Tag Archives: Ramadan

The Verses About Ramadan and Fasting

This Ramadan let us take a journey through the Qur’an inshAllah and focus on the verses that are particularly helpful in our recovery.  There are many verses that could help us to find a path towards Allah while we strive to get clean or sober or give up addictive behaviours that take us away from Allah. So let’s journey together….

WIth Ramadan just around the corner let us have been pondering upon the verses regarding fasting and Ramadan. All these verses appear in one place in the Qur’an and do not appear in any other chapters. From Surah Baqara, the second chapter, from verse 183 Allah states many reminders that can help us to correct our intention. He begins with the verse;

“Oh you who believe! As’Saum (abstaining) has been prescribed for you, as it has been prescribed for those upon you, that you may achieve taqwa (God-Consciousness)

“Oh you who believe! As’Saum (abstaining) has been prescribed for you, as it has been prescribed for those upon you, that you may achieve taqwa (God-Consciousness) Quran, 2:183

Initially, there is no mention of Ramadan itself. Here Allah is stating that the way to achieve Taqwa is through as-Saum. As-saum is literally translated from Arabic into English as ‘to abstain’. This is particulary important for us to think about as we are on the path to recovery with complete abstinence of all things that Allah is displeased with in mind. That by abstaining we are able to achieve closeness to Allah, by remembering Him. And when we often remember Allah, we naturally begin to want to please Him, and stay clear of all behaviours that may lead to His displeasure. And that is having taqwa.

Also in this verse Allah describes that he has ‘prescribed’ fasting for us. This word in Arabic is ‘kutiba’ here, which literally means ‘to write’. Let us think about this more deeply. Allah has written fasting for us as a means to attain Taqwa. It is something that we are in need of. Allah is The Creator and He Knows what is required for us more than we know ourselves. When we visit a doctor when we are sick, he or she will prescribe us with medication to get well. What about the one who is spiritually sick, who remembers Allah little, who has litte or no taqwa? What do they need to get better? They need taqwa and the way to attain, it is through fasting. In our addiction, we moved away from Allah therefore we are in need of fasting in order to reach closer to Him on His Straight Path.

The first mention of the month of Ramadan appears in verse 185 when Allah says;

“The month of Ramdan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs and (the Criterion between right and wrong). So whoever of you observes the month, he must observe as-Saum that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey the same number from other days. Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. He wants that you must complete the same number of days and that you must magnify Allah for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him”.

What is special about this verse, is that when Allah mentions Ramadan for the first time, He reminds us that this is the month in which He sent down The Qur’an with clear proofs and guidance.

Allah also mentions with great emphasis that He wishes for us ease. He follows this up by telling us He does not to make things difficult for us. That’s like me telling you I want to bake you a cake and I want it to be delicious and I don’t it to be disgusting. I don’t need to tell you the latter part because I have already said I want it to be delicious therefore I do not need to add that I don’t want it to be disgusting. The words that Allah has chosen to use here tell us that He is greatly emphasising how much He wants to make things easy for us. Therefore, when we approach Ramadan we must remember that Allah is helping us and that we can get through this month without too much difficulty. We must believe in ourselves that we are able to complete and perfect all the number of days and then be grateful to Allah for having helped us.

 

Making Pure Intentions for Eid

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In Muslim populated areas crime levels soar on Eid day and most of those crimes are drug or alcohol-related. Fights break out and people are arrested. What a sad state that is.

Are you a Muslim or a Ramadan Muslim? What is a Muslim? Islam means submission and a Muslim is someone who submits to Islam. Who are we submitting to? The One who created us. How should we submit? By following His orders and staying away from His Prohibitions. Do you want to be a Muslim just in Ramadan, or do you want to be a Muslim all year around? Do you want to keep this feeling of happiness alive throughout the year?

Ramadan is the training ground for the rest of the year. We are soon to be completing our training. There is still time to push ourselves harder, more time to search our souls, enough time to reach out to Allah and beg of His Guidance and Forgiveness. Ramadan is like building a beautiful home. Brick by brick, deed by deed, good word by good word we build our house of righteousness. Why would we want to smash it all down on Eid?

