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Matters of the Heart
April 16, 2022

The Other Side of Ramadan

More than half of Ramadan has flown past us and we are more or not still wondering why we don’t feel that blessed vibe of Ramadan. We may wait for Ramadan to arrive and for the Shayateen to be chained so that we can start working on ourselves, isn't it?

What we need to remember, and bring a change in our mindset is that Shaytan by default has no power or authority over us to make us actually commit a sin throughout the year either. Plus with the coming of Ramadan, our beloved Prophet has told us that the major shayateen will be chained up in this month.

Allah tells us in Surah Ibrahim,

وَقَالَ الشَّيْطَانُ لَمَّا قُضِيَ الْأَمْرُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَعَدَكُمْ وَعْدَ الْحَقِّ وَوَعَدتُّكُمْ فَأَخْلَفْتُكُمْ وَمَا كَانَ لِيَ عَلَيْكُم مِّن سُلْطَانٍ إِلَّا أَن دَعَوْتُكُمْ فَاسْتَجَبْتُمْ لِي فَلَا تَلُومُونِي وَلُومُوا أَنفُسَكُم مَّا أَنَا بِمُصْرِخِكُمْ وَمَا أَنتُم بِمُصْرِخِيَّ إِنِّي كَفَرْتُ بِمَا أَشْرَكْتُمُونِ مِن قَبْلُ إِنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

“And Shaitan will say when the matter has been concluded, “Indeed, Allah had promised you the promise of truth. And I promised you, but I betrayed you. But I had no authority over you except that I invited you, and you responded to me. So do not blame me; but blame yourselves. I cannot be called to your aid, nor can you be called to my aid. Indeed, I deny your association of me [with Allah ] before. Indeed, for the wrongdoers is a painful punishment.” [Surah Ibrahim, Ayah 22]

and in Surah al-Hijr:

إِنَّ عِبَادِي لَيْسَ لَكَ عَلَيْهِمْ سُلْطَانٌ إِلَّا مَنِ اتَّبَعَكَ مِنَ الْغَاوِينَ

“Indeed, My servants – no authority will you have over them, except those who follow you of the deviant.” [Surah al-Hijr, Ayah 42]

We give shaytan access by indulging in sins and letting our guards down. Allah gives us the opportunity to power up our defenses in Ramadan by chaining the major/extreme Shayateen.

It’s during Ramadan that we come to the conclusion that we can’t just commit a sin and keep blaming it on shaytan. There is a fault and that fault is ours. Blaming things on others is just an easy way out and we are not holding ourselves accountable. With that train of thought we are fooling no one but ourselves.

The Scale

Allah has given us a scale in just a single ayah using which we can judge where we stand and what is the condition of our hearts.

‏إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ :
-إِذَا ذُكِرَ اللَّهُ وَجِلَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ
-وَإِذَا تُلِيَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُهُ زَادَتْهُمْ إِيمَانًا
-وَعَلَى رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ
  1. When Allah’s dhikr is mention their hearts tremble
  2. When Allah’s ayat are recited they become more fortified or increase in Iman
  3. and they rely completely upon Allah.

We can just reflect on this by pondering over how we feel:

  1. When Allah’s mention is made anytime throughout the day, does our heart gain vigour, excitement, joy?
  2. When we stand to listen to the Quran being recited in taraweeh, do we feel motivated to be strong in our faith?
  3. When we complete our suhoor, do you rely upon Allah to sustain us for next 15-20 hours?

Yes, Ramadan is the month where we recharge, rejuvenate and refresh our soul to take on the coming year till we get to experience another Ramadan with the permission of Allah. But on the other side of the coin, Ramadan is also a scale that helps us gauge what we have become or what our hearts have accumulated over the year. It is a litmus test that tells us the condition that our heart is in at the moment.

If our sins are many then it takes much more hard work to get the best out of Ramadan. For some it is really easy and full of blessings whilst for others it is extremely difficult and a huge struggle. For some we see that they are standing in taraweeh for 20 rakats and even the 8 of qiyam later in the night and so much more, whereas for some even holding on to the 5 obligatory salahs in the masjid is a humongous struggle on its own. (Here we don’t include those with physical, mental or other family/work related issues which doesn’t allow them to make the most of the month. Our focus is just reflecting on the sins and what impact they have on our Ramadan.)

