Divine Guidance, Neighbours, Betterment
Issue 898 » June 10, 2016 - Ramadan 5, 1437
Al-Hadid (The Iron) - Chapter 57: Verse 16
"Is it not time that the hearts of those who believe should be humbled to the Remembrance of God and the Truth which He has sent down, and that they should not be as those to whom the Book was given aforetime, and the term seemed over long to them, so that their hearts have become hard, and many of them are ungodly?"
Many of the problems of western man, especially those of the environment, were from his having left the divine wisdom of revealed religion, which taught him his true place as a creature of God in the natural world and to understand and respect it. Without it, he burned up and consumed nature with ever more effective technological styles of commercial exploitation that ruined his world from without while leaving him increasingly empty within, because he did not know why he existed or to what end he should act.
Everything on the face of the earth, all moral and religious systems, were on the same plane, unless one could gain certainty that one of them was from a higher source, the sole guarantee of the objectivity, the whole force, of moral law. Otherwise, one man’s opinion was as good as another’s, and we remained in an undifferentiated sea of conflicting individual interests, in which no valid objection could be raised to the strong eating the weak.
Even in translation, the superiority of the Muslim scripture is evident in every line, as if the reality of divine revelation, dimly heard of all my life, had now been placed before my eyes. In its exalted style, its power, its inexorable finality, its uncanny way of anticipating the arguments of the atheistic heart in advance and answering them; it is a clear exposition of God as God and man as man, the revelation of the awe-inspiring Divine Unity being the identical revelation of social and economic justice among men.
"Stories of New Muslims," Nuh Ha Mim Keller's account , pp. 94-98
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should not harm his neighbour.” [Bukhari, Muslim]
In another hadith the Prophet said, “By Allah, he is not a believer. By Allah, he is not a believer. By Allah, he is not a believer.” It was said to him, “Who is that, O Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him)?” He said, “The one from whose affairs his neighbour is not safe.” [Bukhari, Muslim]
One time the Prophet was asked about a woman who performed lots of prayers, fasted and gave charity but she used to harm her neighbour by her speech. The Prophet said that she is in the Hell-fire. Then the Prophet was asked about a woman who did not fast, pray or give in charity much [more than what was obligatory upon her] but she would not harm her neighbours. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that she is in Paradise. [Ahmad]
The Prophet also demonstrated specific ways by which one can begenerous or courteous to his neighbour. The Messenger of Allah once said to Abu Dharr, “O Abu Dharr, when you prepare stew, increase its water and deliver it to some of your neighbours." [Muslim]
A Muslim can know if he is fulfilling the condition of true faith mentioned in these hadiths. When the Prophet was asked about how one could tell if he was treating his neighbours well, he said, “If you hear them saying, ‘You have done well,’ then you have done well. If you hear them saying, ‘You have done evil,’ then you have done evil.” [Ahmad]
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, Vol. 2, pp. 646, 647
Though the laws and rites that the prophets and messengers brought differed in numerous ways, fasting was one of the essential matters of faith that they all came with. This shows us that the practice of fasting is one of the greatest acts of worship.
When Allah draws the attention of the Muslims to the fact that they are not the only ones to observe this act of worship, it is an encouragement for us. All of the prophets fasted, as did all the religious communities of old. This strengthens our hearts to observe what Allah commanded us, as well as those who came before us, to observe.
Fasting is a prescription from Allah for spiritual development. It is an intensive course in moral character. It is a good idea for a fasting person to make a conscious intention from the beginning of Ramad?n to develop one or more aspects of his or her character, and to monitor the progress made throughout the month.
Fasting is a spiritual challenge. This is one of the ways it benefits those who are unaccustomed to avoiding sin. While fasting, they have to restrain themselves from engaging in lawful things as well, and this makes them more God-conscious, and more acutely aware of the magnitude of their sins. It is a shock to their system, but it is shock therapy that takes a gradual pace and provides many benefits. It is one in which the patient actively participates, since the fasting person willingly engages in this new experience of self-restraint.
The underlying purpose of fasting is to help Muslims in their spiritual development so they can become more God-fearing. Allah did not impose fasting on us to punish us or to make things difficult by depriving us of what we desire. Instead, He prescribed it for us to make us more God-conscious.
Fasting is a chance for us to show our willingness to give up something we desire for His sake. Our moral development requires us to rein in many of our desires. This is not easy. It requires effort and takes patience. In this way, we strengthen ourselves so we can live wholesome, ethical lives.
One of the most destructive ways to live life is through the unchecked pursuit of our desires, without considering the harm that our actions can cause for ourselves and others. A person who lives in this way has no self-control and no ability to engage in anything that requires effort.
By depriving ourselves of food, drink, and other lawful pleasures for Allah’s sake as an act of worship and devotion, we fortify our hearts and triumph over our desires. It makes it easier for us to stay away from sin. What is the point in depriving ourselves of food and drink if we are going to persist in slander, suspicion, rumour-mongering, and cheating?
When we go through the day in Ramad?n hungry and thirsty from fasting, we should recall to mind the reasons why we fast. We should keep in mind that fasting is supposed to develop our moral character and make us better people.
"The Immeasurable Importance of Fasting" - Salman al-Oadah