Islamic education- Miscellanous topics- Lesson (147 )- Fasting and Preparation for Ramadan
Last update:2011-08-07
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Praise be to Allah, the Lord of Creations, and Peace and blessings be upon our prophet Muhammad, the faithful and the honest.
 Oh, Allah, we know nothing but what You teach us. You are the All- Knower, the Wise. Oh Allah, teach us what is good for us, and benefit us from what You taught us, and increase our knowledge. Show us the righteous things as righteous and help us to do them, and show us the bad things as bad and help us to keep away from them.
  O Allah our Lord, lead us out from the depths of darkness and illusion, unto the lights of erudition and knowledge, and from the muddy shallows of lusts unto the heavens of Your Vicinity.

Dear brothers, we'll continue the series of Islamic education lessons with a new one that deals with a religious duty that is considered the second most important ritual of Islamic worships.

The principles of Islam:

First of all, worships in this great religion, as Imam Shafi'i said, are justified by people’s interests.
The Islamic religion consists of:
1- Ideologies
2- Worships
3- Transactions
4- Manners

1- Islamic Ideology:

If man’s ideology is proper and sound, his working is proper as well. On the other hand, if his ideology is incorrect, his working is incorrect too.

2- Worships:

Worships, according to Imam Shafi'i, are justified by people’s interests, Allah The Almighty says:

"Verily, As-Salat (the prayer) prevents from Al-Fahsha' (i.e. great sins of every kind, unlawful sexual intercourse, etc.) and Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism, and every kind of evil wicked deed, etc.)"

[Al-Ankabut Surah, Verse 45]

a. Prayer:

Allah the Almighty, the King of kings, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, has given us a justification for doing the prayer, as He could just have ordained us to do that (without mentioning any reason), but as a mercy on us, Allah has given us a justification. Perfect commanders give justification for their orders.
Allah the Almighty says:

"And perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat). Verily, As-Salat (the prayer) prevents from Al-Fahsha' (i.e. great sins of every kind, unlawful sexual intercourse, etc.) and Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism, and every kind of evil wicked deed, etc.) and the remembering (praising, etc.) of (you by) Allah (in front of the angels) is greater indeed [than your remembering (praising, etc.) Allah in prayers, etc.]."

[Al-Ankabut Surah, Verse 45]

Hence, prayer is justified by man’s interests; because it prohibits him from immorality and wrongdoing which would lead to ruin him in this life and the hereafter.
We infer from this justification that the one whose prayer doesn't prevent him from immorality and wrongdoing will bear no fruit from his prayers; as he just performs nonsense and useless actions.
The Prophet (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said:

"Prayer is purification"

[Narrated as a tradition]

First, the one who performs prayer shouldn't bear a grudge; because grudge is a disease. The one who performs prayer can't be oppressive; because oppression is a disease. The one who performs prayer can't be arrogant, because arrogance is a disease.

Secondly, prayer is a source of delight and pleasure for the believers.
The Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) used to ask Bilal to give the Adhan for the prayer by saying:

“Give us comfort by it, O Bilal.”

[Sunan Abu Dawud]

There is a big difference between saying "give us comfort by it" and "give us comfort from it", because the person who says the latter one will not bear the fruit of the performing prayers.

Thirdly, the prayer is an illumination; through prayer, Allah makes you see the righteous things as righteous so you can do them, and the bad things as bad so you keep away from them. Allah the Almighty says:

28. "O you who believe! Fear Allah, and believe too in His Messenger (Muhammad ), He will give you a double portion of His Mercy, and He will give you a light by which you shall walk (straight), and He will forgive you. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."

[Surah Al-Hadid]

Hence, the prayer is an illumination. The prayer is purification. The prayer is a source of pleasure. The prayer is a scale for the believers; for example, if you commit a sin, or made an aggression on someone's honor or money, yes you can stand and pray, you can recite Surat Al-Fatiha, kneel and prostrate, but you will not be connected to Allah because your sin has separated you from Allah the Almighty.
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (Peace be upon him) as saying:

"The prayer is a scale and the one who performed it and fulfilled its due, will get its fruits."

[Narrated by Ibn Al-Moubarak]

Allah the Almighty says:

43. "O you who believe! Approach not As-Salat (the prayer) when you are in a drunken state until you know (the meaning) of what you utter."

[Surah An-Nisa']

If a person doesn't recognize what he says in his praying, then he won't perform the prayer that Allah wants. The Prophet (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said:

“Man is not rewarded for his Salat (prayer) except what he comprehends thereof."

