The Challenge after Ramadān

The Challenge after Ramadān

By Shaykh-ul-Hadīth Hadrat Mawlānā Muhammad Saleem Dhorat hafizahullāh

With the ending of the blessed month of Ramadān, we will be in the month of Shawwāl. Allāh ta’ālā has granted certain times and places special barakah (blessing); and every Muslim, when in these times or places, will feel this barakah manifesting itself. This in turn will lead to him finding fulfilling all the necessary actions and refraining from sins very easy. Ramadān, the day of Jumu’ah (Friday), Makkah and Al-Madīnah are all examples of this.

Take the example of Ramadān in which we eagerly read twenty raka’āt of Tarāwīh, whereas out of Ramadān we find even reading the sunan of ‘Ishā salāh and Witr thereafter a burden. Reading only two raka’āt nafl with the intention of tahajjud seems a long way away and very difficult despite the great reward promised for this.

Similar is the effect when in blessed places. Whilst visiting the Haramayn, we are invigorated, resulting in us going for salāh in the Haram well before its time. Also, we find the elderly gain strength to do those acts of devotions which they would find difficult otherwise owing to their old age.

So, in Ramadān, it was due to the great blessings that Allāh ta’ālā showered upon us that we were able to devote ourselves in His worship. Allāh ta’ālā facilitated this for us, as the Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam says,

“When Ramadān comes, the gates of Jannah are open, the doors of Jahannam are closed, and the Shayātīn are imprisoned.” (Al-Bukhārī)

Also, angels are appointed by Allāh ta’ālā who call out,

“O seeker of khayr (goodness)! Move forward. O seeker of evil! Stop.” (At-Tirmidhī, Ibn Mājah)

All of this results in good deeds becoming easier for us.

However, with the passing of these blessed days and with an absence of blessed places, we should not expect this same energy and vigour to be there now; however, this does not mean that we should wait for eleven months before devoting ourselves once again to Allāh ta’ālā. Rather, Allāh ta’ālā grants us the blessings of Ramadān to encourage us towards His obedience so that we can continue with it during the year. This can be understood from the analogy of young children who are going to nursery for the first time. Their parents will encourage them with all sorts of incentives: sweets, chocolates, etc. Then once they get into a routine there is no need for such incentives. Similarly, Allāh ta’ālā encourages us during Ramadhān to come into the routine of His obedience offering us mercy, barakah, forgiveness, etc. in abundance. We, alhamdulillāh, get into the habit of salāh, dhikr, recitation of the Qur’ān, abstinence from sins, etc. during the blessed month which then should continue throughout the year and the remainder of our lives.

This is the challenge after Ramadān that, with Shaytān and nafs on our backs, we continue in a similar pattern till the following Ramadān. The month of Ramadān is granted to us by Allāh ta’ālā to become God-conscious and remain throughout the year, and for the rest of our lives until we breathe our last.

O you who believe! The fasts have been enjoined upon you as they were enjoined upon those before you, so that you may become God-conscious. (2:183)

Remember dear brothers and sisters! We valued Ramadān knowing that it was very blessed, but so is every second of our lives; hence, they too need to be spent in fruitful actions. Ramadān was only blessed for us because we spent it in good ways. If we had not spent it correctly, then it would not have been blessed for us. Similar is the case with spending time in the Haramayn. If spent with negligence, there will be no blessings for us. Any moment of the year spent getting closer to Allāh ta’ālā is blessed, no matter what month it may be and where it may be.

Therefore, with the passing of Ramadān we should not relax and become lax, for this effort needs to continue till our last breath. Shaytān has vowed to continue his efforts to mislead us till the last breath. The great Imām Ahmad ibn Hanbal rahimahullāh was in the throes of death when he could be heard saying, “Not yet, not yet!” His son was alarmed that his father did not want to die; having spent his entire life giving the message that death is a gift for a believer, as it is the bridge that joins him to his beloved – Allāh ta’ālā. When his father regained consciousness and was asked why he was saying what he was, he said that Shaytān appeared before him telling him that he has escaped his clutches to which he replied, “Not yet, not yet!” (Siyaru-A’lām-An-Nubalā)

This struggle against our unlawful desires and Shaytān needs to continue. We need to always stay alert and aware of the Commands of Allāh ta’ālā as well the deceits of Shaytān and our base desires. If we make an earnest effort, then Allāh ta’ālā will definitely assist us:

As for those who strive in Our way, We will certainly guide them onto Our paths, and indeed Allāh is with those who are good in deeds. (29:69)

Keeping this in mind and acting accordingly will inshā’allāh ensure that just as we strove to make our Ramadān memorable, our lives will become memorable too.

Deception of Shaytān and the Nafs

Deception of Shaytān and the Nafs

By Shaykh-ul-Hadīth Hadrat Mawlānā Muhammad Saleem Dhorat hafizahullāh

Shaytān & nafs are the arch-enemies of mankind. However, majority of the people are found to be unmindful of them and remain unaware of the level of harm they are capable of inflicting. Their deception is very discreet, often going unnoticed by the individual; resulting in him not admitting to the evil that is within him. People can be deceived by Shaytān and nafs to such an extent that many a time they begin to see more good in themselves than evil, in stark contrast to reality.

How Shaytān Deceives People

Shaytān uses various methods to deceive people and deviate them from the straight path. Initially, he tries his best to keep people away from obedience to Allāh ta‘ālā. He creates obstacles in their compulsory devotions like salāh, hajj, etc. and diverts them towards unlawful acts, like consuming drugs or alcohol, engaging in adultery, theft, etc.

