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Excellence of fasting during Ramadan

Summary of Friday Sermon

delivered by the Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community

September 21 st, 2007

NOTE: Alislam Team takes full responsibility for any errors or miscommunication in this Synopsis of the Friday Sermon

Huzur continued with the subject of the blessings of Ramadan in his Friday Sermon today. Citing verses 185-186 of Surah Al Baqarah (2:185, 186) Huzur said fasting in the month of Ramadan is indeed a [spiritual] striving, an endeavour and it is only through such striving that one develops in taqwa (righteousness) and attains nearness to God.

Huzur said the verses explain that the days of Ramadan are but few and are made obligatory so that effort can be made to attain the purpose of life, which is to become a true servant of God. However, God is not unfair, although fasting is a striving, which can cause discomfort at times, it is not intended as cruelty so those who are temporarily unable to fast are exempt from doing so.

Although those who have short-term illness or have to make urgent travels are exempt from fasting during Ramadan, however if they wish to develop in spirituality and taqwa and seek Allah’s pleasure then once they are better they need to keep the fasts that may have missed. This is the sign of a truly righteous person.

Huzur said the illness that makes us exempt from fasting should not be a mere excuse of an illness, similarly commuting for work does not constitute ‘travel’ in this connotation. Huzur said he mentioned this specifically as there is a section of people, in particular in places with extreme weather, who needlessly look for excuses. 

Indeed Allah cares for His true servants; those who quest ways to seek His pleasure. This is the reason why the ailing and the traveller have the exemption. In addition those who do not have the strength to fast may give fidya (expiation). Those who can fast at a later time may also give fidya, it is a virtue. However it is essential for them to fast at a later time.  

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) explained that those who can pay fidya and be exempt are those who do not hope to be able to fast at a later time, like the elderly or expectant mothers etc. It is not warrantable for others to simply pay fidya and not fast, assuming disability.

Although fasting has been prescribed for development of taqwa but as Islam is a religion in line with nature, therefore it makes allowances for situations which naturally arise in life. However, attainment of taqwa should always be the aim, so if fasting is not possible then either a needy person should be fed or fidya paid.

Referring to the Hadith that relates that the Salat which has not been observed with good intention will be thrown back at the worshipper, Huzur said similarly fidya that is given with bad intent will be thrown back at the person.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that fidya is for those who do not have the strength or capacity to fast. He said a religion which does not have any striving is nothing. When a person tries to find the easy way out through excuses he/she turns away from faith. Huzur said indeed we have been given the provision to miss fasting under certain circumstances; it is best to avail of this only in warrantable situations.

Huzur added that fasting is not only spiritually beneficial but as science is now acknowledging it has physical benefits as well.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that a person whose heart is gladdened at the arrival of Ramadan but who cannot go on to fast due to illness is deemed as fasting in the heavens. He said one should always avoid excuses and pretexts. Indeed he related that when he fasted consecutively for six months he met with a group of prophets of God in a vision who remarked to him why he had put himself through so much hardship.

Huzur said the Holy Qur’an is a great source of guidance and nothing in it is without the objective of our benefit. It encompasses direction to develop spiritual and moral values. Indeed, it also carries within it aspects of worldly knowledge and states knowledge of which no one had an awareness 1400 years ago but which are being proven now.

Elucidating the second verse that he cited at the beginning Huzur said it tells us that the Holy Qur’an was revealed in the month of Ramadan, that is, its first revelation was in Ramadan (96:2). Huzur said the very first revelation pointed to the fact that the Creator of the entire universe is God and He alone is worthy of worship. Huzur said Surah Al Alaq (Ch. 96) closes on the message that worship of God alone (sajda/prostration) is the source to attain nearness to Him.

Huzur said one way of worship that beautifies worship further and which purifies the soul is fasting in Ramadan. It is a form of worship, a striving that has Allah Himself as its reward. Huzur said the verses cited make it clear that fasting is obligatory, so believers should not be negligent in understanding this. Such is the significance of fasting that it is repeatedly mentioned. Huzur said the ‘worship’ of fasting can be a source of reformation as a believer avoids many vices during fasting, in fact a believer also foregoes many permissible things for the sake of Allah during fasting and that is the reason Allah Himself declares to be the reward for it.

The Holy Qur’an which was revealed in Ramadan is a guidance for all time and age and now there is no requirement for another Shariah (religious law). One who wishes to seek this guidance with good intentions will find manifest signs in it that will distinguish the truth from falsehood. Indeed, we are most fortunate that we believe in this Book. Its commandments are comprehensive, detailed with argument and reasoning, specifying all the pros and cons. In addition it also presents reasoning and argument of its own veracity as well as of what is false. One who is blessed with such a book should try and fulfil all its commandments, one such commandment is to fast during Ramadan, to develop spiritually, to attain Divine nearness and then to relate Allah’s favour and grace.

Huzur said not only was the Holy Qur’an revealed as the perfect guidance but through Ramadan we are annually reminded that this blessed guidance was first revealed in this month. This fact focuses on raising the standard of worship during this month as well as enhancing moral/social values so that one is as far removed from the evil of the self as possible.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that Ramadan brings about ‘lustre/splendour’ to the heart through which the door to visions opens and one can ‘see’ God.

Huzur remarked that during this month Salat is specifically offered to truly seek purification of the self, each such Salat is offered with utmost sincerity and completely devoid of any external influence, mindful that Allah is watching. Purification of self is swift through such a Salat and is only attained by those who fear Allah in secret/private.

Huzur said the ambience of Ramadan and observance of Salat brings about purification of the soul which enables man to get rid of “nafs e ammarah” (self that incites to evil) promptly because these are the days when Satan is bound up in chains. Indeed our sincere efforts during Ramadan may take us from the stage of “nafse lawwama” (reproving self) to “nafse mutmainah” (soul at rest). Adding, Huzur said indeed Allah grants each person in accordance to their capacity.

Huzur said each Ramadan during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) Angel Gabriel used to revise all the hitherto revealed Qur’an with the Prophet. During his last Ramadan the revision was done twice. This draws our attention to the fact that while we are fasting and offering sincere Salat, we should also try and read the Holy Qur’an during Ramadan. The Community has organised Dars during Ramadan, these should be listened. We should also try and implement the Quranic commandments in our lives; only then will we be able to derive true beneficence from it and will be among those who are grateful.

May Allah enable us to be the recipients of all the blessings of Ramadan.