Creed- Truth of faith and inimitability of the Quran- Lesson(28-30): Acts of worship-2- The worhsip of fasting- Milk
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.

The time of the Companions and the present time:

 Dear brothers, this is lesson twenty eight of the series "The true iman and the inimitability of the Qur'an".
 It is a fact that ritual acts of worship such as salah (prayer), sawm (fasting), hajj (pilgrimage), and zakat (poor's due) have been enjoined upon us by Allah, sawm being the second greatest act of worship in Islam.
 However, the problem arises when Muslims get used to them so much that they turn into habits, and their real purposes get abandoned. The question to be asked is whether we perform those acts of worship as they should be performed. Does our fast match what Allah meant it to be? Why is the station of the sahaba (the Prophet’s Companions) so exalted? Why were they worshipers at night and knights during the day? Why did their banners reach far-away countries? Why did they have such a profound love for one another?
 In contrast, Muslims nowadays are scattered, dispersed, and weak; in no place do they have the upper hand. If we performed those acts of worship as the Companions did, most probably we would have achieved the same accomplishments as they did! The Companions, relatively small in number, were in a position to conquer the world in less than 25 years, from Paris to China, while, nowadays, five Islamic countries are occupied, Muslims don’t have the upper hand, nor do they have control over their issues. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said:

((Twelve thousand fighters should never be defeated because of their being few.))

[Abu Dawood and Tirmizi by Zuhri]

 Since the Muslim population of the present-day world is 1.5 billion, should not we ask the following question: What is the difference between us and the Prophet’s Companions, may Allah bless them and grant them all peace? The Qur'an is still the same, Allah is Our God as He was theirs, the Qur'an is our Book as it was theirs, the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, is our Messenger as he was theirs, and Islam is the same. What, then, is the origin of the wide gap between our reality and that of the sahaba?

Ramadan is a month of connection with Allah:

 I reckon they performed the acts of worship in a different way than we do nowadays. My evidence here is the drastic alteration of the month of Ramadan, which, from a month of discipline, righteousness, forgiveness, repentance, seclusion, night prayers, daily fajr prayer, lowering gaze, and watching one's mouth, has been turned into a month of festivities, banquets, meetings, and all-night parties.
 All rich meals get transferred from the daytime to the night-time, and this implies going against what Allah has meant for this month to be. It is supposed to be a month of worship, seclusion, privacy, connection with Allah, and being alone with Him. Now, however, it is a month of meetings, parties, soap operas and movies. The people in charge of TV provide for all these sins and offenses to be available throughout the blessed month of Ramadan, this being the shameful reality of our fasting status as compared with the fasting status of our pious ancestors.
Why don’t you pledge yourself to be sincere towards Allah all throughout this month? Why don’t you postpone all banquets till after Eid? What holds you back from doing so?
Given that you are generous, wait till after Ramadan, as this month is for worship not banquets.
 Remember that overeating makes it hard for you to perform the taraweeh prayers (the supererogatory eight to twenty raka’as prayed after the isha’a prayer every night in Ramadan) and it is the very reason why most people fail to perform it, and even if they do, they pray it formally rather than spiritually.
 This is the month of meeting with Allah, drawing close to Him, reciting the entire Qur'an more than once, increasing knowledge; the month of exalting. Hence, how come it has been turned into a month of banquets, meetings, mixed company parties, singing and movies, followed, on top of everything, by pretensions to having one's eyes shine with an infant's innocence?
 What I hope for is:

"And remind (by preaching the Qur'an, O Muhammad) for verily, the reminding profits the believers."

[Al- Dhariyat, 55]

 I hope that each one of you will set up a plan well ahead of this month as you can’t accelerate from zero to one hundred; you can't do something all of a sudden, but it can be done gradually. Accordingly, prepare yourself for Ramadan and remember not to solve big problems while it lasts, as some said: "Ramadan is for nothing else but worship". Therefore, postpone breaking up with your business partner or solving a big problem you have till afterwards.
 For him who fasts for thirty days, performs thirty fajr and taraweeh prayers, thirty Qur'an recitations; who lowers gaze strictly, abandons distractions totally, sticks to adoration, dedicates himself to spending on the poor, is keen on connecting with Allah, and strives against their desires, Ramadan will pass with all these commitments having been fulfilled, and all that remains is the reward.
 The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said:

((The one who fasts experiences two joys: he feels pleasure when he breaks his fast and he is joyful by virtue of his fast when he meets his Rabb (Allah).))

