The Month of Ramadan: The Month of Spiritual and Cultural Education
Friday Sermon By Grand Ayatollah Assayed Fadhlullah (r.a) 21/8/2009
Courtesy of Bayynat
Allah, the Most Exalted, says in His Glorious Book: “Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Quran, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong).” (02:185).
When we receive the month of Ramadan, we feel, inspired by the Holy Book and the Sunnah of the Prophet (p.), that this month is meant to create a spiritual, cultural, and educational program that extends into the whole year. And this is what we inspire from the speech of Imam Ali (a.s.) on the day of the Eid: “Everyday that Allah is not disobeyed in is a Eid.”
Imam Ali (a.s.) said that the Messenger (p.) gave a speech once (he did not define the exact date), and said: “O’ People! The Month of Allah (Ramadan) has approached you – all months belong to Allah, since He is the Creator of time. But He has made a certain month, the month in which people return to Allah, making everything in their minds and hearts full of His love so that everything in their lives would be dedicated to Allah – with His mercy, blessings, and forgiveness. Allah, the Merciful and the Compassionate, blesses His servants in this month. These blessings represent an incomparable joy and happiness. He bestows His mercy in this month like no other month. This mercy includes all man’s needs in his life. He, the Most Exalted, facilitates the achievement of man’s errands, and forgives, in each night of this month, those who ask for forgiveness, especially those who have committed wrong or have sinned.
We have to benefit from this month that carries with it all these blessings, mercy, and forgiveness, to get close to Allah and to love Him more – This is the month that is the best of all months in Allah’s view. Its days are the best among the days; its nights are the best among the nights. Its hours are the best among the hours.
Allah is the Host
This is a month in which He has invited you – He has invited you to a feast, but one that does not fill your stomachs. Instead, it fills your minds to the right, your hearts with the good, and your life with piety – You have been in this month, selected as the recipients of the honours of Allah, the Merciful – Allah honours us in this month by elevating our humanity. This is what the Quran says: “And surely We have honoured the children of Adam.” (17:70). And the most gracious honours Allah bestows on us are the ones that He bestows in this month.
The rewards of fasting
In this Holy month, when you breathe, it has the thawab (heavenly reward) of Tasbeeh, and your sleep has the thawab of worship– the sleep that the fasting believer benefits from to help him perform his worshipping duties the next day, is considered as an act of worship. Your good deeds are accepted in this month. So are you invocations – Allah accepts all our good deeds and listens to our invocations that express our needs, pains, and concerns, and responds to them. Thus, when this month commences, we ought to open up to Allah. Therefore, you must invoke your lord, in earnest, with hearts that are free from sins and evils – hatred, unbelief, or enmity – that Allah may bless and enable you to fast during it – since the fasting of those who are capable would save from Hellfire – and to recite His Book – since Allah wanted the Quran to be the guide and the course that nourishes man’s spiritual and moral culture, as well as his movement in life. Thus, we have to read the Quran as such, to try to understand it and act according to its teachings – for only a wretch is the one who is deprived of Allah’s forgiveness during this month – the month of Ramadan is the season; if you lose in the season, you will not be able to gain when the season is off.
The moral duties of the fasting believer
The Prophet (p.) wants us through our fasting, during which we experience hunger and thirst, to remember that we will stand before Allah on the Day of Judgment. So, we should remember through our hunger during fasting in this world the hunger on the Day of Judgment, which would be eased as we dedicate ourselves to Allah in this Holy month.
The Prophet (p.) says: “While fasting, remember the hunger and thirst of tomorrow on the Day of Judgment. Give alms to the poor and the needy – when you feel hungry, you will recall that there are other people who are always hungry – pay respect to you elders – because the elders have lived Islam long before you have and they have gained a lot of experience which you have not gained yet. What is meant by this is not to obey the elders concerning everything, but rather to respect them – Have pity on those younger than you – have mercy on them for their lack of experience and narrow-mindedness, if they commit mistakes – and be kind towards your relatives and kinsmen – this act would prolong your life and bring you closer to Allah – guard your tongues against unworthy words – guard them against gossip, slander, filthy words…etc.
