THE MONTH OF RAMADAN, THE SEASON OF THE HEREAFTER
Endless praise be to Allah, who enabled us to attain the blessed month of Ramadan this year to! Endless greetings be to Hz. Muhammad (pbuh), the prophet of the religion of Islam, which gives happiness in the world and the hereafter, to his pure Ahl al-Bayt, his distinguished Companions and all of the believers who follow the same way! We hope Ramadan will be a key that will open the doors of the Paradise in the world and the hereafter.
The month of Ramadan is a season of the hereafter. The month of Ramadan is a season of spring when the rose of worshipping blossom, ethical values flourish again and the feelings of compassion, mercy and solidarity become active. It is a very productive season when one good deed is rewarded one hundred, one thousand times and more like a grain of corn or a seed of fig.
“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint.” (al-Baqara, 2/183)
As it is stated in the verse above, fasting was a religious obligation in the previous ummahs too. For, the manifestation of being a slave of Allah is through obeying Allah’s orders and prohibitions in all issues.
Fasting is a difficult deed of worshipping. The belief of a person increases to the extent of the difficulty of worshipping; his respect toward Allah strengthens and his consciousness of servitude is consolidated. He becomes like an angel when he fasts. As it is stated in the principle, “the best and virtuous deed is the one that is the most difficult”, the reward of fasting will reduce its difficulty to nothing.
It is pointed out in the same verse that the most important fruit of fasting is “taqwa”. Indeed, what shows “taqwa” the best among deeds of worshipping is fasting.
For, other deeds of worshipping are generally performed before the eyes of the people; therefore, it is possible that show-off and hypocrisy be included in them. However, fasting is a deed of worshipping that is secret. A person can eat and drink at home and he can act as if he is fasting outside. If a person does not do so and prefers to fast, which is difficult, it shows that he shows great respect to Allah, that he has taqwa, that he is sincere in his religion and that he has a strong consciousness of belief and worshipping.
Taqwa is a word derived from the root “wiqaya”, which means protection/being protected. It means not to approach the boundaries imposed by Allah with the fear of not transgressing them, to protect one’s soul in this field and not to approach these boundaries, and to be in a consciousness of deep respect to Allah with this consciousness.
Taqwa is divided into various levels based on the sensitivity a person shows to his inner world. Some people fear Allah’s penalty while others feel His wrath. Some fear Allah’s majesty. Some avoid hurting Allah’s compassion and mercy. Every taqwa owner is in a level of taqwa based on his state.
Fasting is a deed of worshipping that makes man gain a treasure like taqwa and a virtuous personality, that makes man be under Allah’s protection and that rewards him with a special reward.
Types of fasting in terms of spiritual levels
Fasting is divided into three levels:
- The fasting of ordinary people (awam).
- The fasting of spiritually distinguished people (khawas).
- The fasting of the most distinguished people of the distinguished people (akhassul-khawas.
We can explain those three types of fasting as follows:
The Fasting of Awam: It means fasting by paying attention to the minimum conditions laid by Islam so that it will be sound, that is, keeping away from eating, drinking and sexual intercourse.
“…And eat and drink, until the white thread of dawn appear to you distinct from its black thread; then complete your fast Till the night appears; but do not associate with your wives while ye are in retreat in the mosques. Those are Limits (set by) Allah: Approach not nigh thereto. Thus doth Allah make clear His Signs to men: that they may learn self-restraint” (al-Baqara, 2/187)
This type of fasting is pointed out in the verse above.
The Fasting of Khawas: It means fasting by keeping the organs like the tongue, eyes, ears and feet away from sins along with the three conditions mentioned above. For instance, this level of fasting is pointed out in the hadith below indicating that the tongue needs to keep away from lies:
“If a person does not stop telling lies and doing deeds by lies, Allah does not need his keeping away from eating and drinking.” (Bukhari, h no: 1903)
The fasting of Akhassul-Khawas: It means fasting by freeing the mind, intellect, imagination and all feelings from bad imaginations, and keeping them busy with the truths that Islam teaches along with the issues mentioned in the first two levels. In addition, it means freeing the heart from all worldly thoughts and keeping everything except Allah away from the heart. It is possible to see the summary of this level in the following verse:
“…Say: ‘Allah (sent it down)’: Then leave them to plunge in vain discourse and trifling.” (al-An'am, 6/91)