October
22
1999
Interpretation of the Quran- Surat Al-Bakara (02) - Lesson (62)- verses (183-186): Fasting and its benefits
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Praise be to Allah, the Lord of Creations, and Peace and blessings be upon our prophet Muhammad, the faithful and the honest.
 Oh, Allah, we know nothing but what You teach us. You are the All- Knower, the Wise. Oh Allah, teach us what is good for us, and benefit us from what You taught us, and increase our knowledge. Show us the righteous things as righteous and help us to do them, and show us the bad things as bad and help us to keep away from them.
  O Allah our Lord, lead us out from the depths of darkness and illusion, unto the lights of erudition and knowledge, and from the muddy shallows of lusts unto the heavens of Your Vicinity.

Acts of worship are justified by people’s interests:

 Dear brothers, this is the 62nd lesson of Surat al- Baqara: from Ayah 183 to the ayah 186. Allah the Almighty says:

"O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun"

 Imam ash-Shafi’i, may Allah have mercy on him, said a wonderful phrase, "Acts of worships are justified by people’s interests. " There is a big difference between the acts of worship and the rituals. Rituals are meaningless movements, gestures and whispers invented by the so-called religious men of man-made religions. They are invented to influence the hearts and minds of people. Acts of worships, on the contrary, are explained by the Creator of the earth and heaven to be for the interests of the creatures.

 Since man is created to know Allah, obey Him and draw near to Him, Allah makes these worships as means to get closer to Him. There is no good in a religion without prayer, fasting, hajj and zakat. When Allah says,

"As it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun"

 He means that human beings are human beings and they never change, and there is no god but Allah alone and He has no partner. Regardless of the different approaches or religions we have and the arguments we have with each other, mankind are the same, they have the same characteristics, the same rules and the same structure. Hence, what is halal (lawful) is always halal as it was in the past divine religions because the Deen is one and it never changes.

Islam has always been the same but Shara’e (religious laws) are different:

 By the way, Allah the Almighty mentions that all His messengers are Muslims. Islam is to submit to Allah; it is to love, to know, to obey and to be happy. The Deen has always been the same, but the Shara'e (religious laws) are different. Every nation has its own circumstances, yet the principles of Deen are the same. The proof is in the following ayah:

"O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun"

 Allah honors and dignifies us by sending our Prophet Muhammad, may Allah's Peace & Blessings be upon him, and making him the last prophet and his Shari'ah the last one. Thus, Allah Himself guards this Deen,

"Verily We: It is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e. the Qur'an) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption) "

[Surat Al-Hijr, 9]

 One of the prerequisites of preserving this Deen is preserving the Quran, and one of the prerequisites of preserving the Quran is preserving the sunna of the prophet. For example, fasting in Islam is the same as Allah wants it to be, but in some religions and rituals it was modified to be longer or shorter. In other words, it is no longer the same as the one Allah ordained to the past nations.

 Anyway, as long as mankind has always been the same and the Creator of the worlds is Allah the only One, the Shara’e must be unified. Since they have the same origin, the branches must be unified. These religions and Shara’e are Divine, so there should be a kind of symmetry and harmony between them. The following ayah confirms this harmony:

"O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun"

Fasting strengthens man’s will:

 Talking about fasting might take a long time, but we can summarize. One may know the truth but because he is not strong enough, he cannot put it into practice. He may also know what is good without doing it and what is bad and still go to it. That is because he doesn’t have a strong will. For example, sometimes you see a doctor smoking. He certainly knows the harmful effects of smoking but because his will is weak he doesn’t apply what he knows and believes to his life. Allah has ordained saum to strengthen our will.
 Allah shows us what is permitted (halah) as well as what is prohibited (haram). You are allowed to eat, drink, sleep and have sexual intercourse with your wife during the daytime. In Ramadan, however, Allah prohibits you from eating, drinking and all the other things that would break your fasting. Do you know why? Some scholars answered this question saying, "To strengthen your will. " Since you abstain from doing what is allowed, then abstaining from doing what is prohibited should be the first priority.

