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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Nigeria: Welcome, O Ramadan! (II)

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In continuation of our Ramadan Series, today we visit one of the most prolific of contemporary ('yan boko) Islamic workers who died only a generation ago, Shaikh Sayyid Abul A'la Al-Maududi (1903 - 1979). Writing mostly in English, Maududi communicated directly to young, Western educated Muslims. We today excerpt some pointers from his 'The Real Purpose of Fasting' contained in his book "Let Us Be Muslims". Enjoy.

A Purpose for Every Work: There are essentially two component factors in any work which a man has to perform. The first thing is the purpose for which a work is done and the second thing is the particular shape of that work which is chosen to achieve that purpose. Take the case of food; your object in taking food is to remain alive and maintain your strength. The method of achieving this object is that you take a morsel, put it in your mouth, masticate it and push it down the throat. What will you say if anybody were to make a morsel of sawdust or mud, put it in his mouth, chew and gulp it? You will say that his brain is out of order!

Consequences of Considering the Outward as Real: If you ponder over the example I have just placed before you in detail, you can understand why your 'Ibadat' have become inefficacious today. The greatest mistake of all is to regard the acts of Salah and fasting and their outward shape as real 'Ibadat' and you suffer from the delusion that whoever fulfilled these requirements performed the 'Ibadat' of Allah. If you have a little sense, then tell me how a man who is fasting from morning till evening can utter a lie and indulge in backbiting? Why does he quarrel at the slightest pretext and utter abuses from his mouth?

Again, Freedom from Restrictions after Ramadan: Then tell me how is it that when you are relieved after doing Allah's 'Ibadat' for about 360 hours throughout Ramadan, all the effect of this whole exercise in piety disappears on the 1st of Shawwal? After the end of Ramadan how many of you are there who retain some effects of piety and virtuousness on the second day of 'Eid' also? Which law of Allah is left unviolated? What part of your time is devoted to good deeds, and how much is selfishness reduced?

Wrong Conception of 'Ibadat': Ponder as to what after all can be the reason for this? The only reason is that the very meaning and purport of 'Ibadat' has become twisted in your mind. You think that mere abstention from eating and drinking throughout the day is called fasting and that this alone is 'Ibadat'. You feel the fear of Allah to that extent that you avoid every transgression which even slightly endangers the break-up of the fast so much so that even if the life is at stake, you are not prepared to break the fast. But you do not know that being merely hungry and thirsty is not real 'Ibadat' but only a form of it.

Fast, Source of Becoming Pious: This is why Allah said after ordaining fasting: "La'allakum tattaqoon" i.e. fasting is made obligatory on you, may be you become pious and virtuous. It is not said that you will certainly become pious and virtuous because this outcome of fasting depends on the perception and intention of the man concerned. Whoever will understand its purpose and will try through it to achieve its objective, will become pious to the desired extent, but one who will not comprehend its purpose and will not even try to get at it cannot hope to gain any thing out of it.

Among the Real Goals of Fasting is Abstention from Lying: Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, has drawn attention in various ways towards the real aim of fasting and has explained that to be hungry and thirsty without keeping in view the objective is in no way useful. He said: "Whoever does not give up lying and practicing falsehood, Allah is in no need of his giving up food and water". In another Hadith he said: "Many are the fasters whose fasting does not bring them anything except hunger and thirst and many are those who keep standing in the night but their standing does not bring anything except being awake in the night".

Among the Real Goals of Fasting are Faith and Self-Scrutiny: The Prophet has drawn attention to the real aim of fasting thus: "Whoever observed fast imbued with faith and with the expectation of reward from Allah, all his past sins are forgiven". The reference to faith implies that the belief in Allah with a Muslim should remain fully fresh in the mind of a Muslim. If, in accordance with these two principles, a person where to observe all the fasts of Ramadan, he will have all his past sins forgiven because even if he was once an unruly and disobedient slave he has now turned fully repentant to his Master - and "A penitent is like one who has, as it were, never committed a sin at all" as the Prophet said.

Among the Real Goals of Fasting is Shield for Protection from Sins: In another Hadith it is said: "Fasts are like a shield (meant for protection from the enemy assault, so is fasting for protection from Satan's attack)". Therefore when a man observes fast he should (utilize this shield and) abstain from disorderly behavior. If anybody abused him or quarreled with him, the person who keeps fast should tell him: "Brother, I am fasting".

Among the Real Goals of Fasting is Temptation of Goodness: The Prophet has directed in other Hadiths that man while fasting ought to do more good works and should be eager to perform benevolent acts.

Particularly during fasting, he must develop with full intensity a sympathetic sentiment for his other brothers because being himself in the throes of hunger and thirst he can all the more realize what is befalling other slaves of Allah in their plight of destitution and misery. Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Prophet used to become especially kind and benevolent during Ramadan.

Among the Real Goals of Fasting is Reward for Providing 'Iftar': According to a Hadith the Prophet said: "Whoever in Ramadan provides a person who is keeping fast with Iftar, this act will become a source of forgiveness for his sins and safety from hellfire and he will get as much reward as will the keeper of fast get without any reduction in the recompense of the latter".

May we have had Allah's Mercy in this first ten days of Ramadan, and may we be fortunate to obtain Allah's forgiveness in the second ten beginning Monday, and then Allah's salvation of us from hellfire in the last ten.

Amin. A sha ruwa lafiya.

Source: AllAfrica

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