Salam

11 August 2009

The Prophet(saw) in Ramadan

Fasting is about liberating one's mind from flights of passion and fits of temper. The Prophet(saw) demonstrated to his people how this world is less important than the next, and how the body is less important than the soul. In fasting, the Prophet(saw) taught them step by step how to ignore the physical demands so that the spirit reigns supreme.


Abandoning food, drink, and sex was only a prelude to the next stage of greater significance: of conquering avidity and cupidity, lust and licentiousness; of liberating one's mind from flights of passion and fits of temper. Indeed the Prophet(saw) said:"The strong person is not the one who can wrestle someone else down. The strong person is the one who can control himself when he is angry." (Bukhari)

Also about the effect of fasting on one's behavior, the Prophet(saw) said, "Fasting is a shield, so the one who fasts should avoid obscene speech and ignorant behaviour. If someone abuses him or starts to fight with him, he should reply by saying: 'I am fasting. I am fasting'." (Bukhari)

The core of fasting according to the Prophet(saw) was one's willingness not merely to give up self-indulgence, but to feel the need of one's brother as one's own. And no one was more kind-hearted and generous than the Messenger of God; and his generosity reached its peak in Ramadan. (Bukhari)

The Prophet stressed on the importance of treating people nicely when he said: "Make things easy for people and do not make them difficult, and cheer people up and do not drive them away." (Bukhari)

He(saw) also said:

The heart of one who sincerely fasts is open to the contemplation of the magnificence of the countless bounties of God. That is why the Prophet asked his followers to avoid gluttony:

"The food of two people is enough for three, and the food of three people is enough for four." (Bukhari)

Gentleness in Hardship

God is All-Merciful and He has expressed His Mercy to us His creatures through the sending of His final messenger Muhammad as an embodiment of mercy. The Prophet said:

"Have mercy to those on earth so that He Who is in Heaven will have mercy on you." (Tirmidhi)

"The believer is not the one who eats his fill when the neighbor beside him is hungry." (Bayhaqi)

The Prophet(saw) urged Muslims to break their fast right after sunset without any delay. So it was not surprising that the Prophet's(saw) Companions loved him dearly, as he was the kindest of men, bestowing his mercy not only upon humans but also on other creatures of the world as well.

No leader could be more considerate and solicitous of his followers than Muhammad: he never allowed any Muslim to bear any burden more than they could bear, as taught by God Himself.

For he was well aware of the infirmities of people; and this is evident from his consideration for his followers in the matter of fasting: He taught Muslims to delay the sahur (the pre-dawn meal before fasting) till a little before Dawn Prayer and not to delay the iftar (the meal to break the fast) after the call to Sunset Prayer so that no unnecessary strain is laid on the fasting person by prolonging the fast time.

During travel in Ramadan, the Prophet(saw) would either fast or break his fast; and he allowed his companions to choose between the two, according to their ability.

It is noteworthy that the Prophet(saw) did not specify a particular distance in travel as a minimum limit for a person to break the fast. His Companions sometimes broke the fast immediately after leaving home, because this was the example set by the Prophet(saw) himself.

Similarly during times of heat or thirst they were permitted to cool themselves by pouring water on the head, and the Prophet himself did so.

His(saw) example in the matter of consorting with his wives during Ramadan was not different; he disallowed only such acts that would obviously undermine the fasting.

As for the Tarawih Prayers (the supererogatory night prayers performed in Ramadan), it is recorded that the Prophet began praying them in congregation and then he stopped, fearing that such prayers would become obligatory if he continued to pray them in congregation.

Thus while he(saw) demonstrated through his example that the Tarawih Prayers are better offered in congregation, he allowed leniency in the matter out of his mercy.

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