THE FIRST SERMON IN THE MONTH OF SHAWWĀL (2nd SHAWWĀL, 1442 AH/14th MAY, 2020 CE)
All praise is due to Allāh the great, the might. We praise him for the blessings and we also praise him whilst in trial and tribulations. And I bear witness that no one has the right to be worshipped except Allāh. And I bear witness that Muḥammad is His servant and messenger, the leader of the pious and the master of those who came before us and those who come towards the end. May the peace and blessings be upon the Prophet (SAW). And may the peace andblessing be also on the companions and those who followed them until the day of resurrection.
The topic of today’s khuṭbah is about taking lessons from the month of Ramaḍān. Ramaḍān has left us. It ended with ‘Īd al-Fiṭr, but the useful lessons derived from it should remain with us every day of the year. If we do not take lessons from Ramaḍān and all that it signifies, then indeed we will be at loss.
Every Ramaḍān that comes and passes by is like a school, a period of training that we go through for one month, in which we are reminded; in which we are trained, and there are useful lessons which are to be taken from it.
Ramaḍān shows us the true potential of adopting a lifestyle that is closer to our Islamic ideals. Living the days and nights of this month with a reoriented focus and closeness to Allāh (SWT) provides us a standard by which we can evaluate ourselves during other times of the year. None of us can deny that the month of Ramaḍān drives us to bond more strongly and meaningfully within our families, and engages us more positively with the activities of the Muslim communities at large. That’s indeed something that we should hold on to even after Ramaḍān.
Let us not allow the fruits of Ramaḍān to be lost. If, during Ramaḍān, we were able to keep ourselves away from the lawful in obedience to Allāh’s command, are we not able to keep ourselves away from the unlawful after Ramaḍān, out of that same submission to Allāh (SWT)?
One of the first and foremost lessons of Ramaḍān is one of attaining taqwā, which is also the primary objective of fasting. Verse 183 of Sūrat al-Baqarah says,
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may be mindful of God. (Q. 2:183)
By taqwā is meant a consciousness of Allāh (SWT); a sense of presence of Allāh (SWT); an awareness that Allāh (SWT) is watching us; a state of mindfulness of Allāh (SWT) that would make one a better individual. Taqwā is among the highest moral qualities that a Muslim can attain. This is achieved by being conscious of Allāh (SWT) and His commandments at all times, which includes avoiding the prohibited as well as the undesirable.
‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib (RA) defined taqwā as being the fear of the Jalīl, acting upon the tanzīl, being content with qalīl and preparing for the day of raḥīl. In other words, taqwā has to do with fearing the most Glorious Allāh (SWT), acting upon the Qur’ān, being content with little, and preparing for the journey from this world to the next. Fear is an essential component of taqwā. There are some people who argue that one should only love Allāh (SWT) and not fear Allāh (SWT). This argument appears correct theoretically, but in fact it is not sound.
Actually, fear of Allāh (SWT) signifies the fear of the punishment that would come from the disobedience of Allāh (SWT). When we obey Allāh (SWT) as He should be obeyed, and we keep repenting to Him and turning to Him, seeking His forgiveness for our lapses, then we have a hope in His infinite mercy. So, fear of Allāh (SWT) and hope in Allāh (SWT) are inseparable and they constitute the basic components of ᾽Īmān or true faith.
The phenomenon of weak faith has become very widespread among Muslims. One of the main reasons for weakness of faith and decline in our relationship with Allāh (SWT) is spending too much time away from a faith-filled environment where people share their feelings and thoughts about being successful both in this life and in the hereafter. The believer is weak on his own but strong with his brothers in faith. Look at the circle of your friends. Do they remind you of Allāh (SWT) or is peer pressure always distracting you from practicing Islām?
Once the Prophet (SAW) was asked, “What person can be the best friend?” And he replied, “He who helps you to remember Allāh, and reminds you when you forget Him.” The Prophet (SAW) was further asked, “Who is the best among people?” And his reply was, “He who, when you look at him, you remember Allāh”. Such a friend reflects qualities of love, mercy, honesty, service, patience, optimism, and the entire lifestyle taught by Islām.
The next lesson of Ramaḍān is the constant practice to exercise patience (ṣabr). Indeed, proper fasting requires patience. Patience is critical for success in life. In Sūrat al-‘Aṣr, Allāh (SWT) describes all mankind to be in a state of loss except those who believe and do good and enjoin one another to truth, and enjoin one another to patience.
A further lesson is to escape from the desire to show off in order to seek praises from others. It is difficult to show off in Ramaḍān for a couple of good reasons. Ṣalāh, Zakāh, and Ḥajj are open acts. Ṣiyām or fasting, however, has to do with self-restraint, and is invisible. It is something that is internal. It is not seen externally. One can stare a person in the face and not know whether that person is fasting or not. This is an act which no one will know externally. Ramaḍān trains us to get rid of the disease of showing off.
Yet another lesson is getting rid of bukhl or stinginess, which means to hoard money and refuse to spend it on one’s family and the needy. This disease of the heart holds people from fulfilling their duties and recognizing the rights of others. Ramaḍān teaches us generosity. People are more generous in Ramaḍān than any other month. This attitude of generosity cultivated in Ramaḍān has to remain with us even after Ramaḍān.
