Fasting is the key to control. Control is the key to closeness to Allah
Looking at life afresh
Now that we have had our normal lifestyle taken away from us, and so many of our favours, they have become apparent to us. We realise what we should be grateful for.
There is reason for any test and a wisdom behind it, not just GCSES and A levels which have been postponed. We trust that there is wisdom in our test, which is a test for us at community level, ummah level, and global level, not just for us as individuals.
In many verses about hardships Allah reminds us to have humility and to supplicate to Him. It is a reminder that we do not have control and that our egos need deflating. We think we have a grip on the sciences, on atoms, on space travel, and nuclear power and yet we can’t defeat this microscopic threat. Allah Almighty has shown us that no matter how many sciences we have mastered, we are weak and our knowledge is tiny. Allah Almighty is telling us to wake up and see why we are in this together. There is a positive side. It is not all negative. It brings us back to Allah, even though there is hardship in it.
There is no better time than Ramadan to turn to Allah and seek His mercy.
Verses of siyam
Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain taqwa. (2:183)
The purpose of fasting is to increase taqwa and as taqwa is about having control. Taqwa is having the control to do the right thing and refrain from doing what it wrong.
Fasting is a means of regaining control and through this we attain a higher level of taqwa.
Fasting therefore brings goodness to you and your family and your community.
Ramadan helps us regain control over our desires. We need to restrain our tongues more, whether it is not using bad language or avoiding backbiting. We have to be careful what we see and hear.
Though we struggle to have self-control through the year, in Ramadan we have a heightened awareness of ourselves and our behaviour.
We take control over our desires. Throughout the year we are controlled by our desires, but during Ramadan we take control back. We can’t eat or drink or have intimate relations during the day, which are our two main drives.
When we are able to control desire this leads to our being able to connect more closely with Allah Almighty. The more we control desire the closer we are to Allah.
The whole purpose of Ramadan is to achieve qurb (closeness). This is why Allah tells us that He is near within the verses of fasting. Fasting brings us closer to Him.
And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided. (2:186)
Allah Almighty is telling us here that He is close. It is us who are far from Him.
Obstacles to closeness
The heart is where we receive inspiration, and forgiveness. It is the reception station. A clear heart finds ease in performing ibadah. However if you find your limbs are reluctant to do ibadah then there is something wrong – your heart needs polishing.
In our attempt to get closer to Allah Almighty, our sins get in the way. The simple way to clear these obstacles is by polishing off the sins on our heart through seek istighfar (forgiveness) 100 times in the day and in the evening. It is an easy practice which we can start now. It has to be done mindfully. When you do this regularly and mindfully, it makes your heart sensitive to Allah. And makes your heart lighter and your faculties become sharper. The heart becomes soft.
In Surah al-Imran Allah Almighty mentioned that those who commit a sin but seek forgiveness escape shaytan’s grip and if they do not keep insisting on that sin, Allah responds to them:
وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا فَعَلُوا فَاحِشَةً أَوْ ظَلَمُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ ذَكَرُوا اللَّهَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُوا لِذُنُوبِهِمْ وَمَن يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَلَمْ يُصِرُّوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلُوا وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ
And those who, when they commit an indecency or wrong themselves, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins—and who forgives sins except Allah? And they do not persist in their wrongdoing while they know. (3:135)
Have muraqabah which means that you feel that Allah is observing you and it helps you maintain the feeling of Ramadan.
What is the best thing to ask from Allah
The best dua the Prophet taught his companions was Allahum ini asaluka al-afwa wal afiya:
O Allah we ask you for forgiveness and well being. (Abu Dawoud).
These are the two most important things after imaan. If you have afu (forgiveness) you have secured the akhirah. If you have afiya (well-being) then you have secured the dunya, as you can achieve anything.
When we are deprived of our wellbeing and favours, we realise our loss. This is why we make the prophetic dua:
Oh Allah! I seek refuge in You from the disappearance of your blessing, the transformation of Your good health (that you have given me into sickness) and Your sudden retribution. (Muslim).
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّى أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ زَوَالِ نِعْمَتِكَ وَتَحَوُّلِ عَافِيَتِكَ وَفُجَاءَةِ نِقْمَتِكَ وَجَمِيعِ سَخَطِكَ
We need to reflect on this.
Ramadan is a time of self assessment and self improvement and character building. There is no better time than now to improve tour situation and fix our life.
May Allah enable us to experience the best Ramadan this year and gain His forgiveness and become closer to Him. Ameen
Delivered by Shaykh Haytham Tamim at the online Ramadan Tent Project on 3rd April 2020
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