Embracing the Truth, Month of Patience, Strengthen Reason
Issue 945 » May 5, 2017 - Shaban 9, 1438
Embracing The Truth
Al Hajj (The Pilgrimage) Sura 22: Verse 11
"Some people worship God on the border-line [of faith]. If good befalls such a person, he is content; but if a trial assails him, he turns away utterly; thus losing this world and the life to come. This is, indeed, a loss beyond compare."
Faith is the mainstay of a believer's life. The world may be swayed and shaken here or there, but the believer stays his ground supported by this mainstay. Events may pull him in this or that direction, but he remains firm in his resolve. Support may crumble all around him, but he is certain that faith gives him the kind of support that never fails. Such is the value of faith in the life of a believer. Hence, he or she must ensure that they have the right faith, trust to its unfailing support, entertain no hesitation and wait for no immediate reward. Indeed, faith itself is a reward for believers, because it gives them all the support they need. It is indeed a reward for a heart that opens up to the light of faith and seeks guidance. Because of this, God grants them faith to provide them with all the reassurance they need. A believer realizes that faith is a reward and appreciates its value when he sees people all around him moving aimlessly, pulled here and there, worried, thrown off-course, while he himself is certain of his footsteps, calm, reassured by his strong bond with God.
Contrasted with this is the person who looks at faith as a commercial endeavour. He would say that faith is beneficial, bringing in material gains, allowing plants to grow, efforts to be fruitful, goods to sell well and transactions to be profitable. But if it turns out otherwise, then he takes a totally different stance. His loss in this life is reflected in the misfortune he cannot tolerate, and the calamity that did not bring him back to complete reliance on God. Hence, he also loses the hereafter by turning away from faith, rejecting the guidance that was made available to him.
A computation of profit and loss may be suitable for commercial dealings, but it is utterly unsuited to faith, because faith represents the truth and it is embraced for nothing other than its truth. It addresses the heart which receives light and guidance and inevitably reacts to them. Moreover, faith brings its own rewards in the form of satisfaction, pleasure and reassurance. It does not seek any reward other than itself.
Undoubtedly, the person who turns away from faith once hardship befalls him exposes himself to utter loss. He is deprived of trust, reassurance and contentedness, in addition to his loss of wealth, children, health or other losses with which God puts His servants to the test. For God requires His servants to demonstrate their trust in Him, to patiently persevere in the face of adversity, as well as to dedicate their lives to His cause and to His will. Moreover, he loses the life to come and all that it promises of bliss, happiness and being close to God. This is indeed a great loss.
"In the Shade of the Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 12, pp. 84, 85
Month of Patience
"This is indeed the month of patience, and the reward for true patience is paradise." [Bukhari]
Even if great difficulty is experienced in prescribed fasting, one should bear it cheerfully with patience; one should not complain, as people are likely to do during the hot summer days. Similarly, if the pre-dawn meal is missed, one should not complain. Should we feel fatigued at the time of the Special Prayer (tarawih), this too should be borne with patience. Do not consider it a great imposition or trial otherwise these performances may lose credit with God. When we turn our back on worldly comforts, forsake our eating and drinking for the sake of livelihood, then in comparison with God's pleasure what are these little difficulties?
"The Virtues of Ramadan Seen Through the Traditions" - Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi
The natural function of reason is to preserve the eternal possibility of self. Guidelines for the development of reason have been sent through the prophets and takes the form of the Word as either a person — Jesus— or a Book — the Quran. The strategy of prescribed fasting is used by believers to strengthen reason. As reason grows stronger, it becomes better able to attract the spiritual heart, the center of Divine Light within towards itself and away from the passions. Reason is strengthened through will power to consciously deny the self its source of energy. The parts of self which is being denied energy are the passions — lust and anger. As the power to reason grows stronger, the self learns self-control and self-mastery. It strengthens its ability to self stocktaking.
From self-control develops human dignity and freedom because when the devotee performs the prescribed fast, he or she learns to control the passions and discipline desires to resist wrongdoing. He or she is then freed from the control of negative behaviors and replaces them with inner peace. When observing the prescribed fast, the believer grounds self in discipline which leads to a strengthening of will power and determination. This will power, guided by reason which rules over the passions, allows the devotee to further character and inner development.
The emphasis on the spiritual aspect of self calls for the lessening of emphasis on the stomach, allowing extra energies to flow towards the spiritual center of self, the "heart" and turn it away from natural desires.
"Strategies for the Prescribed Fast" - Pervez Hanif