“Do not be like the woman who had broken her yarn into pieces after spinning it firmly” (16:92)

This analogy offered by Allah should make us think. This woman he is describing has spent a long time spinning little fragments of cotton into fine yarn only to then pull it all apart again. This Ramadan, we worked hard, fasting, praying, sacrificing, abstaining all to try and make ourselves strong in faith. We must work twice as hard to keep doing these actions in order to not undo all the hard work we have achieved. We must make strong intentions now, not to return to the same state we were in before Ramadan. Allah says;

“Verily, those who say: `Our Rubb is Allah (Alone),’ and then they stand firm, on them the angels will descend (at the time of their death) (saying): ‘Fear not, nor grieve! But receive the glad tidings of Jannah which you have been promised! We have been your friends in the life of this world and are (so) in the Hereafter. Therein you shall have (all) that your inner-selves desire, and therein you shall have (all) for which you ask. An entertainment from (Allah), the Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (41:30-32)

By returning to sinfulness after Eid, we are turning our back on this promise of Allah. He has offered us Paradise on account of us standing firm – Istiqama – staying upright and making strong intentions to stay on The Straight Path of Allah. During Ramadan, we felt the natural high, we got the opportunity for a sense of belonging with the Muslim Ummah, our hearts softened upon hearing the Qur’an and our hope soared when we made duah. Let us not then go back to the life we had before. Let us keep the spirit of Ramadan alive!

Relapse Prevention

failing-to-plan-is-planning-to-failThe number one contingency plan to prevent relapse on or soon after Eid is good planning. If we don’t plan things through we are more likely to succumb to urges and cravings or invitations from bad company. As Eid day arrives its a bit like being a smoker on a long flight. While travelling, the smokers knows he cannot light up a cigarette so his cravings do not set in, otherwise known as ‘long flight syndrome’. But the moment he is out of the airport the cravings are so intense its the first thing he does. While we were fasting we were not able to indulge in our addictions and we often lose the urge to sin, yet the moment the opportunity arises all those cravings and urges come back. We need to be prepared. Start getting your Eid plans in well in advance of the actual day. It may be that bad friends are already making their plans. We need to keep away from them. We must stick to good company. If we are alone, we can find out what our local mosque has planned or try to team up with other individuals on their own like new Muslim reverts, foreign students etc. We need to make sure we have closed every door to relapse on Eid.

The purpose of Eid

Not many people know this, but the purpose of Eid is to be thankful. Allah tells us this;

“…So complete the period (of fasting). Glorify Allah (and thank Him) for the guidance He has granted. Perhaps, you would be grateful!” (2:185)

Notice in this Verse Allah says “perhaps” we will be grateful. This means that not every one of us who observe Ramadan will be grateful at the end. During this month, we will have received so many blessings from Allah. His Mercy rained down on us, yet were we thankful to Him? A sign that our Ramadan has been accepted by Allah  is if we show gratitude to Allah on the day of Eid. Let us be among those who are grateful. A strong intention now will help us. One way Allah asks us to show our gratitude to Him is to praise Him. We can recite;

Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar, laa ilaaha ill-Allaah, Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar, wa Lillaahi’l-hamd (Allaah is Most Great, Allaah is Most Great, there is no god except Allaah, Allaah is Most Great, Allaah is Most Great, and all praise be to Allaah). 

The Prophet, pbuh, would recite this Hamd – Praise of Allah – from sunset as he broke his last fast of Ramadan. He would repeat this througout the night and the following day, especially while walking to the mosque for Eid prayer. This is one of the sunnahs of Eid.

Follow the Sunnah of Eid – The following is an excerpt from http://islamqa.info/en/49014

1 – It is mustahabb to recite takbeer during the night of Eid from sunset on the last day of Ramadaan until the imam comes to lead the prayer. The format of the takbeer is as follows: 

Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar, laa ilaaha ill-Allaah, Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar, wa Lillaahi’l-hamd (Allaah is Most Great, Allaah is Most Great, there is no god except Allaah, Allaah is Most Great, Allaah is Most Great, and all praise be to Allaah). 

Or you can say Allaahu akbar three times, so you say: 

Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar, laa ilaaha ill-Allaah, Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar, wa Lillaahi’l-hamd (Allaah is Most Great, Allaah is Most Great, Allaah is Most Great, there is no god except Allaah, Allaah is Most Great, Allaah is Most Great , Allaah is Most Great, and all praise be to Allaah). 

Both are permissible. 

Men should raise their voices reciting this dhikr in the marketplaces, mosques and homes, but women should not raise their voices. 

2 – You should eat an odd number of dates before leaving for the Eid prayer, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not set out on the day of Eid until he had eaten an odd number of dates. He should stick to an odd number as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did. 

