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RECEIVING RAMAḌĀN

April 1, 2022
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–Compiled from various scholarly teachings, speech, and writing of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, Shaykh Yahya Rhodus among other resources including muwasala.org and seekersguidance.org–

The Islamic Society of Santa Barbara would like to congratulate all of you for this blessed month that we’ve entered in, which is the beautiful month of Ramaḍān. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ used to congratulate the sahāba for the onset of Ramaḍān and would remind the companions- and a reminder to all of us- Ramaḍān is one of the greatest blessings that Allāh ﷻ has bestowed on the community of Muslims. The amazing, blessed time is with us again- as Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad phrased “the spiritual summit, the sunlit uplands through which we walk in the presence of the Divine”. Ramaḍān has also been described as ‘high altitude training for the soul’. We would like to take the opportunity to wish you all a very blessed month ahead!

Each year, we are given this month to renew our faith, to restore our relationship- if it’s been severed- with the great book of Allāh ﷻ; the Qur’ān. [] This is a sacred time, the month in which the Qur’ān was revealed (Qur’ān, 2:185) to our beloved Prophet ﷺ. This is a great time to seize the day, to take advantage of the moments that we have; it is short. One of the verses in the Qur’ān says [] these are limited days (Qur’ān, 2:184). These are short days, they go quickly and we have to make the best of it.

Ramaḍān is a time the doors of mercy are open, the doors of the fire are closed, and the demonic forces are locked up. So this is an extraordinarily blessed time. This is a month where we can we can taste the `ibādah (worship) of the angels. This is because the angels “do not disobey Allāh.” (Qur’ān, 66:6) They obey Allāh ﷻ all the time. The advice of our scholars is to really take the benefit of this month to its utmost; go on a fast not just from physical appetites but also from what we put into our minds. Go on a fast from social media, go on a fast from television, go on a fast from all those things that are distracting us from one of the most important things that we have in our life which is our purpose, to focus on where we are and where we are going. Surrounded by a fast-paced society of hyper-consumption, this Ramaḍān is a welcome chance to practice restraint, as it is the opposite of indulgence. According to Professor Tariq Ramadan, one of the world’s foremost Muslim academics, this month is when we master hunger, bodily appetites, and our human impulses so we can release the noblest energies of our being. To put it another way, as is commonly said about fasting, we starve the body to feed the soul.

We should attempt at least one reading of the Qur’ān. Don’t let this month go by without going through the entire Qur’ān. Hopefully, we can also hear it recited in tarāwīh and if we’re able, give some portion of the night to it.

While Ramaḍān is a time for self-reflection, to rebalance our spirituality and for solitary communion with our Lord, Ramaḍān is also a communal time, a time of coming together, of sharing food. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for us to engage in these communal aspects of Ramaḍān, one of the most important things we can focus on during this month is our families; this is a blessed time to connect with our families, and with our children.

Insha’Allāh (God willing) this Ramaḍān will be offering opportunities to reflect not just on the outward form but the inward meaning of the fasting month, turning us into a time of inner journeying, a kind of retreat or an ‘itikāf as well as to gain further insight into our faith, a concept best expressed by the Muslim caliph Imam Ali:

Conquer your desires and your wisdom will be perfected. – Imam Ali

With this intention, we hope the following list of resources and quotes can Insha’Allāh help us all to make the most of this holy month.

So insha’Allāh that is going to be our focus, that Ramaḍān is a time of inward reflection, mindfulness, transformation as well as the outward format of the obligation so alhamdulillāh, welcome, O month of Ramaḍān and insha’Allāh Ramaḍān will be good to us and we will end the month insha’Allāh being pleased with the month and pleasing to our Lord. May

we all be blessed with His gaze on the first night of this month, may He forgive all of our sins, accept all of our fasts and worship, and may this month be a means of gaining nearness to Him and His beloved ﷺ.

Taqabbal Allāh siyāmakum wa as-Salām ‘Alaykum wa rahmatulLah (May Allāh accept your fasting and may the peace and mercy of Allāh be upon you).

