The sinner spends the entire year smothering himself with the filth and grime of sins. He spends eleven months wandering astray in a tunnel of darkness. He oppresses his soul and gives into the evil commands of Shaytan and to the temptations of his lower self [nafs]. He commits the most tremendous sins, both openly, in broad daylight, and secretly, under the concealing blanket of the night. One day, he realizes the extremity and horrendousness of his deeds, and his heart fills with remorse. In despair, he weeps and miserably falls to the dank floor of his dark tunnel of sins.
But then the sinner sees something that causes his heart to race. There is a dazzling light at the end of the tunnel. A ray of hope. There is still hope.
Allah’s (swt) mercy is infinite. And in Ramadan, that mercy is exemplified beyond our comprehension. For sinners like us, who spend a large portion of the year displeasing our Lord, the month of Ramadan serves as a shining ray of hope—a chance to rejuvenate our dead souls, which we have killed ourselves by committing countless sins, and a chance to start fresh. A chance to actually live like the Muslims we have been claiming to be for so long.
The month of Ramadan is only a few days away. Do not let this opportunity go to waste.
Many people consider fasting to merely be abstinence from food, drink, and sexual relations. Although that is indeed the legal definition of fasting, there is so much more to fasting than that. There are, essentially, three levels of fasting. The first level is the most common, which is to fast from eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse.
The second level of fasting is to fast from sins, such as backbiting, listening to music, disobeying parents, etc. Rasulullah (saws) said: “Allah has no interest in any person’s abstention from eating and drinking, if that person does not give up lying and dishonest actions” (Saheeh al-Bukhari).
The third level of fasting is to fast from everything other than Allah (swt). A servant striving to achieve this level of fasting may fast from unnecessary speech, the internet, his cell phone, the newspaper, sports, and anything else that competes in even the slightest way with his love for Allah (swt). For, our hearts have a limited amount of space—how can we expect to develop a love for Allah (swt) when we constantly fill our hearts with love for the things that distract us from Allah (swt)?
One direct consequence of faith [imān] is love for Allah (swt). This is clearly exemplified in this verse [āyah] of the Qur’an:
“And those who believe have intense love for Allah.” (2:165)
When a servant loves Allah (swt), it is easy for him to do the things that attract the mercy of Allah (i.e. good deeds) and abstain from the things that displease Allah (i.e. bad deeds). Since love for Allah (swt) is evidently part of the definition of belief, if we find ourselves to be lacking in that love, there must be something wrong with our belief. However, how fortunate it is for us that the month of Ramadan is an excellent opportunity to empty our hearts of the filth that we have filled it with and to let our hearts naturally attract the love of Allah (swt). For, even if we do not do great acts of worship [ibādah], if we simply withdraw from distractions and make a little bit of effort to worship and please Allah (swt), we will naturally allow the seed in our hearts to grow. And once Allah (swt) allows us to develop that love for Him in our hearts, everything else—such as the night vigil [tahajjud], recitation of the Qur’an, desire to give charity [sadaqah], etc.—will come naturally, Insha’Allah.
So, with the month of Ramadan right around the corner, we as Muslims have some very crucial planning to do. These 29 or 30 days and nights of extreme mercy must be taken seriously. We should strive to plan each action very carefully, and we should set our goals of what we hope to achieve in this month—for, if we don’t have a goal, it is unlikely we will reach anything. We should increase our recitation of the Qur’an, remembrance [dhikr], and other acts of worship [ibādah] now, so that it will be easier for us to do so when Ramadan begins. We should abstain from sins and eliminate distractions now, so that when the first day of Ramadan comes upon us, our filthy habits will have completely disappeared from our lives. If we know we will have to go Eid shopping, we should try to do it now so that we don’t miss out on single precious opportunity of worship [ibādah]. And we should also keep in mind that we are worshipping Allah (swt), not Ramadan. It is extremely unfortunate that many of us spend the whole month of Ramadan in worship, only to return to our filthy lives of sins the first day of Shawal. We must remember that Allah (swt) is there for us twelve months a year. The reason Ramadan is special is because it is especially brimming with the blessings of Allah (swt). It should then be our goal to strive to take advantage of those blessings in Ramadan so that they will last us for the remaining eleven months of the year, Insha’Allah.
This could be the opportunity many of us have been waiting for—the opportunity to become alive again.
“Wash all the filth away and change my dead heart.
Make me alive again, give me a fresh start.”
–Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad (db)
May Allah (swt) allow us to reach Ramadan and take full advantage of this blessed month, may He make this month a means of our forgiveness [maghfirah] and of our freedom from the Hellfire, and may He allow us to continue to reap the benefits of this month long after it ends, Insha’Allah. Ameen.
We ask that you keep Nawal Academy and the entire Muslim community [ummah] in your prayers, especially during the blessed days and nights of Ramadan.
To read more about Ramadan and its virtues, please click here.
- “Taking Advantage of Ramadan” by Shaykh Husain Abdul Sattar (db) (http://www.sacredlearning.org/ramadan/)
- “Making the Most of Ramadan” by Shaykh Husain Abdul Sattar (db) (http://www.sacredlearning.org/ramadan/)
- “For the Love of Allah” by Shaykh Husain Abdul Sattar (db) (http://www.sacredlearning.org/general-talks/)