 Can you imagine a man looking at something prohibited in Ramadan freely? If your answer is yes, the fasting of this man would be meaningless. In Ramadan people lower their gaze, control their tongues, go to the masjid regularly and pray al-fajr there. Perhaps Allah makes fasting obligatory for people to get used to quit what is allowed. That means we must have been strengthened to quit what is prohibited. Allah trains you in Ramadan to abstain from doing what is halal; you abstain from drinking, eating, having sexual intercourse with your wife during the daytime of Ramadan. If you abstain from doing what is halal during this particular period of time, then you will be strong enough to abstain yourself from doing what is prohibited. Strengthening the will is one of the benefits you make from Ramadhan.

Ramadan belittles mankind and strengthens the meaning of worshiping Allah:

 Dear brothers, some people live an illusion; a person may have a strong body and wealth, so he thinks that he owns everything and he can do whatever he wants. However, when Ramadan comes, this person who occupies a high position, has a strong character, and holds many people under his control, would be dying for a glass of water. When you fast in summer days, you start dreaming of a glass of water or a cold drink from the afternoon. No matter how high your position is, fasting makes you feel that you are Allah’s servant. It makes you feel that you need Him badly, and that your existence depends on His supplies of food and water which are essential for everyone to survive.

 Another definition of this month is that it belittles man, it shows him who he really is, it strengthens the acts of worshiping Allah and lets him realize that he is a weak creature who needs water and food for his survival. I frequently tell the story of the Caliph who was asked by his minister, "Your majesty, how much do you pay for this glass of water, if you were unable to take it?" The Caliph replied, "I pay half of my fortune", the minister said, "How much do pay to get rid of the waste if it was kept in your body?" The Caliph replied, 'Then I wouls pay the rest of my fortune." He is no more that a man who is in need of a glass of water. In Ramadan you strengthen your will to worship Allah. He orders you to leave off the lawful and permissible things during the daytime of Ramadan, so leaving off unlawful things should be your priority then and it should be easier for you.

 Another point is that you as Allah’s servant realize the favor of Allah in Ramadan. Human body has many minute systems. The tearing canal is the tinniest canal in the human body. If this canal was closed, though that’s not something dangerous, you would not stop tearing and your life will be unbearable. Your tears might cause infection to your face’s skin. Sometimes you cut your nail too much that it hurts whenever he touches something sour because the nerves are so sensitive. Just take a look at your body; the digestive system, the circular system, the secretion apparatus, the nerves, the bones, the muscles, the liver and the pancreas…etc. The way your body works is incredible, and you are not aware of the fact that each part of your body works according to an accurate system.

When you feel the need to Allah He helps you:

 In Ramadan you feel that drinking and eating are two graces from Allah. Notice what Allah says about the prophets:

"But verily, they ate food and walked in the markets."

[Surat Al-Furqan: 20]

 These words are very accurate. They are in need for something whereas Allah is:

"Say (O Muhammad: "He is Allah, (the) One. Allah-us-Samad (The Self-Sufficient Master, Whom all creatures need, He neither eats nor drinks)."

[Surat Al-Ikhlas: 1-2]

 Allah is Self-sufficient and Self-reliant, while you are not. You need food, water, air, clothes, shelter, and family. You have innumerous needs; you need your hair to be cut, your fingers to be cut, and your clothes to be knitted, etc. Therefore, Ramadan reminds you of how small and weak creature you are. Keep in mind that when you are close to Allah, He will be your patron. However, once you turn away from Him, He will abandon you, "Whoever depends on himself Allah will abandon Him. " Allah taught Muslims two lessons; one in Bader and the other in Hunein. In the first battle the believers submit themselves to Allah, while in Hunein battle, one of the Muslim fighters said, "We cannot be defeated today for lack of numbers. " So Allah abandoned them:

"And on the Day of Hunain (battle) when you rejoiced at your great number but it availed you naught and the earth, vast as it is, was straitened for you, then you turned back in flight. "

[Surat At-Taubah: 25]

When man accepted to bear the trust, he has become in danger:

 Allah says,

"O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun"

 You become al-Muttaqun, which means you will be protected from Allah’s wrath, from committing sins, from the hardship in the worldly life and the punishment in the Hereafter. The word taqi (pious) is derived from wiqayah (protection), which indicates being protected from something dangerous. Since man accepted to bear the trust, he is in danger. The following ayah refers to that:

"Truly, We did offer Al-Amanah (the trust or moral responsibility or honesty and all the duties which Allah has ordained) to the heavens and the earth, and the mountains, but they declined to bear it and were afraid of it (i.e. afraid of Allah's Torment). But man bore it. Verily, he was unjust (to himself) and ignorant (of its results). "

[Surat Al-Ahzab:72]

 Because you accepted to bear the trust, you would be in danger. When you are in a plane between the earth and the sky, you are in danger, for you may fall down. Similarly, as a human being you are in danger, and you may fall down. When you accept to bear the trust, you will either elevate your reason above your lusts and be above angels, or elevate your lusts above your reason and be below animals.

