We hope that the first fast of this blessed month of Ramadan has gone smoothly. When you feel the hours are too long think of the places where people fast for eighteen or even more hours. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala allow us to make the best of this month, ameen. Let’s dive into some more pearls of peace from the Book of peace.
Allah Will Definitely Test Us
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala informs us that He is definitely going to test us with different types of tests. He says, “And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits,” [2:155].
Sometimes fear might overtake us. Sometimes we will suffer a loss in our business. We may not have enough wealth. We may lose those dear to us, our parents, our spouse and our children. Sometimes the produce will be less. But who will have peace when being tested? “…the patient, who, when disaster strikes them, say, ‘Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him, we will return…’” [2:155-156].
They are those who are content with the decree of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. They know that ‘we belong to Allah’ and everything that we have belongs to Him. When a calamity strikes them, they are quick to say, “Inna lillahi wa-innailahi raji`oon,” and move on with their life. If we adopt this approach, we will achieve peace.
Eat from the Good Things and Be Grateful
Qur’an’s main addressee is the human being, therefore, it holistically attends to every topic that is related to human life. If we follow the instructions laid out in the Qur’an we will acquire the peace that we are searching.
Ayah 172 of this Surah talks about what we should eat. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “O you who have believed, eat from the good things which We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah if it is [indeed] Him that you worship.” Stay away from unlawful and impure things. Eat Halal (lawful) and tayab (pure) and be thankful to Allah. This will be the quality of someone who truly considers Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to be his Lord, Nourisher, Provider and Sustainer. People are dying out of hunger and drought while our houses are stocked with food and water, alhumdulillah. May He make us His thankful servants, ameen. The more we appreciate Allah’s gifts upon us, the more thankful we would be.
Stay Away from the Haram
Right after this ayah He warns us to stay away from the haram, “He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah” [2:173]. This is just a small list of items that we are prohibited to eat. Haram affects our entire system, more details in the later section, in sha Allah.
The Month of Ramadan is the Month of the Qur’an
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then mentions the month of Ramadan in the Qur’an, “The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion” [2:185]. This is the only month of the Islamic calendar, which is mentioned this way. This is the month in which the Book of guidance was sent down by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. This is why during this month we dedicate specific time for the Qur’an. The Qur’an recitors should try their best to recite the Qur’an such that every letter is clear while those who are still learning the Qur’an should search for places where they can go and learn the Qur’an.
In the month of Ramadan, we not only fast for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala but also improve our health. Fasting helps us detoxify our bodies, physically as well as spiritually; a finding supported by Science.
In the 1960s, the Stanford University campus conducted an interested experiment at a pre-school. The ability of four-year olds to resist temptation was tested. A marshmallow was placed in a room and the children were told that they could have the marshmallow immediately, or if they waited until the tester had run an errand and returned, then they could have two marshmallows. Some children waited for two marshmallows, while others ate one immediately. These same children were followed over 14 years to see how they managed in life.
Those who had resisted temptation at four were now, as adolescents, more socially competent, personally effective, self-assertive, and better able to cope with the frustrations of life. The third or so who grabbed the marshmallow, however, tended to have fewer of these qualities and shared instead a relatively more troubled psychological portrait. Even more surprising, those who had waited patiently at four were far superior as students to those who acted on whim. Most astonishingly, they had dramatically higher scores on their SAT tests. There is perhaps no physiological skill more fundamental than resisting impulse. It is the root of all emotional self-control, since all emotions, by their very nature, lead to one or another impulse to act. (Coleman, Daniel, Emotional Intelligence, London: Bloomsbury, 1996, pp. 81-82.)
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala gives us an entire month to detoxify and get back in shape. But sadly, we treat the month of fasting as a month of feasting. Women are busy in the kitchen the entire day making delicacies for iftar, leaving no time or energy to stand up in Taraweeh and worship the One Who provided them rizq. It seems as if this is the only month when we get to eat something.
Yes, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has called cooking an of act worship when done with the intention of feeding one’s family. However, we also need to keep ourselves in check.
Allah is Near and Responds to Those Who Call Upon Him
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then mentions how close He is to us, “And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near” [2:186].
When one senses the closeness of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, he is at peace. Allah’s closeness protects one from evil and sins. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala continues, “I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.” Everyone is calling Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala at the same time for different things, and Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is listening to each one us, giving us what we have invoked Him for, at the right time. Never underestimate calling out to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. When you get up for Sahoor remember Him. Keep your du’a list handy.
One often overlooked gift of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is that He keeps us in need. Had He not kept us yearning, would we have remembered Him? May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala fulfill our needs, ameen.
Do Not Consume Wealth Unjustly
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then warns us of bribery, “And do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly…” [2:188].
