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Answering Questions About Ramadan - Imam WDM

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(The following interview was given by Imam W. Deen Mohammed for the radio broadcast of the Harvey Islamic Center on WNDZ-750 AM radio.)

FASTING FOR ALLAH

Imam Karim: We are thankful to have with us today, Imam W. Deen Mohammed. He is going to talk to us about Ramadan. As-Salaamu-Alaikum, Bro. Imam.

Imam Mohammed: Wa Alaikum As-Salaam.

Imam Karim: Could you tell us the significance of fasting during the Month of Ramadan?

Imam Mohammed: Yes. We fast during the Month of Ramadan from the beginning of dawn until the sunset. And after sunset we break our fast with food, preferably with fruits. It is the tradition of the Prophet (the prayers and the peace be upon him) to eat dates.

I usually prefer to have some dates, but any fresh fruit would be nice to break the fast with. And water, of course, some milk, if someone chooses to drink milk.

The day time is a complete time, not only from food but it is a fast also from having sex or approaching the wife with such desire. And it is a fast also from our tendencies to give ourselves to anger or to arguments.


We are disciplining our whole life for the Sake of Allah, and Allah says in the Qur'an: "Fasting is for Me."

So the fasting person should know that the fast is for the pleasure of Allah, to please Allah, to fulfill a request that Allah made. Allah asks us to fast during the Month of Ramadan, so we make our intentions to fast in the month of Ramadan.

And when we start the month and everyday, it is a habit of Muslims following the traditions of our Prophet to make intentions for the next day. I say, "1 intend to fast tomorrow of the month of Ramadan."

Imam Karim: And then when the person gets ready to break the fast, what is the tradition of what they would say?

Imam Mohammed: They say, "I believe in Allah, and I put my trust in Allah, and I break my fast with food or with the provisions that Allah provides." Then say "Bismillah" and eat.

 

THE MANY BENEFITS OF FASTING

Imam Karim: One person asked about the benefits. What does it do besides restrain us from food, etc.?

Imam Mohammed: I think the greatest benefit is given to us in Qur'an from Allah Himself, Allah (Subhana wa t'ala, Most High and Glorified is He). In fasting, the main benefit is for purification and discipline for the Sake of Allah called "taqwa."

Purification and obedience or discipline for the Sake of Allah is called Taqwa. Taqwa means respecting those things that Allah ordered us to respect. First of all we are to respect our relationship with Allah that we are the servants, all of us are the servants of Allah.

That means we are to obey the commandments of Allah. We are to obey whatever Allah has ordered for us, and the benefit is purity. But it is not only a spiritual purity, it is also a bodily purity. We are more conscious of our body being clean in the month of Ramadan than we are in the other months.

Perhaps, we will be washing ourselves more often and we will be praying more often. Therefore, we will be cleaning ourselves more often, our hands, our mouths and different parts of our bodies during the month of Ramadan.

And I am sure we will be making a special note - intentions - to take a bath at least once a day in the morning before we make our Fajr Prayer or at night before we retire.

So it is a month of complete attention to our whole life, not just to our spiritual life. And it is healthy for us to be bodily clean, as we know. They used to have a saying that says "good hygiene is next to good health."

But also there are benefits physically in the steps of prayer that we make - physical benefits. Those who are not cripple or don't have problems that would prevent them from going through the physical steps of the prayer, they get benefits from performing those steps; Raising the hands to the ears, lifting their arms and then bending down to the knee, putting their hands to the knee in a bending position, bending over with your back straight at a right angle to your legs.

You bend over and you come back up and you go down, which is actually knee bending when you go down. Then you bend all the way over to the floor and put your forehead and nose and palms down to the floor on your knees and toes. With the head low like that, it is good for blood circulation.

There are some good publications out by different Muslims, but I know one that has been out for many years, as much as 10 years, by Dr. Ahmad Sakr who lives in California now. He put out a very good book on the benefits - the physical benefits, the health benefits - of following the Islamic rituals and disciplines.

