Archive for the ‘Readings/Book Excerpts’ Category

Imam AlHaddad – The Book Of Assistance – On Certainty

December 8th, 2009 5 comments

Chapter 1
On Certainty
You must, beloved brother, strengthen and improve your certainty. For when certainty prevails in the heart and establishes itself therein the unseen becomes as if seen and the man aided by providence says, as ‘Ali, may God ennoble his face, said: ‘Were the cover to be removed, I would not increase in certainty.’

Certainty is power, firmness and stability of faith so great that it becomes as a towering mountain which no doubts can shake and no illusions rock. Rather, doubts and illusions disappear completely, and when they come from outside are neither listened to by the ear nor heeded by the heart. The Devil cannot approach the possessor of such certainty; he flees from him, fears his very shadow, and is content to keep at a safe distance. As the Messenger of God, may blessings and peace be upon him, has said: ‘Satan is afraid of the shadow of `Umar, and `Umar never takes a road but that Satan takes another.’

Certainty derives its power and excellence from many things. The first, most essential and pivotal of these is that the servant listen attentively with his heart as well as his ears to verses and hadiths relating to God, His Majesty, Perfection, Magnitude, and Grandeur, His Uniqueness in creating and deciding, ruling and compelling; likewise to the truthfulness and perfection of the Messengers, the miracles they were aided with, and the sundry chastisements which befell those who opposed them. That these are sufficient to bring about certainty is indicated by His Word (Exalted is He!):

Is it not enough for them that We have sent down upon you the Book which is recited to them? [29:51]

The second is to learn from looking at the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, and the wondrous and astounding creatures that God made them teem with. That this brings about certainty is indicated by His saying (Exalted is He!):

We shall show them Our signs on the horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the Truth. [41:53]

The third is to behave according to what one believes, outwardly and inwardly, zealously, and to the limits of one’s resources. That this brings about certainty is indicated by His saying (Exalted is He!):

And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways. And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good.[29:69]

Proper certainty results in, among many other things, acquiescence in God’s promise, confidence in what He has guaranteed, turning to God with pure longing, abandoning all things which distract from Him, continuously returning to Him in all circumstances, and spending all one’s energy in seeking His good pleasure.
In sum, certainty is the essential thing, and all other noble ranks, praiseworthy traits of character and good works are its branches and results.

Virtues and actions are strong or weak, sound or unsound, according to the strength or otherwise of certainty. Luqman, upon whom be peace, said: ‘Action is possible only in the presence of certainty; a servant acts in obedience only to the extent that he has certainty, and a man becomes neglectful in his actions only when his certainty diminishes.’ This is why the Messenger of God, may blessings and peace be upon him, has said: ‘Certainty is the whole of faith.’

Believers have three degrees of certainty. The first is that of the People of the Right Hand, this is firm belief but with the possibility of becoming doubtful or shaky under certain circumstances. This is called faith.

The second is that of the Ones Brought Nigh, which is the possession of the heart by faith and its establishing itself therein so firmly that its opposite becomes no longer possible or even imaginable. In this degree the unseen becomes as the seen. This is called certainty.

The third is that of the Prophets and the True Saints (siddiqun) who are their perfect heirs. Here the unseen becomes seen, which thing is called unveiling (kashf) and contemplation (mushahada)

There are grades within each degree: all are good, but some better than others. That is God’s grace, He bestows it upon whom He will, and God’s grace is abundant. [57:29]

The Book of Assistance – Risalah al-Mu`awanah
Imam Abdullah b Alawi AlHaddad

Translated by Dr. Mostafa Badawi

Nafisa at-Tahira

September 19th, 2009 3 comments

Rare Lady Saint of the Egpytians
[Excerpted from From the Light of Ahl al-Bayt: My Spiritual Experiences Unveiled]
by Imam Metawalli ash-Sha`rawi

Sayyida Nafisa was born in Makkah on the 11th of Rabi`a al-Awwal, the same night that the Prophet (s) was born, in the year 145 H. Her father had been appointed governor of Madinat al-Munawwara in the year 150 H. She accompanied her father to Madina at the tender age of five. There she memorized the entire Qur`an and studied Islamic jurisprudence in depth. Being extremely intelligent she also became adept in explaining the Qur`an despite her young age.