[Narrated by Ahmad from Ammar bin Yasser]

The prayer should bring you near to Allah. Allah the Almighty says:

"Fall prostrate and draw near to Allah!"

[Al-Alaq Surah, Verse 19]

The prayer is a supplication. Allah the Almighty says:

6. "Guide us to the Straight Way."
7. "The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians)."

[Al-Fatihah Surah]

The prayer is a way to remember Allah. Allah the Almighty says:

"And establish prayer for My remembrance."

[Ta-Ha Surah]

The prayer is the basis of all acts of devotion and the source of all acts of obedience. The prayer is the top of the pieties. It is the ascent of the believer to the Lord of the earth and the heavens.

Hence, worships in Islam are justified by people’s interests.

b. Fasting:

This is the centre of our lecture today.
The Prophet (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said:

"He whose prayer doesn't prevent him from evil speech and deeds gets farther from Allah."

[Narrated by At-Tabbarani in Al-Kabeer from Ibn Abbas]

"Many are the observers of fast who gain nothing from their fast but thirst and hunger."

[Narrated by Al Nisa'e and Ibn Majah from Abu Huraira]

Allah the Almighty says:

183. "O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious)."

[Al-Baqarah Surah]

Perhaps if you fast, and prevent yourself from sins and wrongdoings, and you come to Allah the Almighty, He will lighten up your way and make you see the righteous things as righteous and the bad things as bad.
Once again we infer that worships in this great religion are justified by people’s interests.

c. Zakat (Almsgiving):

Allah the Almighty says:

"Take Sadaqah (alms) from their wealth in order to purify them."

[At-Taubah Surah, Verse 103]

Zakat purifies the rich people from their own stinginess, as Allah the Almighty says:

"And whosoever is saved from his own covetousness, such are they who will be the successful."

[Al-Hashr Surah, Verse 9]

Zakat also purifies the soul of the poor from envy and malice towards the rich. Allah the Almighty says:

"Take Sadaqah (alms) from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it."

[At-Taubah Surah, Verse 103]

The soul of the poor prospers, because they feel that the society doesn't forget them. Moreover, the soul of the rich prospers, because they feel that they bring joy and happiness to the heart of the poor, and their money will flourish (by Allah's blessing) as well. Allah the Almighty says:

"Take Sadaqah (alms) from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it, and invoke Allah for them. Verily! Your invocations are a source of security for them."

[At-Taubah Surah, Verse 103]

d. Al-Hajj (Pilgrimage):

It was mentioned in the tradition:

"Whoever performs hajj with illicit money then he says (during hajj): Labbayka Allâhumma Labbayka (I respond to Your call O Allah, I respond to Your call, and I am obedient to your orders). Allah says: "Let your call not be responded to and happiness not be your reward and your hajj is not accepted."

Therefor Allah the Almighty says:

"That you may know that Allah has knowledge of all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth."

[Al-Ma'idah Surah, Verse 97]

When you believe that Allah knows everything, you will bear the fruit of the Hajj.

Furthermore, saying shahada (testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger) is among the pillars of belief.
The Prophet (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said:

“Whoever says Laa ilaaha illal-laah (There is no god but Allah)…sincerely will enter the Paradise.”

It was said: And what is the [sign of] sincerity? He said: “To stop him from those things which Allah has forbidden.”

[Narrated by Tabaraani in Awsat-ul-Kabeer]

Let's return now to our crux of our lesson today which is: Fasting

Defining Fasting (As-Sawm):
Fasting is an act of devotion; Ramadan could come in hot summer, where the day is too long as it could reach to 17 hours, and thirst would exhaust the faster who knows that there is fresh cold water in the fridge, but he would never drink a single drop of water even if there is nobody at home (he fears Allah and believes that Allah knows everything).
Therefore, the Prophet (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said in an agreed-upon Qudsi Hadith that Allah says:

"Every deed of the son of Adam is for him except fasting; it is for Me and I shall reward for it."

The Purpose of Fasting: A Worship Training Course

1- A Worship Training Course:

But what is the purpose behind this training? During the other days of the year, do you feel guilty if you eat, drink, or have sexual intercourse with your wife? Of course not, because these actions are halal (lawful). On the other hand, these lawful actions become unlawful during the daytime of Ramadan. So if you leave off these lawful and permissible actions during the daytime of Ramadan, you would certaily leave sins and wrongdoings (which are unlawful actions). Allah the Almighty wants us to have self-control and strong will. Would you lie, cheat, or backbite someone (which are unlawful actions), while you leave off eating and drinking (which are lawful actions), for sure this is not the purpose behind fasting. As if Allah the Almighty makes us more strong-willed to be able to fast Ramadan.

