Welcoming the month of Ramadan

During the holy month of Ramadan, we will inshallah be focusing on living the message of the Quran in our daily lives.

We inshallah take a verse a day and explore how we can live the timeless message of the Quran in the 21st century. As always, it is intended that the Daily Wisdom emails will be short, inspirational, action oriented and applicable to dealing with challenges of modern life.

If you have already receiving the Daily Wisdom, you will continue to receive the Ramadan edition. If you are not currently receiving it, please sign up here to get it in your box every weekday. You will NOT get it if you are not signed up.

Today inshallah, lets reflect on the Sermon of the Holy Prophet (saw) welcoming the month of Ramadan. If you would like to listen to an audio version, please click here.

The Holy Prophet (saw) addressed his followers on the day before Ramadan and said:

O People !
Indeed the blessed month of Allah has approached you laden with His Mercy, blessings and forgiveness.

Reflection: These are the energies that are abundant in this month, ours for the taking. The invitation is for all – not just those who are the most observant – it is addressed to mankind as a whole. This is sacred and precious time, to be used wisely.

It is a month which with Allah is the best of months. Its days are the best of days, its nights, the best of nights, and its hours are the best of hours.

Reflection: Sometimes we ask ourselves what is the problem if we carried on with our normal lives, or spend the long days entertaining ourselves so that the time of fasting is easier.

This statement, and the rest of the sermon answers this question. We can think of it in this way: if there was a sale at our favorite store, which was buy 1, get 70 free, there would be no problem in spending our time searching for something we did not need at another store.

There would, however, be a major opportunity cost to doing so. It is the same with this blessed month. There are so many blessings and mercies available that it makes sense to use every moment wisely, to use it in a way that would give us the best return for the time invested.

It is the month which invites you to be the guests of Allah and invites you to be one of those near to Him.

Reflection: If the head of state invited us for a state visit, how would we prepare? How would we behave while we were in their company? This is an invitation from the Lord of the Worlds! It is our opportunity to become those who are close to Him, the ones that He honors by accepting this invitation to be His guests.

Each breath you take glorifies Him; your sleep is worship, your deeds are accepted and your duas are answered.

Reflection: Air is the one thing that human beings cannot live without even for a few moments. This is how easy He is making it for us during this month. When we are in a state of fasting, our entire being is connected to Him. Our breathing, which is ongoing, and mostly unconscious, is glorifying Him. Can we even imagine the benefits of conscious worship during this month?

The Prophet (saw) goes on to say that our duas our answered. So what should we ask for?
So, ask Allah, your Lord; to give you a sound body and an enlightened heart so you may be able to fast and recite His book, for only he is unhappy who is devoid of Allah's forgiveness during this great month.

Reflection: The Prophet (saw) reminds us of the most important things to ask for: if our heart is enlightened, and we have physical health, we can read, understand and follow His word. Everything else will fall into place. Do we understand what is an enlightened heart? What 'spiritual junk' do we need to clean out from our hearts to make space for Him?

Remember the hunger and thirst of the day of Qiyamah with your hunger and thirst;

Reflection: We need both love and fear to stay the course. Any obstacle that we face in this world reminds us how to remove obstacles in the Hereafter.

Give alms to the needy and poor, honor your old, show kindness to the young ones, maintain relations with your blood relations;

Reflection: This passage contains action points and goals to make the best use of this month. When we are setting goals for the month of Ramadan, it is a good idea to keep the following groups and categories of people in mind. These are the groups whom we are obligated to.

When we read this passage, it is a good idea to note down HOW we planning to do this. How are we going to show kindness to the young ones amongst us? What will we do to honor our elderly? With a clear plan, it is more likely that we can accomplish all that the Prophet (saw) recommend. It will also give us a clear idea of what we accomplished and what we need to work on in the future.

Guard your tongues, close your eyes to that which is not permissible for your sight, close your ears to that which is forbidden to hear,
Reflection: This is a great month to get our focus back. To use our senses in a way that will be useful for us now and later. Spiritual progress is so much easier when we are conscious of what we are ingesting with our senses into our psyche.

Show compassion to the orphans of people so compassion may be shown to your orphans.

