Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ramadhan: Past & present

The following is a transcript delivered on this subject some time ago.

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِيَ أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِوَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَى وَالْفُرْقَانِ

Allah (swt) says, “The month of Ramadhan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and Al-Furqan.” [TMQ-Al-Baqarah: 185]

"Oh you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you many gain Taqwa" [TMQ 2:183]

¨ Today I am going to discuss another element related to ramadhan, the history of Ramadhan – what key events took place in the past during this blessed month, during the life of the Prophet (saw) and the generations that followed him.

¨ Many of us may know that Ramadhan is a month of blessing, a month of reward, a month of fasting. However many of us may be unaware of that Ramadhan was a month of victory for the Muslims in the past and a month when many battles and conquests took place.

First Revelation

¨ The most significant event that took place during Ramadhan is the fact that the first revelation of the Quran came to Prophet Muhammad (saw) whilst he was in the cave in Mount Hira when the Angel Jibrael came to him with the first five ayat of Surat Al-Alaq. Allah (swt) revealed:

"Read: In the name of your Lord who created, Created man from a clot." [TMQ 92:1-2]

¨ The Quran was revealed on Lail at al-Qadr (the night of power), a night upon which Allah (swt) made the reward of he who spends that night in prayer and total devotion to Allah (swt), forgiveness for all his past sins.

“Verily! We have sent it down in the night of Al-Qadr. And what will make you know what the night of Al-Qadr is. The night of Al-Qadr is better than a thousand months” [TMQ:Al-Qadr: 1-3]

¨ A night upon which Allah (swt) made the reward of he who spends that night in prayer and total devotion to Allah (swt), forgiveness for all his past sins.

¨ Imam Bukhari narrated on the authority of Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said “He who spends the night of Al-Qadr praying in total devotion, his past sins will be forgiven”.

· It was from this very first day that the Prophet (saw) realised that this message was not a light message for the people, was nor a mere ritualistic message like that of the Christians and the Jews at his time. He realised that this guidance wasn’t confined to Arabia or to any piece of land nor was it a message in compliance with the prevailing systems and authority of the day.

· Rather He (saw) realised that the message of Islam came to dominate over all other Deen’s or ways of life. As Allah (swt) said in Quran:

“It is He who sent His Messenger with guidance and the Deen of truth, to make it superior over all Deen’s (ways of life) even though the Mushrikeern (polytheists) hate it.” [TMQ 9:33]

· It was in this month that the Prophet returned home after receiving the first revelation, saying to his wife Khadija “After this day there is no more rest!”

· And we all remember in this blessed month how He (saw) struggled against the tyrants of Makkah attacking there false gods and systems until he managed to establish an authority in Madina which implemented Allah’s systems on this earth, which came to be known as Dar ul Hijra.

· After this the Prophet (saw) and the Muslims were no longer in a position of weakness rather they were transformed into a position of authority and strength.

Battle of Badr

· And we all remember how it was in this blessed month in the second year after the Hijra on a Friday morning on the 17th of Ramadhan that that Prophet (saw) led the famous Battle of Badr in which the Muslims were outnumbered 3 to 1, where just over 300 believers defeated an army of over 900 Kuffar. When the Quraysh were humiliated and the Muslims were victorious.

¨ In the second year after the Hijra on the 8th of Ramadhan the Prophet (saw) left Madina with three hundred and five of his companions mounted on seventy camels. They rode the camels in turn heading towards a caravan led by Abu Sufyan, who was a leader of the Quraysh Kuffar.

¨ The Quraysh came out to protect their caravan, so the Prophet (saw) consulted the Muslims on what to do. Abu Bakr (ra) followed then by ‘Umar (ra) voiced their opinions respectively, then al-Miqdad ibn ‘Amr (ra) arose and said, "O Messenger of Allah! Go where Allah tells you, for we are with you. We shall not say as the children of Israel said to Moses ‘You and your Lord go and fight and we will stay at home’, but you and your Lord go and fight and we will fight with you."

