Deepening your Connection with Allah in Ramadan
Ramadan is the Month of Ihsan
Fasting is a shield. When anyone of you is observing fast, he should neither indulge in obscene language nor should he raise his voice; and if anyone reviles him or tries to quarrel with him, he should say: ‘I am fasting.’ By Him in Whose Hand the soul of Muhammad is, the breath of one observing Sawm is sweeter to Allah than the fragrance of musk. (Bukhari and Muslim)
The person observing sawm (fasting) He has abstained from food and drink, and sexual pleasures for My sake; fasting is for Me, and I will bestow its reward. (Bukhari)
Every good deed has ten times its reward to seven hundred folds. (Bukhari)
Understanding the link between Ramadan and Ihsan
There are many lessons in these hadith, but when I reflect on them, what is apparent to me is the connection between siyam and ihsan. In the famous hadith of Jibreel when he came to the Prophet (peace be on him) in the shape of a man and he asked, ‘Ya Muhammad, tell me about Islam and imaan and ihsan.’ The Prophet (peace be on him) said that ihsan was ‘to worship Allah as though you can see Him.’ (Bukhari).
If we reach this level of observation, we reach a level where we have full control over selves. Control over our tongue, our hearing, our desires and our actions, purely because we are conscious that Allah Almighty is watching.
This is the essence of ihsan – to live and act in accordance with what pleases Allah Almighty.
Ramadan brings ihsan to the foreground. Ramadan is a training course to nurture and establish ihsan in our lives. It helps us to protect ourselves against what displeases Allah Almighty.
Siyam – shield from hellfire
Siyam (fasting) is junna – a shield. The opinion of the majority of scholars such Imam Al-Qurtubi and Ibn Abdul Barr, is that the meaning of shield is protection from hellfire. Why is it a shield which protects us from hell? Because when you are observing the etiquette of fasting, and have complete understanding of it, you achieve ihsan. Ihsan is not autopilot fasting, and simply refraining from food and drink and intimate relations from dawn till dusk. This is the technical definition. However the deeper spiritual meaning is about achieving ihsan.
Heightened control over desire
Scholars like Ibn Al Athir, in his book Al Nihayatu fi Ghareeb al Hadith wa al Athar, mentioned siyam is a shield against our desires.
Fasting diminishes sexual desire. This is reaffirmed in another hadith, where the Prophet (peace be on him) said:
O young men, whoever among you can afford to get married, let him do so, and whoever cannot afford it, let him fast, for that will be a shield for him. (Bukhari and Muslim)
Heightened awareness of Allah Almighty
Siyam controls sexual desire, but also goes beyond this. The Prophet (peace be on him) said if you are fasting, then refrain from ‘rafath’ which means obscene language and anything related to sexual matters. When you leave food, drink and desire for Allah’s sake, you increase your control over yourself. Though you should not use foul language outside of siyam, during Ramadan you are motivated to have a higher level of consciousness over your behaviour than on an average day.
Heightened control over emotion
When you are fasting you are told not to be angry, even though it is easy to be angry when you are fasting, this is where ihsan comes into play. Our concern is not the people around us, but we are observing Allah the Creator.
Siyam is not just abstention. It should heighten our perception of Allah Almighty
It someone has a go at you, picks a quarrel or provokes you, back down. Defend yourself, without engaging in the quarrel. Do not let it start and do not let it escalate. Protect yourself by reminding yourself that you are fasting, and reminding the other person twice. Recognise that this is siyam and stop. It brings control in your hands over your anger. You can put a cap on your anger and keep it under control.
Putting Allah first
When the Prophet (peace be on him) said the breath of the fasting person is sweeter than perfume, as he is encouraging us to observe Allah Almighty over people. This does not mean that we don’t take care of personal hygiene and don’t brush our teeth, it means that put Allah Almighty’s preference over everyone else’s.
Deepening your connection with Allah Almighty
The concept of fasting is about ihsan because you can claim you are fasting but who knows what you ate at home or at work? There is nothing to stop you from stuffing your drawer full of food. Your fasting is entirely between you and Allah Almighty. The concept is a connection, bondship and relationship between you and Allah Almighty through ihsan. You are fasting and only doing it for Allah Almighty’s sake. We train our children to fast and they do not achieve this level very quickly, but we do it for Allah’s sake in the first place.
Gaining Allah Almighty’s pleasure
Our food, drink and desires are what occupy the majority of our time, so if we are willing to forgo these for Allah Almighty’s sake, to please Him, then Allah Almighty considers this very significant.
No wonder therefore that the reward for siyam is awarded by Him alone. He says, ‘The reward is with ME’. The reward will be beyond our imagination. Just to refresh our memory there is a special gate, out of the eight gates of Jannah, called Ar Rayyan for those who observed siyam. Allah Almighty rewards those who fasted with the right intention with Jannah.
Narrated by Sahl bin Sa’d, the Prophet (peace be on him) said:
Paradise has eight gates, and one of them is called Ar-Raiyan through which none will enter but those who observe fasting. (Bukhari)
Leaving what is halal trains you to leave what is haram
When we train ourselves to leave what we like, to please Allah Almighty then it is easier for us later to leave what is doubtful and haram for Allah’s sake as well.
Food and drink and intimacy with your spouse are not haram, but Allah Almighty is training us in Ramadan to leave what is halal for His sake, to enable us to leave what is haram after Ramadan for His sake.
Allah Almighty takes us up to a higher level, so the lower level becomes more attainable. This is an imaan booster that we are able to do this for Allah’s sake. And hence Allah encourages us further by telling us that the reward for good deeds is multiplied by ten, and can reach 700 depending on intention, devotion, determination and so on.
What is on offer in Ramadan is vast, but we need to grasp it and seize this opportunity. Many people passed away before this Ramadan, and some just a day or two before Ramadan. They did not have the chance to witness it, so we should praise Allah Almighty and thank Him that we have been able to witness it.
In Ramadan the Prophet (peace be on him) used to increase his ibadah, and we are trying our best to increase our recitation and ibadah, but we need to reflect more on what we recite. When we recite our Juzu’ for the day, Alhamdulilah this recitation is for reward, but we also need to have some reflection on what we are reciting. Even if it is just two or three ayahs. This was the practice of the companions may Allah be pleased with them. Let’s establish this habit this Ramadan, that whatever we recite, we pick one, two or three verses to apply in our life. Let’s make this a daily task. Within the whole month you will have 30-60 new good habits you have established from your reciting, apart from the reward, you will gained. Apart from the reward you will have something in action. Don’t take on too much, just start with one or two ayahs, and teach your children and beloved ones to do the same.
Let’s increase our ihsan in our application in our lives and make this Ramadan and this siyam the best ever. Ameen.
Khutbah by Shaykh Haytham Tamim at UKAMCCC on 10th May 2019.
Transcribed by Ayesha Khan
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