3 – You should wear your best clothes – this is for men. With regard to women, they should not wear beautiful clothes when they go out to the Eid prayer-place, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Let them go out looking decent” i.e., in regular clothes that are not fancy. It is haraam for them to go out wearing perfume and makeup. 

4 – Some of the scholars regarded it as mustahabb to do ghusl for the Eid prayer, because it is narrated that some of the salaf did this. Doing ghusl for Eid prayer is mustahabb, just as it is prescribed for Jumu’ah because one is going to meet people. So if one does ghusl, that is good. 

5 – The Eid prayer. The Muslims are unanimously agreed that the Eid prayer is prescribed in Islam. Some of them say that it is Sunnah, some say that it is fard kafaayah (a communal obligation) and some say that it is fard ‘ayn (an individual obligation), and that not doing it is a sin. They quoted as evidence the fact that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) commanded even the virgins and women in seclusion, i.e., those who did not ordinarily come out, to attend the Eid prayer place, except that those who were menstruating should keep away from the prayer-place itself, because it is not permissible for a menstruating woman to stay in the mosque; it is permissible for her to pass through but not to stay there.

Beware of Shaitan

The Shaitan were chained during the month of Ramadan and they will be released at sunset of the last fast. They will flee from their chains yet they will be weak at first and we will be strong. Our bodies may be weak from tiredness, hunger and thirst but the hearts of the Muslims are strong. Insha’Allah Allah has given us a head start over the devils who will be fasting on Eid. Let us try to be conscious of every shaitanic thought that enters our minds and counteract them with the remembrance of Allah.

So let us strive hard Oh Muslims, just as we did in Ramadan. Let us not slip back into our old ways or hang out with the old crowd. Let us do everything we can to overcome our sinfulness and stay on The Straight Path to Allah. InshaAllah we have become purified like the day we were born. Let us not add dirt to those clean slates. May Allah help us, Ameen.

Don't let the world pull you away from the goodness you have found
Don’t let the world pull you away from the goodness you have found

Making Pure Intentions for Ramadan

As the month of Ramadan is approaching, we need to think about how we are preparing for this blessed month of fasting in a spiritual way. Many Muslim addicts believe that Ramadan will be the solution to overcoming their addiction. We often think that this is the time we will change and turn our backs on our habits, however many of us fall on Eid day or soon after. However, we need to ask ourselves, what is it about Ramadan that makes us less likely to endulge in our addictive behaviours? And why is it that we still relapse in Ramdan, or soon after? Its important that we purify our intentions for Ramadan. Many of us hope to change, but this needs to be the consequence of our pure intentions and not the catalyst for fasting.

What does Allah say?

All the verses regarding fasting and Ramadan appear in the same place in the Qur’an. From Surah Baqarah, 2:183. These ayats are a reference point for us to return to and try to understand.

2:183: O ye who believe! As-Saum (abstaining) is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may attain Taqwa (God-Consciousness)

Many Muslims fall into the trap of believing the purpose of Ramadan is to attain Taqwa, a consciousness of Allah, where we think of Allah often leading to fear of His Punishments and hope in His rewards, thus helping us to change our behaviours. However, in this verse, Ramadan has not been mentioned. In fact we need to understand what the meaning of as-Saum is. As English speakers we often translate Saum into fasting, however, the literal translation is the verb ‘abstain’. We understand that saum does not always refer to abstaining from the stomach through fasting. For example Allah tells us in al-Quran that Maryam, the mother of Isa, said,

“Surely I have vowed to The Most Merciful, to fast (sawm).” [19:26]

The fast here means to be silent, that is, to abstain from speaking. Islamically, Sawm in Ramadan means to abstain from food, drink and sexual relation between dawn and sunset. It also means that we must abstain from all habits and behaviours that can be displeasing to Allah. This is important for us to think about as we embrace our recovery. Perhaps, why it is much easier for the addict to abstain in Ramadan is, because many Muslims all over the world are holding back from their bad habits and trying hard to become better people. Part of our intention for observing Ramadan is to abstain through fasting in the hope that we will become more conscious of Allah.

The first mention of Ramadan itself appears shortly after this verse;

2:185: The month of Ramdan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and criterion. Whoever of you observes the month he must observe saum (fasting)…and that you may you must magnify Allah for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him”.

Lets look closely at the language used here– whoever observes means whoever of you is alive and gifted by Allah to see Ramadan should seize this opportunity. Allah is saying all those who can, should take the chance.

