'O God, carry us in the ships of Thy deliverance, give us to enjoy the pleasure of whispered prayer to Thee, make us drink at the pools of Thy love, let us taste the sweetness of Thy affection and nearness, allow us to struggle in Thee, preoccupy us with obeying Thee, and purify our intentions in devoting works to Thee, for we exist through Thee and belong to Thee, and we have no one to mediate with Thee but Thee!' Imam Sajjad ('A); Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya

Thursday, 3 September 2009

The great month - Ramadhan

Ramadan is much more than a time of fasting; this is a time of spiritual intensification and of increased sensitivity to spiritual realities. The Source of Life is infinitely generous, having provided us with an infinite material existence beyond our comprehension, as well as an inner world of the Heart. Gratitude is a way to develop our heart awareness, and to deepen our relationship with the Reality. To help focus this task, one might consciously breathe Ya Shakur, for a period of time at dawn and dusk.
Those among His servants who have knowledge stand in awe of God:
for God is Almighty, Continually-Forgiving.
Those who recite the Book of God and are constant in prayer,
and share, secretly and openly, out of what We have provided for them,
and they hope for an exchange that will never fall short:
for He will reciprocate,
no, He will surpass them out of His abundance;
for He is Continually-Forgiving, Always Responsive to Gratitude.
Qur'an 35:28-30
Unique Characteristics of Fasting
Sh M Leghaie
Fasting, like praying and pilgrimage to Hajj, is worshipping. Nonetheless, it has its own unique characteristics. The following are some of the unique characteristics of fasting. 

•  The longest worshipping: Fasting is the longest worshipping of God. Daily Prayers will not take more than one hour every day at most. Pilgrimage to Hajj will not take more than a few weeks in a life time. The worshipping of fasting is about 12 to 16 hours (depending on the season and your geographical location) and lasts for a whole month every year. In other words, a faster typically spends more than 400 hours within one month for worshipping Allah! Isn`t this amazing?!

•  Does not interrupt your daily life: Fasting unlike other types of worshipping does not interrupt our daily transactions. One cannot normally offer his/her daily prayers whilst working. You ought to take a break from your work, perform your Wudhu, find a suitable place and offer your Salat. Pilgrimage to Hajj is even more so interrupting your daily life. Fasting exceptionally is the only type of worshipping that can be observed whilst one is doing his normal daily work. It does not interrupt your worldly life at all. Amazingly a faster is still in the state of worshipping Allah even if he/she is asleep. Fasting is only in conflict with sinning.

•  Worshipping God without any action: All other types of worshipping consist of some actions. Take the example of daily Prayers. It is the combination of some recitation of the Quran, some Thikr in different postures. The same applies to Hajj, Zakat etc. Fasting is the only of worshipping of Allah that amazingly consists of some non-doings! Fasting is avoidance of drinking, eating etc. a faster does not require doing anything. It is enough no to do anything! This is the reason why it is in no conflict with our daily lives.

•  The most sincere worshipping: Worshipping God is like a perfume kept in its container. Once the lid is opened the fragrance flies and only its tasteless liquid remains. The best worshipping is the most secret of all. Once its seal is broken it may be spoiled by showing off. All other types of worshipping are prone to show off. Salat, which is meant to be offered in a group for its public nature is prone to showing off and hence can be easily void. Pilgrimage to hajj is even more prone to showing off. Fasting, however, is the only worshipping of Allah that none other than God would really know if you are fasting. Fasting is an inner worshipping and hence it can be the most sincere worshipping.

•  The only worshipping act that there is a penalty (expiation) if missed deliberately. If any Muslim misses his daily Prayers even deliberately, although he has committed a mortal sin, he only has to make up the lapsed Prayers, there is no penalty involved in it. The same applies if one misses his pilgrimage to Hajj. Fasting is the only worshipping act that if is it deliberately missed in addition to making it up, there is a hefty penalty for it. Abdullah Ibn Sanan in an authentic Hadith narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s) about the expiation against someone who has deliberately-and without any religious justification- broken one day of fasting saying: " He must free a salve or fast two months or feed sixty poor people, but if he was unable to do so, he must give charity as much as he can ." This penalty becomes even heftier if the person has broken his fast with something Haraam such as drinking alcohol or masturbation.

Practical instructions for Shahr-Ramadhan
1. Increasing the receptivity of your heart.
2. Istaghfar at Suhur time.
3. Food you eat - type/halal/quantity etc.
4. Recite plenty of salawat and discover its deeper secrets
5. Give out Sadaqah with the niyyah of wiping off sins
6. Ziyarat-e-Ashura everyday at a certain time
7. Maintain meaningful silence - analysing what you say, how you say, how much etc.
8. Break your fast with warm water - wipes off/cleanses sins
9. Exercise patience and moderation in everything (silence, anger, talking, eating etc.)
10. Detach yourself from this temporary world

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