Sheikh Abbas Jaffer studies the concept of conversing with Allah, and making dua, and also looks at the penalties for missing an obligatory fast.
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim. Ramadhan Mubarak. May Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala accept our 'Amaal, whatever we have been able to do thus far and give us the tawfiq InshaAllah to take the best benefit from this month InshaAllah Ta'ala.
Today we want to look at one of the aspects that has been really emphasised in the month of Ramadhan and that is this idea of Du'a, supplication. This is a month that is a month of Du'a and all our Imams and the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, have taught various Du'as. And that is why in the books of Du'a, when you open them, there is a huge section, probably the biggest section is on the Dua's to be asked in the month of Ramadhan, because this is the month of asking, and Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala is liberal in giving in this month. So we want to look at that as to what is Du'a.
So I just brought a few questions around which I want to talk. The first is that what is the reality of Du'a? What is Du'a all about? And what should we ask for in Du'a? And if we just ask Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala to sort our problems, does that make man lazy or baree? He doesn't have to do anything now, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, will look after him? How do we know the Du'as are accepted? How should we ask? What are the ways and Adaab of asking of Du'a? And finally, why do people say most of the Du'as are not answered when Allah has promised to answer them? We are asking Du'as day and night and Allah says He will answer them, but they are not answered. So these are some of the things I want to talk about in this first section InshaAllah wa Ta'ala.
"Innee qareeb" (2:186). When My servants, they ask about Me, tell them I'm close. Not far. "Ujeebu da'wata ad-da'i idhaa da'aan" (2:186). I always answer the prayer of the one who supplicating to Me as long as he is asking Me. "Falyastajeeboo lee wa al-yu'minoo bee la'allahum yarshudoon" (2:186). So let them reply to Me, this da'wa, of asking Me, let him ask Me and let him believe in Me so that he is rightly guided.
So first and foremost it seems that Du'a is almost something that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, is asking us to do. And Du'a is this connection between human beings and God, which really is an Ibadah actually, because it shows first and foremost that we consider ourselves needy in front of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. We do not consider ourselves independent and we can go and do anything, but we recognise our utter neediness in front of God. This is very important.
Often times, different scenarios happen in life, we forget to ask Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala for the tawfiq, for the success because it is simple, we know how to do it and we are sure we will do it. And we imagine that it is us who is doing it. But if we get in the habit of saying 'Ya Allah, ok, I know the way forward. I know what I have to do, but I ask you for khayr.' And that is why Imam Al-Sadiq 'alayhi as-salam , would say that 'A mu'min does not leave or do any action without Istikharah.'
And Istikharah doesn't mean necessarily opening the Mushaf and looking and seeing whether it's good or bad. It means Talabu al-Khayr, seeking goodness. You come out of your house and say 'Ya Allah, I am going out to my normal work. Whatever I am doing, I seek from You khayr today in all that I endeavour to do.' And khayr is different from success. Khayr means that the work you do has some effect on your growth towards Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. There's goodness in it.
We need to understand that everything we require, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala can provide. One of the scholars, Aya Behjat, he writes, that one day he was working in his, it was hot so he was working in the hayaat of is house and he heard the doorbell next door ring and the child went to answer the door. And there was a man who was asking for something. He said 'I'm hungry and go and tell your mother to give me something.'
Aya Behjat says that, that answer given by the child, it made him think. Because the child told him 'Why don't you ask your mother? She will give you.' And Aya Behjat said it was the child's trust, that mother gives everything, whatever she, he needed at his age, his mother was giving him and he was saying to the beggar that 'Your mother will give you.' Aya Behjat said, when did we forget that Allah will give us everything just like He has always given us? We should have that trust like this child has in the mother. That Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala will give us everything. We turn first to Allah and then we turn to others and turn to other things and ourselves. Generally we tend to do it the other way around. We do what we want and then when we are in trouble or we are not sure, now we say 'Ya Allah help me.'
So we need to get into this idea that Du'a and if you look at the Du'as that are taught to us in the month of Ramadhan, they are very instructive. They are not just supplications, but they are instructions on how to communicate with God, how to ask, what to ask for. You will find generally speaking, in the Du'as and taught by our Imams 'alayhim us-salam, that it begins with Praise of Allah, not because Allah needs our praise, but because by Praising Him, by Identifying Him, we are saying 'Ya Allah, I know You are all of these things. I know, that's why I'm going to ask You something because I know You are capable. I know You are Merciful. I know you have no limit to your, to what you can give.'
Then when you see what they ask for, it is usually one or two lines they ask for. And it is always on Ukhrawi matters, on matters to do with Akhirah. Because if your Akhirah is secure, dunya doesn't matter. Dunya is a temporary place. But if dunya is secure and Akhirah is insecure, that is a permanent place. So they always say something like you know, 'Fukka rakabati min an-naar,' save my neck from the Fire of Hell. Keep me away from Hell, put me in Jannah, 'Adkhilni fi al-Jannah.' Things like this which are really important in the final analysis. It doesn't matter how you got to Jannah as long as you go to Jannah, isn't it? All the problems along the way, all the trials you face, all the difficulties you face, they mean nothing, if Jannah you get. By the same way, it doesn't matter all the blessings you got, all the good life you got, if you don't end up in Jannah.
So these are the things Imams are training and there's many, many things that are in these Dua's, which are not just about asking but also learning. And certainly we should not be in the habit of just reciting. Because often we say we are reciting the Du'a. It should be we are asking the Du'a or we are pondering about the Du'a. But the Du'a initially is to show our utter neediness to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala.