She was the daughter of al-Hasan al-Anwar, the son of Zaid al-Ablaj, son of al-Imam al-Hasan (r), brother of al-Imam al-Husayn (r), son of the Daughter of the Prophet (s) Sayyida Fatimat al-Zahra (r). She is from the family of the Prophet (s) about which Allah said in the Holy Qur`an “Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! and to purify you a (thorough) purifying.” [33: 33]

Young Nafisa frequented the grave of her grandfather the Prophet (s) (mulazamat qabri jaddiha al-Mustafa). The People of Madina loved her deeply. She became renowned for her abstemiousness (zuhd) and piety (taqwa), for fasting the day, spending the nights in prayer and for her excessive devotion to worshipping Allah (swt).

Sayyida Nafisa had many titles by which she was known among the people, derived from her many different miracles (karamat ). She is known as Nafisat al-`ilmi wal-ma`rifat, (the Rare Lady of Knowledge and Gnosis) because of what she achieved and accumulated from knowledge of the Family of the Holy Prophet (s). She is called Nafisat al-Tahira, the Rare Lady of Purity, and Nafisat al-`Abida, the Rare Worshipful Lady, and Nafisat al-Darayn, the “Rare one among ladies in this life and the next”, and Sahibat al-Karamat, “the Lady of Miracles”, and Sayyidat Ahl al-Fatwa, “the Leading Lady in deriving rulings and verdicts”, and Umm al-Awaajiz, “the Mother of Elderly Women”, and Nafisat al-Masriyyin, “the Rare Lady of the Egyptians”, because of the Egyptian people’s intense love for her and her love for them, and her being their recourse for their every problem – collectively and individually.

Sayyida Nafisa used to pray the five prayers regularly behind her father in Masjid an-Nabawi (s) from the age of six. Her father used to take her by the hand and enter inside the room of the grave of the Holy Prophet (s), which is the house of Sayyida `Ayesha (r). He would address the Prophet (s) directly saying: “Ya Rasullullah!, O Beloved Prophet of Allah! I am pleased with my daughter Nafisa!” He continued these visits repeatedly until one day the Prophet (s) appeared to him in a dream saying to him, “Ya Hasan, I am pleased with your daughter Nafisa, because you are pleased with her, and Allah is pleased with her because I am pleased with her.
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Working People’s Needs

September 15th, 2009 1 comment


There are several things that working people need to do. Every morning when leaving the home for work, they should make a firm vow with God. They should resolve to forgive anyone who misbehaves with them along the day’s route, for the marketplace is the realm of dispute and lawsuit. For this reason, the Prophet has said, “Who among you is unable to act just like Abu Damdam? Every day upon leaving his house he would say, ‘Dear God, for my charity I give offering of turning away from whatever other Muslims do against me.” Before leaving home, the working person should make ablutions and pray, asking God to keep him or her safe and sound upon leaving. For nobody knows what is going to happen to you when you step outside. Going to the marketplace is like going to the battlefield. The believer should wear the armor of seeking protection with and trusting that God alone can ward off the shots of enemies. Whoever turns to God for protection, God guides to a straight and level path. And also, Whoever entrusts to God every concern, God is their reward.

As they leave home, working people should place their families, their homes and all their belongings in the care of God. They are not capable of preserving all they leave behind from harm. Let them remember Divine Speech: For God is the best preserver, and God is the most compassionate of those who care. Let them remember the Prophet’s petition, “O God, you are the companion during travels and the care-taker of the family, children and property left behind.” If working people place all this in the care of God, then there is hope that when they return they will find everything in order as they expect and desire. Once a Sufi went on a trip and left his wife when she was pregnant. As he was setting out, he said, ‘O God, in your care I place that which is in her womb.’ During his absence, his wife died. When he returned, he inquired about his wife, and was told that she died while giving birth. That night, he perceived a light glowing in the graveyard and went outside to follow it. He found that the light was emanating from his wife’s grave. In it, he saw her with a little child suckling at her breast. A voice called to him, “You placed the child in her womb in Our care, so now you have got it. Had you placed them both in Our care, you might have gotten them both together!”
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Fasting by Imam al-Haddâd