Reflection: The Prophet (saw) reminds us that of the great karma of life, of the law of reciprocity. Whatever we practice in life is what comes back to us. We need to practice giving what we most desire.

Repent to Allah for your sins and raise your hands in Dua during these times, for they are the best of times and Allah looks towards his creatures with kindness, replying to them during the hours and granting their needs if He is asked …

"O People! Indeed your soul is dependant on your deeds, free it with Istighfar (repentance) lighten its loads by long prostrations; and know that Allah swears by His might:

Reflection: The month of Ramadan is the "spring of the soul". Just as we often detoxify our bodies during spring by lightening our diet and getting rid of the accumulated toxins of the year, this month we can practice detoxification of our souls through repentance and submission to Him, and by practicing letting go of resentments and anger towards others.

That there is no punishment for the one who prays and prostrates and he shall have no fear of the fire on the day when man stands before the Lord of the worlds.
Reflection: Fire is used for purification. If our souls are already purified through repentance and focused action, there is no need to be cleansed in the fire of the Hereafter.

O People!
One who gives Iftaar to a fasting person during this month will be like one who has freed someone and his past sins will be forgiven.
Some of the people who were there then asked the Prophet (s): "Not all of us are able to invite those who are fasting?"

The Prophet (s) replied: "Allah gives this reward even if the Iftaar (meal) is a drink of water."

Reflection: It is human beings who value deeds by measuring quantity and greatness. The Prophet (saw) reminds us that the All Merciful is All Generous and looks at intentions. It is not the quantity of what we give that matters but the intention with which we do so. When we listen and we turn that into immediate action to whatever extent, we get rewarded beyond all expectations.

One who has good morals (Akhlaq) during this month will be able to pass the 'Siraat' … on the day that feet will slip …
One who covers the faults of others will benefit in that Allah will curb His anger on the day of Judgment …
Reflection: We cannot expect judgment for others and mercy for ourselves! The best way to access His Mercy on the Day is to practice clemency and forgiveness in our lives.

As for one who honors an orphan; Allah will honor him on the day of judgment,
And for the one who spreads his kindness, Allah will spread His mercy over him on the day of Judgment.
As for the one who cuts the ties of relation; Allah will cut His mercy from him …
Reflection: A strong reminder that we cannot hope for His Mercy while distancing ourselves from those whom He has commanded us to love. We need to mend our horizontal relationships to improve our vertical relationship with Him.

Who so ever performs a recommended prayer in this month Allah will keep the fire of Hell away from him …
Whoever performs an obligatory prayer Allah will reward him with seventy prayers [worth] in this month.
Reflection: In this world, marketers use promotions to motivate people to take action now rather than later. Here, the promotion is: Pray one, get rewards for seventy as a bonus! This is the mother of all promotions!

And who so ever prays a lot during this month will have his load lightened on the day of accounts
He who recites one verse of the Holy Quran will be given the rewards of reciting the whole Quran during other months.
Reflection: And again . . . .although the benefits of Salaat and Quran are ours, the All Merciful gives us added bonuses to use this time wisely . . .

O People! Indeed during this month the doors of heaven are open, therefore ask Allah not to close them for you; The doors of hell are closed, so ask Allah to keep them closed for you. During this month Shaytan (Satan) is imprisoned so ask your Lord not to let him have power over you.
Reflection: In other words, we have no excuses to deprive ourselves from the Blessings of Allah. He has detained the one who we blame for many transgressions!

Imam Ali (as) stood up at this point and asked the Prophet (saw)
"O Prophet! What are the best deeds during this month?"
The Prophet (saw) replied:
"Stopping oneself from doing those deeds which are forbidden by Allah …."
Reflection: For those of us who tell ourselves, "this is too much, give me ONE thing that I can do". Or "I am overwhelmed. Where do I start?" The Prophet (saw) gives us the answer: Start by stopping doing those things which are adding further burdens to your soul. Stop putting further barriers between yourself and Him. Stop doing those things that are distancing you from His mercy. Once we remove the barriers, our hearts will yearn for connection and spirituality will come easily . . . .

Let us pray to Allah (swt) to give us the tawfiq to access the blessings of this month by using our time wisely. Ameen

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