As Ramadhan is fast approaching, it would be good to take a few moments to reflect on what we are doing in preparation. In the weeks before the eruption of Jewish violence in Al-Aqsa, not too many people had any mention of Al-Aqsa on their tongues. When it happened, no one spoke about anything else. And now, when we receive emails about the Shahid (insha'Allah) Muhammad Durra and others, we delete it as if it is 'old news'. Dear brothers and sisters, we have to come back to our Din and come back to Allah and change the situation of ourselves - then and only then will Allah change our situation.
Think not that a Khutbah like this is in disregard of current events. It is meant to build real armies of people that Allah is pleased with (may Allah make us all one of them). So that when someone stands up and says brothers we have to leave tonight to protect our honor, there will be people to stand up.
The companions - like 'Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr who was worth a 1,000 warriors radiallahu 'anhu - trained in three fields:
- Talab ul-'Ilm (studying the tenets of Islam); and
- Military training.
Let us chart our return to Allah - subhanahu wa ta'ala - so that when the world takes down the banners, borders up the windows and forgets what happened to our Muslim family ... we won't!
"Accomplishment begins with action."
Sahl ibn Sa'ad - radiallahu 'anhu - narrates that an-Nabi - sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam - said, "In Jannah there is a gate called Ar-Rayyan, a door which the Sa'ymun will enter from, no one else except them. It will be announced, 'Where are the Sa'ymun?' and the Sa'ymun will stand. No one except them will enter from the Rayyan gate."
Have you ever heard of a weekend warrior? They are employees who sit in cubicles and relax at a coffee station weighed down with donuts all week long. Then on the weekend they rip off their suits bearing their Reebok gear underneath and spend the entire weekend playing basketball, hang gliding, and mountain climbing. What happens? They break their knees, pull a dozen muscles, and are hospitalized on Monday.
This is in relation to the physical body. But there are people that should be known as Ramadhan warriors. They are those that haven't fasted all year long and then shock their bodies with a whole month. Or haven't prayed in the Masjid or haven't woken up to pray in the night all year long. What happens to them? As one Muslim doctor said, "In normal days, we have about 5 - 7 patients a day. On the first day of Ramadhan, the patients increase to over 50!"
Ramadhan warriors were rare in our Islamic history. To illustrate, let's all remember where we were at the beginning of Safar - corresponding this year to the second week of May. We were probably praying for work to end, or just finished up with exams, or looking through brochures for a holiday getaway.
Interestingly, if we were sitting beside a tabi'i over a thousand years ago in a simple Masjid, we would have heard him raising his hands asking Allah to grant him the blessing of being around when a guest comes, a guest called Ramadhan!
There are different ways that we can 'warm up' for Ramadhan. One of those ways is by increasing the frequency of our Du'a. Allah ta'ala says in the Qur'an ... the verse before it is talking about Ramadhan and the verse after it is speaking about Ramadhan, and right in the middle we read:
"And when My servants ask you, (O Muhammad), concerning Me - Indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me (by obedience) and believe in Me that they may be guided." [Al-Qur'an 2:186]
Every goodness on earth is from Allah. And one of the most exclusive blessings is Ramadhan. So let us ask the Lord of Ramadhan to help us find His Mercy in the coming days.
Last year, we gave a Khutbah here on Hajj entitled 'The Call of Ibrahim'. A brother just a few weeks ago told me that during that Khutbah he raised his hands to Allah and asked Allah to find him a way to make Hajj. He said that he had no money to make the trip, but that night more then one brother approached him with the offer, "Brother we have a Hajj program for new Muslims, would you like to come?" Alhamdulillah, that brother made Hajj last year from a Du'a that came straight from the heart - insha'Allah.
The early generations of the Ummah used to make Du'a 6 months after Ramadhan that Allah accept their deeds in Ramadhan. And for the next 6 months, they would make Du'a to Allah to grant them the blessing of being alive in the coming Ramadhan.
Cleanliness - Whenever a guest comes, we prepare in advance for his arrival by vacuuming the carpet, dusting the shelves, and scrubbing the sinks. We should do this for our guest called Ramadhan. But the scrubbing should not just be of our physical surroundings, it should include the scrubbing of our sins.