August 26th, 2009 No comments

(A translation of a section of his Nasâih al-Dîniyâh) by Shaykh Abdal Aziz Ahmad


The Status of Ramadân

Imam al-Haddâd, may Allah shower him with mercy, said:

Know! O gathering of brothers, may Allah ease us and you towards ease and distance us from difficulty and forgive us in the next world and the first one, that Ramadân is a month of mighty status and rank with Allah and His Messenger, upon him be peace. It is the master of all months. Allah made fasting compulsory for the Muslims and prescribed it for them. The Exalted said:

O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may (learn) self-restraint,- (al-Baqara 2:183)

In it, Allah descended His Book and made the Night of Power, which is better than a thousand months, among its nights. A thousand months is more than eighty years. Count and contemplate what this Night of Power is – a night that Allah has made greater than this long period. And Allah, The Exalted has said:

Ramadân is the (month) in which was sent down the Qurân, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). (al-Baqara 2:185)

And He also said:

We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power: And what will explain to thee what the night of power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by Allah’s permission, on every errand; Peace! This until the rise of morn! (al-Qadr, 97:1-5)

He, The Transcendent, made us aware that the Qurân was descended in the month of Ramadân and then that He specifically sent it down on the Night of Power. The ‘descending’ was in one go from the Sacred Tablet (al-Lahw al-Mahfûz) to The House of Power (bayt al-‘Izza ) which is in the lowest sky and then it was revealed in portions by Jibrîl (Gabriel) by Allah’s command to His messenger, upon both of them be peace over a period of twenty three years. That is the period of Allah’s revelation to His Messenger, upon him be peace, as Allah revealed the Qurân when he was forty years old and he, upon him be peace and salutations passed away when he was sixty-three years old. That is what the critical scholars from the early and later generations have said.

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Following Another Imam in Legal Rulings

July 17th, 2009 No comments

There are a number of states one may have in following the legal position of an Imam other than one’s own, among them:

(1) to believe that the other Imam’s position on the particular question is stronger, in which case it is permissible to follow him in deference to what one believes to be the sounder position;

(2) to believe that the position of one’s own Imam is stronger, or not to know which Imam has the stronger position on the question, in both of which cases it is permissible to follow the position of the other Imam whether or not one thereby intends to take the way that is religiously more precautionary, in which case it is not offensive, though if it is a mere stratagem that is not intended as such (i.e. not intended as being religiously more precautionary) it is offensive;

(3) to intend by following the other Imam to take a dispensation when there is a need for it (such as a Shafi’i circumambulating the Kaaba at a crowded hajj who follows the position of Abu Hanifa that touching a woman does not nullify one’s ablution), in which case it is permissible to follow the other Imam, unless one believes both that the position of one’s own Imam is stronger, and that it is obligatory to follow the more knowledgeable of the two;

(4) to intend merely following the easier way of taking a dispensation when (neither (2) nor (3) above is the case, and) one does not believe that it is the stronger position, in which case following it is not permissible, as Subki says, “because one is then merely pursuing one’s own caprice, and it is not for the sake of religion”;

(5) to do this frequently, so as to become one of those who seek out dispensations, taking the easiest ruling from every school, which is also forbidden, as it connotes a dissolution of the limits of legal responsibility;

(6) to assemble by such a procedure a single composite act that is unacceptable by the consensus of scholars, which is impermissible, such as when a Shafi’i follows Imam Malik in considering dogs to be physically pure, but only wipes part of his head when performing ablution (wudu’), for in such a case his prayer is not considered valid by Malik, because he has not wiped his whole head, nor yet by Shafi’i, because of the physical impurity of dogs (though it is unobjectionable to piece together such a composite act by way of following the scholarly evidences supporting each part, if one is qualified to appreciate them, since then one has become a mujtahid on the question);

