And evidently, to reach a state of taqwa requires vigilance, it requires patience and sincerity.
The verse is pertaining to fasting I found in a single set of verses in chapter 2 starting at verse 183:
O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous. (2:183)
A COLLECTIVE ACT OF WORSHIP
Allah is telling us that fasting has been made obligatory and then Allah tells us that just as it was prescribed for those before us.
We often get asked this question in Ramadan, “how’s the fast going for us?” And if we gave ourselves a moment to think about it, we see that Allah Most High has made the fast inside the month of Ramadan easy for us because we know that there is a collective spirit to fasting; we know that we’re not alone in this act.
That’s what this verse is telling us that we are part of a sacred collective act which includes those who came before us.
We’re told that this is the way of Abraham, Moses, Jesus… This is the way of all who went before.
Fasting is the ultimate unbroken chain of sacred chain of practice, and so the collective spirit of knowing that this is a collective obligation eases that obligation for us, even in relation to all the other sacred acts which Allah has prescribed for us such as the prayer, Hajj…
EVERY ACT OF WORSHIP IS A GATEWAY TO ALLAH
Can you imagine if there was no concept of congregational prayer, something which we feel that we’re missing right now in Ramadan? The fact that we cannot go to the Masjid and pray taraweeh at home, it’s difficult.
So, we see that Allah Most High is facilitating things for us. Allah says:
If you come walking to Me, I should come running to you.
He facilitates everything for us. It’s just up to us to pay attention. And that’s the key here: Attention.
People are in a state of heedlessness, whereas we need to be in a state of attentiveness and attentive to Allah’s blessings.
Now, ultimately every act of worship is something which should be taking us a step closer to Allah. It’s not the physical act itself which is being sought from us. If that were the case, then just the mere fact of not eating or drinking would be enough.
Fasting is something more than just staying hungry, there are steps that we have to go through. Acts of worship stand as the gateways to getting closer to Allah; to arrive at these lofty stations, take the prayer for instance:
Prayer keeps away from abominations.
The physical act of prayer is there as a gateway to get us to somewhere else.
REACHING A LOFTY STATION
And that’s the case with fasting. We’re fasting so that we may arrive at this beautiful lofty station that Allah refers as taqwa. It escapes translation; it’s something that can be explained as a concept.
We can understand this verse in three steps:
– There are those who listen to the words of Allah. This first group of people is enough for them that Allah is calling them and telling them to fast, that’s it.
– The second group are those who perhaps need something a bit more and they are reminded that they are a pert of a collective act. It’s that little bit more.
– The third group of people who look for reasons.
Imam Ar-Razi tells us the meaning of the verse:
“Fasting has been prescribed for you so that you can be of the people of taqwa that Allah has praised in His book.”
Isn’t not interesting that the hopeful result by the end of Ramadan is to be God conscious? Since Ramadan is a time to be conscious of our food and our body, we’re telling our bodies that, “I’m in control of you, I’m not going to give in to you this month.”
This is the month when the heart is very much in charge. Ramadan is a time to engage the vertical plane; it’s a time that we seek nourishment for our souls from beyond the material world.
A STEP FORWARD
Ramadan comes and goes. If we have not at the very least moved a step closer to taqwa, what was Ramadan for, as Imam Al-Ghazali says?
At night buffet, all types of food that we wouldn’t ordinarily even have throughout the year, and our tables are full of these delights in the month of Ramadan. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy the blessings that Allah has given us, but if that’s all it becomes, then we missed the purpose of what Ramadan is.
Taqwa is mentioned in the Quran alongside some 15 different virtues. For instance, we’re told that one who has taqwa has guidance; we’re told that who has taqwa is protected by Allah. If we become conscious of Allah, He takes over our affairs. That’s the exact description of a wali.
Unquestionably, [for] the allies of Allah there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve (Quran 10:62)
When people in the high state of God consciousness, they only see beauty of things. We’re told that those who have taqwa, this is what engenders love of Allah; Allah will make a way out for them from any anxiety, from any trouble in ways that we can’t even imagine:
And whoever is conscious of Allah – He will make for him a way out. (65:2)
And He says in the same chapter that He has made for everything an appointed time, nothing goes beyond this stated time.
It’s so important for us to remind ourselves of that again and again because in this situation right now, where people are having to stay at home, Allah has made an appointed time for everything. Nothing will go beyond the moment that Allah written for that thing.
REMEMBER THE PURPOSE
Ramadan really bring us to this state of taqwa. When we’re fasting, we feel hungry, we’re consciously trying to make an effort to be in charge of ourselves so that by the end of the month, we have learnt how to be in charge of ourselves throughout the year.
So you see how the month is a microcosm in preparing us for the entire year; that taqwa in this month, even though it might be a consciousness of avoiding food and drink, it’s preparing us to be conscious of Allah throughout the year.
It’s amazing how Allah gives us this opportunity to draw closer to Him.
Imam Ar-Razi said that one of the rational proofs that he gives for fasting being obligatory is that anything which prevents one from sinning, it must be understood as an obligation, just like the prayer, it prevents us from sinning if it’s done properly.
If fasting and praying don’t prevent us from sin, then it can only mean that not being done properly. The same what Allah tells us in the Quran:
We have not sent down to you the Qur’an that you be distressed (20:2)
Allah says He sent the Quran to make us happy; if it’s making us unhappy, you’re not reading it right.
The same applies for the Seerah, it’s about meanings, at each and every instance in the seerah, we should pause and reflect:
What does it mean that the Prophet Muhammad lost his father before he even came to this world?
What does it mean that he lost his mother when he was six years old?
What does it mean when he lost his grandfather when he was a child, that he lost his uncle and wife in the same year…?
Read the Quran with reflection, read the Seerah with reflection, pause and take meaning.