But if we have been doing something for the whole year, the other 11 months, then even if we do stop ourselves from committing those bad actions, its effects and side-effects will remain with us.

It is because of this that we see that the Prophet, his companions and the righteous after them used to start preparing in Shaban itself. They used to increase in their involuntary actions, recitation of the Quran and increase their days of fasting so that they are ready to welcome and make the most of Ramadan. Our mother Aishah said: “The Messenger of Allah did not fast in any month of the year more than he did in Shaban. He used to fast all of Shaban.” [Sunan an-Nasai]

It is like preparing for a marathon. If you haven’t warmed up properly, then within a short distance itself you’ll feel out of breath and cramps coming up and what not. Forget finishing the marathon, you might end up injuring yourself if you continue to persist in the same condition.

The Core: Our Heart

Why do we keep making mention of the heart again and again? Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه narrated that: the Messenger of Allah said:

إِنَّ الْعَبْدَ إِذَا أَخْطَأَ خَطِيئَةً نُكِتَتْ فِي قَلْبِهِ نُكْتَةٌ سَوْدَاءُ فَإِذَا هُوَ نَزَعَ وَاسْتَغْفَرَ وَتَابَ سُقِلَ قَلْبُهُ وَإِنْ عَادَ زِيدَ فِيهَا حَتَّى تَعْلُوَ قَلْبَهُ وَهُوَ الرَّانُ الَّذِي ذَكَرَ اللَّهُ ‏:‏ ‏(‏ كلاَّ بَلْ رَانَ عَلَى قُلُوبِهِمْ مَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ ‏‏

“Verily, when the slave (of Allah) commits a sin, a black spot appears on his heart. When he refrains from it, seeks forgiveness and repents, his heart is polished clean. But if he returns, it increases until it covers his entire heart. And that is the رَانَ which Allah mentioned: ‘Nay, but on their hearts is the رَانَ which they used to earn.’” [Jami at-Tirmidhi]

In another famous hadith, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,

إن الحلال بين، وإن الحرام بين، وبينهما مشتبهات لا يعلمهن كثير من الناس، فمن اتقى الشبهات، استبرأ لدينه وعرضه، ومن وقع فى الشبهات، وقع فى الحرام، كالراعى يرعى حول الحمى يوشك أن يرتع فيه ألا وإن لكل ملك حمى، ألا وإن حمى الله محارمه، ألا وإن فى الجسد مضغة إذا صلحت صلح الجسد كله، وإذا فسدت فسد الجسد كله‏:‏ ألا وهى القلب

“What is lawful is clear and what is unlawful is clear, but between them are certain doubtful things which many people do not know. So he who guards against doubtful things keeps his religion and his honour blameless. But he who falls into doubtful things falls into that which is unlawful, just as a shepherd who grazes his cattle in the vicinity of a pasture declared prohibited (by the king); he is likely to stray into the pasture. Mind you, every king has a protected pasture and Allah’s involved limits is that which He has declared unlawful. Verily, there is a piece of flesh in the body, if it is healthy, the whole body is healthy, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt. Verily, it is the heart.” [Bukhari and Muslim].

Our answers to the questions posed by that ayah of Surah al-Ma’idah above gives us an idea on just what is the state of our heart and how many black spots may be there on it.

Imam Ibn al-Qayyim رحمه الله said: “It is sufficient for the sinner as a punishment that the veneration and awe of Allah جل جلاله is removed from his heart.” [Ad-Daa’ wad-Dawaa’]

Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud رضي الله عنه said: “A person may forget the knowledge he has due to a sin he commits.”

Allah tells us in the Quran,

فَبِمَا نَقۡضِہِم مِّيثَـٰقَهُمۡ لَعَنَّـٰهُمۡ وَجَعَلۡنَا قُلُوبَهُمۡ قَـٰسِيَةً۬‌ۖ يُحَرِّفُونَ ٱلۡڪَلِمَ عَن مَّوَاضِعِهِۦ‌ۙ وَنَسُواْ حَظًّا مِّمَّا ذُكِّرُواْ بِهِ

“But they broke their pledge, so We distanced them [from Us] and hardened their hearts. They distort the meaning of [revealed] words and have forgotten some of what they were told to remember” [Surah al-Ma’idah, Ayah 13]

What Is The Sin?

