1424 Eid ul Fitr Khutbah – Part I
[This Eid ul Fitr Khutbah was delivered by Dr. Ibrahim B. Syed to the Muslims of Greater Louisville Area in Kentucky on November 25, 2003 corresponding to 1 Shawwal 1424 AH. ]
You are the best. You are the best. You are the best Ummah. The Qur'an says " kunthum Khaira Ummathin ukhrijat Linnas" You are the best community that is raised for the whole of mankind.
You are American Muslims. Those who are coming of age in the west, are perhaps the best generation that the Ummah has yet produced; you are highly educated, observant of an Islam largely unhindered by the cultural baggage that stifles so many Muslim countries. For the first time in history, the dominant powers in the West contain millions of Muslims. There is absolutely nothing that can stop determined Muslims from becoming policy makers and leaders in our government. It is a great irony that the Muslim world's brightest hope lies not in a warlord come to deliver them of their woes, a Sultan Salahuddin, nor in a new movement, but in highly educated and sophisticated westerners who happen to be followers of Islam.
Unfortunately, the underdevelopment of the Muslim
world also includes a widespread ignorance of Islam -- even among those who
claim to speak for it -- and this severing of Muslims from Islam is partially a
result of colonialism. The key really is who, the ignorant or the knowledgeable,
defines and interprets the Shariah.
Ramadan is a magnificent bounty in itself for the one who reaches it, and sadly, there will always be those who are prevented from fasting in it
Inner secrets of fasting and its characteristics
There are three levels of fasting: The general fast, the specific fast, and the more specific fast.
As for the general fast, then it is the refraining of the stomach and the private parts from fulfilling their desires.
The specific fast is the refraining of ones gaze, tongue, hands, feet, hearing and eyes, as well as the rest of his body parts from committing sinful acts.
As for the more specific fast, then it is the heart's abstention from its yearning after the worldly affairs and the thoughts which distance one away from Allah, as well as its (the heart's) abstention from all the things that Allah has placed on the same level.
From the characteristics of the specific fast is that one lowers his gaze and safeguards his tongue from the repulsive speech that is forbidden, disliked, or which has no benefit, as well as controlling the rest of his body parts.
In a hardest reported by Al-Bukhaaree:
"Whosoever does not abandon false speech and the acting upon it, Allah is not in need of him leaving off his food and drink." [Saheeh al-Bukhaaree, Abu Dawood, at-Tirmidhee and Ibn Maajah]
Another characteristic of the specific fast is that one does not overfill himself with food during the night. Instead, he eats in due measure, for indeed, the son of Aadam does not fill a vessel more evil than his stomach.
If he were to eat his fill during the first part of the night, he would not make good use of himself for the remainder of the night. In the same way, if he eats to his fill for suhoor, he does not make good use of himself until the afternoon. This is because excessive eating breeds laziness and lethargy. Therefore, the objective of fasting disappears due to one's excessiveness in eating, for what is intended by the fast, is that one savors the taste of hunger and becomes an abandoner of desires.
Of the five pillars of Islam, fasting is one of the most important.
"O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard (against evil). 2: 183
Ramadan means heat. It is the 9th month in the Islamic month. Ramadan is the most sacred month in the Islamic calendar and fasting in the month of Ramadan is obligatory. Ramadan has great blessings for Believers. This great month is essentially a month of absolute and unqualified devotion to the Creator, which strengthens the relationship between man and his Lord. Ramadan is the most blessed among all months, so much so that the Noble Prophet (peace be upon him) has described it as Allah's own month. Our Lord bestows mercy and blessings on His servants in the first part of Ramadan, forgives their sins in the middle part of Ramadan and delivers them from the fire of Hell in the last part of Ramadan. According to Tradition, the Almighty said: Fasting is for Me and I would Myself grant reward for it. Fasting gives us the ability to rise above great pain and see calmness and peace in any situation. By fasting we focus on sentiments that promote harmony. Fasting promotes us to find our inner strength and eliminate hatred.
Why Should Muslims Fast?
An ascetic element in human life is a necessity. No religion is possible without an element of self-denial and asceticism. In order to be able to enjoy the harvest of sensual perception, one must retreat once in a while from the abundant life of the senses. Thus a certain degree of restraint from the material makes the life of senses balanced and opens in the human soul for the spiritual life. One such restraint is fasting, obligatory upon Muslims during the month of Ramadan and at other times. During the fast, the abstention is directed toward the carnal soul, what the Qur'an calls "al-nafs al-ammarah." In fasting, the unruly trends of the carnal soul are steadily restrained and soothed through a planned compliance of these trends to the Divine Will. During the fast, the cravings of the carnal soul go unanswered, as the Muslim is reminded that his fast is for the pleasure of Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala). It is, therefore, important for a Muslim to abstain, not only from food and drink, but also from every form of sensual cravings.
During the duration of fasting, food and drink that were taken for granted for the rest of the year become ni'mah or gifts from heaven. The fasting becomes a shield of purity against the passions of the world. In fasting a Muslim chooses the side of Allah over this world of materialism. That is why Prophet Muhammad (Salla Allahu Alayhi wa Sallam) loved fasting so frequently and he said " al-faqr fakhri" (spiritual poverty is my glory)
The Death of Passion Purifies the Human Soul.
It is for this reason that the arrival of the blessed month of Ramadan is greeted with happiness. For in this month the doors of heaven are opened to the faithful and Divine Compassion plunges upon those who seek it. Those who complete the fast of Ramadan feel rejuvenated and are prepared to face another year with firmness to live and act according to the Divine Will.
The Benefits of Fasting:
Fasting is a great religious and spiritual act. Its purpose is to teach us self-discipline, piety and consciousness of Allah. It teaches patience and forbearance. It also teaches consideration, kindness and charity to the poor and needy.
