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Ramadan is a Favor, Not a Burden

Shaykh Nour Kabbani

19 June 2015 Burton, Michigan

Jumu`ah Khutbah at As-Siddiq Institute & Mosque

(Du`a of Khutbah.)

أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ

O you who have believed! Decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you.

(Surat al-Baqara, 2:183)

The Prophet (s) said that Allah (swt) said:

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ "‏ قَالَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ كُلُّ عَمَلِ ابْنِ آدَمَ لَهُ إِلاَّ الصِّيَامَ هُوَ لِي وَأَنَا أَجْزِي بِهِ

Every deed of the Son of Adam is for him, except fasting: it is for Me and I shall reward for it.

(Sunan an-Nasa’i)

Alhamdulillah rabbi ‘l-`alameen. We always ask Allah (swt) to keep us on the Right Path. It has been Allah's blessings so far that we are on the Right Path. We are following the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah and we are trying to adhere to the path of the Holy Ones, as Allah (swt) says in the Holy Qur'an, asta`eedhu billah:

اِهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَالْمُسْتَق۪يمَ صِرَاطَ الَّذ۪ينَ اَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْۙغَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّٓالّ۪ينَ

Guide us to the straight path. The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor.

(Surat al-Fatihah, 1:6-7)

He teaches us to ask for the Right Path, ihdina ’s-siraat al-mustaqeem. Siraat alladheena an`amta `alayhim, the path of the holy ones. Allah (swt) has sent messengers to Mankind to teach them the way to His Divine Presence. Allah (swt) has told us in the Holy Qur'an that we have to ask for the guidance to the Right Path, the guidance of the messengers, of the prophets, of the martyrs, of the siddiqeen, the truthful ones, and of saaliheen, the pious ones.

Allah (swt) in His infinite wisdom has created us and gave us some characteristics that we live with--the body, mind and soul--and He said, “I have given you the Guidance,” and, “I have shown you the Way.”

اِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّب۪يلَ اِمَّا شَا‌كِراً وَاِمَّا كَفُوراً

Indeed, We guided him to the way, be he grateful or be he ungrateful. (Surat al-Insaan, 76:3)

Allah (swt) showed us the way, but some of us are either thankful, grateful and some of us are ungrateful. Allah (swt) has given us a body, a mind, a spirit as a favor and that is why we say, “Alhamdulillahi rabbi ’l-`alameen. O our Lord! Thanks and praises to You that you gave us these favors.” But where and how do we use them? Are we thankful or are we unthankful? Are we using these favors in the right way or in the wrong way?

Allah (swt) did not leave us to our own selves to find out are we doing it in the right way or the wrong way. He has sent fasting, He has sent Ramadan to teach us how we should use His favors, our eating and drinking, our power to reproduce, our manners. In Ramadan, Allah (swt) summarizes the way we should be using His favors: you eat the right food at the right time, you drink the right drink at the right time, you use your body to reproduce the right way at the right time, you use your manners, you don’t get angry, you don’t fight, you don’t swear. In Ramadan Allah (swt) is putting us involuntarily against our wishes, because a lot of us here, and around the world, they find fasting hard, because it is against our nature.

So Allah (swt) is saying, “I am going to put you in thirty days of intense, rigorous discipline.” Ramadan is discipline. Whose discipline is it? It is the discipline of the prophets, of the saints, of the pious ones, the ones that use Allah’s favors in the right way, and this is the right guidance. We ask Allah (swt) in every raka`at in Surat al-Fatihah to guide us to the Right Path, and this is the Right Path. We are in it now, Ramadan. We eat and drink according to Allah’s will, as He pleases; we use our body as He pleases, we use our manners as Allah pleases, not as our ego pleases.

We are born, we come to this world crying, for what? Why do babies cry when they are born and how do they quiet down? All of us know: they eat and drink. So we come to this world crying and once we get the pleasure of this world we don’t cry anymore. Once the baby has his mom’s milk in their mouth and tummy they are happy, in pleasure. When Mankind is in pleasure they don’t cry. These kind of pleasures you do not have to be taught because it’s our nature; human nature is to seek and fulfill their pleasure.

