In a hadith it is said: Whoever fasts the fast of Ramadan believing and expecting its recompense from Allah, and passes this month with ibadah his/her past sins are forgiven. How should we understand this hadith?
Allah's Messenger, peace and blessings upon him, said: "Man sama Ramadana imanan wa'htisaban gufira lahu ma takaddama min zanbihi." and gave the good news that whoever believes fully in the fruitfulness brought about by Ramadan, whoever benefits from this month by fasting sincerely and by worshiping and praying and whoever expects its recompense only from Allah; the past sins of such believers will be forgiven.
The word imanan (believing) in the hadith stresses believing in everything that must be believed in and believing in the religious decrees about fasting wholeheartedly, and that word emphasizes believing without any doubt that the fast is obligatory, that there is great reward in return, and, above all, that it is a means to Allah's acceptance.
We are the servants of Allah; and it is Allah Whom we worship. The worships and good deeds that we perform toward Him with the intention of worshiping are His right and our duties and responsibilities. And the fast is His command and our duty. He always knows our worships and knows all that we do. Those worships that Allah sees and knows will return to us with multitude when the right time comes. Besides, when we raise our hands toward Him in supplication, as is stated in a hadith qudsi (saying narrated by the Prophet from Allah), Those hands will not be lowered empty.
While turning to Allah and supplicating Him, before all, we should believe fully that He sees His servants, hears prayers and is capable of providing what's asked for. Otherwise, praying without believing signifies such an understanding: I don't bother whether He gives or not., which is an open disregard and it is obvious that such a call will not be reciprocated. If He wills, He answers such people, too, with His bountifulness, and out of His mercy, which has overcome His wrath; we cannot shortly say that He won't answer. However, the means for His accepting prayers is, first of all, believing in Him wholeheartedly. We should believe, so that when we raise our hand with sincerity, Allah will not turn them down empty, and will not let us down; on the contrary, He will bestow His blessings in such a way that we will come to knock at the same door again. The stipulation imanan signifies such a belief.
The word ihtisab means expecting the reward from Allah; it signifies not engaging in worldly expectations and means caring only about Allah's acceptance and hoping for the recompense from His mercy. There should not be anything contrary to sincerity in good deeds and worships; one should not act with hypocrisy and affectation. No deed should be based on the applauses and praises of other people; everything should be performed for Allah's sake, and expectations should be only from Allah. And benevolence should be given priority; in other words, the deeds done should not be based on worldly benefits. Actually, with the understanding of the Companions of the Prophet, even when we lose the lace of our shoes, we should ask Allah for it; we should take pains in every deed that we carry out, and make good use of our free wills to the best, but eventually we should want everything from the Supreme Helper. We should not ever forget, while offering our servitude to Allah, that He is the One worshiped, and that we are His servants/slaves; we should ascribe our servitude only to Him, as it is His right only. Therefore, we should not base our worships on our needs and desires, but perform them because they are our duty.
In reality, it is not our personal right to ask something from Allah; it is among the rights that He bestowed on us out of His bountifulness. He is so bountiful that He let us use those rights toward Him. For example, in a way He said: You perform your servitude to Me, and fulfill your worships and prayers-which is your duty-, and I will make you happy with My blessings in the other world.; He thus made a covenant with us and gave us certain rights; He said: If you fulfill your servitude, you will have certain rights on Me. In this case, the one who gives the right and the one who grants opportunities to use it, is Allah.
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