(7) or to follow one’s original Imam in doing an act whose consequences are still in effect when one subsequently intends to follow another Imam, despite the continued existence of the first act’s consequences; such as a Hanafi who, by right of being a neighbor, acquires a piece of land by preempting a neighbor’s sale of it to another (since one of the purposes that permit preemption in the Hanafi school is to prevent property adjacent to one’s own from being acquired by an objectionable neighbor (though the Shafi’i school does not allow preemption for such a reason))—but when a second neighbor for the same reason preempts the Hanafi’s taking possession of the land, the Hanafi refuses to allow the second preemption on the pretext that he now follows the Shafi’i school on the question, which is not permissible because it confirms that he is mistaken, either by following the first opinion or by following the second, while he is but a single responsible individual.

– Ibn Hajar Haytami, al-Fatawa al-Hadithiyya; Extracted from ‘Reliance of  the Traveller‘ by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, Commented, edited and translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller

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Concerning the Excellent Qualities that are Peculiar to the Month of Ramadan

June 22nd, 2009 No comments

Concerning the Excellent Qualities that are Peculiar to the Month of Ramadan

Shaikh Abu Nasr [Muhammad ibn al-Banna’] has informed us, on good traditional authority, that Salman [al-Farisi] (may Allah be well pleased with him) once said:

“Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) delivered a sermon for our benefit on the last day of Sha’ban, and this is what he told us:

O people, a mighty month has cast its protective shade to screen you. A blessed month, a month in which there is a night that is better than a thousand months! Allah has made keeping the fast therein [siyama-hu] an obligatory religious duty [farida], and the observance of night vigil therein [qiyam laili-hi] a voluntary practice [tatawwu’]. If someone seeks to draw near [to the Lord] therein by setting just one example of good conduct, or performs just one religious obligation, that person will be exactly the same as someone who discharges seventy religious obligations during all the other months of the year.

It is the month of patient endurance [sabr], and the reward for patient endurance is the Garden of Paradise. It is the month of charitable sharing [musawa’], and it is the month in which the sustenance of the true believer [mu’min] is increased. So, if someone provides a break-fast meal for a person who is keeping the fast, this will result in forgiveness for his sins, and in his emancipation from the Fire of Hell. The benefactor will also be granted a reward equivalent to that earned by the recipient of his generosity, but without anything at all being deducted from the reward due to the latter.

“‘Not all of us can find what it takes to provide a break-fast meal for someone who is keeping the fast,’ said those who were listening to his sermon, but the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) went on to say:

Allah will grant this reward to anyone who gives some kind of break-fast nourishment to a person who is keeping the fast, even if it is merely a dried date, a drink of water, or a cup of diluted milk.

It is a month the beginning of which is a mercy, the middle of which is a forgiveness, and the last part of which is a deliverance from the Fire of Hell. So, if a slaveholder lightens the burden borne by his slave in this month, Allah will forgive him and grant him freedom from the Fire of Hell.

During the course of this month, you must therefore cultivate four practices, and repeat then frequently. Two of these are practices by which you will earn your Lord’s good pleasure, while the other two are practices that you simply cannot afford to do without. As for the two practices by which you will earn your Lord’s good pleasure, they are testifying that there is no god except Allah [shahada an la ilaha illa ‘llah] and begging Him for forgiveness. As for the two that you simply cannot afford to do without, they are imploring Allah to grant you the Garden of Paradise, and taking refuge with Him from the Fire of Hell.

Furthermore, if someone provides a satisfying break-fast meal, in the course of this month, for a person who is keeping the fast, Allah (Exalted is He) will give the benefactor a drink from my Basin [Hawd], after which he will never feel thirsty again.”

