The Month of Ramadan

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is an Arabic month which is considered to be a divine gift from Allah (swt) to all Muslims on Earth. All faithful Muslims are longing for reaching Ramadan and praying to be able to get the most spiritual benefits from the blessed month. They receive it with gladdening hearts which are full of hope to please their Creator and get closer to Him. They pray that Allah (swt) enables them to increase their good deeds in the month of Ramadan and that He accepts from them so that they can attain Allah’s rewards.

Ramadan is the month of religious fasting in Islam. Fasting in that month is a mandatory ritual such as prayer, paying alms and performing hajj. Narrated Ibn ‘Umar: Allah’s Apostle said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles): 1. to testify that none has the right to be worshiped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle. 2. To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly. 3. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity). 4. To perform Hajj. (I.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca) 5. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.

(Sahih al-Bokhari), (Book #2, Hadith #7)

 An Egyptian intellectual, called Dr. Mustafa Mahmoud, once wrote a beautiful thought about fasting in Islam. He said:

“Fasting is an ancient ritual which is common in all religions. Those who like controversy always ask, “How come that God creates for us a mouth, teeth, pharynx and stomach to eat and then asks us to fast?! How come He creates beauty and lust then asks us to lower gaze and be chaste?! Is that reasonable?

I say to them that it is the only reasonable thing. God gives you a horse to ride and not to be ridden by it. You are supposed to subjugate the horse and lead it, not to be led by it. Your body is your horse which is created for you to ride, control, lead and use for your own purpose. You are not supposed to be subjugated by your body or used to achieve its lusts and desires. Hence, controlling desires, steering whims and bridling stomach are the signs of true man.

Ramadan is also known as the month of mercy, blessing, forgiveness and salvation from the Hell fire. Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah‘s Apostle said, “Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah‘s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven.”

 (Sahih al-Bokhari), (Book #2, Hadith #37)

 How to do fasting in Ramadan:

In the month of Ramadan, all adult, sane and healthy Muslims are required to observe fasting from dawn (time of dawn prayer) to sunset (time of Maghrib prayer). Fasting in Islam means to stop eating, drinking and intimacy during the period of fasting. Muslims break their fasting when they hear the call for Maghrib prayer (sunset prayer). Then they are allowed to eat, drink and have intimacy with their spouses till they hear the call for dawn prayer. Sick people do not have to observe fasting, but they are required to make up the days they missed at any time after Ramadan. As for those who cannot pray due to chronic illness or old age then they can feed a poor person for every day of Ramadan.

The Spiritual benefits of fasting:

   Ramadan casts its blessed shade over all aspects of Muslim’s spiritual, social and physical life. Therefore, it has its special effect over the whole community of Muslims and even non-Muslims sharing same community.  

  The spiritual benefits of fasting in Ramadan out of sincere faith can be summarized in one phrase: purifying the soul. Abstaining from eating food, drinking beverages and controlling desire during the day of Ramadan helps clear the mind and giving it chance to contemplate the creation and praise the Creator. It is a great chance for Muslims to get closer to Allah (swt) through reciting Quran every day in Ramadan, praying at night ( Taraweeh and Tahajud prayer) and giving charity to the poor. Being generous to others is an original principle of Islam, but generosity during Ramadan is something else. “Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: Allah’s Apostle was the most generous of all the people and he used to reach the peak in generosity in the month of Ramadan when Gabriel met him. Gabriel used to meet him every night of Ramadan to teach him the Qur’an. Allah’s Apostle was the most generous person, even more generous than the strong uncontrollable wind (in readiness and haste to do charitable deeds). (Sahih al-Bokhari, Book #1, Hadith #5). So inviting a fasting person to your dining table for the sake of Allah guarantees you a great reward from Allah.

Reading Quran in Ramadan

Reciting Quran on a regular basis is definitely recommended all over the Muslim’s life, but the journey with Quran in the blessed month has its special taste. While reading Quran, you don’t feel that you are just reading the verses, but rather you are directly addressed with those verses by Allah (swt).  Those who recite Quran every day in Ramadan know what I am talking about. It is a case of serenity, tranquility and high sensitivity in receiving and interacting with the divine messages. Maybe that is because when your body is set free from physical burdens, it gives chance to your soul to reach its full potential.