There are many benefits, but I think the greatest benefit is what is already mentioned in the Qur'an, that it increases our "taqwa," It increases our awareness of our need to obey Allah and get closer and closer to what Allah asks of us.

And it brings the family together; it strengthens the family. No family fasting in the Month of Ramadan will come out of that month without having an awareness that the family has been helped tremendously by fasting in the Month of Ramadan.

Imam Karim: Praise be to Allah. Now in speaking of the Qur'an, I know that the requirement is that we are to try to read one thirtieth of the Qur'an everyday. Now in the event some of us don't finish it, how can we handle this?

Imam Mohammed: Read one thirtieth every day, that's right. I am so busy I hate to admit it, of course, that I am not doing it. I am behind right now, and once you are behind it is hard to catch up. Those who can't do it for some reason, if their reason is a good one and they are not trying to excuse themselves from doing it, they should not feel bad about it.

They should try though to do it, if they can. If they have Qur'anic cassettes, audio tapes with the Qu'ran on it and have a cassette player in their car while they are driving along to their place of business or the place they are visiting, if they play the tape, it is just like reading it yourself. Or if someone is playing it in the house and you are in the house and you are listening to it, it is just like reading it yourself.

Imam Karim: Well, that's very comforting. I know some people have asked me, and they feel very depressed. They feel that maybe their prayers were null and void, because they did not finish reading the Qur'an.

 

TARAWIH PRAYERS

 

Imam Mohammed: No, no. That would not make it void, if you didn't finish the Qur'an. It wouldn't. As long as you are doing the Ramadan prayers, the night prayers, the Tarawih Prayers, then you are hearing the Qur'an in the Month of Ramadan more than you will hear it in other months. Because you don't have those prayers after the night prayer, except in the Month of Ramadan.

Imam Karim: So you can do the Tarawih Payers at home or in the masjid?

Imam Mohammed: Yes. Yes, you can. Preferably, the first 20 days are so that we can do 10 of those in the home and 10 days with the community. And the last 10 days you may do with the community or at home, either. But you should have at least 10 days out of the 30 at home praying with your family.

 

EIDUL FITR: RENEWAL OF LIFE

 

Imam Karim: That is good to know. Now the ending of Ramadan is Eid, and we mention it a lot - Eidul Fitr. What is the significance?

Imam Mohammed: Well you know the fasting in the Month of Ramadan, the benefits are so great, though they are not as great as the Haij for the Hajjjis {pilgrims), brothers and sisters who make Hajj pilgrimage to the holy precincts in Mecca. But the benefits are really, really great. And the significance is really, really great, when we observe the Eidul Fitr after fasting the Month of Ramadan.

We celebrate a renewal of life, almost like the Hajj. When you make the Hajj, you come back. Allah promises us, if we do it sincerely. When we return, we come back as a new person. All of our sins are wiped away. Allah forgave us all of our sins, and it's the same thing during the Month of Ramadan.

If you successfully complete the fast, or if you do the best you can, health problems, whatever, might stand in the way, but if you do the best you can during the Month of Ramadan, at the end of the Month, you’ll have a new life and past sins are forgiven. That devotion wipes away sins. Any good act takes away sins from your record.

FAST TO DO WHAT Allah SAYS

In the Month of Ramadan for 30 days you are fasting for Allah's pleasure, to please Allah, to do what He says. I'd rather put it that way, not for Allah's pleasure. It is for Allah's pleasure, but I would rather put it in a stronger way.

We are fasting to do what Allah says. The reward is that if you do it with good intentions and you did the best you could in the fast month, at the end of the fast month, your sins are wiped off.

Imam Karim: I guess if someone isn't a Muslim and heard that, it is a strong attraction to fast.

Imam Mohammed: It sure is. It sure is. And I have never fasted the Month of Ramadan and wasn't strongly aware that I've gotten special blessings and special benefits. Yes, every month I am aware that after the fast and even sometimes during the fast before it is over, I am aware of very special benefits that I get. Oh yes!

 

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