According to a traditional report transmitted by al-Kalbi, on the authority of Abu Nadra, it was Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (may Allah be well pleased with him) who stated that Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) once said:

The gates of the Garden of Paradise and the gates of heaven will surely be flung open on the first night of the month of Ramadan, and they will not be closed again until the very last night thereof. Each time, without fail, that a male or female servant [of the Lord] performs the ritual prayer [yusalli] during any night of this month, Allah will credit him or her with seventeen hundred good deeds for every act of prostration [sajda]. For that servant, He will build in the Garden of Paradise a house, made from a single red ruby, that has seventy doors. Each of those doors will have two leaves of gold, beautifully adorned with knobs fashioned from red ruby.

If someone keeps the fast on the first day of the month of Ramadan, Allah will forgive him every sin until the last day of Ramadan, and his fasting will be an expiation until that same point in time. For every day on which he keeps the fast, he will be granted a palatial mansion in the Garden of Paradise, equipped with a thousand doors made of gold. From early in the morning, seventy thousand angels will beg forgiveness on his behalf, although they will stay out of sight behind the curtain. For every act of prostration he performs, by night or by day, he will be granted a tree in Garden of Paradise, a tree in the shade of which a rider can travel for one hundred years without every passing beyond it.

Shaikh Abu Nasr [Muhammad ibn al-Banna’] has informed me, on good traditional authority, that it was Abu Huraira (may Allah be well pleased with him) who first reported this next saying of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace):

When the first night of the month of Ramadan has arrived, Allah surveys His entire creation. If He takes notice of a particular servant of His, it means that He will never cause him to suffer torment, and a million have reason, every day, to thank Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) for their deliverance from the Fire of Hell.

Shaikh Abu Nasr [Muhammad ibn al-Banna’] has also informed me, on good traditional authority, that it was Abu Huraira (may Allah be well pleased with him) who first reported that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) once said:

As soon as Ramadan comes around, the gates of the Garden of Paradise are flung open, the gates of the Fire of Hell are shut and locked, and the devils [shayatin] are shackled and tied up tight.

According to another traditional report, this one transmitted on the authority of Nafi’ ibn Burda, Abu Mas’ud al-Ghifari (may Allah be well pleased with him) once heard these words being uttered by the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace):

No servant [of the Lord], who keeps the fast for at least one day of Ramadan, can possibly fail to be married to a wife from among the brides of Paradise, those maidens with such lovely eyes [al-hur al-‘in]. The wedding will take place inside a pavilion made from a single hollowed pearl. This fits the description given by Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He):

Four maids, close-guarded in pavilions. (55:72)

Every woman amongst them will be dressed in seventy fine articles of clothing, no item being the same as any other. She will be given seventy kinds of perfume, none with the same fragrance as any other. She will also be given seventy thronelike raised couches, made from a red ruby studded with pearls. Upon each of these couches there will be seventy cushions, and over every cushion there will be a canopy. Every woman will have seventy thousand maidservants to attend to the needs of her husband. Each of these maidservants will carry a dish made of gold, containing some kind of cooked food, the last morsel of which will be found to have a delicious flavor that went unnoticed in the first bite. Her husband will be given special treats like this, as he reclines upon a couch made from red ruby. Such will be his reward for every day on which he has kept the fast of Ramadan, quite apart from what he may have earned by performing charitable deeds!

-Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, Sufficient Provision for the Seekers of the Path of Truth (Al-Ghunya li-Talibi Tariq al-Haqq)

Imam Alhaddad – The Fifth Response

May 22nd, 2009 No comments

a)Reciting Sura al-Waqi’a (‘The Event’)

As for your question about regular recitation of Sura al-Waqi’a, know that the following account has been narrated in this regard: ‘To read it each night is to be free from want,’ that is, to be independent of other creatures (this kind of ‘dependence’ meant here being that which shames a man, both in his worldy affairs and his manly virtue). When ibn Mas’ud, may God be pleased with him was told on his deathbed that he had left his children in poverty, he replied: ‘I gave them each a treasure: Sura al-Waqi’a’. The special attributes of certrain suras and verses of the Qur’an, and those of the invocations and prayers of the Prophet are not unknown: the books of hadith are full of them. Imam al-Ghazali wrote an entire book on the subject, entitling it: Unalloyed Gold: The Properties of the Majestic Book.