¨ The Muslims then went silent, and he (saw) said, "Give me advice O men!" by which he meant the Ansar who had paid allegiance to him at al-’Aqabah. They had pledged to protect him as they protected their wives and children. When the Ansar sensed that he (saw) meant them, Sa’ad ibn Mu’adh (ra) who was holding their banner said, "It seems as if you mean us, O Messenger of Allah." He (saw) said, "Yes.” Sa’ad said, "We believe in you, we declare your truth, and we witness that what you have brought us is the truth, and we have given you our word and agreement to hear and obey; so go where you wish, we are with you; and by He who sent you, if you were to ask us to cross this sea and you plunged into it, we would plunge into it with you; not a man would stay behind. We do not dislike the idea of meeting our enemy tomorrow. We are experienced in war, trustworthy in combat. It may well be that Allah will let us show you something which will bring you joy, so take us along with Allah’s blessing." The Messenger of Allah (saw) was delighted with Sa’ad’s words and said, "Forward in good heart, for Allah had promised me one of the two parties, and by Allah, it is as though I now saw the enemy lying prostrate."

¨ Then the two sides advanced and drew near each other on Friday morning on the 17th of Ramadhan. The Messenger of Allah (saw) straightened the ranks and incited the Muslims to fight. The Muslims were encouraged by the words of Allah’s Messenger (saw) and went forward. The fighting broke out fiercely and the Muslims become stronger all the time chanting ‘Ahad! Ahad!’ (The One, the One). Allah’s Messenger (saw) whilst standing in the midst of the confrontation took a handful of pebbles and threw them at Quraish saying, "Foul be those faces!" Then he (saw) ordered his companions to charge and they duly obliged until the battle was over, and the foe was routed. The Muslims emerged victorious despite being outnumbered three to one. The Quraish fled the battlefield and the Muslims returned to Madinah having achieved a truly great victory.

Conquest of Makkah

· We should know that it was in this month of reward in the 8th year after Hijra on the 20th of Ramadhan that the Prophet (saw) returned to Makkah not as the ruled but as the ruler in the conquest of Makkah (Fath ul Makkah), when he took it under the authority of Islam. Makkah was conquered without a battle. He entered Makkah and treated the people justly. He (saw) personally entered the Ka’ba pointed to the idols with the his stick and recited the verse:

“The Truth has come and the falsehood has passed away; verily falsehood is sure to pass away” [TMQ 17:81]

· After which all the idols which the Quraysh used to worship collapsed onto their backs, one after the other, then they were burnt broken up and disposed of.

· Thus Makkah was completely conquered and as a result the main obstacle standing in the way of the Islamic Da’wa had finally been overcome.

· Indeed it was also in this grand month 8 years after the Hijra that the Prophet (saw) destroyed the Masjid al Diraar which was the mosque of the hypocrites.

· And we all know how the Ramadhan’s that followed were under the rule of Islam. Even after the death of the Prophet (saw) the Khulafah, the rulers of the Muslims upheld the banner of Islam and the Muslims fought in the cause in Allah.

Conquest of Spain

¨ 92 A.H. Ninety-two years after the Hijrah, Islam had spread across North Africa, Iran, Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria. Spain was under the tyrannical rule of King Roderic of the Visigoths. Musa ibn Husair, the Muslim governor of North Africa, responded by sending his courageous general Tariq ibn Ziyad at the head of 12,000 troops. In Ramadhan of that year, they were confronted with an army led by Roderic, himself, who was seated on a throne of ivory silver, and precious gems, drawn by white mules. After burning his boats, Tariq motivated the Muslims warning them that and Paradise lay ahead of them and defeat and the sea to the rear. They burst with great enthusiasm and Allah (SWT) manifested a clear victory over the forces of disbelief. Not only were Roderic and his forces completely annihilated, but Tariq and Musa succeeded in liberating whole of Spain, Sicily and parts of France. This was the begining of the Golden Age of Al-Andalus where Muslims ruled for over 700 years.

· It was also in this month of fasting when Al-Mu’tasim billah from Abbasids was the Khaleefah, one Muslim women was dishonoured by the Romans and he vowed not to break his fast until they were destroyed and he led the army which destroyed their town

Battle of Ain Jaloot

¨ It was also on Friday, 25 Ramadhan 658 A.H. that the Muslims defeated the Mongols in the battle of Ain Jalut, led by Saifuddin Qutz. Qutz told his army to wait until they finished the Friday prayers (Jummah Salah), "Do not fight them until it is sunset and the shadows appear and the winds stir, and the preachers and people start to implore Allah for us in their prayers", and thereafter the fighting began. Jullanar, the wife of Qutz, was killed during the battle. He rushed towards her saying, "Oh my beloved one". She told him while uttering her last breath, "Do not say that, and care more for Islam." Her soul left her body after telling her husband that the Jihad for the sake of Allah and Islam is more important than love and personal relations. Qutz stood up saying "Islamah…Islamah". The whole army repeated that word after him until they achieved their victory.