The first evidence of this is when we are born and we are crying, then Allah gives it to us and once we get the pleasure of eating and drinking, we calm down, everything is okay. These are inherent in us, that we are always after our bodily pleasure. But Allah (swt) is saying, “To be with Me you have to put your pleasures aside.” In Ramadan we leave the pleasure of eating, drinking, our bodies, and Allah (swt) is saying, “O My Prophet, O My Beloved! Tell them fasting is for Me.” Okay, if fasting is for Allah (swt), how about the one who is doing the fasting? Allah (swt) is saying, “The action is acceptable to Me and it’s for Me,” but how about the person that is doing that action? It is for Him! So Allah (swt) is saying, “If you want Me and you are fasting, you have to leave the pleasures of this world.”

To be with Allah (swt), we have to leave the pleasures of this world and follow the path of the holy ones, the Sahaabah, the A’imma, the Ahl al-Bayt. The Ahl as-Suffah, the People of the Bench, sometimes had nothing to eat or drink for weeks, but those are the pleasures of this life which they did not want; they wanted their Lord, Allah (swt).

Each one of us is born knowing the pleasures of his body; you do not have to be taught about the pleasures of your body, but to be with Allah (swt) we have to be taught. That is why messengers came, to inform us. Allah (swt) says that fasting was given to whoever was before you:

أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ

O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you.

(Surat al-Baqara, 2:183)

“O you who believe! Allah has prescribed fasting on you, kamaa kutiba `ala ’Lladheena min qablikum, the same way it has been prescribed for the ones that came before you.” That means all the messengers that came before us told their nations the way to Allah (swt) is to abstain, relinquish, quit the pleasures of life. Therefore, we have to be aware the way to Allah (swt) is what we are doing now in Ramadan, so don’t find it hard; rather, find it easy because Allah (swt) says:

A`oodhu billahi min ash-Shaytaani ‘r-rajeem. Bismillahi 'r-Rahmaani 'r-Raheem.

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِيَ أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَى وَالْفُرْقَانِ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَْيُر۪يدُ اللّٰهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ

Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'an as a guide to mankind, also as clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill or on a journey, the prescribed period (should be made up) by days later. Allah intends for you ease. (Surat al-Baqara, 2:185)

Allah (swt) wants ease for you in this month, so don’t see this fasting or worship as a burden, see it as the way to the Divine Presence! We are quitting the pleasures of this life because we want the pleasures of being with our Lord, Who said:

تَتَجَافَى جُنُوبُهُمْ عَنِ الْمَضَاجِعِ يَدْعُونَ رَبَّهُمْ خَوْفًا وَطَمَعًا وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ

They arise from (their) beds, they supplicate their Lord in fear and aspiration, and they spend from what We have provided them. (Surat as-Sajda, 32:16)

In Surat as-Sajda, Allah (swt) says that the lovers of Allah, the lovers of Nabi Kareem (s), the lovers of this way, wake up at night and give away the pleasure of sleeping, asking their Lord in the darkness, and Allah (swt) is saying that nobody knows what has been hidden for them. So when Allah (swt) says, “Fasting is for Me and I give the reward”, it means that nobody knows what reward we will get.

فَلَا تَعْلَمُ نَفْسٌ مَٓا اُخْفِيَ لَهُمْ مِنْ قُرَّةِ اَعْيُنٍۚ جَزَٓاءً بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

And no soul knows what has been hidden for them of comfort for eyes as reward for what they used to do.

(Surat as-Sajda, 32:17)

No soul will know what has been hidden for them because of what they have been doing, jazaa’an bi maa kaanoo ya`amaloon. In one of the meanings of this ayah, Allah (swt) says, “I am going to give you the reward for your fasting,” and we are asking from our Lord the reward of fasting, as Sayyidina Muhammad (s) taught us in the Hadith:

من صام رمضان إيمانا واحتسابا غفر له ما تقدم من ذنبه

Whoever fasts during Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward (from Allah), all his past sins will be forgiven. (Bukhari and Muslim)

We are fasting, believing in Allah (swt) and anticipating reward from Him. He says, “I am going to give you that reward and nobody knows what it is,” because it’s in the Divine Presence, it’s nothing that we know--not even Jannah, because Jannah we know--but Allah (swt) is saying, “You do not know what I am going to give you, a soul doesn’t know.” That means it is not Jannah, but something else in His Divine Presence that He knows and we don’t know about.

