Friday, August 22, 2008
SAFEGUARDING THE OPPORTUNITY
‘Ayyuha al-nas, innahu qad aqbala ilaykum shahr Allah bi al-barakati wa al-rahmati wa al-maghfira…’ (O people, Indeed the Month of Allah has approached you with blessings, mercy and forgiveness…). These are the beginning words of a radiant sermon the Holy Prophet (s) once delivered to his companions on the last Friday of Sha’ban al-Mu‘azzam, as they approached the Holy month of Ramadhan. Basically, the Holy Prophet (s) spoke about how fundamental an opportunity is this month, what are the most important things one can do therein, who is a loser in this great month, etc. In short: It is an invaluable opportunity, which every intelligent believer should struggle to safeguard. At one point of this sermon Amir al-mu’minin ‘Ali (‘a) stands in humility and asks the Holy Prophet: ‘What is the best of actions in this month?’ and the Holy Prophet (s) responds saying: ‘The best of actions is al-wara’ ‘an mahaarim Allah’ (the best of actions is to refrain from what Allah has forbidden). If one ponders over this statement, one would come to realize that ‘to refrain from’ in reality is quite different from ‘to engage in’. It is the reality of ‘not doing something’. However in this sermon it has been conferred the station of a deed, or rather ‘the best of deeds’ (afdhal al-a’maal). The secret behind this is ‘In order for the mirror to reflect all the different shades of the Beauty of the Beloved, one must polish and clear the stains it has gathered, so that when the Beloved appears before it, His Beauty is depicted in the best possible manner’. In order for us, who have been bestowed with the capacity of manifesting the Attributes of Allah in ourselves, to reflect and exemplify Divine Beauty and Majesty in our beings, we need to first clean the mirror of our hearts through the water of repentance. Sin, in the expression of the Holy Qur’an, is known as ‘rayn’ (‘rust and stain that settles over a shiny object and covers it’). The Holy Qur’an speaking of the sinful says,‘Kallaa bal raana ‘alaa qulubihim maa kaanu yaksibun’ (No indeed! Rather their hearts have been sullied by what they have been earning. Qur’an, 83:14). It is by refraining from accumulating such stains (al-wara’ ‘an mahaarim Allah) that enables one to experience and enjoy the precious and spiritual moments of the Holy month of Ramadhan, when the Beloved constantly calls every lover to Himself and facilitates a quicker process for achieving His proximity. Another very important point in the Holy Prophet (s)’s sermon is when he says, ‘al-shaqiy man haruma ghufran Allah fi hadha al-shahr’ (the wretched is he who is deprived of Allah’s mercy in this great month ). The tone of this statement is such that it should be enough to alert and shake every Muslim who is aware of the sins that he has accumulated so far. ‘Despair’ (al-ya’s) must be blotted out of the dictionary of our spirits. We must fully anticipate to be embraced with the blanket of Divine forgiveness in this month well-known as ‘the month of maghfira’. Anticipation and hope, however pre-requires us to prepare ourselves by harmonizing our spirits with the true meaning of ‘hope’, a manifestation of which is to carry out those things that make us near to the object of our hope. These final glowing days of the Holy month of Sha’ban should therefore motivate us to start preparing. In a beautiful tradition narrated from Imam al-Ridha (‘a) some of the fundamental steps of preparation are as follows: (1) Recite (with understanding and serious intention) the following supplication: Allahumma in lam takun gharafarta lana fee maa madhaa min Sha’ban faghfir lana fee maa baqiya minhu (O Allah, if you have not forgiven us in what has passed of the month of Sha’ban, then forgive us in the remaining month).’ In reality if the stains that we have accumulated are totally effaced, we would be able to benefit better from the approaching month of grace. (2) Pay the rights of those whose rights are on your shoulders, for that is one of the fundamental conditions of tawba. [Those who can take even the beginning steps will find change in the holy month] (3) Seriously remove any kind and degree of hatred for any Believing Muslim (regardless of whether he/she hates you, declares himself/herself as your enemy, belittles you, etc…). Obviously so many queries come about here. The hard fact is that ‘we, who would like to qualify to be in a horizon of understanding and compassion of the people of Paradise must remove this rancor from our hearts’. In the Holy Qur’an this is known as ‘ghill’. Those who aspire for Paradise cannot enter therein if this impediment exists in their hearts. The Holy Qur’an says that Allah removes it from their hearts: Wa naza’na maa fi sudoorihim min ghill…(‘We removed whatever rancor there is in their breasts…’ (Holy Qur’an, 15:47)) (4) Join the last 3 fasts of the month of Sha’ban with the Holy month of Ramadhan, for that is equivalent to having fasted two months continuously. Furthermore it reveals how the believer in honor of the month of Ramadhan begins fasting in welcoming this great month. (5) Recitation of Qur’an, which, according to a well-known prophetic tradition, also enables a person to shine his spirit. Recitation, however must be a way for spiritual ascension. These are not very difficult ventures, and hence let us throw away the impurities of our hearts and welcome this great holy month, in anticipation of transforming ourselves and starting the spiritual journey to Allah, which if we delay, would earn us nothing but intense and perpetual regret in the Hereafter.
Posted by Muhammad Khalfan (email@example.com) at 7:55 AM