The human being may not stand to have lessons all the days of the year, but he could stand a 30 day training course.

2-Ramadan: The month of Forgiveness

The Prophet (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said:

“Whoever fasts Ramadan out of faith and seeking reward (from Allah), all his previous sins will be forgiven.”

[Agreed upon]

“He who observed prayer on the nights of Ramadan out of faith and seeking reward (from Allah), all his previous sins will be forgiven."

[Agreed upon]

For example, suppose that a person is in debt of 8 million, all his money and properties have been distrained, besides that he has a trial and he will be sent to prison, then someone tells him that ifhe performed some actions for 30 days only, he would be relieved from all his financial problems, and his trial will be canceled as well, does he hesitate for a second to accept this great offer? Likewise, in Ramadan you start a new page with Allah the Almighty, which is considered a golden opportunity for you to achieve.

Leave your problem solving to after Ramadan:

Your speed in Ramadan should be 100, but now you are zero or one, you can't walk on one till 29th of Sha'aban, then you suddenly jump to 100. Therefore, you should prepare yourself in advance; if there is a simple problem, try to solve it before Ramadan, but if you have a complicated one, leave it to after Ramadan (if it is not urgent), because Ramadan is the month of worship only. In fact, the Prophet (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) used to seclude himself in the mosque during Ramadan for worship (i’tikaf). I can't urge you to secludeyourself in the mosque, because I know that life nowadays is hard and complicated, but I urge you to seclude in another way; to prevent yourself from worthless and nonsense talks, criticizing people, or even from worries and problem solving, because this month is a worship training course, and worship charges the believers.

2- Ramadan is a belief recharger:

A clarifying example: the mobile phone needs to be recharged, because if you don't recharge it, it will stop working and become a useless piece plastic. Likewise, you, as a believer, need to be recharged.
There are different kinds of recharging:
We have a daily recharge; which is the prayer; whenever you stand to pray, you receive a charge of faith. Allah the Almighty says:

"6. Verily, the rising by night (for Tahajjud prayer) is very hard and most potent and good for governing (the soul), and most suitable for (understanding) the Word (of Allah)."
7. "Verily, there is for you by day prolonged occupation with ordinary duties."

[Al-Muzzammil Surah]

When you have been recharged in Al-Fajr prayer, you feel that you see the truth all the day, you say and act properly, you feel calm and secure, you feel that Allah has lighten up your heart and that His blessings surround you. Accordingly, you are being recharged from prayer to prayer.
By the way, the two rakaats of Al Fajr Sunnah are performed before Al Fajr prayer (Sunnah qabliya), because you have been sleeping and you are not totally focused, that's why the sunna of Al Fajr is performed before the obligatory prayer (fardh); the Sunnah is like a preparation for you to perform the obligatory prayer properly. Whereas Al-Ishaa’ Sunnah is ba'diya (performed after Al-Ishaa' obligatory prayer), because Al-Ishaa’ prayer comes after a long day of work and tiredness. There are both qabliya and ba'diya Sunnahs for Salat al-Zuhr (Midday prayer), because people in the midday are busy and their minds are full of problems and thinking, so they perform two rakaats before the obligatory prayer and two after it; the first one as a preparation, and the second as a completion for the obligatory prayer (in case of distraction). Accordingly, Al-Fajr prayer (Dawn prayer) is short, while the rest of the day prayers are long. The Prophet (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said:

"The prayer to the following prayer is atonement for what is between them."

[Narrated by Al-Hakim from Abu Huraira]

Ramadan includes thirty days of fasting, reciting the noble Quran, remembering Allah, performing Al Fajr and Al Ishaa’ prayers in the mosque, performing 20 rakaats of Taraweeh everyday, in addition to 30 days of almsgiving, lowering the gaze, and controlling the tongue; hence, Ramadan is an annual recharger for us.
Whereas Al-Haj (pilgrimage) charges you for the rest of your life; one month of travelling and leaving the family, then you head towards Ka'aba to perform Tawaf (circumambulating) around it, then Sa'ey (walking) between Safa & Marwah, then you stand at Arafat,…..etc.
Accordingly, Worships charges the believers. The longer the period of worship, the stronger the charge will be; these are some of the real meanings of fasting.