We all know what a sin is as defined by the Shariah. The hadith of the Prophet ﷺ above already clarifies it in detail. The Prophet ﷺ has given us another filter to gauge what we do.

Wabisah bin Ma’bad said: I came to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and he said,

جِئْتَ تَسْأَلُ عَنْ الْبِرِّ؟

“You have come to ask about righteousness.” I said, “Yes.”

He ﷺ said,

استفت قلبك، الْبِرُّ مَا اطْمَأَنَّتْ إلَيْهِ النَّفْسُ، وَاطْمَأَنَّ إلَيْهِ الْقَلْبُ، وَالْإِثْمُ مَا حَاكَ فِي النَّفْسِ وَتَرَدَّدَ فِي الصَّدْرِ، وَإِنْ أَفْتَاك النَّاسُ وَأَفْتَوْك

“Consult your heart. Righteousness is that about which the soul feels at ease and the heart feels tranquil. And wrongdoing is that which wavers in the soul and causes uneasiness in the breast, even though people have repeatedly given their legal opinion [in its favour].” [Musnad Imam Ahmed]

The Way Back

Sheikh Abdul Bary Yahya حفظه الله  advised, “If you know you’re sinning, change. Allah will give you a chance to switch but if you keep persisting in your sin then a time might come when Allah himself might seal your heart and misguide you. You will know it’s wrong and harmful but you’ll still do it.

If you have patience and taqwa in Allah, help from Allah is always on the way. But that is the condition for the help to come. Allah will test and it’ll be such that no relief can be found anywhere. If the person at this point is patient, submits to Allah and has taqwa of Allah then Allah will open doors people didn’t even know existed.

The archers in Uhud disobeyed the Prophet and went down to get the Dunyah. That is when you lose or rather destroy your success. They wanted something so they interpreted the Prophet’s words to mean what they want. When people desire something they try to find the words of the Prophet to twist and satisfy their desires.”

Allah tells us in the Quran:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَلْتَنظُرْ نَفْسٌ مَّا قَدَّمَتْ لِغَدٍ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ
وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ نَسُوا اللَّهَ فَأَنسَاهُمْ أَنفُسَهُمْ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

O you who have believed, fear Allah . And let every soul look to what it has put forth for tomorrow – and fear Allah . Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do. And be not like those who forgot Allah , so He made them forget themselves. Those are the defiantly disobedient. [Surah al-Hashr, Ayah 18,19]

Umar Ibn al-Khattab رضي الله عنه said, “Call yourselves to account before you are called to account, and weigh yourselves before you are weighed, as calling yourselves to account today will make it easier for you when you are called to account tomorrow, and be adorned for the great appearance: that Day shall you be brought to Judgment, and not a secret of you will be hidden.”

When we acknowledges our  mistakes and our shortcomings then we have already started on the path to good. They very fact that we know that we have some errors, is something that will constantly push us and keep us motivated to doing good.

As Allah tells us in the Quran:

لَهُ مُعَقِّبَاتٌ مِّن بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِ يَحْفَظُونَهُ مِنْ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ وَإِذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِقَوْمٍ سُوءًا فَلَا مَرَدَّ لَهُ وَمَا لَهُم مِّن دُونِهِ مِن وَالٍ

“For each one are successive [angels] before and behind him who protect him by the decree of Allah . Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. And when Allah intends for a people ill, there is no repelling it. And there is not for them besides Him any patron”  [Surah al-Ra’d, Ayah 11]

Imam Ibn al-Jawzī رحمه الله said: “If you find a darkness in your heart after you have sinned, then know that in your heart there is light, because of that light you felt darkness.” [روضة المحبين١٢٢/٢]

All this was not to make us lose hope about the blessings of the month of Ramadan. This month indeed is a chance from Allah to help and purify us. This was hopefully a reality check to measure where we stand, to realize just how much more effort we need to exert from our side to not to miss out the remaining few days of this blessed month. Let’s start working on reducing and working on our sins today, actually NOW in this month of Ramadan. Don’t look at others, lets look and work on ourselves because in reality that’s what matters.

How Do We Know Our Repentance Has Been Accepted?

Our Sheikh, Ibrahim Nuhu حفظه الله elaborates on this and said that Allah has told His Prophet ﷺ about this already.