However, when a person remains steadfast and refrains from disobeying Allāh ta‘ālā, Shaytān resorts to another method which is even more deceptive. The individual now may not be committing the more obvious sins, such as those mentioned above, but he is made to indulge in less obvious ones, which can be even more detrimental. For instance, as the person proceeds towards the masjid to perform salāh with jamā‘ah, he may indulge in numerous sins before and after the salāh, such as casting glances at non-maḥram women, backbiting, slandering, riyā (ostentation), pride, etc. However, later his attention will only go towards the good deed he has performed and not the many misdeeds that have been committed; thus Shaytān will make him feel that he has accomplished a great task.

Now this person in reality is semi-religious, but assumes himself to be completely religious. And due to this, he will not feel the need to repent. He will continue to fulfil a few religious obligations which amount to only a small fraction of the whole Dīn without repenting for the vast majority he is neglecting. This will result in his misdeeds outweighing his good deeds on the Day of Qiyāmah.

The Essential Branches of Islām

Allāh ta‘ālā instructs us in the Qur‘ān to follow the Dīn in its entirety:

O you who believe, enter into Islām fully. (2:208)

In order for us to fulfil this command of Allāh ta‘ālā, we must be aware that first and foremost, sound belief is necessary. ‘Aqā’id (beliefs) are the foundation of Islām and one’s salvation is dependant on them. If there is deficiency in them, all good deeds will lose their value. It is like a fraudulent passport, which despite displaying a genuine visa will be of no use for immigration purposes.

After ‘aqā’id, adherence to the following four branches is necessary:

  1. ‘Ibādāt (devotions) – This branch encompasses all acts of worship such as salāh, zakāh, hajj and sawm.
  2. Mu‘āmalāt (mutual dealings & transactions) – This branch is one of the most neglected ones. How many people are aware of the rules and injunctions regarding renting, borrowing, buying and selling? We may be fully aware of the various sunnah and farḍ acts of wuḍū, yet unaware of the basic rules pertaining to buying a house or selling a car? Many a time a transaction is void due to not meeting certain conditions, yet people are unaware of this.
  3. Mu‘āsharah (social conduct) – This category involves preventing people from causing inconvenience or harm to others by their behaviour. How many of us are aware that causing inconvenience to someone is impermissible? Just as learning and practising the rules and injunctions of wuḍū is compulsory, to learn how to behave with others is also compulsory. One should not cause the least inconvenience to anyone.
  4. Husnul-akhlāq (good character) – This aspect encourages moral behaviour within every individual of the society. Like the previous branches, this branch also has its obligatory acts that need to be fulfilled, and prohibited acts that need to be avoided. Humility, for instance, will fall under the obligatory acts, whilst pride and arrogance will fall under the prohibited.

How much Dīn is in Our Lives?

If carefully observed, we will realise that the latter three branches; mu’āmalāt, mu’āsharah and ḥusnul-akhlāq, are absent in our lives, which means that the greater part of Dīn does not even exist in our lives. This leaves us with only the branch of ‘ibadah remaining. With regards to ‘ibādah, if it is closely examined, it will be discovered that even in this branch which people, by and large, claim to be implementing, there are countless shortcomings and deficiencies. Numerous examples can be cited concerning the incorrect practices in this regard. For example, how many of us are aware of the rules of ‘uḍḥiyah (qurbānī)? Ninety percent of the Muslims do not know when it is wājib (incumbent). Many of us have the misconception that it is wājib per household. For instance, a family of five members, upon whom ‘udhiyah was wājib, have for a number of years been performing only one between them. Thus, if we start delving into the deficiencies we could possibly be left with nothing.

If we take stock of our lives, we will find that the majority of us realise their ignorance in regards to Dīn, yet tend to overlook it and remain complacent. This is usually because we begin to compare ourselves with other less practising individuals, or we become so content with the positive side of our lives that we do not pay any attention to rectifying the negative side. Similarly, when we hear other praising the apparent good in our lives, we tend to turn a blind eye to our shortcomings. This is similar to the story of a man who owned an extremely defective horse. The numerous flaws within the horse made the man decide to sell it. When the man’s agent began to advertise the horse in the market by enumerating whatever little good it had, the owner, standing nearby, became highly impressed and decided to keep the horse. Such is our example. This is all due to Shaytān and nafs deceiving us.

Importance of Seeking Knowledge

Let us fulfil the command of Allāh ta‘ālā and follow the Dīn in its totality. In order to do this, we will have to acquire knowledge by reading books written by erudite and god-fearing ‘ulamā and sitting in the company of the people of ‘ilm.

It is also necessary to keep in touch with the ‘ulamā for guidance regarding one’s day to day matters. One should also allocate time solely for the purpose of sitting in the company of pious ‘ulamā, through which one will find his mind directed towards issues that otherwise would have been overlooked. It should be kept in mind that in order to live our lives in accordance with the Qur’ān and Sunnah, it is imperative to seek knowledge from those who have devoted their lives in learning and teaching the Qur’ān and Sunnah.

Sayyidunā Luqmān ‘alayhis salām once instructed his son:

Hold fast to the gatherings of the ‘Ulamā. (At-Tabarānī)

When one adopts the company of the ‘Ulamā with sincerity and zeal, Allāh ta‘ālā bestows him with religious knowledge by inspiring the ‘ulamā to say those things which are his spiritual needs. Many a time, an ‘ālim is approached by those who attend his gatherings and told that they had spoken on the very subject that was of concern to them (the attendees). Therefore, if the company of the ‘ulamā is adopted with sincerity and zeal, Allāh ta‘ālā will show one the light through which he will be able to see right from wrong and eventually find safety from the deceptions of Shaytān and nafs.

Let us resolve to follow the whole Dīn of Allāh ta‘ālā and exert every effort in combatting Shaytān and nafs.

May Allāh ta‘ālā grant us the tawfīq to follow His Dīn in its totality. Āmīn.

Riyādul Jannah Vol 30 issue 9