SHAFAQNA – In His Name, the Most High
Now that the new moon for the Month of Ramadhan has been announced, the entire Muslim population will prepare to fast from dawn to dusk, in a show of great vigour and patience, and indeed obedience to God.
After all, in the Holy Quran, God says:
“The Month of Ramadhan is that in which the Quran was revealed;
A clear guidance to humanity, filled with clear proofs of distinction;
Therefore whoever of you is present in the month, they shall fast therein, and whoever is sick or upon a journey, then (they shall fast) a (like) number of other days;
God desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you difficulty, and (He desires) that you should complete the number and that you should exalt the greatness of God for His having guided you and that you may give thanks.”
Quran, Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow) (2), Verse 185
There are many books, articles, lectures and such delivered by very learned people on the subject of the month of Ramadhan, and the merits of fasting therein; the merits of reciting the Quran during this month, and reflecting on your relationship with the Divine.
However, this article will attempt to look at the month of Ramadhan in a slightly different manner. Of course, there is the duty of fasting from dawn till dusk, and connecting to Quran and God, that is a given. What I am attempting to look at, is how we can improve ourselves, both as individuals, but also as those who support or work within the Resistance factions, be it as a passive supporter, a keyboard warrior, a thinker, a speaker, a scholar, a resistance fighter and so on.
There is a reason for this; which I will first explain that the context and raison d’etre for this scribing of this article becomes clearer.
We currently live in a world that can only be described as a world gone mad. We have world leaders who are openly disgusting, who are openly hypocritical; we have the occupation of Islam as an ideology by those who have nothing to do with Islam. We have a global campaign being waged against Islam in the name of terrorism; when the reality is that Islam is and has been the biggest victim of terrorism.
We have the truth being rendered as falsehood, and falsehood being promoted as truth. This is the case of the world as it stands today.
We have the rich selling weapons to each other all in order to subjugate and murder the poor. We have no respect between the nations and peoples of the world, where nations seem to not even have the basic decency to ensure that there is food on every table, and a roof over every head; when if we look at the fiscal situation of the world – the global economy – this is currently worth well in excess of 77 trillion USD (at 2014 figures) – more than enough to ensure that each and every one of the over 7 billion souls that inhabit our world can be given at the very minimum basic food and shelter.
But this is not the case. Instead, we have close to 80% of the world’s population living on the breadline, and almost half the world’s population – 50% – living in a state that can only be described as extreme poverty. And these are based on figures from at least 2-3 years ago. The situation today has not improved at all.
Now, this leads one to reflect, and think. When you have a situation where 80% of the world’s population, are starving, but that the global economy is valued at over 77 trillion USD; if shared equally (and yes I know the idea of sharing equally is a utopian and not entirely valid concept; but work with me here, just to get an idea of the condition we live in) would mean that each and every one of the 7.5billion souls that inhabit this planet, should have a share that amounts to something in the region of 16,000 USD per person.
Now granted, this isn’t how things can be split, but the indication is there; and given this indication, there is no reason why so much of the global population is living in such abject squalor.
But this is not a paper on the economics of poverty and wealth; so I shall not digress further, this was merely to illustrate a point that will become clearer through the course of this paper.
Coming back to the month of Ramadhan, one of the key aspects of this, that is taught by the clerics from the pulpits year in and year out; is that the fasting – the depriving yourself of food and water for the daylight hours – is designed to enable a person to sympathise with and understand the situation of the poor. There is some truth in this for sure; however, I opine that there is more than this.
It is not enough to merely sympathise, or to understand, the situation of a people who don’t have enough; rather, Islam teaches us clearly in Quran:
“Surely God does not change the condition of a people until they change their own condition”
Quran, Surah Ar-Ra’ad (The Thunder) (13), Verse 11
This teaches us that we have to – as a global community – after all humanity makes up a single global community; we all share this blue-green planet that is our home; and yes while we have differences in creed, culture, manners, and so on, ultimately, we are collectively a population, inhabitants of this world.
If we do not change our condition, we don’t work to make resistance, against those who seek to corrupt and oppress the masses, then we cannot expect to have assistance from God in seeking to reform humanity, and alleviate its plethora of problems.
