Excellence of fasting during Ramadan
Summary of Friday Sermon delivered by the Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
September 14th, 2007
Huzur delivered his Friday Sermon from Bait ul Futuh, Morden, England and gave a discourse on the excellence of fasting during Ramadan.
Citing verse 184 of Surah Al Baqarah (2:184) Huzur said that with the grace of Allah we are once again enabled to experience the most excellent arrangement for spiritual development, that is, fasting for the few days of Ramadan.
Each Ahmadi should make their best endeavours to develop in taqwa (righteousness), to seek Divine nearness, attain acceptance to one’s prayer, and develop in religious, moral and spiritual ways.
Remarking on the significance of the commandment to fast Huzur said it was also made obligatory on the followers of the earlier prophets of God for the purification of soul and among them only those became the recipient of blessings who abided by the commandment without any protest, who put the teaching in practice and excelled in taqwa. However, when they rejected the teachings, they lost their worldly glory as well as their standards of spirituality plummeted. Huzur said indeed when Allah enjoins the followers of prophets of God to adopt taqwa, He declares that it would lead them to the blessings of this world and the Hereafter, as it is stated in verse 47 of Surah Al Rahman (55:47). Huzur said it is vital for each Ahmadi to recognise the lofty station of God in order to develop in taqwa and to be the recipient of His blessings and this, he added, will come to pass when His commandments are followed with sincerity of purpose. One of these commandments is to fast.
We are fortunate that we are the adherents of the perfect Book, are the adherents of the Shariah which is promised to continue till the end, are the adherents of the last law-bearing Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) who was granted excellence over all the other prophets by being given the title of Khatam un Nabiyyeen (Seal of all the prophets). He brought us the message of Qur’an to enable us to stay firm on taqwa, a message that is still fresh today and shall always remain so. Huzur asked what do the commandments of this last law-bearing Book expect of us? Explaining, he said they expect us to endeavour for the attainment of the blessing that this Book mentions, to assume the undertaking for which God and His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) have shown us the way.
Citing verse 70 of Surah Al Ankabut (29:70) Huzur said it is indeed God’s promise that He guides those to Him who come towards Him with absolute sincerity, He runs to those who at least walk towards Him. A great source to attain nearness to God is fasting. A Hadith relates that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said that Allah puts a distance of more than 70 years (Arabic idiom meaning a great deal) between the face of a person who fasts in the way of Allah seeking His blessings and fire. Huzur said indeed it is vital to fast in the quest of Allah’s grace and if the attainment of His pleasure is the sole objective, He not only saves one from the fire but also grants the paradise of His pleasure, in this world and the Hereafter.
The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that one who makes a solemn endeavour to seek Allah never fails. He said that if we can feel compassion for a student who works hard for school exams how could God not have mercy and compassion to allow one who endeavours to seek him to come near Him? Certainly not.
Recounting a Hadith e Qudsi Huzur said Allah declares that each act of man is for himself, apart for fasting. Fasting is for Allah and Allah alone is its reward. Another Hadith reiterates this point that fasting is done for Allah and only Allah knows the real reward of a person who fasts.
Huzur explained that just as Allah’s attributes are countless so is the extent of His reward, however, He has set some limitations for the attainment of His reward. For example during fasting one is not required to merely starve oneself, rather one has to make an endeavour to shun all sorts of worldly and carnal desires, only then it may be deemed that fasting is for Allah alone. Similarly the avoidance from the ills is not to be temporary and brief, rather it has to be a permanent effort.
Indeed Allah knows what is in one’s heart, is aware of the intention behind each deed, has knowledge of what is apparent and what is hidden, if a person fasts with Allah’s attributes in mind, that fasting would be rewarded.
Huzur further said that when a person who is fasting responds to an abuse by saying that as they are fasting they will not respond in kind, it does not mean that after breaking the fast they are at liberty to retaliate, not at all. Huzur said fasting is a training process during which one is trained to eschew bad habits for good, that is the reason why a Hadith relates that when a person who fast sincerely meets his Maker he will be happy. It is not just thirty days’ effort that will give him happiness, rather he will be happy because he would have had an opportunity to make an endeavour to avoid bad habits and that person would thus greet each Ramadan of his life until he attains the station where he will be the recipient of Allah’s pleasure.
Elucidating a Hadith that terms fasting as a shield, Huzur said the important thing is to be able to utilise this ‘shield’ to protect oneself from the attacks of the Satan, the most dangerous of all enemies. A believer can be safe by means of this ‘shield’ through worship of God and by staying firm on His commandments.
Huzur said the teaching of the earlier prophets was temporary, it was for a temporary period of time. With the teaching diminished its freshness and taqwa. The teaching of the Holy Qur’an is eternal. Worldly desires crept into the fasting of other religions. We need to constantly make endeavours to keep the standards of our taqwa high. Each one of us should try to the best of his/her ability or capacity to attain the lofty standards. By calling us Khair e Ummah (best among the Ummah) Allah has shown us all the ways and we can only justifiably called Khair e Ummah when we can attain these standards. Huzur said the acts that are done to seek the pleasure of Allah are indeed what taqwa is all about.
Huzur prayed that may Allah enable us to make solemn endeavour to attain taqwa. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that fasting is about forsaking one kind of nourishment (food) to seek the other kind of nourishment which is for the soul. Allah opens up ways of guidance and spiritual discernment for those who seek Him with truthfulness of heart.
May Allah enable us that we fast while making the attainment of His pleasure our objective, may we attain spiritual discernment which becomes a lasting part of our lives and which enhances us in taqwa each moment.