Social benefits of Ramadan:

Ramadan casts its tender shade over the Muslim family. Members of the same family have the best chance to meet and sit together on the dining table to recite du’a (supplications) after breaking their fasting. Their hearts are full of reverence and submission to Allah (swt) so there is no place for hatred, dispute or bickering. Ties of kinship are of the most beloved deeds to Allah (swt), so good Muslim can never miss enhancing their kinship during Ramadan. 

 When you receive the blessed month of Ramadan with true intention to mend what is between you and Allah (swt), then Allah (swt) will mend what is between you and other people. So the effect of the blessed month prevails over the whole society.  People gather in Masjids (mosques) to pray Taraweeh (night prayer in Ramadan) surrounded by Allah’s mercy and His angels who pray for them to attain Allah’s forgiveness and compassion. In such wonderful atmosphere, ties among people get stronger and they love each other for the sake of Allah (swt).

Fasting can be the bridge over which the rich should cross to meet the poor and realize their needs. Most rich Muslims pay their zakat (alms) in Ramadan. They use their money which originally belongs to Allah (swt) to support poor families and cover their needs. They do it out of piety to achieve solidarity and coherence in society.

Health benefits of fasting:

 The health benefits of Fasting cannot be ignored. Fasting the month of Ramadan can:

  • promote detoxification
  • help the digestive system to rest
  • help to heal inflammation
  • help reduce blood sugar levels
  • help increase fat burning
  • be useful for people with high blood pressure
  • promote losing weight
  • enhance the immune system
  • promote healthy eating habits
  • help in treating addiction

 

Written by: Amany el-Morshidy

https://alazharquranteaching.com

Divine Strategies

Divine Strategies

(Salima Ibraheem), 801 Criminal Rows, is the heroine of the event.  She, along with her brother, killed her husband by beating and suffocating him. Moreover after he was killed, she ate the flesh from his dead body. That was her detailed confession before the prosecutor and the judge, and that exactly what the police report and the body attested.

I read about that accident as thousands did, and I felt the chills they must have felt.  I also felt very curious to know about that weird brutality in which the woman killed her husband; could hatred take a woman to that far?!

What would the face that eats dead look like?! I went to al-Qanater Women’s Prison, where she was detained, to my surprise I saw a pretty woman, with tiny facial features, very white teeth, with tranquil and serene face. She prays and fasts, and she sleeps deeply and peacefully. She was talking a lot about the divine mercy, the divine decree and the divine wisdom as if she was a Sufi man who lost his way.

Could the outer appearance contradict the inside to that extent? Could the images deceive us, and eyes, hands and tongue lie to us?

Could life become all disguise? I wonder how Allah (SWT) [1]creates beautiful faces for ugly souls. What is the motivation that brings out all that hidden evil from the inside of human soul? Who tears the soul’s veil to reveal its reality?

Perhaps the reason why that wife killed her husband was that he got married again and brought her a second wife. However, that is a normal issue especially in their Bedouin environment where polygamy occurs repeatedly without women eating their husbands! He then divorced her then got her back to him, and he used to abuse her in front of his second wife. Perhaps she killed him as revenge for her hurt dignity! Nevertheless, she admitted that she had multiple affairs with many men during the period of her divorce; meaning that she did not keep any dignity for her owns self. I wonder how that ruin of her soul does not appear on her beautiful, nice, peaceful and tranquil face, which looks as if it was a face of a saint.

 I remember when I once saw a very handsome young man who was charming, quite well-built and as attractive as a movie star. Moreover, he was very polite, speaking quietly and having coyness, then I knew later that he was insane; treated by electric shock.

The inside of that charming man was completely ruined; emptiness was his reality as he was entirely hollow from inside. To that extent the appearance can lie, and the image can deceive.

 (Verily Allah does not look to your bodies nor to your faces but He looks to your hearts…) (Book #032, Hadith #6220)                                                                                               

On the night of committing the crime, the husband came home with a present for his wife to reconcile her. (He did not know that, despite the long years of marriage life, he slept every night with a hyena.) She killed him at a moment when he was flirting her. How could she have the courage to do so?

