In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds; Most Gracious, Most Merciful; Master of the Day of Judgment. Thee alone do we worship, and Thine aid we seek. Guide us in the right path. The path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, Not the path of those who have gone astray (Qur’an 1: 1 – 7). God Almighty says in Qur’an 3:25-27, But how (will they fare) when We gather them together against a day about which there is no doubt and each soul will be paid out just what it has earned without (favor or injustice)? Say: “O God! Lord of Power (and Rule) thou givest Power to whom Thou pleasest and Thou strippest off power from whom Thou pleasest thou enduest with honor whom thou pleasest and thou bringest low whom Thou pleasest; in Thy hand is all Good. Verily over all things Thou hast power. “Thou causest the Night to gain on the Day and Thou causest the Day to gain on the Night; Thou bringest the Living out of the Dead and thou bringest the Dead out of the Living; and Thou givest sustenance to whom Thou pleasest without measure.”

The emergence of the month of Ramadan when fasting is compulsory for the Muslims always herald the spiritual and moral upliftment of individuals and the society at large, through full month fast, night prayers (Qiyamu Layl), abstinence in conjugal relation in the day, good deeds, charity, and fasting with all members of our body (Qur’an 2:183-189). Perhaps it is a month of training and re-training of the Faithfuls to rededicate, as university of Allah as the creator and source of all goodness, truth and beauty. (Q. 36:81:59:24). Perhaps it is a period of re-awakening the spirits of man as a responsible, dignified, and Honourable agent of Allah on earth. (Q.2:30; 32:9). Perhaps it is a month of spiritual retreat for man to reflect on the limitless Blessing of Allah on him as everything in heaves and the earth are subjected to the service of mankind. (Q.2:29; 22:65, 31:20; 45:13). Perhaps it is a Blessed month when the mercy and forgiveness of Allah are sent down on the children of Adam for restraining themselves from the good things of Allah within the limit of their power and capacity for the sake of the Almighty. (Q.2:283, 286). Perhaps Ramadan is a unique when high integrity and sound morality of man is guaranteed as we display high sense of moderation, practicality and balancing in the month of fast. Perhaps Ramadan is a special month of spiritualism when the obligatory acts of faith (Imam), worship (Salat), poor rate (Zakat), fast (Swam), and in fact lesser hajj (Umar) are observed with total submission to the will of Allah. At least. man's responsibility on earth to worship Allah and seek for His pleasure to the highest level during the month of Ramadan (Q.51:57).

Indeed. Satan is in chains in the month of paradise are opened and the seven gates of well are closed. That is perhaps why believers and non-believers shun the negative routes to pools betting, brothels, liquor shops, extravagant par ties, hot dog and flesh of swine shops and other forbidden places in Islam. Truly, the arrival of Ramadan has changed the attitude, behaviour, value and norms in our society. The twin-engine of the machinery of bribery and corruption and all forms of indecencies like nude pictures, obscene talks, back-biting and evil deeds like stealing, armed robbery, pen robbery, assassination, kid napping and others are reduced to the barest minimum. This is one of the miracles about the Blessed month of Ramadan. And the Prophet (SAW) says: "Fasting is a shield or shelter from committing sins. If one of you is fasting, he should avoid obscenity and quarreling, and if somebody should fight or quarrel with him, he should say: I am fasting".

Besides, the Ramadan-fast has provided a golden opportunity for us to atone our past sins, errors and mistakes. And since Allah is the Great for giver (Al-Ghaffar) we engage in the fast in total obedience of his directive and instruction so that He may overlook our past sins (Q 22.60;38:66:64:14) Since Allah is the forgiver of sins (Gaffar-lzambe) we engaged in acts of worship in the month of Ramadan to seek for His forgiveness on our minor and major sins (Q 40.3). Since Allah is Liberal in forgiving sins (Wasse-ul-Magnferate), we show kindness, love care and tenderness to others in the month of Ramadan so that Allah may also overlook our error (Q. 53:32) And since Allah is the Most Forgiving (Al-Ghaffar) we lower our gaze in total submission to Him and we submit the totality of ourself and our belongings to Him in total humility in order to earn His forgiveness. (Q.4:24, 43,56; 22:60;58:2; 60:12; 64:14).

