Sheikh Abbas Jaffer talks about some of the spiritual aspects of the journey in this holy month and also clarifies under what condition someone is excused from fasting.
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim. Ramadhan Mubarak. May Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala accept whatever 'amal we have been able to do till now in this Holy Month and give us the tawfiq to carry on and benefit as much as we can in this Great Month of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala.
Yesterday I mentioned that the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, before the month of Ramadhan advised the Muslimeen about this month in a very famous khutbah that is known as his Sermon at the End of Sha'ban. It is found in many books including Uyun Akhbar ar-Ridha 'alayhi as-salam. In this, after he has introduced the great fadheelah in merits and benefits of this month, he makes some very interesting comments to tell us what the month is about.
In one section, he says 'Wa huwa Shahrun du'eetu feehi illah dhiyafati Allah.' This is very great. This is the month in which you have been invited to become the Guests of God. 'Wa ju'iltum feehi min ahli karaamati Allah.' And as a result, you have been made people honoured, especially by God. Now this, all these words of the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, are very important and worth thinking about. He did not used to use words wastefully. Everything was measured, everything had meaning.
What is 'Dhiyafatu Allah?' And to get an idea of this, let us think about when we have guests in our home. What kind of arrangements do we make for guests? And what kind of rights a guest has when he comes to our house? The first thing is according to our means, we try to make it as comfortable as we can for the guests. He is for us, somebody important. We tell everybody that we have a guest, so we have to welcome him. We try to make the best arrangement for him. And certainly if this guest needs something, we want to quickly give it to him. And also if he asks for something, we try everything we can to please him because he's our guest.
Now, when it comes to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala being the Host, it is something very different as well, something much greater. Because when it is us who are the host, we are limited by our means. What we have, we give to our guests. Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala is not limited in this way. And so it is important for us to understand that Allah is our Host. If you, for example, think I cannot ask Allah for this or this is too big, then you have limited what your host can give. You can ask anything. As a guest, you can ask.
First of all, the first thing to realise is you have been invited. This is very great. Du'eetum, you have been invited to be a guest. You didn't just turn up at someone's house. There is a difference if you suddenly came to someone, and he said 'Ok, welcome to my house and you may stay.' Or the one who calls you 'You have to come, please. I'm waiting for you.' Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala has invited us in this month and because he has invited us in this month, there is definitely something there that He wants us to take back with us.
The second thing is, the Hadith tells 'Ju'iltum feehi min ahli karaamati Allah.' You have been especially honoured by Allah. Why have you been honoured? You know when we fast, fasting is very different from other acts because it's kind of a thing where we don't do anything. Normally in acts we do things, whether it's Salaat or Hajj, we do something. In fasting, we don't do things. So it's very secretive. That is why, for example, the mustahab fast is very much rewarded by God because nobody knows you are fasting. It is between you and Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. But the fact that you are manifesting God's Will, this is very important. Don't ever think that if you pray in your room and nobody saw you or you are fasting or you are doing another khayraat, good action on your own, that nobody is seeing it. Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala is seeing it. And because you are manifesting God's Will, you are showing by your action, Obedience to God, you become Ahlu karaamati Allah. You become honoured by God.
And in other places in Hadith, we have Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, tells his Angels, look at that servant 'He is obeying me alone.' Nobody can see him. If he eats or drinks, nobody knows. The one who is fasting, when he's at home, what he does, nobody knows. But he stays silent because he says 'Ya Allah, You Know, You See.' And in that he has, Allah gives him karaamati Allah, gives him respect.
And when you come into this month, you do not have to give anything. It's not like we have come to a shop. When we come to the shop, the shopkeeper says 'Ok, what have you brought so I can give you something?' Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala says 'You are my guest, just come. Come. I want to Give.' So this is also very important. We need to be mindful of what is on offer and take with everything. Take everything we can with us.