The same question insists on me continuously:  How can realities disguise in deceitful garments? How can falsehood wear the garment of truth, ugliness wear the garment of beauty, and crime wear the garment of love? I wonder how the Creator (SWT) creates beautiful covers for dreadful souls! I wonder how He puts poison in a flower, and honey in a scorpion, how He hides explosives inside covers of silk! Is this the proof of the verse, “But Allah was to bring forth what ye did hide.” (TMQ[2], 2:72)                                                                                

Is it the Divine strategy by which Allah (SWT) gradually draws souls to examine them and disclose their inside, and what they hide in order to expose their realities, and reveal their ugliness? Thus a beautiful woman may be disclosed to be an executioner, and an ugly man to be an angel.

To my surprise, that woman who killed her husband did not feel remorse or pangs of conscience. She was certain that she was right in what she did!

Is it possible that we do not fully know our own selves? Abu- Bakr said that he would not be fully assured that he would enter paradise  even if one of his legs was inside it as long his other leg was still outside. He was afraid of Allah’s strategies that may disclose a deep hidden evil inside his own soul in the last moment that drives him to the eternal hell. Abu- Bakr was afraid of a deep hidden evil inside himself which he may not be aware of, or know about. 

His fear is considered the peak of piety as it reveals fear of Allah (SWT), humbleness, not being comfortable to the purity and innocence of his soul, not being conceited of his good deeds and his fear of the deep hidden evil that may be suddenly disclosed through a test. Abu- Bakr was not one of those who claim piety and seek for high ranks. He was a man of facts, and those of facts are in permanent fear of having a deep hidden fact, which they are not aware of or know about, disclosed and led them to peril. Those people are having fear; fear from the evil that may be hidden inside their souls, and fear from Allah (SWT). That is the true knowledge of one’s soul and the true knowledge of Allah (SWT). That is for the soul is the (big secret), and the mysterious unseen; it is unseen even for the one him/her self. The reality of the soul can never be disclosed except through suffering. It is always in guile; revealing one of its faces while hiding thousands.

Allah (SWT) is the absolute unseen and the entire secret. Moreover, He has (glory be to Him), if it is right to say, the highest planner. Why did He (SWT) describe Himself of (scheming)? He (SWT) said: “They plot and plan, and Allah too plans; but the best of planners is Allah.” (TMQ, 8:30)                                                                                                                                    

Moreover, what is the difference between the divine scheme and ours?  Allah (SWT) schemes to reveal the fact, but we plot to hide it. That is why Allah’s scheme is all good while our plotting is all evil. Allah’s scheme is light while ours is darkness. His scheme is justice and ours is injustice.

Is there something worse than the guile of those two rows of pearly teeth, which eat the dead, suck blood and whisper with love while they intend to kill? There was only one thing in the appearance of that weird woman that indicated her true nature: her voice. It was metallic voice which was sharp, loud and continuously monotonous as if it was coming out from a metal tube, not from alive heart.  In her voice you cannot recognize grief, joy or anger. It was devoid of all human emotions; a smooth voice that did not show any emotion.  Her voice always made me feel that a non human thing was speaking and that I was in front of an inanimate object. She spoke about love in the same way she spoke about hatred. She spoke about Allah’s mercy in the same way she spoke about His revenge; with the same rigid face and the same monotonous metallic tone. The one who listened to her would feel that there was someone else speaking inside her; a devil, or a jinni, or a prompter speaking from behind. Is it possible that we get possessed by devils? Allah (SWT)said that devils possess only those who are like them, and that there should be agreement and resemblance between two in order that one can dominate the other.

”… evil ones among men and jinns, inspiring each other with flowery discourses by way of deception.(TMQ, 6:112). A devil does not possess (dominate) except a devil like him, so that they can communicate and affect each other.  As for the servants of Allah (SWT), the devils have no way to affect them. Allah (SWT) said, “For over My servants no authority shalt thou have,” (TMQ, 15:42). Thus the one who says that devil dominates him, we reply to him by saying: (because you are a devil like him).