Lust is a pushing power:

 Allah mentions in the following ayah that human beings were created with lusts:

"Beautified for men is the love of things they covet; women, children, much of gold and silver (wealth), branded beautiful horses, cattle and well-tilled land. "

[Surat Aal-Imran]

 Man has desires, and desire is a pushing power. Everyone may be able to abstain from eating and drinking for two days or so, but later if he sees a dish full of food, he will run for it. He has to eat in order to maintain his existence. This is what we mean by a pushing need; it can be satisfied by various ways, but the Divine Method gives you a narrow path through which you can satisfy your needs. For instance, your need to eat can be satisfied by eating the food you buy through legal earning.
 You have many desire that could be destructive and aggressive unless you are knowledgeable enough. The difference between you as an animate creature and the inanimate things is that you are a moving creature who has needs, desires and lusts. All of them should be controlled by being satisfied according to the Way of Allah; that is why we have laws in Shara’e which we ought to work according to. Look at the world; it is full of people who may steal, transgress the others and monopolize. Some people may establish economic groups living in abundance, while leading other societies to starvation. They want to take everything.

 The crucial point is that man has lusts and he is a moving creature. Who controls these movements? Imagine that a car is moving by its own without an engine or even a driver, it will definitely crash.

 Dear brothers, the ayah "that you may become Al-Muttaqun" means that you are in danger. All of you know that some people steal, commit adultery, kill, rape and cheat on others. Everyone dreams about having the most delicious food, living in a palace, driving the best car and marrying the most beautiful woman. Thus, if there had not been Islamic ways through which to satisfy your needs, aggression would have spread all over the world.

Ways of protecting yourself from falling down:

 Dear brothers, since it is Ramadan, our movements should be guided by a strong method. How?

1- By guidance:

 You can guide your movements either according to a clear method (telling you what to do and what not to do) or to your foresight. Some people have a clear vision that protects them from falling. When you drive a car at night in a road full of holes and rocks, you need lights to see the road clearly. Allah’s Method is the light that will show you the road with its holes and rocks. You are safe as long as you have the light that will keep you safe. This is the first way that you should use to protect yourself from falling, i.e. your foresight.

2- By morals:

 The second way that you should use to protect yourself from falling is your morals. Once you are connected to Allah, your morals will be stronger. You will reject immorality and aggression. The stronger your faith is, the clearer your vision becomes. Look what noble prophets do:

"And indeed she did desire him and he would have inclined to her desire, had he not seen the evidence of his Lord. "

[Surat Yusuf: 24]

 The believer has a clear vision that shows him the truth. He knows that he will be punished if he earns money illegally, if he commits adultery and if he is aggressive. He knows very well that Allah will reward him for his righteous deeds, and He will punish him for his wrongdoings. This clear vision of everything around you helps you control yourself according to Allah's Method.

 Once again the ayah, "that you may become Al-Muttaqun "means you protect yourselves from danger; the danger of hardships in both the worldly life and the Hereafter. As a human being you are exposed to the wrath of Allah and to His Justice,

"A servant should fear nothing but his sins, and he supplicates none but Allah. "

 You accepted to bear the trust, so take care of your own self,

"Indeed he succeeds who purifies his ownself (i.e. obeys and performs all that Allah ordered, by following the true Faith of Islamic Monotheism and by doing righteous good deeds). And indeed he fails who corrupts his ownself (i.e. disobeys what Allah has ordered by rejecting the true Faith of Islamic Monotheism or by following polytheism, etc. or by doing every kind of evil wicked deeds). "

[Surat Ash-shams: 9-10]

 If you keep this in mind, you will make the Shara’a your guide and your connection to Allah the light that will enlighten your way to straightness.