Fasting has two aspects:
1. To leave food, drink and a few other things that the Shari’ah tells us to avoid during fasting.
2. To avoid everything that displeases Allah. To avoid sin altogether and to live the life of Taqwa (God consciousness) always.
Fasting has many benefits:
1. It purifies the soul and is healthy for the body.
2. It teaches self-control.
3. It creates the love of Allah and the awareness of His presence with us.
4. It elevates the human beings from mere animal existence to the angelic existence.
5. It turns away the Shaitan from a person.
6. It increases the
sympathy with the poor and needy and increases the feeling of charity and
generosity towards them. Fasting does not
bring only a discipline and strength in an individual, it brings also a social
consciousness. Human society, unfortunately, is divided into various classes and
groups. Distinctions are made on the basis of wealth, status and family. There
are privileged people in this world and also deprived ones, and great social
barriers exist between rich and poor, wealthy and destitute. Fasting of the
Ramadan brings all of them on the same level and both rich and poor spend their
days without eating and drinking. This practice awakens a sense of social
responsibility in those who are wealthy and a sense of sacrifice and forbearance
in those who are poor. So Ramadan has a great social significance.
7. It motivates a person to do more good deeds.
8. It pleases Allah and it assures us of His forgiveness and Mercy in this life and in the hereafter.
Fasting in Ramadan brings special blessings. The reward of every good deed is multiplied during this month seventy times. Muslims fast together and it gives them a sense of unity and solidarity.
The month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur'an was revealed, a guidance to men and clear proofs of the guidance and the distinction; therefore whoever of you is present in the month, he or she fast therein, and whoever is sick or upon a journey, then (he or she shall fast) a (like ) number of other days. ..You should exalt the greatness of Allah for His having guided you and that you may give thanks. 2: 183-185.
Fasting delivers many significant benefits to the believer, both in this world and in the next (Aakhirah), it is nevertheless one of the most difficult acts of worship. . In the Qur'an we read "Wa Aqeemus Salaata Wa Aatuz Zakata". This may be why salat, the easiest act of worship, is commanded first, and then paying the alms, which is of moderate difficulty. The final command is fasting, the most difficult of all the tasks which have been prescribed on the believers. Hence it can be seen that the believers are being trained to fulfill their obligations towards Allah by letting them begin with the easiest task and then having them progress to the most difficult. The Haidth in which the five pillars of Islam are listed are also found in the same order, starting from the easiest, ending with the most difficult, i.e. the proclamation of the words of faith (the Shahadah), the performance of Salat, the paying of alms, fasting and pilgrimage. This same verse also states that these were also prescribed on the previous nations, informing us that these are part of a divine law stretching from the past to the present.
Another Hadith states that fasting is a shield for man and woman, implying fasting is a shield that protects us from the sharp sword of our animal desires, instincts or biological urges.
Besides the feeling of hunger and thirst, fasting teaches us to control the love of comfort. It helps us to keep our sexual desires within control. Siyaam(fasting) builds and nourishes the soul of the fasting Muslim. The fasting person enriches his fasting by the remembrance of Allah, the recitation of the Qur’an, the night prayers, Zakah, Sadaqah(charity), and by refraining from sins and obscenity. The fasting person lowers his gaze and suppresses his desires. He guards his tongue from vain talk and obscenities. He guards his hands and legs from the prohibitions of Allah. He employs his hands and legs in the good and various deeds. Siyaam is not the mere refraining from eating and drinking, it is also refraining from vanity and obscenity. Siyaam builds a strong will and nourishes the truthful zeal in the soul. This is achieved when the fasting person struggles to work for his livelihood and resists his desires and temptations. Siyaam builds the strength to bear difficulties and hardship and instills the character of perseverance. The fasting person by depriving himself from food and drink, and other necessities of life becomes capable of controlling his desires, capricious whims, and temptations. The purpose of fasting is to enable a Muslim to control his passions, so that he becomes a person of good deeds and intentions
Islam does not aim to make life difficult for us; hence exemption for those who are weak from fasting, terminally ill, or of extreme old age are not required to fast; rather they can feed a poor person twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, in lieu of their fast. An able-bodied person who does not fast is considered a sinner, as he is ignoring an important commandment of Allah the Almighty.
Fasting is the highest form of sincerity (Ikhlaas), as only the one who is fasting can know of his or her fast. Fasting does not have an outer form, it can not be detected from the outside. Fasting is, therefore, not an ostentatious(showy or grandiose) act, it is done only for the sake and pleasure of Allah (SWT).
Fasting is a form of Ibadah (worship). Polytheists do not worship their gods through fasting.
Because fasting is a deed of special qualities, its reward is kept a secret. Allah (SWT) has not explained the rewards that will be given in the hereafter.
The duty of fasting is not fulfilled by simply remaining hungry and thirsty. A fasting believer should be careful in his treatment of others. He should not verbally abuse others, nor should commit immoral acts. No quarreling in the month of Ramadan.
The fasting person is rewarded twice, both in this world and in the hereafter. Allah (SWT) has declared that the reward for fasting will be different from the rewards for other pious deeds. In the Qur'an it is stated that the reward of a good deed will be paid from ten to seven hundred times the value of the deed, however, in the case of fasting no number is given. It means that Allah (SWT) will reward this act with unlimited bounties.
According to Hadith one should fast all of the month of Ramadan in order to obtain the promised reward. Hence, if a believer fasts only for a few days in Ramadan, not completing the full month, he will not be able to benefit. However, if one cannot complete the full month, due to illness or the necessity of travel, or some other compelling reasons, then that person will receive the full reward, according to his or her initial good intention. If a believer has not committed many sins then fasting will elevate his or her spiritual level in the Aakhirah.
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