For those who think that Divine scheme is contrary to Divine Justice, we say that it is the essence of justice. That is because Allah (SWT) does not scheme except against a malicious one. “They plot and plan, and Allah too plans” (TMQ, 8:30). “As for them, they are but plotting a scheme And I am planning a scheme.” (TMQ, 86:15, 16). The fact is that Allah (SWT) gives a person, who hides something evil in himself, power over another one who hides something evil as well; and that is the ultimate justice. Here we see a fully perfect balance as in each scale there is a malicious soul that hides something evil. Therefore, their true reality is revealed through the plotting of both malicious souls against each other. That is life, and that is why Allah (SWT) created it: to establish the truth. “It is He who created the heavens and the earth in true…” (TMQ, 6:73). This is the ultimate good in the issue of creating the world, despite what appears of blood shedding, crimes, evil and atrocity. What matters is how things will end. That is because the evils of this world, no matter how strong and persisted are transient. A transient evil does not matter as long it eventually reveals everlasting good. 

If we think quietly and contemplate profoundly what is happening in the world around us, we realize that the matter is serious, despite what appears on the surface of playfulness and futility. There is a measure of everything, and everything is run according to accurate balance. 

We are the skilled deceivers; everyone imagines that he plans perfectly and intelligently. However, we, without being aware, disclose each other, and disclose ourselves through the complex successive dilemmas in which destiny casts us. We are disclosed through the successive events which are called the worldly life until nothing in ourselves is hidden, and then we die after everything is disclosed.

Those who are fully aware of the truth of life tremble from fear. That is because they know that this life is not futility, rather it is dreadfully serious.  A cunning person always asks me how the civilized, clean, white, European technology professor ends up into Hell, while a simple Muslim man crying at the Ka’ab ends up into Paradise! We reply that the man crying at the Ka’ba has already gone to Paradise while he is still in this world. He is already in Paradise; that is because he realized the essence of the matter of life and death. He is connected to the absolute entire knowledge, while the European professor is still occupied with studying iron, copper etc. He is occupied only with the matter of science; he failed to recognize the essence of life. There is no doubt that science is beneficial for the world, but it has no value in the Hereafter. Allah (SWT) did not prevent us from detecting iron and manganese, but He rather commanded us to do so.“…and We sent down Iron, in which is (material for) mighty war, as well as many benefits for mankind,”(TMQ, 57: 25)

This is a command of getting the benefits of iron. However, the religion of Allah (SWT) demands us to go beyond this to realize the matter’s essence in order to search for an everlasting benefit. Thus the Muslim can gather the benefit of the worldly life and that of the Hereafter. Iron and manganese are important, but they are not everything. The simple man who weeps at al- Ka’ba is not an idiot.  He weeps because he has a different profound knowledge; that is knowledge of himself and his Lord. He stands on a higher threshold of knowledge than that of the professor of technology whose knowledge stops at iron and manganese.

There is a huge difference between that man who has profound knowledge of himself and his Lord and the professor whose knowledge stops at the material and its laws. The real idiot is the one who knows about material while being oblivious of the Lord of the material.

Acquiring material science is easy and can be found in books and schools. In Egypt alone, there are more than ten thousand obtaining doctorates, more than a hundred thousand having masters and diplomas, but how many in this country, of ones or dozens who can be said about them from those who have profound knowledge of themselves and their Lord. I have acquired the science of medicine when I was young, now that I am an old man, yet I have not reached the full knowledge of myself or my Lord which is a pinnacle that only few individuals can reach. Those whom their Lord said about them: “Whenever the Signs of ((Allah)) Most Gracious were rehearsed to them, they would fall down in prostrate adoration and in tears.” (TMQ, 19:58)                                                                                                                                                     

That is the same state of that man who prostrates weeping at al-Ka’ba; that is his rank, his degree and his status which is very far from that of the civilized, intelligent Swedish professor of technology. That professor is one of the masters of the land, who is possessing limited property in limited time while the prostrating man is a master of the ancient and latest generations; for him a vast, eternal kingdom in the heavens without boarders. So, who is heedless of the truth and who is fully aware of it?