Sheikh Muhammad Salih al-Munajid explains, “Bribery means giving money to someone through whom a person takes something that has no right to, such as bribing a judge to judge in his favor wrongfully, or bribing an official to give him preference over others, or to give him something to which he is not entitled. Bribery is a major sin, because the Prophet ﷺ said,
‘May the curse of Allah be upon the one who pays a bribe and the one who takes it.’ [Ibn Majah (2313)]
Similarly, if you are selling something do not deceive someone by misquoting the price or selling them a damaged good. If there is some defect, be honest and let them know. Charge an honest profit because if the buyer finds out your products are over-priced, he is not going to return for another purchase and give negative feedback to others. Worse, the person can curse you because of your lying.
Are you willing to risk your peace and contentment for a little amount of money?
Honesty builds trust and strengthens relationships. It will also give you a competitive edge over others.
Spend in the Way of Allah
With bribery and cheating discussed let’s now look at other aspects of our lives where we waste our money. Smoking! What is the benefit of smoking? You’re spending money on a packet of cigarettes to ruin your health? Look at what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in ayah 195, “And spend in the way of Allah and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction.”
Never ever, harm yourself. Rather if you have wealth, give it to some poor person and build a palace for yourself in the Hereafter. Go for Hajj and ‘Umrah as Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “And complete the Hajj and ‘Umrah for Allah…” [2:196]. Look at how this ayah has been placed in the Qur’an. First, there is a mention of the month of Ramadan and then Hajj. In the Islamic calendar too, first there is the month of Ramadan and then comes the months of Hajj. Subhan’Allah!
If you have wealth, and you meet the other conditions then it is compulsory upon you to perform Hajj. Do not delay it. People go on family vacations to Hawaii and do not familiarize their families with the Holy places. When the children grow up, they have no attachment to Makkah or the city of the Prophet ﷺ. Prophet Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam made du’a to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to bless the city of Makkah, and we don’t have a yearning to go there? If you don’t have wealth or the asbaab (means) to go there make du’a and Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will make it happen.
The Etiquette of Making Du’a
As we are talking about du’a let’s read how Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala teaches us the etiquette of making du`a. “And among the people is he who says, ‘Our Lord, give us in this world,’ and he will have in the Hereafter no share” [2:200].
People make du’a, “O Allah! Give me wealth, give me happiness, give me family, give me this and that” but what about life after death? We have forgotten the eternal home and are chasing this fleeting dunya.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala teaches us the proper etiquette of making du’a, “But among them is he who says, ‘Our Lord, give us in this world [that which is] good and in the Hereafter [that which is] good and protect us from the punishment of the Fire’” [2:201].
Don’t Take it on Your Ego
When someone corrects us, we should not make it an ego problem. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “And when it is said to him, ‘Fear Allah,’ pride in the sin takes hold of him” [2:206]. People are correcting you, trying to protect you from the Hellfire, and you make it a matter of pride? If you are wrong, acknowledge that, even if you are weak. Ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to distance you from that evil deed.
What We Consider Good Might Not Be Good For Us
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then talks about things in our lives that we consider good but in reality, they might be harmful to us, “But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you, and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not” [2:216].
We keep crying that I asked Allah to give me that which is the best but He didn’t give me. We forget He is the Creator of everything and everyone. Only He knows the hidden realities of things that we don’t know. What we consider the best might not actually be the best. Therefore, we should rather surrender to His decree. We will attain peace.
Alcohol and Gambling – Two Great Sins
In the next few Ayaat Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala talks about wine and gambling. People consider it to be good but Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala shows us the reality, “They ask you about wine and gambling. Say, ‘In them is a great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit’” [2:219]. People lose their money as well as inner peace when they engage in alcohol and gambling. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala protect us and our families, ameen.
Get Married for the Right Reasons
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then brings our attention to an important matter. Earlier when someone informed us of their marriage we would congratulate them and give them our du’as but now when we hear someone is getting married we say, “Are you sure you have made the right choice? Are you happy?”
People marry and become sadder than they were earlier. Why? It is because we are all marrying for different reasons. Sometimes lineage and status take priority.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “And do not marry polytheistic women until they believe. And a believing slave woman is better than a polytheist, even though she might please you” [2:221].
The Prophet ﷺ said,
“If he whose character and Deen pleases you, approaches you in marriage then marry him, for if you don’t there will be fitnah in the last and vast corruption.” [at-Tirmidhi]
This is the key to a blissful marriage. If someone’s level of spirituality pleases you, marry him/her. People are excited when they are getting married but they don’t look at the religiosity and character of their prospective spouse. If you don’t make the right choice now, a few years, months or even weeks down the line your marriage will be in danger. Take your time to make the right decision for your marriage.
Right after marriage, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala talks about divorce because one must study the issues in divorce before they get married. Go and attend classes on nikkah and divorce before you get married. So easily, we bring these words upon on our tongues. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala protect our marriages, ameen.
(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s Peace of Pearl Series, Cape Town, Ramadan 2013.)