Some very useful and beneficial links about Ramadan…

Dar al-Mustafa’s Ramadan Guide A Ramadan Reader: A Comprehensive Answers Guide to Getting the Most out of Ramadan

Moonsighting

Cesarean Moon Births

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on Moonsighting – audio

An Islamic Legal Analysis of the Astronomical determination of the Beginning of Ramadan by Dr. Mokhtar Maghraoui

Reflections on moonsighting by Dr. Youssef Ismail

The Lunacy of Lunar Sightings – Sandala blog post

A brief overview of moonsighting wars (and how to avoid them) by Shaykh Sohail Hanif

“You can have your moon. I got my own” by Abdullah bin Hamid Ali

Imam Zaid Shakir on the Crescent Watch policy change

Crescent Watch (site page)

Lectures…

Ramadan Advice, Fasting & Taqwa with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Ramadan Advice- Where is your heart? with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

The Fast of the Heart Pt. I with Imam Zaid Shakir

The Fast of the Heart Pt. II with Imam Zaid Shakir

The Fast of the Heart Pt. III with Imam Zaid Shakir

Ramadan by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad

What do we do in Ramadan? By Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller

Ramadan Recharge: A Workshop on the Book of Fasting

How to make your fast last by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

On the benefits of fasting (by non-Muslim doctor)

Minimum advice for Ramadan by Mufti Menk

Articles…

Ramadan: The Doors to Ecstasy by Habib Muhammad al-Saqqaf

Ramadan Address by Habib ‘Ali al-Jifri

Inner Dimensions of Fasting by Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, trans. From the Ihya’ by Mukhtar Holland

Mysteries of Fasting – Chapter from the Ihya’

Seeking His gaze in Ramadan by Shaykh AbdulKarim Yahya

The politics of fasting: lessons from Ramadan by Professor Tariq Ramadan

Ramadan is over, but the struggle goes on by Professor Tariq Ramadan

Fiqh…

The Fiqh of Fasting in the Hanafi Madhhab

Maliki Fiqh on Ramadan (click on relevant links)

Shafi’I Fiqh on Ramadan

OVERALL…

Know that you only get out of Ramaḍān what you are willing to put in. So, on the doorstep of this Ramaḍān, please make time to read the articles and listen to the lectures highlighted above. Alhamdulillāh we are blessed to be alive to experience another month of purification and healing. Our Lord has given us another opportunity to mend our relationship with Him ﷻ. Ramaḍān karim!

Finally, here are some quotes to hopefully inspire us all further. Enjoy!

Imam al-Ghazālī said the real fasting is not the fasting of the tongue or the stomach but the fasting of the heart, whereby we discipline our heart from feasting on prohibited thoughts and on doubt; despair; anxiety; and most of all, fear of losing what we have. Indeed we could lose it all, but if we have God, we haven’t lost anything. Fear and doubt and anxiety plague all of us, and Ramadan is an opportune time to discipline and disinfect our hearts. This is a month of trust in God, of letting light into our hearts. Let us make this month a time of prayer and peace, a time to recite and reflect on the Qur’an, and a time to seek refuge in God. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Ramadan is the time to reflect on the Qur’an and to recommit ourselves to the sacred, well-trodden path, the path of the prophets, the path of people who were closest to God. When we fast, we connect ourselves with an unbroken chain of tradition in a deep and sacred bond with every seeker of God, from the beginning of time to the end of time, to rescue ourselves and to allow ourselves to be rescued by God—that is why this is a blessed month. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

The most common question I get from people of different faiths has to be why we fast. Many people answer this question with a response, “to feel how the poor feel when they have nothing to eat.” Personally, I think that since fasting in Ramadan is not that difficult, it is almost an insult to claim that it is to feel the poor’s hunger. The hunger they feel is much greater, especially since they may not know when their next meal will come. Fasting is a means to gain something called Taqwa. Taqwa is an Arabic word that means many things, such as being aware that Allah (our word for God) has full knowledge of your actions and intentions. In Islam, Allah has knowledge of everything we do and even think. Fasting is more than abstaining from food and drink. It is understanding that Allah has full knowledge. And because of this, we must navigate through the world with caution of our actions and intentions – to be good to our fellow human beings and to yourself. All of our deeds and intentions should be virtuous and for the sake of Allah. Ramadan is an opportune time to be able to reflect and be more aware of this. – Dr Magda Abdelfattah, May 2018, from an interview in the Wisconsin Muslim Journal