Piety can be achieved by light or guidance:

 Dear brothers, being human means that you may be threatened by your lusts and trapped by the temptations. Thus, fasting helps you to connect to Allah, submit to Him completely and see by His Light,

"O you who believe [in Musa (Moses) (i.e. Jews) and 'Iesa (Jesus) (i.e. Christians)]! Fear Allah, and believe too in His Messenger (Muhammad ), He will give you a double portion of His Mercy, and He will give you a light by which you shall walk (straight) "

[Surat Al-Hadid: 28]

 Piety can be achieved by light or guidance, so you are either told that there is a turning point at the end of the road you are driving on, or you see it yourself. In both cases you should be careful in order not to fall down.

"[Observing Saum (fasts)] for a fixed number of days, "

 Because of an essential Divine purpose, fasting in Ramadan lasts for a fixed number of days, so:

"But if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. "

 Allah says,

"Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. "

[Surat Al-Baqrah: 286]

 Allah is the only One Who knows your ablities, so He gives you exceptions. Do not ever think that you are the only one who knows your scope, for this is extremely dangerous.

Breaking your fasting in Ramadan is justified by illness and traveling:

 Only Allah knows your ability; that is why He says,

"But if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. "

 Breaking your fasting in Ramadan is justified by illness and traveling no matter what your illness is, or how far the distance you travel. However, if this was related to hardship. Abilities varies from one person to another; some people can travel for eight hours and continue their fasting, while others may be exhausted if they travel for one hour. The Shari’ah should never be chaotic. Therefore, illness and traveling in their wide meanings are two exceptions in Ramadan. Allah says,

"And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man, etc.) "

 I want to elaborate this point; those who can fast with difficulty while they are ill or on a journey, and they break their fasting, they have to pay money for that. The same thing is applied to old people who find fasting very difficult. Some people may walk for hours without feeling tired, while others feel that their energy is being exhausted after walking for an hour. This point is important; you may be able to fast with your energy half exhausted, or you may fast with all your energy being exhausted. Allah refers to the second group of people saying,

"And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man, etc.) "

 A person who works in front of the oven during summer days will find fasting difficult. Therefore, he can pay fidya money for breaking his fasting. The same rule should be applied to people who are sick and those who are on a journey. Fasting for the ill and those who are on journey may be very difficult and exhausting. Thus, they have…

"To feed a Miskin (poor person) (for every day). "

 You can feed more than one poor person; the minimum is one person but the maximum is not limited.

When fasting causes you health problems, breaking your fasting is obligatory:

 Allah the Almighty says,

"But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. "

 However,

"And that you fast, it is better for you if only you know. "

 When someone breaks his fasting in Ramadan for an unacceptable excuse, he will never make up for these days even if he fasts till the end of the worldly life. As I mentioned above, Allah gives us permissions, but He advises us to fast as long as we can,

"And that you fast, it is better for you if only you know. "

 Jurisprudents said that when fasting causes you health problems, breaking it is obligatory. A pious believer may say that he prefers to fast although he suffers from a stomach ulcer or any other dangerous disease that needs necessary medicines. If he fasts with difficulty, and his health condition deteriorates, he should break his fast. Likewise, when you travel for about twenty two hours and spend the whole sunny daytime traveling, you may find it very difficult to stay for a long time without eating.

Allah created the universe and enlightened it by the Qur’an:

 As I mentioned earlier those who fast with difficulty while they are sick or on a journey have to pay fidya to make up for the days when they break their fast. Some scholars said, "And those who find it very difficult to fast" means that they may be able to fast but it exhausts all their energy. This depends on the energy left in their bodies. Young people may work for hours in Ramadan without being exhausted, but when they get order they may get exhausted after an hour. Abilities vary from one person to another. Allah says,

"The month of Ramadan in which the Qur'an was revealed, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). "

 Scholars said that the first time the Qur’an was ascended from the Guarded Tablet to the nearest sky was in this particular month. Its descendant lasted for twenty three years, which means it cannot be written by a fortuneteller,

"A guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong)."

 Allah the Most High created this universe and enlightened it by His Method; by the Noble Qur'an.