[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Every Muslim should get ready for this great month:

 Dear brothers, I advice myself and you to get ready for this month beginning right now.
 If you have a bothersome problem, solve it now or postpone it till after Ramadan.
 If you have a disagreement with your business partner, a serious problem in your life or a conflict, bring everything to a halt during Ramadan, devoting yourself to getting closer to Allah the Almighty.
 Would you find it acceptable for a manager to ask an employee of his to travel five hours to Aleppo just to stand by one of its landmarks and then come back? Would you approve of such a meaningless automatic order? In fact, the same goes for sawm. Would you accept our fasting go along with backbiting, calumny, watching movies, and attending mixed company? Ramadan is a month of discipline, lowering gaze and connecting with Allah.

Serenity is granted to whoever is pious in Ramadan:

 Dear brothers, you can fast the way you feel like it. Yet, unless you fast as Allah wants you to, you can’t achieve the serenity in your heart through which everything else is achieved, and through which you will feel happy even if you lose everything, and the loss of which would make you feel hardship, even you owned everything.
 Is not this Divine order in accordance with Allah’s greatness?
 Again, would you accept a meaningless and pointless order? Consider the example of anyone who seeks a certification from the notary public, which is given to him even if he is a criminal, doing all the paper work required and obtaining all the necessary stamps. Yet, he is to get it anyway. Hence, it would be meaningless, wouldn't it?
 The same goes for your fast. Namely, if it is merely formal, when you refrain only from eating food but not from backbiting, slander, mixed company parties, laughing, joking, and watching movies and soap operas, then your fast will be meaningless and pointless.
 Unfortunately, this is what most people do during Ramadan. However, I am prepared to give the benefit of doubt to all those who attend mosques, because the knowledge seeker should be extremely disciplined in order to receive Divine manifestations. Unless he says "I am the happiest man on earth because of those manifestations", he won't be able to give up everything else as those manifestations are his reward from Allah.
 The same goes for fasting. Hence, when you abandon for the sake of Allah everything that is pleasurable, you will be granted serenity which is unknown but to those who taste it. What is serenity? Allah mentions in the Qur'an the serenity He makes descend upon the believers’ hearts. Therefore, serenity is a comfort for the soul, a sense of triumph and a loftiness of feeling. I hope that your Ramadan won’t be a month of socializing, full of traditions and customs we have grown used to over the years.

Ibadat in Ramadan give a charge you for the whole year:

 Ramadan is a month of ibadat (acts of worship). In this respect, you resemble a cellular phone which needs charging every now and then. Hence, you get charged five times on a daily basis through the five prayers:

((There is atonement from a prayer on account of the prayer before it.))

[Ahmad, on the authority of Abu Huraira]

 Additionally, we get charged on a weekly basis through the juma’a (Friday) prayer as well. Hence, you are charged on a daily and weekly basis, and every prayer charges you till the next prayer, and every Friday prayer charges you till the following Friday. The daily charging is only for several hours, whereas the weekly charging is deeper and longer. Along the same line, Ramadan charges you on an annual basis till the following Ramadan, given that you fast thirty days, you pray during nights, you perform the salah of fajr, you watch your tongue, you strictly lower your gaze, and you avoid violating Islamic laws. Therefore, most likely this charging is enough for a year; and as for hajj it charges you for life:

((Whoever performs hajj and does not have sexual relations (with his wife), nor commits sin, nor disputes unjustly (during Hajj) returns (home) from hajj as pure and free from sins as he was on the day on which his mother brought him to this world.))

[Agreed upon, on the authority of Abu Huraira]

Past sins are forgiven in Ramadan:

 One more thing, dear brothers. Allow me to draw an example from the reality people live in.
 Suppose, by way of example, that you owe eighty million – Allah forbid- and you are bound by promissory notes through which you can be seized, questioned, judged, and locked up in jail, given the fact that you cannot pay off any of this debt. If someone told you: If you do a series of acts for thirty days, your debt will be annulled, would you accept it? This is what Ramadan is about. This is the meaning of the Prophet’s saying, may Allah bless him and grant him peace:

((Whoever fasts in the month of Ramadan out of sincere belief, hoping for a reward from Allah, will be forgiven for all his past sins.))

