Sheikh Abbas Jaffer talks about attaining Taqwah in the Holy month of Ramadan as well as some of the things which makes your fast void in this episode of The Rules of Fasting.
Bismillahi, al-Rahman, al-Rahim. Ramadhan Mubarak. May Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala accept all our 'Amal that we have managed to do so far and give us the tawfiq to carry on taking the best from this month, InshaAllah wa Ta'ala. When Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala introduces the month of fasting in the Qur'an after He says fasting has been made compulsory on you, the way it was made compulsory on the people before you, He adds a statement of reason. He says "La'allakum tattaqoon" (2:183). This La'alla is that perhaps, maybe, if everything is right, the prize at the end of the day is Taqwa. The fasting will lead you to Taqwa if all other conditions are met. So we want to know what is this Taqwa? And why is it so important?
In actual fact, according to the Qur'an, the single reason for the distinction and fadheela of one human being over another human being is this one factor only. Nothing else matters. You cannot go to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala and say how generous you are, how rich you are. Allah is richer, Allah is more generous. You cannot say to Allah that these are my merits and these are my good acts and all this, over the other people. The merit that Allah is interested in is Taqwa.
He says "'A'udhu billahi min al-shaytan al-rajim. Ya ayyuha an-nas." (49:13). 'O People.' Not even O Muslim, in O People, O Mankind. "Inna khalaqnakum min dhakarin wa untha" (49:13). You are all created from one man, one woman. "Wa ja'alnakum shu'ooban wa qaba'il" (49:13). 'I made you into these tribes and nations.' We have different colours. We have different, we look different, we speak differently. We have different classes in society. Why? "Li ta'arafoo" (49:13). 'So that you may recognise each other.' But don't think that whatever level you are, whichever land you live in, whatever you have in possessions and assets, don't think that that makes a difference to Me. What makes to me, what makes a difference to me is " Inna akramakum 'inda Allahi atqakum" (49:13). 'The ones from you who have honour in the Eyes of God are those who possess this Taqwa.'
So if Taqwa is the goal of fasting and if Taqwa is the means of distinction in the Eyes of God, we need to try to figure out what it is and how to gain it and how to keep it. So when we look at Taqwa, it is a kind of protection that we keep around us, a shield, if you like, that stops us from going into an area which would displease Allah. This is what it is. It is a shield and it means that being so conscious of God at every moment that you do not step into a direction which you know Allah displeased with. And certainly you do not do it by accident, by purpose. And you hope not to do it by accident. So this Taqwa, this shield, that you present around you, how does it come about?
Well first of all, it comes about by you being very mindful of every single thing you do and every single thing you say. That you ask yourself, that is this a direction that I am taking, is this towards God or is this something that maybe I stray into a thing where I am defying God or God was not pleased with this? So this constant mindfulness is the first thing.
And Taqwa is strengthened by 'Amal, by action. By Iman and 'Amal. It is something that becomes stronger and stronger as you begin to obey God more and more. It is not something you can just design and say from tomorrow 'I will be muttaqqi.' It is something that comes with practise. When one begins to obey Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, after faith, then the result is Taqwa. One of them, of course, is the fast. But how can we put this into practise?
You see what happens sometimes is we do not have the faith. We don't have the belief. Yes, we have the teachings, but really, will it work or not? We don't know. So when we don't know, then our actions are not with conviction. For example, you are told the fasting will give you Taqwa. You're not sure how or you are told that salat will keep you away from fahsha, or you are told the hijab is wajib and necessary. You say or you are told halal is good and haram is dangerous. You say 'I'm trying to think about this, it doesn't make sense to me. It's the same food, same food. I can't see the difference. It's the same modesty, same modesty. I can't see.' This is where we sometimes get stuck. Taqwa will come from faith in what you have been taught.
I can give you an example. Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala is saying to us that there is a reward at the end of this activity. I can't see it because my 'aql, my mind cannot conceive it. Suppose I say to you 'My friend, 20 metres away from you is the most beautiful painting you have ever seen. It is the most glorious thing. You are 20 metres away. Go and see how beautiful it is.' So you say 'Before I go there, I must see it from here. I must try to understand it.'
It's dark, so you take out your torch and you shine it towards the painting. The problem is your painting, your torch only works ten metres. It's not more powerful than that. So you put it to ten metres. You don't see anything. You say 'You know what? I don't think there is a painting because I can't see it'. However, if you walk ten metres, out of faith, out of trust, that I have been told this by someone I trust. The Qur'an has told me this. My Prophet has told me this. You trust him and you do the 'Amal, when you reach ten metres and you shine your torch, you will see that, that painting, which you could have never seen from point zero but you can see it from ten metres and you think, Masha Allah, it really is there. It's so beautiful.
So Taqwa comes from' Amal. You have to act. Act on what you know is wajib. Stay away from what you know is haram. Do the mustahabbat, for Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, do everything and you watch how this taqwa comes about. So, and Taqwa is a journey. Everybody has a little bit of Taqwa. Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, in the Qur'an says that the Qur'an was revealed, "Hudan li 'l-muttaqeen" (2:2). So you say, well, is it 'Hudan li 'l-muttaqeen,' then it's not hudan for others. It's not a guide for others, only for the people of Taqwa. No. Everybody has a small level of Taqwa. For example, even a person who is not a Muslim or a person who has no faith. He has a level of Taqwa. For example, he will not go on the streets without clothes on. This is his level because you ask him 'Why don't you do that?' He says 'This is my level of shame. I would not do this.'