And such is the Blessing of God, that in this month, even as you just sleep, Allah gives you rahmah. Even your sleep and your breathing. The Prophet said in that Hadith is tasbih because you are His Guest. And finally, most important, most important that we should remember, when you come to someone's house, he might be there, he might not be there. But if he invites you, he will be there. Because he has invited you, he must be there. And second, he will introduce himself to you. 'Welcome, you are my guest. This is who I am.'
In this month, if we allow, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala will introduce His Beauty to us. He will show something of Himself to us, because we are His Guest. So this is very important to realise this 'dhuyuf' or being the Guest of God is a great honour, great blessing. Very few times, in other places that Allah says that 'You are my guest.' Maybe in Hajj. But in the month of fasting, even the one who will not go for Hajj, he is dhayfu Allah. He is the Guest of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. And may Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, give us this mindfulness to take these blessings that are on offer, and in that way, get the best out of this month InshaAllah wa Ta'ala.
On the issue of some masa'il that may be of relevance. One of the things that we need to be aware of is that sometimes for various reasons, we have Qadha of the fast. Women have Qadha when they don't fast and pray certain days. They have to repay those. People who travel, they have Qadha and they have to repay those.
Now, for example, if a person has fasts from the month of Ramadhan last year, four or five, they did not fast for various reasons. They have to pay these back in the month, the eleven months till the next month of Ramadhan. Now, if for example, he is not able to do this and the next month of Ramadhan came, so now they have to fast normally. Is there any penalty? Yes, there is a penalty.
So if there is no reason, if there was a good reason, like illness throughout the year, mathalan travelling throughout the year, whatever, it's unlikely. But if there is no good reason that he has not fasted, then those Qadha still remain on him or her but they have to give fidya, a penalty. And this penalty, they give one mudd, we call it. Three quarter kilo of food to the poor. Grain, rice, wheat, what do you normally eat as well, dates, raisins, things like this, one mudd. And that is equal to roughly three quarter kilo. You work out its value. Either you go buy it yourself and reach it to the poor people, or you go to some centres, Islamic centres, Shia Islamic centres, who will tell you that this is the value mathalan, of three quarter kilo and you pay that value for each fast.
The second masa'il is, is fasting obligatory on everybody? As a rule, it is obligatory on every baligh person who is able to fast. But there are some exemptions. The first one is illness. What does illness mean? The illness is a maw'dhu', it's a subjective issue. So for example, the Faqih will tell you that the ill person doesn't fast. Qur'an tells you, that for those who are ill, they have to repay other days (2:184). But who is ill and who is not ill, that person has to decide for themselves. So you look at yourself and particularly on that day, you are really unwell and you know that you cannot fast and you are unable to fast because of that, then you do not fast.
However, for example, you are fasting and it becomes very hot. It becomes very difficult to carry on fasting and you really feel that 'If I do not drink something now, I will collapse.' What do the Fuqahah say? Sayed [Sistani] says that you take the water that you need, that you need to just make yourself comfortable again and you carry on. But he recommends that you don't eat and drink normally. You don't tell yourself because the fast has broken, there is a Qadha on that fast. You don't tell yourself 'Ok khub, the fast is broken, then it's a normal day. Let me have my lunch, let me have my tea. Let me have my dinner and all this.' No. In respect of the month, you stay hungry and thirsty as you would have done, and then after the month is over, there is Qadha.
There's another exemption for elderly people. They reach a certain age, after which really, it is difficult for them to fast for any length of time and they do not have to fast. That's elderly people. However, there's a group of people for whom they are not elderly, but similarly, for some reason, it is difficult for them to fast. They have an illness that requires them to eat regularly. There may be certain kind of diabetics who cannot go very long without this. These people are not aged or elderly. Then the Sayed says they're ok, they do not fast but for each fast they miss, they must pay fidya for each day. Again, three quarter of a kilo of grain.
InshaAllah Ta'ala, we pray that Allah accept our 'amal in this month, and gives us this tawfiq to take the best from this month. InshaAllah wa Ta'ala.