Thankfulness for the bounty of life and perception of Ramadhan
- :Shaheed Dastaghaib
Ayatullah Shaheed Syed Abdul Husayn Dastaghaib Shirazi
Thanks to God Who granted us the great bounty of life. Man must always be thankful, that is, he should appreciate every bounty. The basis of every bounty and its benefits is the life of man. When life ends, the file is closed. Thereafter, there is no more gain. If man knows the original and main bounty, the perfection of bounty, the benefits of them all turn to life. When your breathing is over, neither is there any remedy for your sins, which can be purified by repentance, nor your reward is going to increase. How true has the poet said: This breath which goes and which returns is a precious pearl.
How much valuable it is! He is stupefied. He understands in the grave. He realizes inside the grave. He breathes on dust. How many benefits were there in the world (during his life), which he could have obtained? At last, when he realizes he says, "My Lord, send us back that we may perform good deeds! My God! Now I have understood how valuable my lifespan was. How effective were the hours of my life! I have realized only now. O Lord! Make me return so that I may take full benefit of my life." It is then said to him, "Never. It is over. No more life now. Who has been given two lives that you may also be given? Everyone who has died has finished his role. Now you know what a great bounty God gave you that once again the holy month of Ramadhan has been a part of your life?"
Recall those who were here last year but now they are beneath the earth, even those who were younger than you have met with some accident and died. Now that you and I are here, how many times must we say, "Praise be to Allah the Lord of the worlds. I want to be thankful." So thank God as Ramadhan has arrived once again and we are fortunate to get its benefits. Firsts of all pray for the dead and know that special emphasis for prayers for the dead has been made during Ramadhan. During the month of Ramadhan, the dead have more than usual hopes from the living that they (the living) may send supplications for them and also make charities for them. O Lord! Now that You have favored us and preserved us, give us good sense also so that we may thank You and may take full benefit from Your bounty. Let us now begin in the name of Allah and gain the benefits.
Observance of fast and recitation of Qur’an
Yesterday I told you that the Holy Prophet said: Pray with purity of intention and sincerity of your hearts to God so that He may give you wisdom to fast in this holy month of Ramadhan and to recite the Holy Qur’an. This should not be only verbal; your heart should really wish so. Truly, how greedy is your heart for wealth and passions. So you pray for these things. What should be the right thing is that you should pray with a pure heart: O Lord! Let me not be ill in the holy month so that I may fast for all the days of this month. O God! Make me recite the Holy Qur’an in this month. Some of our Imams used to recite Qur’an forty times during this holy month. All of you cannot do likewise. Recite and go on reciting Surah Tawheed and all those little Surahs, which you have learnt by heart. But, in any case, do not give up the recitation of Qur’an.
Salawat, the Best Recitation
The first and foremost benefit is by reciting Salawat as many times as possible, every day and every night, a thousand times in a sitting. Say, "O Allah, bless Muhammad and the Progeny of Muhammad." After the ‘Asr prayer say a hundred times, "O Allah, bless Muhammad and the Progeny of Muhammad and hasten their reappearance." Doubtlessly, among all the recitals mentioned for Ramadhan is the recitation of Salawat during the day and night of this month. Only one narration is sufficient to realize its importance.
Shaykh Saduq has, in his book Amali, narrated authentically that from the Asr time on Thursday, a number of angels holding books made up of heavenly silver and pens made of heavenly gold come down to the earth and they rise up by sunset on Friday. Their only job is to note down the Salawat recited for Muhammad and his Progeny.
Explanation of Surah Hujurat is appropriate
Now as regards the subjects in the Holy Qur’an (The month of Ramadhan is that in which the Qur’an was revealed), since this is the month of Qur’an, the topics of sermons are based on some holy Surahs, and one of them is Surah Hujurat, so that its subjects and revelations may be heard by all and everyone may benefit from them.
Today, the heavenly revelation is wholly based on the Qur’an of Muhammad, but I have desired to begin with this holy Chapter, because I have been reminded that today is the best of all other days, being the first of Ramadhan. The Holy Prophet had given some admonitions in the sermon on the last Friday of the month of Shaban. I would like to mention about it inter alia in such a manner that it may not become too long.
Importance and Bounties of the holy month of Ramadhan
Ibn Babawahy has, through authentic chains narrated in Amali, that the Holy Prophet said, "O Muslims! Be glad. Be happy, as the Month of God has arrived. How nice. How has it come? With Mercy, with Forgiveness, with Bounties!"
