This August 5th, 2012, the 16th of Ramadan 1433, i was fortunate enough to attend an online lecture by the acclaimed and much respected Dr. Bilal Phillips on the topic, ” Beyond Ramadan” arranged by Live Deen , Here is a short synopsis of what I learned :
– We should look at Ramadan as we look at our lives. When we are young, we are very energetic. As we get older, we mature and towards the latter part of our lives, we apply all the life lessons we learned along the way. Similarly, when Ramadan begins, we are very energetic and excited. Towards the midst of Ramadan we have learned to fast not just from food, but hopefully from everything displeasing to Allah including but not limited to regularly praying, holding on to our anger, avoiding backbiting and other negative traits and have increased our worship. By the end of Ramadan, we are now ready to apply all the lessons we learned in Ramadan, in the next months of the year. Therefore, during Ramadan, we need to keep evaluating whether our fasts are matching this life pattern or whether it is all going downhill- and if Allah forbid, it is, then we need to immediately re-adjust ourselves to pursue the implementation of the lessons learned in Ramadan- beyond it as well.
– Fasting is an act of worship purely between you and Allah. No one knows whether you are fasting or not, except yourself and Allah. Prayer and Hajj are acts of worship that we may eventually see or find that the other person is practicing. Charity too is to some extent hidden if conducted secretly but generally people have an idea as to who is generous and who is not. However, when it comes to fasting- if you go into a corner and bite on a chocolate bar or eat in secret, who is there to know? Therefore, fasting is solely based on Taqwa and can only be carried out effectively by a person who has this Taqwa ( God consciousness).
– The month of Ramadan has much importance as:
* The names of only one of the gates of Paradise has been specified and that is Al-Rayan- the gate from which the people who fast will pass from.
* This is the month in which the Quran was revealed. In Ayah 183 of Chapter 2 of the Holy Quran Allah states: O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed upon you as it was prescribed on those before you so that you may learn self-restraint [2:183]
– It is best to read the Quran with understanding during the month of Ramadan. The emphasis should be on quality as opposed to quantity. Do not get into a race or a competition with others on the number of times you finished reading the Quran. Rather, the concentration should be on reading the Quran, its translation and preferably it’s tafseer as well i.e. understanding the message. Emphasis should be on the reflection of what the Quran states.
– Fasting is just not abstaining from food and water. Each one of us should fast from ill-mannered speech and thoughts. Fast from bad attitudes and keep our anger in check. Fast from back biting and negativity and all those things that each one of us know we really should not be doing. We should especially not indulge in argumentation and if provoked, we should just walk away.
– In Ramadan, we should also be most generous and charitable and increase our good deeds. The best charitable acts are those which are done secretly. Do not accumulate wealth but accumulate your secret charitable acts.
– Try to make your Prayer as “Real” as possible. Worship Allah as if you see Him, and as if He sees you. Imagine as if every prayer is your farewell prayer i.e. your last prayer before you die. To prepare for prayer, also do wudu ( ablution) as if it is very last wudu of your life. Focus on spiritual purification. Make prayer an action that gives you peace and rest and don’t take it as a burden.
Note: Juma tul Wida in Ramadan has no legitimacy in the light of Quran and Sunnah and hence is a Bidah.
-The character of Ramadan is abstinence. Give up what is halal i.e food and water in Ramadan to strengthen your willpower in giving up what is haraam, InshaAllah in the months beyond Ramadan. We should carry this “God Consciousness” with us in every action that we do and henceforth live our lives in Ramadan and beyond according to what it pleasing to Allah.
– We should seek repentance for our sins during Ramadan. Do as much, “Astaghfar” as possible with genuine guilt and repentance. Reciting 100 times Astaghfar means nothing unless you genuinely reflect on your sins and seek repentance with your heart and soul.
– We should strive to revive the spirit of Ramadan beyond Ramadan as well by fasting on the following days a:
*6 fasts in Shawwal that give us the reward as if we have fasted for a year.
*Mondays and Thursdays
*13th, 14th and 15th of every month ( when there is a full moon)
*The day of Arafah i.e. 10th of Muharram
– If we fast properly in Ramadan, we will always be fasting throughout our lives from what is displeasing to Allah. <3
Other notable highlights of this event were:
– an introduction to an amazing software developed by Mr. Zahid Chihpa called “ Search Quran”. By using this software, you can easily find the reference of any topic in the Quran by simply typing in the key word either in English, Urdu, Arabic or Roman Urdu. For example, if you want to search all the Ayahs ( Lines) in the Quran that deal with Sabr ( Patience), all you have to do is to fill the search tab with the said word and press enter. Voila, in a few miniscule seconds, all references will be right there for you to see. MashaAllah, such amazing work and sadqa jariyah. This software can be downloaded FREE here.
– An introduction to the Islamic Online University established by Dr. Bilal Phillips. This online university offers online intensive, undergraduate, and graduate courses in Islamic Studies completely tuition-free. MashaAllah.
All in all this was a great event that removed many misconceptions in people’s minds as well as provided the much needed motivation to spend the remainder of Ramadan in an effective manner. :)