· It was also in this month of sacrifice in 1187 (CE) that Salahaddin Ayyubi defeated the Crusaders. On this day the Muslims virtually routed all the local Crusader forces capable of defending the Crusaders establishment in the Near East. With a 12,000 strong cavalry they defeated the Crusaders and re-took al-Quds back into its rightful hands.

· I have mentioned many of the victories which occurred to the Muslims in the past during the month of Ramadhan.

· If we look at the situation of the Muslim Ummah today in this Ramadhan or the Ramadhan’s previous to this for many years, we see the situation is very different. Today we see many of the Muslims of Iraq spending Ramadhan being bombarded whilst we break our fasts here with dates and good food, many of them remain hungry and have nothing to break their fasts with. Some of you may have even seen the documentaries and news programmes on the televisions or seen pictures in the newspapers of how the Muslims are being killed.

· However we need to ask the question: What has changed? This is the comparison we need to make between Badr and Iraq.

· Between Fath al Makkah (the opening of Makkah) and the occupation of the land in which the Ka’ba resides by the American troops today.

· This is the comparison we need to make between the destruction of the idols like Lat and Uzza by the hands of the Prophet in the month of Ramadhan and the implanting of the modern day idols of Capitalism in our lands today.

· This is the comparison we need to comprehend between the destruction of Masjid al Diraar, the mosque of the hypocrites in Ramadhan by the Prophet (saw) to the establishment of the hypocrites as rulers over us today.

· Between the destruction of the Crusaders and the regaining of al-Quds by Salahuddin Ayyubi in the month of Ramadhan to the giving of al-Quds to the modern Crusaders today.

· The comparison between the saving of the honour of the woman by al-Mu’tasim to the dishonouring of women in the Islamic lands today

· Indeed it is not enough for us as an Ummah to witness the multitude of problems that exists amongst us today rather we must understand the cause for these problems.

¨ The cause of this difference between the Ramadhan today and those victorious Ramadhan’s in the past is not difficult to understand, it is simply due to the absence of the Quran that Allah (swt) revealed as a guidance as al-Furqan (criterion) from implementation. Allah (swt) reveal the Quran to be left aside gathering dust on peoples shelves, rather he revealed it for it to be implemented on the people – so that they govern they lives by it and rule by it. In the past under the Islamic Khilafah, the rulers ruled by the Shariah contained in the Quran, today the rulers rule for their own interests and for the interests of the Kuffar.

¨ The Quran contains a complete Shariah covering all elements of life and if we do not implement it then we will face problems in all elements of life. It is impossible to implement the Quran without implementing it on the level of a state as many of ahkam (rules) contained in the Quran are to do with societal issues. When we listen to the Quran being read in the Taraweeh salah or when we read the Quran, we should look to the meaning of the ayat that we are reading.

¨ Allah (swt) tells us about the rules of fasting, the rules of buying and selling, the rules of marriage and divorce, the rules of how to appoint a ruler, the rules of the types of judges in Islam, the rules of collecting and distributing the Zakat, the rules of how to account the ruler, the ahkam of Jihad, the ahkam of the Masjid, the ahkam of punishing the theifs or adulterers. All of these are examples of rules contained in the Quran & in the Sunnah, so why is it that Muslims see these rules differently or only focus on the individual ones which you can easily perform by yourself and leave the rest?

¨ We must take the Quran as a whole and Islam as a whole, the Prophet (saw) told us that he has left 2 things that if we stick to we will not go astray, the Quran and the Sunnah. He (saw) said:

«إن الله يرفع بهذا الكتاب أقواماً ويضع به آخرين».

“Verily Allah raises some people by this Book and lowers others by it.” [Reported by Muslim.]

¨ So let us make this Ramadhan the Ramadhan where we start to look at Islam as a complete Deen and system and begin to work to bring it back as a system, so that we can achieve the victories that the Muslims did in the past. We should not witness Ramadhan and remain as we used to be, if we were already practising Islam and working to re-establish its system then we should work harder and work to gain more reward. If we have not been practising Islam then we need to ensure that we start following it completely.

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