One of the most important aspects of the month of Ramadhan, and the fasting therein, is that it inspires and teaches us to make a personal resistance; against our own desires to eat and drink during the daylight hours; against vices – small and big; and encourages us greatly to refocus towards the Divine, to that which is perfect without any imperfection.
This month refocuses us towards the most sublime of thoughts, that which defines our very existence upon this temporal realm.
In Quran, God tells us:
“And I have not created the jinn and the men except that they should serve Me.”
Quran, Surah Adh-Dhariyat (The Winnowing Winds) (51), Verse 56
We must understand, that this service to God, this worshiping God, is not simply a private or individual exercise. Rather this is a service that covers all the realms – the individual, the familial, the social and indeed the global.
We must understand, that as our connection to God is reinvigorated through the many supplications and verses of Quran that are recited during this month; we must not only confine reflection and reading of the to this month; nor should it be only for our own personal benefit. Though there is a lot to be said for personal development and self-building; and I am not in any way attempting to diminish that at all, far from it.
What I am actually saying, is that in strengthening our connection to God, this also connects us to that which God expects from us. Some have used the words “needs from us”, but this is invalid, since God is immutable and perfect, to suggest He needs something from us, is to suggest (God forbid) that without said item, God’s perfection would be damaged. Not at all, and far is God from that.
Rather, God, placed us upon this earth as trustees, and with trusteeship comes responsibility; to perform activities that are expected, to be thankful for the bounties that He has supplied – in the form of oxygen, food, water, health, wealth, family, friends and so on – but to also ensure that one of the key expectations is to establish and act with justice.
After all doesn’t God say very clearly in the Quran:
“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for God, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, God is more worthy of both. So, follow not [personal] inclination, lest you are not just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed God is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.”
Quran, Surah An-Nisa (The Women) (4), Verse 135
This tells us, that as part of what is expected from us, by God, by the Creator, as our duty toward Him, and as a form of gratitude (though hugely insignificant given his magnanimity toward us) to Him, is that we establish and stand firm for Justice.
We are also taught elsewhere in Quran:
“Oh humanity! Verily We created you from one male and one female, and made you races and tribes, that you may know one another. Truly, the best among you in the sight of God is the most righteous. God is All-Knowing and All-aware.”
Quran, Surah Al-Hujurat (The Chambers) (49), Verse 13
So God, has told us that we are not to engage in any form of xenophobic behaviour; rather we are to understand that we are from different tribes and races, social grouping and ethnicities; but that our diversity is something that is a lesson from God to us; that it is what makes us the human family. This tells us clearly that there is no superiority of one race over another, but that the only mark of distinction comes from that which is essentially intangible; that of being righteous, of being good.
We also have one of the most beautiful, if shortest and most well-known chapters of Quran – Surah al-Asr (The Time) (103) -, that explains this in a most beautiful manner; where God speaks of humanity being at a complete loss, except those who perform righteous acts, who do good, and who enjoin each other to both Truth and patience.
So this sets our agenda, this tells us, that alongside the development of our connection with God, or rather to put it more accurately, as a by-product of the development of our connection with God, we will be compelled to help others, to do and encourage that which is right, to avoid and indeed dissuade from that which is wrong.
When – once we have developed this mentality – when we have performed this core resistance against ourselves, and have made our sincere intentions to improve and become closer to the Divine, we will find that we are naturally moving towards this mentality of resistance.
For in working on improving ourselves, we indeed have started to make that resistance internally, and as it is successful within ourselves, it will permeate from every facet of our existence and will inspire in us that resistance against injustice and tyranny, that will ultimately hail the return of the grandson of the Prophet of God – Imam Mahdi, may our souls be his ransom, and may God hasten his return – and fill the earth with justice and fairness, as it has been and indeed is filled with injustice and tyranny.
Is it any surprise then, when examining this the way we have been through this paper – and I appreciate that this analysis is not even scratching the surface, and that countless volumes could be scribed on this subject, and indeed have by those far more learned and capable than the author – when we see that through the passage of this month, we have countless lessons in the lives of the personalities who are remembered in the various days within Shahr Ramadhan?