Listen to the words of an-Nabi - sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam - speaking about those people that don't want to clean up for Ramadhan, "Whoever doesn't desist from speaking falsehood and acting upon it, Allah has no need that he desist from his food and drink." [Bukhari]
Fasting in Sha'ban (this month that we are now in) - The biggest downfall of the weekend warriors was that they were not properly warmed up for the exercise which caused the injuries. Similarily, when Fasting, some people only do it once a year making their bodies very foreign to going without food and drink.
From here we see the following Sunnah: Umm ul-Mu'minin 'A'ishah - radiallahu 'anha - observes, "Allah's Messenger never fasted an entire month other than Ramadhan and I haven't seen him fast more than he did in Sha'ban."
A poet said:
Oh ye who isn't satisfied with his sins in Rajab
So much so that you continued disobedience in Sha'ban
The month of fasting has now come upon you
So do not convert it also to a month of disobedience.
When we look at the celebrations, 'the holy days' of this country, we see that they put all their time and effort and spirit in preparation. I tell you, go to any store outside this Masjid and you will see preparations of Candy Canes, red and green bouquets, even Eggnog all in the wait for the annual celebration of the birth - as they falsely claim - of Prophet 'Isa ('alayhis salam). They are preparing for their falsehood almost 2 months in advance!
One of the ways to prepare for Ramadhan is to educate ourselves in the Fiqh of Ramadhan. Alhamdulillah - sitting in this Masjid today are many brothers and sisters for whom this will be their first Ramadhan. Allahu Akbar! May Allah accept it from them and allow them and us to share in the blessing of Ramadhan for many years to come. Let us briefly review what fasting is:
Fasting Ramadhan is not optional - it is a must. The evidence for this is found in the Qur'an and Sunnah. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
"O you who believe! Observing as-sawn (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become al-muttaqun (the pious)." [Al-Qur'an 2:183]
The Prophet said: "Islam is built on five pillars ... (among which he mentioned) fasting in Ramadhan." [Bukhari]
The Arabic word for fasting is Sawm. In Arabic it literally means to abstain from something. And in Islamic Law it is to abstain from those things that break the fast starting from dawn (Fajr Prayer) and ending with sunset (Maghrib prayer) having first made the intention to do so.
The things which break ones Fast, the things which he or she must abstain from from dawn to sunset are as follows:
(a) Eating and Drinking
(b) Marital Relations
These apply if 3 conditions are met (1) That the person is not ignorant that this thing breaks ones fast (2) That he is aware that he is doing something that breaks his fast (meaning he did not do so in forgetfulness) (3) He does so out of his free will and no one forced him to break his fast.
In conclusion, as the month of Ramadhan draws nearer, we should prepare for this special guest by preparing a Ramadhan program *Operation: Valuable Time* in our homes and at our Masajid. The program should insha'Allah include:
- Locked times of the day when we will consistently recite Qur'an, learning it's meanings and memorizing new chapters;
- Something useful for the time before Tarawih prayers and the time after Tarawih. And how to increase our worship in the last ten nights - i.e. what will we do extra.
- We should make sure that there are days of this month when we feed people. Bring dates or milk to the Masjid for Maghrib. Invite people over to have dinner with your family. Organize a dinner in the Masjid and invite people that don't normally get invited because they are new. Take care of the New Muslims in your community and for the sake of Allah ta'ala make their Ramadhan special.
- Make the intention to double and triple the amount of Sadaqah we give, the worship we normally do, the Dhikr we do, and the deeds that'll help us purify our souls, etc.
- And finally, for those that can afford it plan a 'Umrah to the Ka'bah in Ramadhan!
After returning from the farewell Hajj, Rasulallah - sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam - saw an Ansari women who had not made the Hajj. He asked her, "What kept you back from joining in the Hajj?" She said, "We had a camel that we used to ride which Abu Fulan and his son went on, and another we used for farming." So Rasulallah - sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam - said, "Verily, 'Umrah in Ramadhan is the same (reward) as performing Hajj with me!" [Bukhari and Muslim]