It’s very important for us to remember that this is a time of tawba, of repentance, and Ramadan is really one of the most opportune times of the year to do that. So take this as a time of repentance…This virus [COVID-19] has reminded us of the temporality of our life on earth, that all of us every day are facing our mortality. The Prophet said in a hadith that Imam Nawawi put as one of the foundational hadith in our tradition, that if you wake up in the morning don’t expect to go to sleep at night, and if you go to sleep at night don’t expect to wake up in the morning. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

We have become like gerbils in the dunya, chasing after things…The job of the dunya is to make you unstable…the more you become immersed in this dunya, the more you become invested in this dunya, then the more unstable you become…Some scholars have said that jahiliya is to see something and to perceive it as something else, that this is ignorance…in Islam true knowledge is to perceive something as it really is, as best you can…people who immerse themselves in this dunya have immersed themselves in a lie, and they are getting played like a piano on Sunday school, and that is why they are not stable…this dunya calls you to become people who are completely insecure with themselves…Fasting and Ramadhaan call us to be stable. – adapted from a speech by Imam Suhaib Webb

We observe that in the scriptures, fasting almost always is linked with prayer. Without prayer, fasting is not complete fasting; it’s simply going hungry. – Joseph B Wirthlin

Western society could learn a lot about the struggles of others through the practice of Ramadan. We have a lot of ease in our society, a lot of comfort, but during Ramadan, people all around us are showing self-control and restraint and sacrifice when they practice their religion. It’s about being uncomfortable in your practice of faith, and there’s a lesson in that. During my research for the book, I was very surprised at the lack of science and studies about what fasting does physiologically to the body, especially considering how many people in the world are Muslim and adhere to Ramadan. – Brigid Delaney, author of Wellmania: Misadventures In The Search Of Wellness

What I wish more people knew is that the practices and teachings of Islam are rooted in love. For many other Muslims and I, holding onto traditional practices in a society that is becoming more and more secular is important. Ramadan is a part of my culture, whether I’m feeling particularly close to Islam as a religion or not. Because of this, it has become something that grounds me each year. Fasting teaches Muslims self-discipline, patience, and the value of the things we take for granted every day. It’s a time period during which I tap into empathy, compassion, and ultimately how to value these concepts not just one month out of the year, but all the time. Each year, Ramadan seems to arrive when I least expect it, but also when I need its reminders and inspiration the most. Telling me to harness and redirect all the energy I aimlessly put into superficial and immediate gratification, into something greater than myself. Fasting teaches all Muslims restraint and self-discipline. It teaches me that Islam — like the moon when I search for it each night — will always be there. – Nadra Widatalla

Tribulations test all of us, and we pass the test by placing our hope and trust in God alone…We are the inheritors of a tradition of hope, and our beloved Prophet ﷺ was the most hopeful of men. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

This month of Ramadan is about asking “Where is your heart?” Is your heart with God? Is your heart with your own ego? Is your heart with your lust? Is your heart with your passion? Is your heart with your greed? Is your heart with your pride? Is your heart with your envy? Is it with your resentment? Is it with your desire for revenge? “Where is your heart?” That is the question this month is asking us: “Where is your heart?” And this time that we have been given, a few days of reflection, this is the time when you can actually go into yourself, and dig into yourself and ask that question: “Where is your heart?” Because as Sayyidina Ali said “A man lies hidden under his tongue”, because the tongue expresses what is in the heart…“Whoever loves a thing does much remembrance of it”. If you love Allah, God is on your tongue. If you love the world, the world is on your tongue. That is the question: “Where is your heart?” This is the time to return to God, to give the heart back to the One who possesses the heart. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Ramadan Prayer by Imam Zaid Shakir

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