Personalities like Lady Khadija, the wife of Prophet Muhammad, who passed away on Ramadhan 10; like the birth of the grandson of the Prophet, Imam Hasan ibn Ali, who is born on Ramadhan 15, like the Commander of the Faithful, the brother of the Prophet Muhammad, Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib, who was struck by a sword while in prayer on Ramadhan 19, and who ultimately returned to His eternal abode on Ramadhan 21.
We also have important events that took place in this month, events such the first battle of Islam, that of Badr, that took place on Ramadhan 17, an event that was pivotal in the future of Islam, for had the Muslims not prevailed in that battle, then certainly Islam as it is, would not have survived.
The number of the Muslims in the battle of Badr was a mere 313, against an army of close to 1,000; but with God’s infinite grace, and the fortitude and reliance of the Muslims on God, and their obedience to the instructions of the Prophet, they were victorious, and a number of the champions of the pagans were vanquished and destroyed in that battle, and the survival of Islam was ensured.
Then for the last ten nights – the odd nights; primarily the 19th, 21st, and 23rd – of the month of Ramadhan, there lies the Night of Qadr, of Ordainment, of Decree, of Destiny, of Power, a night that according to Quran is greater in its worth than a thousand months, a night in which not only was the entire Quran revealed, but all the matters for the following year are ordained and decided:
“We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Qadr;
And what will explain to thee what the Night of Qadr is?
The Night of Qadr is better than a thousand months.
Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by God’s permission, for all works
Peace, reigns, until the break of dawn”
Quran, Surah al-Qadr (Destiny / Decree / Power / Ordainment) (97), Verses 1 thru 5
Finally, we have the Universal Day of Quds, which is on the last Friday of the month of Ramadhan. The Universal Day of Quds, being a day that was instituted by the late founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini, may God bless his pure soul. A day, when the entire Muslim community, nay, when the entire population of the world, is asked to remember, to express solidarity with, to support the oppressed of the world.
While the Day of Quds is sometimes understood as being exclusively for Palestine, the founder of the Universal Day of Quds, Imam Khomeini, never saw it as exclusively for the Palestinian issue; rather it is a Universal day when the oppressed stand firm against the oppressors; and renew their pledge to continue resistance against the oppressors:
“The Universal Day of Quds is a global day and it is not only limited to the Palestine issue, but also is a means for the oppressed to stand against arrogant powers. It is a resistance day for those nations who have suffered oppression at the hands of the United States and other powers.
This is the day when oppressed ones should be equipped against the arrogant powers and knock them to the ground.
This day will differentiate between the hypocrites and committed faithful people.
The committed ones acknowledge this as the day of Palestine cause and will perform whatever needed. However, hypocrites, who have maintained secret friendship with arrogant powers, will remain impartial or will not allow the public to hold demonstrations.
This day is decisive as fate of the oppressed nations is determined on this day because they declare their existence against exploiters. The others nations should rise up as Iran stood and knocked them to the ground and continues to do so. All nations should undertake uprising in a bid to throw these tumors and germs into the garbage can.”
Imam Khomeini, Sahifeh-ye-Nour, Volume 9, Page 253
These events should give us pause for reflection. That in the month; whose name according to reliable traditions is actually from the name of God:
“Say not, “This is Ramadhan” and “Ramadhan has departed” and “Ramadhan has arrived” for surely, Ramadhan is one of the names of God, The Mighty, the Glorious, who neither arrives or departs. Surely, arrives and departs that, which is ephemeral, Instead say: “The month of Ramadhan”.
Usul al-Kafi, Volume 4, Page 70
A month that is named after God, the Creator. A month that remembers Lady Khadija, the mother of the believers; the first wife of the Prophet. A lady of great honour and from the four women of Paradise, one of the four women, who are from the leaders of Paradise:
- Asiya, the wife of Pharaoh, the adopted mother of Moses
- Maryam, the daughter of Imraan, and mother of Jesus,
- Khadija, the daughter of Khuwaylid, and first wife of the Prophet Muhammad,
- Fatimah az-Zahra, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, and wife of the Imam Ali
What does this tell us? It requires us to remember Lady Khadija, to learn from her example; where she gave everything she had for the sake of God, and stayed firm to the side of Islam, enduring great tribulations and difficulties in her resistance to the tyranny of the pagans of Makkah.