Allah created man and gave him desires to be satisfied according to His Method:

 When you receive an important device that has a manual, you will be able to run this device by reading its manual. Similarly, Allah created this universe and enlightened it,

"All praises and thanks be to Allah, Who (Alone) created the heavens and the earth"

[Surat Al-An’am: 1]

 The following ayah is clear,

"All the praises and thanks be to Allah, Who has sent down to His slave (Muhammad) the Book (the Qur'an)"

[Surat al-Kahf: 1]

 This means that the whole universe is on the first scale of the balance and the Noble Qur’an is on the other. Let me give you an example, the computer which is used for the medical tests costs thirty million pounds. Each test costs two thousand pounds. You just put a drop of the blood to get twenty seven tests if one button is pressed. Sometimes this device works for hundreds of tests, which cost more than one hundred thousand pounds. But what if the medical company which sent this device had forgot to send the manual along with it? Listen to this carefully; if you use this device without reading the instructions in the manual, you would definitely destroy it, and if you leave it aside fearing even to touch it, you can’t make no money out of it. Isn’t this manual more important than the device itself?

 Imagine that this electronic machine is a plane, then you need to know the instructions of driving it which are more important than the plane itself. If you do not use each electronic device according to the instructions, you will destroy it. In order to prevent any defect, you need to follow the instructions accurately. Allah created human beings, gave them lusts and showed them the right path; what they have to do and what they mustn’t do. The bitter reality, as I mentioned in one of my sermons, is that our great Islam has become no more than acts of worship; prayer, fasting, hajj, zakat and professing that there is no god but Allah alone, and that our master Muhammad, may Allah's Peace & Blessings be upon him, is the messenger of Allah, that’s all. In fact, Islam is much more than that; it has more than one hundred thousand items. Allah mentioned the scales saying,

"Then, those whose scales (of good deeds) are heavy, - these, they are the successful."

[Surat Al-Mu’minum: 102]

 There is a scale for your craft, marriage, job, happiness and sadness. There is also a scale for your straightness and your earnings. Do you have any idea about these scales?!

Allah orders people to perform worships showing them the purposes:

 Dear brothers, in this month in which:

"The Qur'an was revealed, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance."

 He says guidance, which the purpose of the Noble Qur'an. Allah shows us the purposes, for instance He says,

"Take Sadaqah (alms) from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it, and invoke Allah for them. Verily! Your invocations are a source of security for them, and Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower."

[Surat At-Taubah: 103]

 He ordered you to pay Az-zakat telling you why, "To purify them and sanctify them with it." It purifies the rich from misery and the poor from envy. It sanctifies the self of the rich so that he feels how great it is to satisfy the needs of the poor. Similarly, it sanctifies the self of the poor so he feels that he does exist in a society. There is a Divine Tashree’ that guides people to work according to it:

"And perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat). Verily, As-Salat (the prayer) prevents from Al-Fahsha' (i.e. great sins of every kind, unlawful sexual intercourse, etc.) and Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism, and every kind of evil wicked deed, etc.) and the remembering (praising, etc.) of (you by) Allah (in front of the angels) is greater indeed [than your remembering (praising, etc.) Allah in prayers, etc.]"

[Surat Al-Ankabut:45]

 He orders you to pray, which is guidance, showing you the reason…

"O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun"

 He shows you the purposes. Listen to what he says about the major worship, i.e. performing hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca):

"That you may know that Allah has knowledge of all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth, and that Allah is the All-Knower of each and everything."

[Sarat Al-Ma’idah: 97]

 You have to know that Allah knows; this is the purpose of hajj. The purpose of fasting is to become pious, the purpose of zakat is to purify yourself, and the purpose of prayer is to prevent yourself from committing grave sins and wrongdoings.

The month refers to the crescent, it lasts for thirty days:

"Guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Saum (fasts) that month,"

 The month is the moon; we call this in language "the usage". When we see the moon we have to fast, but there are more details in the books of al-Fiqh that refer to the fact that fasting and Iftar (breaking fasting) should be collective not individual, this is clarified in the following hadith,

"Fasting is collective, al-Fitr Eid is collective and al-Addha Eid is collective."