The regular recitation of al-Waqi’a and other suras of the same type, in order to bring benefit to oneself and ward off worldly harm, does not compromise one’s intentions or actions. Nonetheless, the motive should not be entirely lacking in religious purpose: since for a servant deliberately to guard himself against depending on others is the best of intentions. For an intelligent believer will not intend, in wanting independance from others and safety for himself and his family, those things are associated with physical comfort and pleasure; instead his intention will be to free himself from whatever may damage him religiously, of the things which can be seen in many people who suffer from such afflictions. This is why the great men of God are always keenly occupied with asking Him to safeguard the wellbeing [‘afiya] of both their souls and their bodies, being fearful of the manner in which their souls, weak and wavering by nature, respond when faced with things that repellant to them.

The Messenger, may blessings and peace be upon him, repeatedly sought protection against proverty and sickness. He said: ‘Poverty is not far from being disbelief [kufr]’, because people afflicted with it are liable to feel discontented with God’s decree, or angered against Divine providence, or at least assailed by some form of anxiety. Sufyan al-Thawri, may God show him His mercy, once said: ‘I do not fear hardhips because of the pain they cause me, but I fear that were I to be afflicted with hardship, I might fall prey to disbelief.’ Perfection for the servant lies in his being content with his Lord’s choices on his behalf, in sufficing himself with His knowledge, and in being more concerned with His choosing and disposing than with his own.

A certain gnostic once said:

In the regular recitation of Sura al-Waqi’a there lies a secret which increases one’s certainty, engenders peace in the heart, and adds this to a serenity, whether one possesses [one’s provision] or not. This because God opens and closes it with a mention of the Appointed Time, and the ways in which people shall differ on that day. Anyone who reflects on this will be too preoccupied with it to attend to any worldly matter that may occur to him. Here, too, God makes mention of the origin of man’s creation, how He makes his beginning a drop of seed expelled (75:37), and how the crops and the water upon which their subsistence originate. He enjoins them to reflect on this, and makes them all aware that they did not possess the power to create, grow and protect their crops, or bring down the rain; and this inculcates the most profound awareness of the Divine power and the pre-existent will and knowledge of God. When this awareness is coupled with the knowledge that God has guaranteed His servant’s provision and sustenance, the heart is pacified, and the one that attends to the worship of the Lord. And God knows best.

(b) A caution

A man may persevere in reciting certain suras, invocations or prayers, for which promises of immediate benefits have been made, and yet see no results. He should not doubt the soundness of these truthful promises, but should rather blame himself, and attribute to himself a deficiency in certainty and concentration. For a man who recites or invokes is not termed a [real] ‘reciter’ or ‘invoker’ according to the religious law unless all the conditions are fulfilled, and the fact that is that most people people fall short of doing this. The essential thing which will make these practices effective and fruitful is to nurture a certainty in the heart that the matter as it has been said, and to neither have doubts about it nor the desire to put it to trial. One should be truly concentrated, uniting one’s outward and inward [faculties] in engaging the matter, with one’s heart sincerely thinking well of God, and be utterly and attentively oriented towards Him. Rarely do these things come together in a man who is intent on reaching some objective by means of verses and invocations – whatever this objective may be – without this quest becoming his to control and manage at will. So let a servant whose determination falls short and whose earnestness and zeal are deficient blame only himself. And God is never unjust to the servants. (3:182)

– Imam ‘Abdallah ibn ‘Alawi al-Haddad, Gifts for the Seeker (It’haaf is-Saail bi Ajwibatil Masaail)

Imam al-Haddad on Giving Good Counsel

December 25th, 2008 2 comments

Condensed from The Book of Assistance
Published by The Quilliam Press

You must be of good counsel to all Muslims. The highest point of this is that you conceal nothing from them which if made known would result in good or preserve from something evil. The prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said, “Religion is good counsel” Part of this is to support a Muslim in his absence as you would in his presence, and not to give him more verbal signs of affection than you have for him in your heart. It is also part of this that when a muslim asks you for advice, and you know that the correct course does not lie in that which he is inclined to do, you should tell him so.
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Imam Alhaddad – On Fasting