In this month, when we remember Imam Hasan, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, what does it teach us? It teaches us about patience. It teaches us how to endure, when all around us are breaking, and abandoning hope.
It teaches us to inspire hope and strength, and the love of the Divine, the love for Justice, the love of Truth in the hearts of others, and in our own hearts. It encourages us to learn about the life of Imam Hasan, to understand the political and social circumstances that he had to endure. It teaches us how to function and operate when faced with despotic rulers, and disloyal allies.
In the story of Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba, the second Imam, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, who is born on Ramadhan 15, there are countless lessons that can be learned. Lessons that speak of resistance, and loyalty, of allegiance and devotion, of a love for the Divine, that allowed al-Hasan to be patient under the most trying of circumstances, and to be always in remembrance of the Most Perfect, the Most Sublime.
In this month, we remember the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib, the brother of the Prophet Muhammad, the one who is known as the voice of human justice, was brutally attacked while praying and ultimately martyred. It teaches us, that the hypocrites, those who dress in the garb of religiosity, can at times be the most treacherous of enemies.
It teaches us, that the issues that we currently face within the world, the issue of Takfirism, of the Saudi-inspired Wahhabism, the corruption of Islam, that allows for, nay encourages, the oppression and massacre of countless – be they in Syria, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Bahrain, in Eastern Arabia, in Yemen or in Palestine.
It teaches us of Zionism – that corruption of Judaism and Christianity – that encourages the occupation, and massacre of an entire people, that commits genocide on an industrial scale, that ethnically cleanse a people from existence.
These events teach us, that we as members of the human family, have a duty to perform, that we must understand our responsibility towards the oppressed of the world, be they in Palestine, in Yemen, in Bahrain, in Rakhine, or elsewhere.
It teaches us that even in what is known as the developed world, the so-called “civilized world”, the west, there are countless oppressed people, those who are homeless due to the failed economic policies of the West, those whose homes are foreclosed and repossessed, those who suffer from illnesses that they can’t cure, since their society doesn’t provide free healthcare, but rather inflates the cost of medications to the point of making them prohibitive.
It teaches us that as Muslims, as those who fast from dawn till dusk, it requires us to understand our duties towards the oppressed in the land, it requires us to connect to the Leader of the Oppressed, the Awaited Master, Imam al-Hujjah, may our souls be his ransom, and may God hasten his return, and to actively await his return by being resistive in our lives.
It teaches us, that even when breaking our fasts at dusk, we should be careful of the dates that we consume; we should be careful that our dedication and devotion for the entire day, our fasting of the entire day, is not rendered null and void through the commission of an unforgivable crime against the oppressed – the consumption of dates from the Zionist Entity – and indeed an activity that is considered forbidden within Islam.
Even this small activity, that of refusing to consume dates from a stolen entity, has great significance and should be not diminished in its effectiveness as a tool against the oppressors.
There are also many supplications, including the Supplication of Iftitah, which will form the basis for a future article, God willing.
Suffice it to say, that these supplications, the recitation of the Quran, the abstinence from food, water and such during the daylight hours, are not mere rituals, or as an exercise in starvation or self-restraint. Rather they are training, for the resistive mind, they inspire that most perfect of resistance, that compels a soul, in the face of any tyrant, any oppressor, to stand up and say “Hayhaat min adh-Dhillah” (We will never succumb to humiliation), we will never bow down to anyone save God, and we will always work to ensure that the name of God remains the most sublime and the highest.
It enforces the maxim of Labbayk, and through the remembrance of the Ahl al-Bayt, and of Imam al-Mahdi, may our souls be his ransom, and may God hasten his return, recharges our souls, our bodies and our minds, to work – to actively work – to make ready for his return.