[Al-jam’e al-Kabeer, reported by Abu-Hureirah]

 Every year we have the same problem concerning the first day of Ramadan. We are not sure whether our fasting is accepted or not; is it according to the appearance of the moon or is it with the other countries? All you have to do in such case is to fast with the whole society. Some scholars said that if one person saw the moon, but that was not verified, he had to do what the others did,

"So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Saum (fasts) that month,"

 “The month” refers to the moon. We call this in language the usage, i.e. a word can be followed by objective pronoun that refers to one of the meanings of this word. The month, which lasts for thirty days, is referred to by the crescent on the first night of Ramadan. So, the first meaning is,

"So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home),"

 Whoever sees the crescent,

"He must observe Saum (fasts) that month,"

 This means that the month lasts for thirty days.

Relation between al –takbir and guidance:

 Allah says,

"But if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. "

 Allah the Most High does not want to make things difficult for Muhammad’s (PBUH) nation. Islam is a relieving Deen,

"One hardship cannot overcome two reliefs. Verily, with the hardship, there is relief. Verily, with the hardship, there is relief."

[Abdul-Razzaq, Ibn Jarir, al-Hakem and al-Buhaiqi through al-Hasan]

 Sometimes you find people pray while they are sitting, laying, moving their eyebrows, or moving their heads. They can only pray like that so their prayer is justified. Necessity should be taken into consideration.

"(He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days) "

 In Ramadan,

"And that you must magnify Allah [i.e. to say Takbir (Allahu-Akbar; Allah is the Most Great) on seeing the crescent of the months of Ramadan and Shawwal] for having guided you. "

 Here we are, this means that the purpose of Ramadan is guidance; to be guided to Allah, to strengthen your will, to know that you are meant to worship Him, to submit to Him and realize how weak you are in front of Him. Only then you will be guided and your takbir in al-Fitr Eid will be the ones of guidance.

"And that you must magnify Allah [i.e. to say Takbir (Allahu-Akbar; Allah is the Most Great) on seeing the crescent of the months of Ramadan and Shawwal] for having guided you. so that you may be grateful to Him. "

Our Eids come after major worships:

 Dear brothers, the words “Allah is the Most Great” have no effect on the heart of those who utter them thousands of times, while they obey the creatures instead of the Creator. Had you realized that Allah is the Owner of everything, you would never have disobeyed Him. Thus,

"And that you must magnify Allah [i.e. to say Takbir (Allahu-Akbar; Allah is the Most Great) on seeing the crescent of the months of Ramadan and Shawwal] for having guided you. "

 We, Muslims, have our Eids (feasts) after major worships; Al-Fitr Eid comes after fasting, and Al-Adha Eid comes after al-hajj; a worship that we are obliged to perform once in our lives. The meaning of Al-Eid is turning back to Allah and reconciling with Him,

"And that you must magnify Allah [i.e. to say Takbir (Allahu-Akbar; Allah is the Most Great) on seeing the crescent of the months of Ramadan and Shawwal] for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him. "

 Ramadan is the month when you get closer to Allah, so we can summarize the main goal of this month in the following ayah,

"And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). "

 This means that you fast, pray, perform al-hajj and pay your zakat in order to come closer to Allah.

There is no screen between Allah and His servants when they make Du’aa:

 Allah says,

"And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me"

 Notice that there are more than ten ayat starting with:

"They ask you concerning menstruation. Say: that is an Adha (a harmful thing for a husband to have a sexual intercourse with his wife while she is having her menses), therefore keep away from women during menses. "

[Surat Al-Baqarah: 222]

"And they ask you what they ought to spend. Say: ‘That which is beyond your needs.’"

[Surat Al-Baqarah: 219]

"They ask you (O Muhammad) concerning alcoholic drink and gambling. Say: ‘In them is a great sin, and (some) benefit for men,"

[Surat Al-Baqarah: 219]

"They ask you concerning fighting in the Sacred Months (i.e. 1st, 7th, 11th and 12th months of the Islamic calendar). Say, "Fighting therein is a great (transgression)"

[Surat Al-Baqarah: 217]

 You see how more than ten ayat start with, "They ask you... Say.." then comes the answer. However, the following ayah is an exception,

"And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me"

 The word say is not mentioned in here because, as some interpretation scholars deduced, there is no screen between Allah and His servants when they make Du’aa (supplicate.) Some people ask others to pray Istikharah for them. Such a thing is not mentioned in Sunnah; you have to pray it yourself, because there is not a screen between you and Allah.