[Agreed upon, on the authority of Abu Huraira]

 It needs to be mentioned, however, that there are forgivable sins, those between you and Allah, and the unforgivable ones, which imply people's rights. The trespassing on the rights of Allah is forgivable, whereas the rights of people are related to their owners (the people whom one has wronged). There is, furthermore, a sin that is absolutely unforgivable, this being shirk (associating partners with Allah); and then there is the hidden shirk, which is a very serious matter indeed. Allah Most High says:

"And most of them believe not in Allah except that they attribute partners unto Him [i.e. they are Mushrikun -polytheists"

[Yusuf, 106]

 Is it possible that this month could lead to purification of the hidden shirk? Can you really become a better muwahid (monotheist) and can your vision get clearer?
 By Allah, dear brothers, the sky is the limit for this month’s potentials, and I hope for each one of you to skip all the traditions and customs you have been getting used to for thirty years and to make the best of this month –to turn it into a month of worship, of drawing closer to Allah, of seeking forgiveness from Allah, of reciting the Qur'an, of spending on the poor, of being keen on night prayers and of performing the fajr prayer at the mosque:

((He who offers the fajr prayer in community will come under the protection of Allah till night-time; and he who offers the isha’a prayer in community will come under the protection of Allah till daybreak.))

[Ahmad]

 I hope that our comprehension of the acts of worship will deepen. According to Imam Al Shaf'ee "The acts of worship have been established in the best interest of mankind".

Piety is a (guiding) light your heart receives in Ramadan:

"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, 183]

 Piety is mentioned in the Qur'an in three hundred ayaat:

"That you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious)"

 This ayah is crystal clear and it indicates piousness as a reason behind fasting, and the concise and sufficient definition for piousness states that it is a light our heart receives in Ramadan which enables you to see what is right as right and what is wrong as wrong, what is good as good, and what is evil as evil, and through which you see what is virtue as virtue and what is vice as vice. Now, the question to be asked is what tempts people to commit sins. Actually, it is the wrong vision they might happen to have.
 Why did Sayyidina Yusuf say "I seek refuge in Allah" when he was on the point of being seduced by a beautiful woman of rank?

"I seek refuge in Allah (or Allah forbid)! Truly, he (your husband) is my master! He made my stay agreeable! (So I will never betray him)"

[Yusuf, 23]

 And why would millions of young men consider it a triumph to be exposed to what Yusuf was exposed to?
 The problem lies in their vision.
 Ramadan clarifies your vision in order that you may see what is right as right, may follow Allah’s Guidance and may have light in your heart.

Piety is your guarantee in the worldly life and in the Hereafter:

 This is a particularly delicate issue:

"O you who believe [in Musa (Moses) (i.e. Jews) and 'Isa (Jesus) (i.e. Christians)]! 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)"

[Al- Hadid, 28]

 This ayah is a guarantee for the worldly life and the Hereafter. Allah grants you thus prosperity in the worldly life and triumph in the Hereafter as well as the light by which you shall walk straight. Hence, piousness is the fruit of Ramadan:

"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, 183]

 To elucidate it a little more, suppose, by way of example, that you are walking in the dead of night on a road full of turns, insects, scorpions, wild animals, rocks, pits, and slippery parts with no light at all. Clearly, you are bound to have a mishap. What if you have a flash light with you? If such is the case, you will be able to avoid the obstacles, walk around the pits, and kill the dangerous insects, and this is exactly what fasting does to you in your life, as mentioned at the end of the above ayah:

"That you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious)."

[Al- Baqarah, 183]

 It means that Allah grants your heart the light through which you see what is good as good, and what is evil as evil, what is right as right, and what is wrong as wrong, and through which you see what is virtue as virtue, and what is vice as vice. This insight is the most valuable fruit you can reap in the month of Ramadan, as if Ramadan after Ramadan were steps which take you to a more exalted level.
 This is called "carry on being raised". However, if you fast Ramadan after Ramadan, and then you go back to what you used to do before, it won’t be the steps we are talking about. Rather, it will be the rungs down which to fall. There is a big difference between getting elevated and getting on since you might become pious in Ramadan, then slacken terribly after it is over, going back to the level you used to be at:

Ramadan is over, so pass me a drink bartender-
As we both, me and the drink, long for each other.
***

 Of course, wine is meant here.