A sacred, or Qudsi, Hadith we quoted last week attributes the following statement to God: “All actions a human being does are his with the exception of fasting which belongs to Me, and I reward it accordingly” (Related by Al-Bukhari). This is indeed a great promise. When God rewards an action as purely His own, the reward is limitless. God’s generosity knows no limits. It is not measured by percentage, multiplication or any mathematical method. It is only commensurate with God’s own glory. It is sufficient to remember here that people normally weigh their actions according to their position. People always think: It is unbecoming of a person in my position to do this or to do that. If the reward is given according to God’s position, then we do not have to think about its extent. We have only to remember that God’s generosity knows no boundaries. It is useful to mention here that another version of the same Hadith states: “Fasting belong to Me and it is Me who rewards it.”

An Authentic Hadith of Prophet Muhammed says on Ramadan and forgiveness of sins that. Salmon Al-Farsi reported that the messenger of Allah (SAW) addressed us on the last day of Sha’ban and said: "O people, a great and blessed month is near at hand. The month in which comes a night better than a thousand months. Allah has ordained fasts for you and prescribed supererogatory prayer at night. He who drew close to Allah by any noble in the month".

Another spiritual benefit of Ramadan fast and good deed is for us to have special Honour of entering Paradise through special Gate. Hadith 22 of Imam An-Nawawi says: On the authority of Abu Abdullah Jabir bin Abdullah al-Ansari (may Allah be pleased with him): “A man questioned the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and said: "Do you think that if I perform the obligatory prayers, fast in Ramadan, treat as lawful that which is halal, and treat as forbidden that which is haram, and do not increase upon that [in voluntary good deeds], then I shall enter Paradise?" He (peace be upon him) replied, "Yes." [Sahih Muslim]. This is in line with dictates of Allah in Qur’an An-Nisa 4:31 thus, “If you avoid the great sins, you have been forbidden, We shall wipe out your minor misdeeds and let you through the entrance of honor [Paradise].”

A similar authentic Hadith says: A man approached the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and asked: “Tell me about an action that if I do, I will enter paradise? The Prophet said, “Worship Allah, do not associate partners, establish prayers, give zakat, and fast during Ramadan”. The man said, “By Allah, I will not increase anything from this and I will not decrease anything from this”. When the man left, the Prophet said if anyone is pleased to see a person from paradise then look to that man. Other hadiths include maintaining family ties and staying away from major sins.

Meanwhile, Allah (SWT) has informed us of the major sins that will prevent us from entering Paradise, these are: 1. Committing shirk, associating partners with Allah; 2. A highway robber; 3. Harboring any amount of arrogance; 4. Until one’s debt is forgiven or paid; 5. A person whose neighbor is not safe from his mischief; 6. One who has oppressed or wronged someone. He will need to make amends to the person in this life, or the person wronged will get his right on the Day of Judgment.

The Prophet was keen to point out the moral value of fasting. He states, for example: “The smell of the mouth of a fasting person is preferable, in God’s measure, to the smell of musk.” People like good smell. The perfume trade is a highly lucrative one. No one likes to be known to have a bad mouth smell. Roses and flowers that have good fragrance are favorite with all people. In this statement, the Prophet touches on a very important point.

The Ramadan fast has some physical benefits. As our bodies are an amanah (trust) from Allah and fasting helps us take care of that amanah! Here are some of the physical health benefits of regular fasting: a. It protects you from obesity and associated chronic illnesses; b. It reduces inflammation; 3. It boosts cognitive performance and may help in preventing neuro-degenerative disorders; 4. It promotes blood sugar control by reducing insulin resistance; 5. It enhances heart health; 6. It could delay aging and promote long life. It is Sunnah to fast, not only in Ramadan, but also regularly throughout the year (Prophet observe fasts on Mondays and Thursdays) and there are clearly many health benefits to it! However, we should always remember to keep our intentions pure.

May Almighty Allah Guide us aright to observe our Ramadan fasts correctly, Ameen.

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