3- Fasting helps the believers to be more strong-willed:

First, in Ramadan you become accustomed to obey Allah the Almighty; because you leave the permissible actions, so it is a fortiori to leave the prohibited actions.
The Muslim should fast by his mouth and limbs all the days of Ramadan, but in Shawwal, he breaks the fast of his mouth only, and keeps the fast of his limbs until the end of the year; he keeps lowering the gaze, controlling the tongue, seeking halal earnings (lawful), ….etc. Thus, Ramadan helps you to be more strong-willed during the whole year.
I really deeply wish from all believers to avoid the new way of fasting; because Ramadan season among some recent communities is not the season of worship and getting close to Allah the Almighty; rather it is the season of TV shows and series, soirees, and feasts; this is not the act of the true believers. Furthermore, Ramadan for some high class people is folklore, may Allah forbids, as they break their fast at what is called "Ramadan tents", then they enjoy different sections of music, singing and dancing. Besides that, they dare to write in front of the indecent art works: "Honoring the Arrival of Ramadan".
Ramadan for the true believers is the month of worship, as they would open a new page with Allah the Almighty which would make over the way of their life.

5-Feeling the need to Allah the Almighty:

Allah the Almighty says:

"And man was created weak."

[An-Nisa' Surah, Verse 28]

During the other days of the year, the person may not observe his weakness and neediness; for example, a person occupies a high position, has a strong character, and holds many people under his control, in Ramadan, this person fasts about 12 hours every day, he feels so thirsty and he only thinks of cold drinks (he observes his weakness and need that he may not feel during the other days of the year), as if Allah the Almighty wants us to feel our need to Him. When Allah the Almighty described the Prophets by saying:

"They ate food and walked in the markets."

[Al-Furqan Surah, Verse 28]

This means that the one who needs to eat food in order to survive is just a human being (he can't be a god). Allah the Almighty says:

“1. Say (O Muhammad )): "He is Allah, (the) One.
2. "Allah-us-Samad (The Self-Sufficient Master, Whom all creatures need, He neither eats nor drinks).
3. "He begets not, nor was He begotten;
4. "And there is none co-equal or comparable unto Him."

[Al-Ikhlaas Surah]

Allah Al-Samad means that He is The Self-Sufficient Master, but you, as a human being, need the air to breathe; if you hold your nose closed, and keep your mouth shut for more than 3 minutes, you'll die. Moreover, you are in need to drink, eat, sleep, and have sexual intercourse with your wife. Therefore, in Ramadan, the believer feels his need to Allah the Almighty; this is the meaning of slavery to Allah the Almighty.
Allah the Almighty says:

123. "And Allah has already made you victorious at Badr, when you were a weak little force."

[Al-Imran Surah]

In the Battle of Badr, the believers felt their neediness to Allah the Almighty; therefore, Allah made them victorious. Whereas in the Battle of Hunain, they didn't feel the same neediness to Allah the Almighty as before; therefore, Allah abandoned them because they depended on their material preparations only. Some Muslims even boasted, 'We will not be defeated today for lack of numbers.'
Allah the Almighty says:

"And on the Day of Hunain (battle) when you rejoiced at your great number but it availed you naught and the earth, vast as it is, was straitened for you, then you turned back in flight."

[At-Taubah Surah, Verse 25]

Dear Muslim brothers, when you feel hungry or thirsty, this is among your neediness to Allah the Almighty. Likewise, you don't recognize the importance of your clothes, except in Al-Haj (pilgrimage); where you just wear two towels, whereas your shirt is loose, comfortable, and has two sleeves.
Among the supplications which was narrated from the Prophet (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon him):

"O Allah, show us your graces while they are present, not when they are taken away."

In the past, when there were two superpowers in the world, involoved in a cold war, the world was more stable and safe; but people at that time didn't recognize the importance of that period. Whereas, when there has been only one superpower in the world, people have watched different kinds of oppression, plundering, and humiliation, in addition to imposing its own culture and pornography.

Hence, bravery is to see the blessing while it is present, not when it is taken away; only fool people observe the blessings when they are vanished.
One day, a king ordered a glass of water, then his minister asked him, 'Your majesty, how much do you pay for this glass, if it is prevented from you?' The king replied, 'I pay half of my fortune', the minister said, 'What do you pay to get rid of the waste if it was kept in your body?' The king replied, 'Then I will pay the other half of my fortune.' All his fortune equals one glass of water. In Ramadan, we need from Allah the Almighty to give us water to drink and food to eat.