Another lesson is the strengthening of one’s bond with Allāh (SWT). During the month of Ramaḍān, the various acts of worship are increased; both in quantity and quality. If we follow the teachings of the Prophet (SAW) regarding how to conduct ourselves in Ramaḍān, we should; once we come out of this month be at a higher level than we were before we went into the month.
We are all aware that we are often unjust to ourselves in the sense that we often subject our bodies and souls to excesses. Fasting in Ramaḍān helps us to attain both physical and spiritual healing. The values and discipline we observe in Ramaḍān should help us make our worship encompass our whole life.
قُلْ إِنَّ صَلاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
Say, ‘My prayers and sacrifice, my life and death, are all for Allah, Lord of all the Worlds. (Q. 6:162)
A true Muslim’s complete life becomes a form of worship of Allāh (SWT). We find that we increase our interaction with the Qur’ān more during Ramaḍān. In reading the Qur’ān more, we are increasing our contact with the word of Allāh (SWT), and hence our bond with Allāh (SWT). The intention should be to read the Qur’ān with the desire to gain from what Allāh (SWT) has to say in the Qur’ān. This will affect the way we think and the way we live. As true believers, it’s now time for us to promise ourselves that we will not let the Qur’ān that we read with such regularity during Ramaḍān to be closed up, we will not let our mosques become empty.
أَقُولُ قَوْلِي هَذَا وَأَسْتَغْفِرُ اللَّهَ لِي وَلَكُمْ وَلِسَائِرِ المُسْلِمينَ وَالمُسْلِمَاتْ فَاسْتَغْفِرُوهْ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
I say this and ask Allāh for forgiveness for me and you, so invoke Him for forgiveness, for He is the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful.
الحمد لله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على سيد المرسلين وعلى آله وأصحابه أجمعين.
All thanks and praises belong to Allāh the Lord of the Worlds. And may the constant blessings and mercies of Allāh be upon the leader of the Prophets, his entire household, companions and the entire Muslim ummah.
One more unique lesson is that change is possible. When we look at the state of Muslims today, and see them so far away from Islām; there seems to be no hope for Muslims at all. The situation seems to be getting worse and worse. The only way for that situation to change is for the Muslims to change themselves. But, if we look at Ramaḍān carefully, we realize that it is possible for the change to take place. We can change for the better. However, it is going to involve struggle against ourselves; against the evil within ourselves and our community, and the society.
During Ramaḍān, we guard our tongue, our eyes and our ears from speaking evil, watching evil, and listening evil. Now after a whole month of rigorous training, we should not lie, we should not backbite or slander anyone, and we should not indulge in useless and unnecessary talk. We should refrain from watching anything that is undesirable, whether it is on the TV, on the internet, in the print media or otherwise. Frivolous activities may give us momentary pleasure but they do not carry us closer to Allāh (SWT); rather they take us far away from Allāh (SWT). Remember our actions are being recorded every moment in our book of deeds by angels deputed for that purpose, and will be shown to us on the Day of Judgment.
Remember that the time is very near, perhaps nearer than we can imagine, when each one of us has to bid farewell to this earthly life. There is still time to mend our ways, and seek the pleasure of the most merciful.
Let us resolve not to let Shayṭān infiltrate our minds, our homes, our emotions, and our life decisions. Remember the fight against Shayṭān must continue as he has declared war against us. What did he say to Allāh (SWT)?
قَالَ فَبِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي لَأَقْعُدَنَّ لَهُمْ صِرَاطَكَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ
He said: “Now that You have sent me astray, I shall most certainly lie in ambush for them all along Your straight path.(Q. 7:16)
The purpose of struggling and striving in the cause of Allāh (SWT) must reflect the lessons taught in Ramaḍān. Therefore, when Ramaḍān has come to an end, let us not lose this great blessing by thinking that it is over, and fall back to our careless ways. Let us take hold of this divine mercy and guidance, shape our lives around it, and become the type of human beings worthy of being called Muslims.
The virtues and greatness of the month of Ramaḍān and the lessons to be learnt from it should never be underestimated.
May Allāh (SWT) make us among those who are able to hold on to the lessons that Ramaḍān provides. May He make us among the people of taqwa may He accept our good deeds, forgive us, keep us safe and protected from the hell-fire and make us all enter into His jannah; Allāhumma Amīn.
إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَأمُرُ بِٱلعَدلِ وَٱلإِحسَٰنِ وَإِيتَايِٕ ذِي ٱلقُربَىٰ وَيَنهَىٰ عَنِ ٱلفَحشَاءِ وَٱلمُنكَرِ وَٱلبَغيِ يَعِظُكُم لَعَلَّكُم تَذَكَّرُونَ
Surely Allāh enjoins the doing of justice and the doing of good (to others) and the giving to the kindred, and He forbids indecency and evil and rebellion; He admonishes you that you may be mindful. (Q. 16:90)
O Allāh, please confer Your blessings and grant peace upon our Prophet Muḥammad (SAW), his family and all of the companions. May Allāh have mercy on our deceased parents and families and gather them with the righteous. May Allāh make their dwelling with the ones upon whom Allāh has bestowed favour of the prophets and the steadfast affirmers of truth, O the Most Gracious the Most Forgiving. O Allāh, please grant the best reward for the distressed and the oppressed and offer them patience and solace. May Allāh grant victory and strengthen our Nigerian Soldiers and other security agencies who gathered to combat acts of terrorism, banditry, kidnapping etc. May Allah restore absolute peace on our land, Āmīn
© Mubin Olatoye Raji