 Your vision is the most serious issue in your life:

 Dear brothers, I hope that this fact is perfectly clear to you, I mean the phrase:

"That you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious)."

 It implies that you will become pious and thus won’t disobey Allah, you won’t seek His wrath, you will avoid His anger, you will stay away from Hellfire, and you will go against every evil act. This piousness can’t be gained save through the light thrown into the fasting heart, and the evidence for it is to be found in the following ayah:

"O you who believe [in Musa (Moses) (i.e. Jews) and 'Iesa (Jesus) (i.e. Christians)]! 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)."

[Al- Hadid, 28]

 Whether you like it or not, your vision is the most serious thing in your life. What is the vision of the person who steals? He visualizes the loot. What is the vision of the person who fornicates? He visualizes the pleasure of fornicating. By contrast, the believer says:

"I seek refuge in Allah (or Allah forbid)! Truly, he (your husband) is my master! He made my stay agreeable! (So I will never betray him)."

[Yusuf, 23]

Every act of worship is in the best interest of man:

1- Fasting bestows light on your heart:

 The believer’s vision prevents him from sinning, eating ill-gotten money, injuring others' honor or taking their money by fraud.
 This vision is acquired in Ramadan because the person who fasts is fully abiding by the laws of Islam, strictly lowering gaze, minding their tongue, refraining from backbiting, disparagement and unlawful affairs, praying all night long, performing fajr daily, giving up food and drink and even permissible things just for the sake of the Oneness, the Dayyan (the Judge, Allah). For all that they will be rewarded with light cast into their hearts. Hence, this light is gained through piousness:

"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, 183]

2- zakat purifies the rich from stinginess and the poor from bitter feelings:

 Dear brothers, every act of worship is for the sake of people’s interests:

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

[At-Taubah, 103]

 Ramadan is the month of zakat, through which you are purified from stinginess, much the same as when someone is cured from a cancerous tumor which could have put an end to his life.

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

[Al-Hashr, 9]

 Zakat:

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

[At-Taubah, 103]

 It purifies the rich from stinginess and the poor from bitter feelings. The money the poor get in Ramadan helps solve their problems, pay their debts, and buy food and clothes for their children. It makes them feel their worth as part of the society and its mercy towards them. Therefore, by means of zakat the rich get purified from stinginess and the poor from bitter feelings.

"In order to purify them."

 The souls of the rich feel sublime on account of a smile on an infant's face or the joy of a poor family at Eid brought about by the zakat they have paid. It makes them feel loftier and it also makes the poor feel worthier. Thus is zakat justified

"In order to purify them and sanctify them with it."

3- The salah of taraweeh prevents you from sinning:

 Performing the salah of taraweeh:

"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, 45]

 Salat will protect you from sinning, sawm will shed light in your heart and zakat will purify the rich from stinginess and the poor from bitter feelings.
 These acts of worship are justified by the best interest of mankind. Therefore, you should always keep in mind the purposes of shari’a (the Law of Islam) and first things first in the Deen, and the first thing to be considered is the obvious purposes at which people aim. The great purposes have faded away over the past 1400 years and we have clung to details instead. People keep asking about trivial things such as whether an injection or an anti-asthma spray break fast, turning thus fasting into a purely technical act or a nutritional issue, when fasting is all about connecting with Allah.
 Dear brothers, I have intended this meeting before Ramadan to alert all of us to this great act of worship through which we get charged for a whole year to come. Let us bear in mind that salah charges you for hours, the Friday prayer charges you for a week, and the month of Ramadan for the entire year which follows. I beseech Allah to inspire us to fast as He wants it to be done and to acquire piousness through it. Allah Most High says:

"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, 183]

A scientific topic:

The composition of milk:

 Let’s move on to a scientific topic.
 Dear brothers, each one of us has drunk milk. Have you ever reflected on it, though?
 Cow’s milk is considered to be a wholesome nutrient in all its products (yogurt, cheese or butter), exactly like whole-wheat. Water makes up 87 to 91 % of its composition, the rest being fats, carbohydrates (the evidence for it being that a little sugar makes a glass of milk sweet but not so a cup of tea), proteins, minerals, such as calcium and fluoride, vitamins (A, B, C and D), and dissolved gases, such as carbon dioxide, oxygen, and ammonia. Its composition is indeed complex and thus it is a perfectly whole-nutrient.
 The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to say when he drank milk:

((O Allah! Bless it for us, and grant us more.))

[Ibn Majah, on the authority of Ibn Abbas]

Cow's milk is a sign of Allah’s Greatness:

 Allah the Almighty says:

"From between excretions and blood, pure milk; palatable to the drinkers.?

[An-Nahl, 66]

 Excretions and blood, pay attention to these details, dear brothers. The astonishing sign is how this milk comes out of the cow's udder? How does this pure milk come out from between excretions and blood? Excretion is either hard, soft (like uric acid) or of gaseous nature (like carbon dioxide). It is the outcome of digesting food, burning carbohydrates, of metabolism generally speaking.
 The cow has the breast gland which consists of lobules leading to smaller lobules called alveoli surrounded by membranes, which take what they need from blood through the capillaries around them. Then milk is evacuated to the central cavity called lumen which leads to the lactiferous duct, then to the udder and finally to the nipple. The cells which constitute these organs take all the necessary materials, such as proteins, fats, minerals, gases, vitamins, and carbohydrates, from the blood and change them into milk which is then removed to the lumen inside. The following question can be asked in view of the fact that this is an extremely complex process: Do these cells have the faculty of reasoning?
 Consider furthermore that in order for 1 cc of milk to be produced 300-400 cc of blood need to pass around those cells.
 The astonishing fact, even at present, is how the breast gland works. As already mentioned, it takes blood from the surrounding capillaries and transports milk into the lumen, then to the udder, and finally to the nipple. One cow produces 30-40 kilograms of milk daily, and the question of how much blood it takes to produce it arises. Actually, it takes 300 measures of blood to produce one measure of milk. Allah Most High says:

"We give you to drink of that which is in their bellies, from between excretions and blood, pure milk; palatable to the drinkers."

[An-Nahl, 66]

Allah controls everything:

 All the scientific research has focused on who gives the order to those cells? And how is it carried out?
 Who gives the order to this cell to take potassium, fluoride, calcium, vitamins, minerals, gases, carbohydrates, and fats from blood? And how are all these ingredients mixed? And how do they turn into pure white drinkable milk, entirely free of blood? This is Allah’s Will working unseen. The cow is a factory in its own right which manifests the Greatness of Allah Most High.
When thirty million cows were afflicted with mad cow disease in Britain they had to be slaughtered and burnt.
 It cost billions of dollars and happened because the cows had been fed powdered carrion, and as you all know cows are vegetarian animals and they feed on grass. Therefore, they went mad when they were fed carrion. I keep saying: Cow madness is the result of mankind madness. Allah Most High says:

"And We have subdued them unto them"

[Ya-Sin, 72]

 The cow is a domestic animal and it can’t bear the scorpion or the snake, and it bounces out of fear when it sees one. Yet, a little boy can lead it, milk it and is not afraid of it. Allah Most High says:

"And We have subdued them unto them so that some of them they have for riding and some they eat."

[Ya-Sin, 72]

Cows are a sign that points to Allah’s Greatness:

 Dear brothers, the ayah is very delicate in its meaning:

"We give you to drink of that which is in their bellies, from between excretions and blood, pure milk; palatable to the drinkers."

[An-Nahl, 66]

 Again:

"And the cattle, He has created them for you; in them there is warmth (warm clothing), and numerous benefits, and of them you eat."

[An-Nahl, 5]

"And We have subdued them unto them so that some of them they have for riding and some they eat."

[Ya-Sin, 72]

  Hence, we should reflect on the signs provided by the Universe, the cow being one of the manifestations of Allah’s Greatness.


Translation  : Noura Al-Sharabi
Auditing       : Najat Rozko