Many addicts begin to questions their ability to get through this month. We need to really think about this verse and realise that Allah is giving us encouragement and He wants us to grab this chance to come closer to Him and subsequently make changes in our life.

What we also see here is that the purpose of Ramadan is to become thankful. That through coming closer to Allah through fasting and abstaining from sins and our addiction we may learn to become more grateful to Him, Who is deserved of all thanks.

What’s the intention for fasting?

 Let us take a moment to think about why we want to fast in Ramadan. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said;

“Actions are but by intentions, and everyone shall have but that which he intended…” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1; Muslim, 1907)

As discussed above, the main purpose of fasting is to attain God-consciousness and the main purpose of Ramadan is to gain thankfulness to Allah. However, this is the time to combine our intentions for Ramadan. We need to think about the multidude of benefits we can reap from this beautiful month. As with many aspects of Islam there are conditions and there are two conditions for purifying our intentions for fasting in Ramadan.Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said,

“Whoever fasted the month of Ramadan out of sincere Faith (eeman in Allah as One) and hoping for a reward from Allah (ihtisab), then all his past sins will be forgiven, and whoever stood for the prayers in the night of Qadr out of eman and ihtisab, then all his previous sins will be forgiven .”

Imam Ahmad and An-Nasaii added the following to the above narration,

“And also what will occur later on (meaning future sins, as well).”

Imam Ahmad taught us that fasting with eeman entails fasting while believing with the heart in the obligation of fasting during Ramadan. As for Ihtisab, it means that one anticipates the reward and his fasting is therefore only for the sake of Allah and not to imitate his people and community or for any other worldly gain.

So we must ask ourselves, why are we fasting? To get clean? To stop acting out in our addiction? Tradition? Because everyone else is? To pleasing our parents or spouses?
In the tradition of Rasulullah (SAW), the state of Imaan and Ihtisab has been defined as one in which a person performs good and virtuous deeds in the hope of Divine Recompense and with faith in the promise of Divine good pleasure and forgiveness.

Regarding this, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is reported to have said:

“Many are there among you who fast and yet gain nothing from it except hunger and thirst, and many are there who pray (throughout the night) and yet gain nothing from it except wakefulness.”

Let us correct our intentions so that we do not fall into this catagory of people who gain nothing from their fasting but hunger and thirst. it is also said that this hadith applies to those who fast yet do not change their bad habits, they continue to sin or behave in ways that Allah dislikes.

Abu Huraira said  – “ The heart is the king of the body” when explaining the hadith:

“Verily in the body there is a lump of flesh; if it is sound, the whole body is sound, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt, and behold, it is the heart.” [Bukhāri and Muslim]

Any belief in Islam is founded on 3 pillars:

1- Conviction of the heart – brings about an intention
2- Statement of the tongue – he speaks of what resides in the heart, the conviction
3- Action of the limbs/body. – Acting upon that belief.

The intention for fasting in Ramadan is very important. Without a correct intention the actions are not valid

Being positive

Part of having a good intention is looking forward to receiving the guest of Ramadan just as we would with a family member who lives far away and only comes to visit us once per year. We must be positive as the month draws near and believe in ourselves that we are able to complete and perfect the number of days to the best of our abilities. Allah Himself offers us words of support and encouragement that should give us the courage to embrace this month, knowing that Allah is on our side to get us through;

“…Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you” 2:185

How many times have we read this verse and did we ever notice that Allah says He intends ease, and the follows up by saying He does not want to make things difficult for you? It is like saying I want you make a cake delicious and I don’t want it to taste horrible. Allah is emphasising this point. He is showing the strength of His intention to make things easy for us and not for us to feel as though we are suffering a hardship.
Then Allah says; “…He wants that you must complete the number of days…” This means He wants us to perfect the number of days – to do them fully and to the best of our ability.

Scholars call Ramadan the training ground for the rest of the year. As addicts in recovery, we must utilise this month as best as we can to try and change our behaviours but we must remember that our primary intention is to become better Muslims, becoming more conscious of Him so that we may develop thankfulness. Having an attitude of gratitude is paramount in our recovery as it removes negative thinking and self-pitying behaviours that can lead to relapse.

Let us make duah to Allah that He allows us to live to see Ramadan, to complete and perfect its number of days and for us to love Him more and be thankful to Him. Ameen.

Lynne Ali-Northcott (Addiction Counsellor)