Allah knows what is hidden and what is revealed:

 Allah the Almighty says,

"And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge)."

"And know that Allah comes in between a person and his heart (i.e. He prevents an evil person to decide anything)."

[Surat Al-Anfal: 24]

"And We are nearer to him than his jugular vein (by Our Knowledge)."

[Surat Qaf: 16]

 Allah is nearer to you than your jugular vein, and He:

"He knows the secret and that which is yet more hidden."

[Surat Taha: 7]

 Allah knows your secrets and what others hid from you.

The following Ayah clarifies when Du’aa is responded:

 Allah says,

"Then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright."

 Scholars of Quran interpretation deduced the conditions of the responded invocation from this ayah. These conditions are: to believe in Allah, to submit to Him and obey His Orders and to be honest while you supplicate to Him. However, those scholars excluded two people of the supplicants; the distressed and the oppressed.They said that Allah responded to the invocations of the distressed, who may not be a true believer, because He is the most merciful. In other words, even though the supplicant might not have the above mentioned conditions, his invocations are responded to because Allah is the Most Merciful. Similarly, the invocations of the oppressed who might not be committed to the Islamic teachings are responded to because Allah is the Most Just:

"Is not He (better than your gods) Who responds to the distressed one, when he calls Him, and Who removes the evil,"

[Surat Al-Naml: 62]

 A second proof is mentioned in the following Hadith:

" Be aware, from the supplication of the oppressed as there is no screen between his invocation and Allah. "

[Reported by al-Bukhari through Ibn Abbas]

 It is also mentioned in the other version of the Hadith:

"Be aware of the supplication of the oppresses even if he is kafer (disbeliever)"

[Narrated by Ahmad in masnad, Abu Ya’ala in masnad and adh-Dhiya’a through Anas ]

The servant of thanksgiving and the servant of submission:

 Dear brothers, supplication is an act of worship…

"When My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me"

 My is a possessive adjective; those servants are Allah’s servants. They are being honored, for they belong to Allah Most High:

"When My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me"

 By the way, the word servants (Ibad) is the plural form referring to thanksgiving servants, whereas the word slaves (Abeed) is the plural form of submission servants. We are all submitted to Allah; every part of our bodies are submitted to Allah. Yet, if we do know Allah voluntarily, draw close to Him, obey Him and love Him, we will be thanksgiving servants:

"And the slaves of the Most Beneficent (Allah)"

[Surat Al-Furqan: 63]

 The submission servants are the Abeed,

"And your Lord is not at all unjust to (His) slaves."

[Surat Fussilat:46 ]

"When My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me"

 My slaves are people who know Me, obey Me and love Me,

"I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright."

 Allah responds to the true Du’aa.

Ramadan is your opportunity to know Allah and draw near to Him:

 Dear brothers, Ramadan is coming soon. This month is our annual opportunity to make it a turning point in our lives by drawing nearer to Allah. If you fast this month the way Prophet Muhammad, may Allah's Peace & Blessings be upon him, referred to in the following Hadith, Allah forgives all your past sins,

"Whoever fasts Ramadan out of faith and expecting reward from Allah, Allah forgives all his past sins. And whoever performs Al-Qard Night prayer out of faith and expecting reward from Allah, Allah forgives all his past sins. "

[Al-Bukhari through Abi Huraira]

 That means in Ramadan you get back to Allah, purified of your sins like a new born baby. Therefore, we should prepare ourselves in advance, because we cannot move from step zero to step one hundred. If you try to reconcile with Allah the very first day of Ramadan, you may spend a week or so to feel that your prayer is performed correctly. Thus, it is better for you to start earlier before Ramadan so that this month will be dedicated for worship, and only then you will jump two qualitative jumps; the first one is knowing Allah, and the second one is drawing nearer to Him,

"And that you must magnify Allah [i.e. to say Takbir (Allahu-Akbar; Allah is the Most Great) on seeing the crescent of the months of Ramadan and Shawwal] for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him. "

Translation  : Kawthar Al- Haj Saleh
Edited by      : Maha Sulieman