How should we ask? We should ask with presence of mind. Often there are many Du'as or if there's one Du'a, there are many lines in that Du'a. It's easy to get caught up in just reciting it. So in addition to reciting it, because when people recite together, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, if He accepts from one of them, will accept from all of them. This is the Hadith. So it's good to sit together and supplicate to God.
But also it is good to take small portions out and actually start to talk with Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala through a kind of personal munajat, conversation with Allah, asking Him directly, personally and with full concentration of what you are asking. In one of the Hadiths we have in Bihar, that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, revealed to Musa 'What would you do if you had a slave who, you told him to come and talk to you and when he was talking to you, he was looking everywhere else and he was not paying attention to you and he was being rude?'
Musa 'alayhi as-salam said 'If he was this way rude with me and he is my slave, I would tell him to go away. I would release him and not keep him with me anymore. I would not look after him anymore.' And then Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala says 'My slaves, when they stand in prayer, their hearts are like this. Everywhere they are looking with their heart, but they are talking to Me. But I don't tell them to go away because they are Mine and I forgive them and I guide them.'
So when we talk to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, and our heart is here, there and everywhere, Allah sees the hearts just like you and I see the eyes and from the eyes we can tell that this person is not interested in what we are saying to him. In the same way our hearts are everywhere, so we need to have presence of heart and ask. Often times people say my Du'a is not accepted because really they haven't asked. They have said a few things, but they haven't asked with all their heart to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala of what they want.
Does it make people lazy? No. Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala said, did not say that You tell me Ya Allah I, 'Innee ufawwidhu ilayk.' I leave all my matters to You and then you go and sleep under your blanket. No. Everybody has to strive. Everybody has to work in the normal way. What you are asking Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala is to give you tawfiq in that action, make it successful.
In a Hadith from Imam Al-Sadiq salawat Allahi wa as-salamu 'alayhi, He says Allah will never accept the Du'a of someone who asks for more rizq but sits in his home doing nothing. This is not the system of God. The asking is of saying Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, give me tawfiq in my activity. The activity is there, but make it successful.
Another reason for asking, actually is to become an Agent of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, like a talqeen, like a self, telling yourself. Like, for example, when are say, when we say, 'Allahumma adkhil 'ala ahli al-quburi as-surur.' O Allah, those who are in the qubur, in the graves, let them be happy. It means through you, that you are teaching yourself that I go to the ahl ul-qubur, I recite Fatiha, I do khayraat for my parents who have passed away and I do something. This is the way I, 'adkhil 'ala ahli al-quburi as-surur.' I become the Agent of that Du'a being, come to fruition, come to pass. Not that I say to God and then I have nothing else to do in it.
So Du'a often is about saying to Allah, let me participate in making this true. Give me that that tawfiq, give me that, that inspiration to do it. This is Du'a, and this is the month of Du'a and this is the month of acceptance of the Du'a easily. Why? Because you are the dhayf of Allah, the guest of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala and guests are given easy rides by the hosts. Guests normally because they have already been honoured, especially since they have been invited, then Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala will not dismiss the request of His guest, InshaAllah Ta'ala. May Allah give us tawfiq in this to ask Du'a from Him constantly, InshaAllah Ta'ala.
When we come to the masa'ils, we're looking at several ones. Today I want to talk about certain penalties. We have a penalty, we call it Fidya. This is a monetary amount given when you do not fast for an acceptable reason and do not pay the Qadha till the next year, then there is a Fidya and we talked about it. It's half, three quarter kilogramme of food stuff. But there is a penalty. Fidya is a compensation but there's a penalty for an infraction called Kaffara.
Kaffara is not always a monetary amount. It is a penalty you pay because of a rule you broke. So for example, if someone breaks their fast intentionally, 'Ah, I'm tired of this fast now, I'm just breaking it.' I go and eat. There is Qadha of course, but there's also a Kaffara. Or for example, after intimacy and there is Janabat due on him, not caring whether they will be able to do the ghusl before the Fajr, before the fast starts and just ignoring all that. There is Kaffara.
This Kaffara in Hadith is one of three. The first is freeing a slave. Now in this day and age, that is not an option. We do not have slavery in the modern era, so freeing a slave doesn't feature into what we can do. The second is to fast and this shows the gravity of this. Fasting 60 fasts for each fast that you broke in this way or you didn't keep in this way, even not keeping the fast or breaking it, you know without reason. Kaffara is to feed 60 people to their fill or giving them three quarter kilogramme food for them to have. 60 People, sorry, 60 fasts first of all. 60 fasts these ones, if you do this Kaffara, you have to keep 31 of them continuously. 31 of these are consecutive and the other 29 you can have breaks in them.
Or the third Kaffara is that you feed 60 people to their fill and or give them three quarter kilogrammes of rice or food grain each so that they can be satiated by that. Now you are meant to choose from these three Kaffaras. If, for example, you break the fast, but this time not with a halal thing or a halal way. For example, the one way of breaking the fast without reason is to drink water. Another way is not only to drink water but to eat something haram, something najis, alcohol, ayyadhu bi-Llah or some other food, which is najis. This then, according to precaution by Fuqaha, you need to do all three of the Kaffara. Now, obviously slavery is out of the question. All three. So this is, it is ehtiyaat mas'ala, it's not wajib but you can see that it becomes even graver. Kaffara is to show that you have actually broken a law and it has a penalty. It has a consequence. It is a defiance of God for which there is a penalty. We understand penalties. We understand consequences. When we break laws here, in this country of the law, there is a penalty, a fine. This is what Kaffara is. May Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala guide us in these masa'ils InshaAllah wa Ta'ala, so that we can fast properly as taught by the Prophet.
And may Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, accept our 'Amaal in this month. Wa as-salamu alaykum, wa rahmatullahi, wa barakatuh.