Our job is to sincerely repent to Allah for our sin and Allah has promised that He will accept and forgive us for that sin. Instead of letting it weigh us down, once we have repented we go about our lives.

Thinking about acceptance is not our job, rather it will disturb you a lot. It will hinder your progress and you won’t make a move. You’ll just be thinking maybe-maybe not and be stuck there. Some people will commit a sin and keep thinking about it so much so that they don’t do anything else.

A smart person is the one who uses his past as a means of reflection to make a decision in the present that will make him successful in the future. Don’t dwell on the past for you cannot relive it again and fix it. Repent and say:

رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لِي وَتُبْ عَلَيَّ إنَّكَ أَنْتَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ

My Rabb! Forgive me and pardon me. Indeed, You are the Oft-Returning with compassion and Ever Merciful.” [Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi]

The Prophet ﷺ said: “Allah, Blessed and Exalted is He, says, ‘O son of Adam, as long as you call on Me, I shall forgive you of what you have done, and think nothing of it. O son of Adam, even if your sins were to reach up to the clouds in the sky, and then you were to ask for My forgiveness, I would forgive you and think nothing of it. O son of Adam, even if you were to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth, and then you were to meet Me after death, not worshipping anything besides Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as the earth.’” [Tirmidhi]

Repent the way the Prophet ﷺ taught us and be satisfied. InshaAllah you will be on the safe side.

The Finish Line

Imam Ibn al-Jawzi said, "The twelve months of the year are like the twelve sons of Prophet Yaqub. And just as Prophet Yusuf was the most beloved to Yaqub, the month of Ramaḍan is the most beloved to Allah. And just as Allah forgave the 11 brothers by the duaʾ of one; Yusuf, He can forgive your 11 months of sins by your dua in Ramadan."

Bottom-line is that now, we have an idea of just where we stand. Knowing this we can empower ourselves and use it to our advantage to make the most of the month of Ramadan. We are actually blessed because the best of Ramadan is yet to come and these are the last 10 Night of Ramadan in which hidden somewhere is the Night of Power. It is a Night which Allah has told us is “better than a thousand months

1000 months = 83 years and 4 months. That is something really good to tip our scales on the other side InshaAllah, isn’t it? How Merciful indeed is Allah to us.

Remember the words of Imam Ibn al-Jawzi رحمه الله who said,

ﺇﻥ ﺍﻟﺨﻴﻞ ﺇﺫﺍ ﺷﺎﺭﻓﺖ ﻧﻬﺎﻳﺔ ﺍﻟﻤﻀﻤﺎﺭ ﺑﺬﻟﺖ ﻗﺼﺎﺭﻯ ﺟﻬﺪﻫﺎ ﻟﺘﻔﻮﺯ ﺑﺎﻟﺴﺒﺎﻕ .. ﻓﻼ ﺗﻜﻦ ﺍﻟﺨﻴﻞ ﺃﻓﻄﻦ ﻣﻨﻚ !ﻓﺈﻧﻤﺎ ﺍﻷﻋﻤﺎﻝ ﺑﺎﻟﺨﻮﺍﺗﻴﻢ ..ﻓﺈﻧﻚ ﺇﺫﺍ ﻟﻢ ﺗﺤﺴﻦ ﺍﻻﺳﺘﻘﺒﺎﻝ ﻟﻌﻠﻚ ﺗﺤﺴﻦ ﺍﻟﻮﺩﺍﻉ !!

“When horses race and draw close to the finish line, they exert their maximum to win. Therefore do not allow horses to be wiser than you! Actions are by their endings and thus if you didn’t do too well in the reception, perhaps you may do well in the farewell!”

Sheikhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله said,

ﺍﻟﻌﺒﺮﺓ ﺑﻜﻤﺎﻝ ﺍﻟﻨﻬﺎﻳﺎﺕ ﻻ ﺑﻨﻘﺺ ﺍﻟﺒﺪﺍﻳﺎﺕ

“What matters the most are excellent endings, not the faulty beginnings!”

Make loads and loads of Istighfar, call upon Allah to aid you, say Bismillah and start NOW!

Here’s a little something to give you a power boost for the coming few days.

Read More: 10 Super Deeds for 10 Super Nights

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