However, we are in materialistic era in which mentioning Paradise and heavens makes cunning people smile; those who are only interested in the worldly life. They even laugh at our naivity. Their only interest in this world is swift profits. It is then out of justice that Allah (SWT) deals with those malicious people with divine strategy ….” They plotted and planned, but We too planned” (TMQ, 27:50) All that  prosperity, richness and welfare they enjoy is to lure them and draw them gradually (to destruction) “by degrees shall We punish them from directions they perceive not.” (TMQ, 68:44), “Do they think that because We have granted them abundance of wealth and sons, We would hasten them on in every good? Nay, they do not understand” (TMQ, 23:55,56) “Mighty indeed were the plots which they made, but their plots were (well) within the sight of Allah, even though they were such as to shake the hills!” (TMQ, 14:46)

However, if that intelligent fellow, who never runs out of arguments, sees that our rationality and that our logic is about to defeat him, he then screams, “Who am I compared to the greatness of Allah, why will he punish me when I am worth nothing? I am nothing but a trivial atom.” Of course this is false humility and fabricated submission. That is because if he truly realized his Lord’s greatness and his own triviality, he would fall down prostrate before Allah’s glory, and he would feel humbleness before Allah’s reverence, but it is all about argumentation and controversy. We reply to his guile saying: you are not trivial for your Lord, nor is your position insignificant as He breathed into you of His spirit, ordered His angels to prostrate themselves before you, made the whole universe subject to you, gave you immortality and granted you freedom; if you wish, you can be devoted servant to Allah, or you can be diabolical. So, how come you claim your position is trivial with all these privileges?! It is but the trickery of malicious people when they run out of arguments, they then show weakness and helplessness saying: we are nothing but flies, O, Lord. Has the dust any right to be rude? Does the mud have enough significance for You to concern Yourself about it or punish it?

However, were any of them to realize that he is dust, and were all his deeds and sayings to come out of that feeling, he then would have some other completely different position with Allah, but this is their guile, and whatever they plot, Allah’s planning and His strategies are much bigger.

 

Dr. Mustapha Mahmoud

Translated by: Amany Elmorshidy

[1] Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Salam (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) 

[2] Translating the meaning of the Qur’an

In the Grave

The Prophet of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “When a deceased person is laid in his grave, he hears the sound of the footsteps of people as they go away. If he is a believer, the prayer will stand by his head, the fasting will be to his right, alms to his left, and all other good deeds of charity, kindness to relations, and good behavior will be by his feet.” [Ahmad]

The Believer’s soul

 

The believer does not suffer from something called psychiatric diseases. That is because he/she lives in acceptance and harmony with all that is happening to him, whether it is good or evil. He/she is just like a passenger of a plane who has full confidence in the pilot, that he cannot go wrong because he has ultimate knowledge and skills of controlling a plane. He will fly it efficiently in all circumstances and will pass by storms, heat, cold, ice and fog.

Dr. Mustaph Mahmou

Translated by: Amany el-Morshidy

                                                                

In The Shade of Allah

 

The Prophet (PBUH) said:Narrated Abu Huraira:”Seven people will be shaded by Allah under His shade on the day when there will be no shade except His. They are:

1. A just ruler;

2. A young man who has been brought up in the worship of Allah, (i.e. worship Allah (Alone) sincerely from his childhood),

3. A man whose heart is attached to the mosque (who offers the five compulsory congregational prayers in the mosque);

4. Two persons who love each other only for Allah’s sake and they meet and part in Allah’s cause only;

5. A man who refuses the call of a charming woman of noble birth for an illegal sexual intercourse with her and says: I am afraid of Allah;

6. A person who practices charity so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given (i.e. nobody knows how much he has given in charity).

7. A person who remembers Allah in seclusion and his eyes get flooded with tears.”

Bukhari Vol. 2 : 504

The Believing Soul

 

The believing soul is in permanent childish astonishment from the signs of divine power all around. A believer feels ecstasy of the beauty he can see in everything. He can see the traces of The Creator’s creativity in major galaxies as in minor atoms and micro electrons. The larger the science domains expand the wider the area of fascination gets, and the ecstasy multiplies. That is why the believing soul does not know weariness, or apathy, or depression.
Dr. Mustafa Mahmoud
Translated by: Amany el-Morshidy