Bounty means abundance, benefit-taking. What abundance can be higher than this? This holy month has lots of bounties. Every breath that is inhaled and exhaled has the reward of reciting: ‘Glory be to Allah’. O the one who fasts in this holy month of Ramadhan! Your breathing in it is also worship. Moreover, your sleep is counted as worship.
Reciting of one verse of Qur’an in this month is like reciting the whole Qur’an in any other month. The offering of two units of obligatory prayer in this month is equal to offering seventy units in any other month.
Organs are restrained from Prohibited deeds
All efforts are aimed at strengthening of spirit and spiritualism and in weakening the forces of animalism. Doors of Satan are closed. Do you know how it is done? All these tongues are put under strict control. Right from the first night of the month of Ramadhan, a believer does not say any wrong to another believer. Thus, he closes the door of hell. The tongue, which is the door of hell, is shut. One no more backbites anyone. One does not slander others. He does not spread rumors. He does not lie.
The eyes, which were the gates of hell, got closed since last night. One who fasts is restrained from all sins. He does not indulge in dishonesty through these eyes. He does not look at banned scenes. If it happened last night, it happened. Now it should not recur. Ears too are closed. They were also leading to hell and now they are sealed. Thus the gate of hell is locked. The feet which, God-forbid, were moving towards prohibited places have also stopped.
I would like to talk about abundance. The holy month has many bounties. They are beyond men’s counting power. Just know this much that Imam Zainul Abideen says, "Salam and greeting to you, O month of Ramadhan! Salam to you O Eid of the friends of God!"
The Eid of children is Navrooz (New Year Day). The Eid of the wise people is the holy month of Ramadhan. The festival of those whose character is like animals, who are belly worshippers is the day when their animality multiplies and gets perfected through eating and drinking and all kinds of merry making involving lust and passion. The character of such people is child-like. But what is the day of happiness for wise and intelligent people? It is when their spirit or soul becomes strong, not their belly or stomach. Belly filling, belly worshipping is the occupation of animals. I tell you, O man! However much you may give to your stomach you will not reach the level of a cow. The cow is, O sirs, more clever than you. The more she eats, the more gratification she gets. After all, it is not this eating and sleeping to which man should give importance. This trend is animal-like. Man eats due to helplessness and compulsion. It is not, like a donkey or cow, an aim in itself. The eating must be only to fulfill the need, not gluttony.
Month of wakefulness and self-realization
By and by, you have missed yourselves. The month of Ramadhan is for regaining yourselves, for reaching yourselves. Who are you? I mean, your spirit and soul, not your flesh and skin. This flesh and skin is a means of riding for you. Your reality, your true self is something else. It is a precious pearl. A siren is sent to you from the turret of the Divine rostrum. It reveals the Truth. During the month of Ramadhan you close the road leading to animalism. You weaken inclination towards eating more, sleeping more, voluptuousness and excessive talking. Observing Ramadhan honestly strengthens your spirit. It brightens your soul until, on the basis of knowledge and certainty, you say, "I witness that there is no god except Allah." You proclaim this with conviction, awareness and your knowledge of the Oneness of the God and… When does man’s soul realize? When his spiritualism becomes strong and his trend towards animalism becomes extremely weak.
A full belly is not in harmony with spiritualism
Imam Sadiq has said, as mentioned in Furu al-Kafi, that the worst condition of man, in the sight of God is when the stomach of man is full to the brim. A belly full of spiritualism makes man perfect like Barrah. A belly-filled gluttonous man is no different from a cow. (Indeed they eat like the cattle eat, and there is Hellfire is their dwelling). Let us now move forward. The bounties of Ramadhan are innumerable. So, I say, "O Muslims! Make prostration of thankfulness to God and recite, ‘I thank you my God’ that I did not die and got Ramadhan once more. I obtained the Day of Joy for the friends of God. I got the month of God. I got the bounties of this holy and most precious month." Fasting during its days, rising earlier at its dawns, its prayers, its recitations, its charities, its remembrances and various kinds of good deeds. This month provides you every good opportunity.
Bonds of relationship with kinsfolk and Divine Mercy
The good deeds towards which you must pay more attention during this holy month are mentioned in the tradition of the Holy Prophet, "Do you want to attract God’s Mercy? If so, then try your utmost to behave nicely and generously with your blood relatives. Join with them." This good deed can be accomplished in many ways. If your relative is poor, fulfill his needs; give him money. Make him your guest (host them). Who are such relatives? Father and mother, through whom you came into the world, then those who are your relatives through your mother and father, that is, brother, sister, cousins. Likewise look downward: Aunt, children of aunt. Take their care especially in Ramadhan so that God also joins His Mercy with you.
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