fasting: trying to free yourself from your nafs' commands and control. As long as you are under the control of your nafs you remain unclean.
Therefore the first level of fasting is to compel our ego so that we may take control from its hands and put control in our own hands--therefore we abstain from eating, drinking and sexual contact in the daytime.
The first step is to avoid what is halal (permitted) on every day except during Ramadan. Eating and drinking and having sexual intercourse are halal; but in Ramadan, the permitted thing becomes haram--forbidden--during the daytime. That is the basic level of cleanliness, but it is of a higher purpose to seek even greater cleanliness.
To attain greater cleanliness, the second step is to try to be clean from sins: you must guard your eyes, your tongue, your ears, your hands, your feet and all the parts of your body from wrongdoing. You must tell yourself, " O my tongue! Just as you are keeping yourself from tasting food and drink, yet still you must be careful. Don't say anything that is prohibited."
That second step--to clean ourselves from all prohibited actions and sins makes us physically and spiritually lighter; we may move toward higher spiritual stations. Yet it is not enough.
The third step is for hearts: you must attend to your heart. Allah Almighty is telling us: "your heart belongs to Me." Among the Children of Adam, every part of the body belongs to him but one. "Your heart belongs to Me, not to anyone else," He says, "Therefore I am asking that it be clean, absolutely clean."3
How can it be clean? Everything except Allah Almighty and His Pleasure must be put out of your heart. Every time you are by yourself, you can look into your heart to see if you are with your Lord or with someone or something else. Whenever you examine your heart and find yourself with your Lord, Almighty Allah, you must deem yourself fortunate. At that time divine light will enter your heart, and you may reach the true pleasure of faith. The Prophet (s) said, "The lustful glance is one of the poison arrows of Satan. He who because of pity abstains therefrom will receive from Allah a belief, the sweetness of which will fill his heart."
Thus it is important for every believer to control his or her every action. Without guarding our actions we are destined to lose. And every action begins with a thought. Satan is well-aware of the nature of mankind. In every kind of thought he has put some of his tricks. Whoever is able to control his thoughts, may be safe from Satans promptings; but whoever is unable to control them will have his mind filled with evil ideas and falsehood. Whoever is under Satans control cannot be an obedient servant to his Lord. As Muslims and believers this must be our first concern--to control ourselves. If you find any of Satans control affecting yourself, in either actions or thoughts, you must strive to make them clean.
Increased Worship - A Means of Approaching Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala
When Ramadan comes to an end, we may find ourselves "crying for Ramadan". This month gives so much pleasure to us, through our increased obedience and worship of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala. These two are the source of all true happiness--obedience and worship. For that reason the Prophet (s) "and the apple of my eyes is prayer--salaat".
Allah Almighty sent us His messages through His prophets. The summary of those messages is that people should take control of themselves. Therefore Allah Almighty orders prayers five times a day, plus Sunnah worship as well. There are the five times of prayer which Allah Almighty makes obligatory on His servants, but the Prophet (s) did Sunnah-prayers by day and by night also, so that those times of praying are always putting control on our limbs and on our hearts. Allah Almighty says in a hadith qudsi, "O My servant! If you take one step toward Me, I take ten toward you." Therefore we are in need to be active for His Sake. Make your steps more firm on the Straight Path and more powerful, day by day.
It is this holy season of worshipping which will cause you to move toward Allah Almighty. "When Ramadan comes... a caller calls out every night: 'Oh seeker of Good, draw near! Oh seeker of Evil, desist!' " [an-Nasa'i]. Therefore, this month presents a special opportunity: one for increased worship and increased devotion. In it are prescribed tarawih and the night prayers by means of which one may move ever closer to Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala. we have an opportunity during Holy Ramadan more than at any other time. The one who is able to control himself during Ramadan is going to be able, with Allah Almightys support, to take control of himself for the other eleven months. Everything begins small and grows, good things and bad things, good habits and bad habits; for each one we have a beginning. And the beginning is difficult, but you must be patient and continue; if you know that something is right, you must continue to keep on that way, even though it may be so difficult. Difficulties may be overcome by a strong faith and strong faith is with those people who are able to control themselves. Therefore make a firm and continuous intention to increased devotion, not only for for this holy month, Ramadan, but make it continuous always.
1Yahya related to me from Malik that Yazid ibn Ruman said, "The people used to watch the night in prayer during Ramadan for twenty-three rak'as in the time of Umar ibn al-Khattab." [Al-Muwatta, 6.2.5]
2 "This is a month, the first part of which brings Allahs Mercy, the middle of which brings Allahs forgiveness and the last part of which brings emancipation from hellfire." [Bukhari].
3This is one tafsir of the hadith qudsi: Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "Allah said: The Fast is for Me and I will give the reward for it, as he (the one who observes the fast) leaves his sexual desire, food and drink for My Sake. Fasting is a screen (from Hell) and there are two pleasures for a fasting person, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord. And the smell of the mouth of a fasting person is better in Allah's Sight than the smell of musk." [Bukhari]