6- Feel the suffering and hunger of the poor:

I will give you an example to clarify this; suppose that a conflict arose between your friend and his wife, then she left the home and went to her father's house; this is just an information for you which would not affect your life, but for your friend, this is not just a mere idea, because this fact affects his life practically; there is no wife at his home, no cooked food, and the children need care. So there is a big difference between your friend's suffering and your mere idea about the wife's leaving home.

Another example, if I show you a map of a palace that includes all flats, rooms, and balconies inside it; this is just a virtual map, whereas owning this palace is another thing.
An additional example, if I say 100 million Dollars, there is a big difference between saying this amount and owning it; it is so easy to pronounce it, but so hard to get it.
Therefore, in Ramadan you feel the hunger of the poor; because when your stomach is full, you don't care about food and eating, but when you are hungry, you only think of food and eating, you realize that hunger is something unbearable. Allah the Almighty mentioned in Surah Quraish two great graces among His graces:

4. "(He) Who has fed them against hunger, and has made them safe from fear."

[Al-Quraish Surah]

Hence, having sufficient food and being safe are among the greatest graces in this life.
On the other hand, contemplate in this Ayah which talks about the worst two punishments for bad nations:

112. "And Allah puts forward the example of a township (Makkah), that dwelt secure and well content; its provision coming to it in abundance from every place, but it (its people) denied the Favours of Allah (with ungratefulness). So Allah made it taste the extreme of hunger (famine) and fear, because of that (evil, i.e. denying Prophet Muhammad, Peace be upon him) which they (its people) used to do."

[At-Taubah Surah]

The greatest graces for nations are having sufficient food and being safe, while the worst punishments are hunger and fear.
So in Ramadan you feel the grace of having enough food in your home, you feel the suffering of the poor people practically. Besides that, you feel your neediness to Allah the Almighty.

Fasting is a collective worship:

Fasting is a collective worship; the population in Damascus is about 5 million people, imagine that all Muslim people are eating at the same time (after Al-Maghrib adhan), roads are empty, and there is a collective worship, as if Allah the Almighty wants us to be organized; Fasting begins by Imsak adhan (starting fast), people pray Al-fajr and Al-Isha in the mosque, and they break their fast by Al-Maghrib adhan. Therefore, fasting teaches cooperation and organization. Allah the Almighty says:

4. "Verily, Allah loves those who fight in His Cause in rows (ranks) as if they were a solid structure."

[As-Saff Surah]

A Muslim brother told me once that his father, who is an officer, has strict rules in the home, everything should be organized. He said that for 30 years they have been eating lunch at 2 o'clock exactly.
Regularity and organization are civilization, when a foreign tourist visits our country in Ramadan, so he finds the road empty during Al-Maghrib time, he feels that there is a collective worship indeed.

The prayer teaches us organization as well; there are five prayers that should be performed regularly.

Someone, who occupied a high position in Egypt, went for pilgrimage, and when he was comingback by plane, he said, 'there was an excellent care during Al-Haj time, but why don’t they divide the pilgrimage period into 5 periods? A period every two months, which would decrease the heavy crowd.'
Does he really understand the idea of Al-Haj? Al-Haj is a collective worship.

I attended an Islamic conference in Cairo, and I was really delighted about the suggestion of a Minister of Religious Endowments (Iwqaf), who said: "I suggest that every pilgrim should mention his career in Al-Hajj Application Form, then we will separate and organize all careers by the computer, and by this way all university professors, for example, hold a meeting in some building to share experiences and solve problems. Likewise for the craftsmen, farmers, tradesmen, etc…."
Pilgrimage is a collective worship. In addition, you see people from various places and nationalities.

As we said before, Ramadan is a collective worship. Furthermore, many worships that sound heavy and difficult to some believers during the other days of the year become easy and facile in Ramadan (by Allah's Help).


If a sinner turns to Allah with repentance, a herald calls out in the heavens and earth, ‘O creatures! Congratulate him, for he has been reconciled with Allah'.
If a believer returns to Allah with true sincere repentance, Allah makes him, the angels and the whole world, forget his sins and misdeeds.
Ramadan is a golden chance to open a new page with Allah the Almighty and return back to Him.

Translation  : Oula Mufeed
Edited by      : Maha Sulieman