So the way of the pious ones, the messengers and the prophets will lead you to the Divine Presence, the highest station a creation can reach, which was only given to Sayyidina Muhammad (s) on the Night Journey. He has reached the Divine Presence; he passed Earth, he passed the skies, he passed heavens, he passed Paradise, he passed hellfire, he passed Sidratu ‘l-Muntahaa, he passed the Throne and he went into the Divine Presence. We ask Allah (swt) to make us with them, the ones that Allah has favored:

مَعَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمَ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْهِم مِّنَ النَّبِيِّينَ وَالصِّدِّيقِينَ وَالشُّهَدَاءِ وَالصَّالِحِينَ وَحَسُنَ أُولَـٰئِكَ رَفِيقًا

With those upon whom You bestowed blessing, among the Prophets, the Truthful Ones, the Martyrs and the Righteous Ones, Ah! what a beautiful fellowship! (Surat al-Nisa, 4:69)

The Nabiyyeen, Siddiqeen, Shuhadaa and Saaliheen also means those who witnessed Allah’s Beauty, Allah’s Divine Presence. Allah (swt) is giving us an example from many examples. We cannot interpret the Qur’an, Allah (swt) is the Best Knower and Sayyidina Muhammad (s) has taught us.

وَالْعَادِيَاتِ ضَبْحًافَالْمُورِيَاتِ قَدْحًافَالْمُغِيرَاتِ صُبْحًا

By the chargers that run, with panting breath, striking sparks of fire, rushing, the raiders at dawn.

(Surat al-`Adiyat, 100:1-3)

Allah is describing His Lovers who seek the Divine Presence: the horses that run very fast with heavy breath, such as a runner. So Allah (swt) is swearing, “By the ones running at a fast pace, panting, whose feet spark fire in the middle of the night (like horses’ hooves strike stone and create a spark), at darkness: the raiders at dawn.” The ones that are running to Allah (swt) with yearning and love want to be in the Divine Presence so they are running very fast in His worship. They don’t see fasting as something hard, they are fasting with love to Allah (swt) and leaving the pleasures of life and running fast to the Divine Presence with heavy breaths, which means they are exerting their body to the limit. Nabi Kareem (s) and the Sahaabah (r) exerted their bodies to the limit; some Sahaabahs traveled from Madinah to Istanbul, Constantinople, for jihad at age 90 years! They pushed their bodies to the limit.

Allah (swt) is saying, “I swear by the ones who are running and exerting their bodies to the limit-fasting is so you exert your body to the limit-and with their running to the Divine Presence light is coming and they are seeing the Light of Hidaya, Guidance, the Light of Truth.They are saying, “We will stop running after our desires and run to our Lord, Allah (swt)!” So they see the Light of Truth coming out. You are leaving drinking, eating, sleeping and you see the Lights of Guidance to the Divine Presence by doing your worship in this month.

Fa ‘l-mughiraati subhan, the raiders at dawn. We start fasting at dawn, raiding our desires, killing them. At dawn we start our fast and raid our egos, the shaytans and everything that tells us to do harm, bad and evil; we say, “No, we are cutting you off, we are fasting to reach our Lord’s Divine Presence and for His Pleasure!”

Allah (swt) is giving the example of the ones that are seeking His Divine Presence to “stay firm on your worship”, because in worship the doors to Allah’s Presence in your heart opens up. Worship is the key to opening your heart to the Divine Light. Without worship nothing opens in the heart, but with worship the doors of the Divine Presence open up. We ask our Lord to keep us firm in our worship and firm in thanking Him for His favors, and firm in His dhikr.


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