“And your eyes from such scenes that are forbidden and your ears from such sounds that should not be heard by you– there are certain things that Allah does not want man to hear, such as the songs that arise instincts and luscious desires and encourage committing falsehood – be kind to orphans – there are many orphans in society and we ought to bear the responsibility of taking care of them and raising them by becoming more like fathers to them. At the end of his life, Imam Ali (a.s.) said in his will of testimony: “Fear Allah in matters concerning orphans. Attend to their nutrition and do not forget their interests in the middle of yours.“
“So that if your children become orphans, they also may be treated with kindness. Do invoke that Allah may forgive your sins – everyone should contemplate about his sins and ask Allah to forgive him for every sin he had committed, for He does accept His servants’ repentance and does forgive them – do raise your hands in supplication when you pray, as it is the best time for asking for His mercy – during prayer, man’s soul transcends to Allah, and since he becomes close to Him, he can ask Him for what he needs – when we invoke at such times being the best of times, we are answered by Him – when we invoke while in pure devotion, Allah would answer us – when we call Him, He responds; and when we ask for anything, it is accepted by Him.“
“O’ people! Your souls are tied to your deeds, as mentioned in the Holy Book: “Every soul is held in pledge for what it earns.” (74:38) – untie them by asking for forgiveness – as we pay money to repay a certain mortgage, we are in debt to Allah and tied to Him by our deeds, so to untie them, we have to ask for His forgiveness – Your backs are heavy with loads, so make them light by prolonging your sajdah’s (prostrations). And know that Allah has sworn by His Dignity that He would not punish those who pray and those who make sajdah. And He would not overawe them with Fire on the day when people rise to the Lord of the Universe. O, people! Whoever feeds a fasting believer during this month– invite him to his house, or offer him a full meal, especially if he was poor – to Allah, it is as if he has freed a slave. And his past sins are forgiven…
“O, people! Anybody who may cultivate good manners in this month – some people would not stand anyone talking to them, claiming that they are fasting. But fasting is not only to abstain from eating or drinking, you also ought to fast from getting angry and oppressing others – will walk over the “Sirat” bridge on the Day of Judgment though his feet may be shaking. Anybody who makes his slaves, male or female, take light work in this month – if we have employees and workers, we ought to assign them to light work if they were fasting – Allah will make his accounting easy on the Day of Judgment. Anybody who does not do anything wrong to others in this month, Allah will keep him safe from His wrath on the Day of Judgment. Anybody who respects and treats an orphan with kindness in this month, Allah shall look at him with kindness on the Day of Judgment. Anybody who treats well his kinsmen, in this month, Allah will bestow His mercy on him on the Day of Judgment. Whoever offers Sunnat prayers – recommended prayers – in this month, Allah will free him from Hell. Whosoever offers one “Wajib” prayer in this month, for him the Angels will write the rewards of seventy such prayers, that were offered by him in any other month. Whosoever recites repeatedly “Salaat-W salaam” on me, Allah will keep the scales of his good deeds heavy, when in the Day of Judgment the scales of others will be tending towards lightness. Whosoever recites in this month only one “ayat” (a verse of the Holy Quran), he will be rewarded in a manner as if he had recited the full Quran in the other months.
“O’ People! The Gates of Paradise remain open in this month. Do invoke that the gates may not be closed before you – by your wrongful deeds and sins – while the Gates of Hell are closed. Do invoke that these gates may never be opened.”
The best deeds in this month
The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) says: “Then I stood and said: “O Messenger of Allah, what are the best deeds of this month? He said: “O Abu Al-Hassan, the best deed in this month is to abstain from doing what Allah has forbidden” – to control one’s self and abstain from doing anything Haram.
This Holy month is a spiritual and educational month, through which we try to attain closer positions to Allah and work on the basis of the good that extends to all people. Moreover, we ought to work hard to earn all that Allah bestows on us in this month and brings us closer to Him to benefit from all that on the Day of Judgment; the day we stand before Allah to be judged, “The day on which property will not avail, nor sons; except him who comes to Allah with a heart free (from evil).” (26: 88-89).