September 1st, 2008 No comments

(From: Book of Assistance by Imam al-Haddad)

Increase your good works, especially in Ramadan, for the reward of a supererogatory act performed during it equals that of an obligatory act performed at any other time. Ramadan is also a time when good works are rendered easy and one has much more energy for them than during any other month. This is because the soul, lazy when it: comes to good works, is then imprisoned by hunger and thirst, the devils who hinder it are shackled, the gates of the Fire are shut, the gates of the Garden are open, and the herald calls every night at God’s command: ‘O you who wish for goodness, hasten! And O you who wish for evil, halt!’

You should work only for the hereafter in this noble month, and embark on something worldly only when absolutely necessary. Arrange your life before Ramadan in a manner which will render you free for worship when it arrives. Be intent on devotions and approach God more surely, especially during the last ten days. If you are able not to leave the mosque, except when strictly necessary, during those last ten days then do so. Be careful to perform the Tarawih prayers during every Ramadan night. In some places it is nowadays the custom to make them so short that sometimes some of the obligatory elements of the prayer are omitted, let alone the sunnas. It is well known that our predecessors read the whole Qur’an during this prayer, reciting a part each night so as to complete it on one of the last nights of the month. If you are able to follow suit then this is a great gain; if you are not, then the least that you can do is to observe the obligatory elements of the prayer and its proprieties.

Watch carefully for the Night of Destiny [Laylat’ul-Qadr], which is better than a thousand months. It is the blessed night in which all affairs are wisely decided. The one to whom it is unveiled sees the blazing lights, the open doors of heaven, and the angels ascending and descending, and may witness the whole of creation prostrating before God, its Creator.

Most scholars are of the opinion that it is in the last ten nights of Ramadan, and is more likely to fall in the odd numbered ones. A certain gnostic witnessed it on the night of the seventeenth, and this was also the opinion of al-Hasan al-Basri. Some scholars have said that it is the first night of Ramadan, and a number of great scholars have said that it is not fixed but shifts its position each Ramadan. They have said that the secret wisdom underlying this is that the believer should devote himself completely to God during every night of this month in the hope of coinciding with that night which has been kept obscure from him. And God knows best.

Hasten to break your fast as soon as you are certain that the sun has set. Delay suhur long as you do not fear the break of dawn. Feed those who fast at the time when they break it, even if with some dates or a draught of water, for the one who feeds another at the time of breaking the fast receives as much reward as he without this diminishing the other’s reward in any way. Strive never to break your fast nor to feed anyone else at such a time except with lawful food. Do not eat much, take whatever lawful food is present ‘ and do not prefer that which is tasty, for the purpose of fasting is to subdue one’s lustful appetite, and eating a large quantity of delicious food will on the contrary arouse and strengthen it.

Fast on the days on which the Law encourages you to fast, such as the day of Arafat for those who are not participating n the pilgrimage, the ninth and tenth [‘Ashura] of Muharram, and the six days of Shawwal, starting with the second day of the Feast, for this is the more effective discipline for the soul. Fast three days in each month, for these equal a perpetual fast. It is better if these are the White Days, for the Prophet, may blessings and peace be upon him, never omitted to fast them whether he was at home or traveling. Fast often, especially in times of special merit such as the Inviolable Months, and noble days such as Mondays and Thursdays. Know that fasting is the pillar of discipline and the basis of striving. It has been said that fasting constitutes half of fortitude. The Messenger of God, may blessings and peace be upon him, said: ‘God the Exalted has said: “All good deeds of the son of Adam are multiplied ten to seven hundredfold, except fasting, for it is Mine, and I shall reward a man for it, for he has left his appetite, his food and drink for My sake!”‘ ‘The one who fasts has two joys, one when breaking his fast, the other when meeting his Lord.’ And; ‘The odour of the fasting man’s mouth is more fragrant to God than that of musk.’

God says the truth and He guides to the way. [XXXIII:4]

Book of Assistance by Imam al-Haddad