But when we come to the journey towards Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, there are many grades of this Taqwa, depending on your effort. Even Rasul Allah, salla Allahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam , is told 'Ittaqu Allah,' so he, there is a journey. Everybody is on this journey. And when you come on this journey, how do you know you have Taqwa? Taqwa is manifestation of Allah's Will in action. This is how it is and it's proportional to one's faith. And of course, when you have this, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, puts you in the most honourable group. In the Qur'an, He says "Yawma nahshuru ul-muttaqeena ila ar-Rahmani wafda" (19:85). On that day, the muttaqeen will be called and called to Allah in an honoured group of people. They will be men of wafd. They will be called with honour. "Wa nasooqu ul-mujrimeena ila Jahannama wirda" (19:86). While, the sinners and those who do not have Taqwa are told to proceed towards Jahannam.
So we have to ask ourselves carefully, that this fasting should not be in vain. It has a purpose, it has a meaning, it has a goal. We need to try to achieve that goal. Much can be said about Taqwa. Much has been said about Taqwa, and it's not a concept that is new to us. Nahjul Balagha's main theme is Taqwa. Amir ul-Mu'minin 'alayhi as-salam never far from this idea of Taqwa. So we can learn many things from the Seerah of the Ulema, from the Seerah of Ahlul Bayt also, 'alayhim us-salam , in the first instance, how to go about this. InshaAllah Ta'ala, may Allah be, make us successful in this InshaAllah wa Ta'ala.
On the issue of the masa'il, there are certain things that we should not do when we fast, because if we do them, they nullify the fast. They are called muftirat. They break the fast and there is a whole list of them. There's about 8, there's about 9 of them, listed by the Fuqaha. So today's InshaAllah and tomorrow's segment, we will look at these to make sure we understand.
The first thing, of course, is eating and drinking. And by eating and drinking we mean intentional eating and drinking. So if somebody, for example, because it is, he forgot in the early days of month of Ramadhan and so on, and they, you drank water because somebody gave it to you and you realise later on 'Astaghfiru Allah, I am fasting. How did I do this?' It doesn't invalidate the fast. The moment you realise you must stop. If there is some water in your mouth, you spit it out and your fast is still ok, and there is no Qadha either. So it is intentional eating and drinking, but by forgetting, it does not invalidate the fast.
Sometimes people say I'm not eating, but I'm tasting or I'm trying to chew the food, make it softer for my child, or I'm tasting it because I'm cooking the food and I want to make sure the salt, you know at the end of a day of fasting, you don't want to get the salt wrong. People get angry. Maybe. But anyway, you're tasting it. It's ok, because why? It does not go down the throat. It's not eating something. And you just, once you once you finish, you can just spit out that and not swallow it.
Some people say, well, suppose I have saliva in my mouth and lots of saliva and I swallow that. Is that like drinking? No. If the saliva is in the mouth and you are swallowing it, it's ok.
There are other masa'il, sometimes people say, like for example, a person might think 'I'm using an asthma pump, an inhaler. Now that is going down. Is it going into and breaking my fast as food?' No, it's allowed because it does not, does not enter the stomach, it enters, rather the respiratory tract and so this is something that does not break the fast.
Essentially people say, if I take an injection, if I take an injection, for example, you take an injection and an anesthetic for some treatment, right? That does not break the fast. The Fuqaha say, if it is some sort of tonic that you take it and it gives you strength and this is makruh, but does not break the fast either, because it does not go down the throat into the stomach. But generally speaking, we should stay away from those things that somehow give us food in a different way. As technology goes forward. God knows, I was hearing about things that are put on the skin, stuck on the skin and they give some sort of strength and some sort of nourishment. So far, the Fuqaha rule this is makruh.
The second thing is that physical intimacy with your spouse breaks the fast. So sexual intimacy or even and this comes Istimna and masturbation, these kind of things, they if they are done in the fast, they break the fast. So those are things that we need to keep in mind.
And the third thing is ascribing lies to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala and to Rasul Allah and to A'imma alayhim us-salam , and including you know, as per precaution, Janabe Sayyida as-salamu Allahi 'alayha, as well the Ma'soomeen 'alayhim us-salam. What does ascribing lies mean? It means either yourself saying 'That this is in the Qur'an. This, the Prophet definitely said, this happened to Imam Al-Husayn in Karbala,' when you know that this is not happening and you know for a fact that it did not happen, but somehow you are saying it. This, if done knowingly while you are fasting, breaks the fast. Or if someone asks you has, 'Is this what the Prophet said?' And you know he said it, but for some reason, you say 'No, he didn't say this.' Whichever way, if you are doing, attributing a lie, it may be a mistake, that's something else. You find out later on that what I said was wrong. But at that time, you thought it was right, that doesn't break the fast.
So we have to be careful, more careful than normal when we are speaking on behalf of what Allah may have said or the Prophet or the A'imma alayhim us-salam, that it can break the fast. Wa as-salamu alaykum, wa rahmatullahi, wa barakatuh.