After all, we know that while we are known as those who await him, he is also the one who is waiting. For he awaits us to be ready, that when he returns, we will stand firm with him, with a firmness that reminds one of the 72 heroes of Karbala, who even after their Imam – Imam Husayn – had lifted the pledge of allegiance from them, refused to abandon him, saying:
“If they were to kill us, chop us into a thousand pieces, scatter our remains to the winds, and repeat this thousands of times, we will never leave you, Oh Husayn!”
The recharging of our batteries in the month of Ramadhan is critical if we are to be able to attain success and be from those described by God as:
“Of the believers are the men who are true to what they covenanted with God, of them is he who fulfilled his vow and of them is he who awaits (its fulfillment), and they have changed not in the least.”
Quran, Surah al-Ahzaab (The Tribes) (33), Verse 23
I pray that all the readers are successful in revitalising their connection to the Divine in these special nights of the month of Ramadhan, that their fasting during these most sublime of days is filled with joy and tranquillity.
On this, the first night of the month of Ramadhan, I beseech you Oh God, to alleviate the suffering of the countless across the world, be they in Palestine, in Yemen, in Syria, in Iraq, in Arabia, in Bahrain and anywhere across the world where people are suffering at the hands of despots and tyrants.
Oh my Lord and Sustainer, I beg you to allow us all to benefit truly from the blessing that is this special month of Ramadhan, that we develop that closeness to You, to Quran, to the Ahl al-Bayt, and that we reform ourselves and remove the dirt and filth that this world throws onto us, in these special nights, and that we come out from this month, clean and pure as we were the day you brought us into this world.
I implore you Oh God, to remove all traces of the corruptors and hypocrites from the ranks of the believers, and to expose such criminals and render them useless and impotent in their schemes, for You are the best of Planners!
Oh God, I implore You for the sake of this month of Ramadhan, your month, that You protect and safeguard Islam and its people, that You destroy hypocrisy and its people, that You remove all mischief-makers from within the ranks of the believers.
Oh God, I implore You for the sake of our mother, the mother of the believers, Lady Khadija, that you send Your blessings on our mothers, and all the mothers, be they living or in the perfect embrace of Your mercy; send Your mercy, forgiveness, love and kindness to them, for they showed us love and kindness when we were children, and nurtured us to fall into Your love.
Oh God, I implore You, for the sake of the one martyred on the 21st of the this month of Ramadhan, that You protect all of the righteous Islamic Leadership, and especially the Wali al-Faqih, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution and the Muslim Ummah – in the absence of the Awaited Master – Imam Khamenei.
Oh God, I beseech You, prostrate upon the ground, bowing to Your absolute magnificence and beauty, that You hasten the return of our master, the Proof, the son of al-Hasan, Imam al-Mahdi, may our souls be his ransom, and count us from his righteous followers and servants, and make it so that we are ready for his return, and that we are able to help him fill the earth with justice and fairness, as it is filled with injustice and tyranny.
Oh my Lord, my Master, my Sustainer, I implore You to send your blessings and infinite mercy on all those who have helped us in anyway, be they our parents, be they are teachers, be their our friends or our family, if they have taught us even one thing, then Oh God, please grant them the best of rewards for the kindness that they have shown to us, for You have yourself said “that is not the reward of a goodness, but a goodness!” (Quran, Surah ar-Rahman (The Most Merciful) (55), Verse 60)
Finally, My God, I implore You to forgive us for our countless shortcomings, our laziness in abiding by Your instructions, our negligence in performing our duty, and please help us, inspire us to become closer to You, to fall into Your infinite Love, to never contemplate not performing that which is expected by You, and make us from those who truly aspire to see Your face, and bask in Your magnificence, and protect us from being those from whom You turn away.
And from God alone is all ability, and He is the ultimate recourse in all matters, and there is no power or authority except with God, and He has power and dominion over all things.
May God, shower his infinite and choicest blessings upon Muhammad, and the Family of Muhammad, and may He hasten the return of the Saviour, the one who will rise from the Family of Muhammad, Amen, O Lord Sustainer of the Universes.