A Short Reminder About the Holy Month, By Imam Murtada Gusau

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In the name of Allah, the Extremely Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy,
Alhamdulillah. Indeed, all praise is due to Allah. We praise Him and seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil within ourselves and from our wrongdoings. He whom Allah guides, no one can misguide; and he whom He misguides, no one can guide.

I bear witness that there is no true god except Allah – alone without a partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad (SAW) is His ‘abd (Servant) and Messenger.

“O you who believe! Revere Allah the right reverence, and do not die except as Muslims.” (Al-Imran, 3:102)

“O people! Revere Allah, your Lord, who has created you from a single soul, created from it its mate, and dispersed from both of them many men and women. Revere Allah through whom you demand things from one another; and (cherish the ties of) the wombs. Indeed, Allah is ever-Watchful over you.” (An-Nisa’, 4:1)

“O you who believe! Revere Allah and say fair words. He will then rectify your deeds and forgive your sins. He who obeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly achieved a great victory.” (Al-Ahzaab, 33:70-71)

Indeed, the best speech is Allah’s (SWT) Book and the best guidance is Muhammad’s (SAW) guidance. The worst affairs (of religion) are those innovated (by people), for every such innovation is an act of misguidance leading to the Fire.

My respected Brothers and sisters,
We have come to the end of the first week of Ramadan. This khutbah inshaa-Allah is a short reminder about the Holy Month. Why do we fast? What do we expect to gain from fasting? And, how can we make the best of Ramadan? What should we do to get the maximum benefit?

Allah the Most High said:

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

Those of us who are fasting, enjoy the satisfaction that we are giving up our delicious food and drink, our leisure and amusement so that we can please our Lord and Sustainer. Allah tells us in His Noble Book, all our other duties concern the poor, the needy, our families and ourselves, but fasting is for Allah alone and He rewards whom He pleases. We must always bear in mind the purpose of our fasting. It’s not only to stay hungry and thirsty. It’s to be conscious of Allah at all times. Fasting teaches us to tame our lower passions, Al-nafs-al-ammara-bis-su’. This is the lower self that clings to the earth, and drags us towards all the hateful and shameful actions, envy, greed, sexual lust, jealousy, anger, hatred, revenge…

Fasting helps us to be disciplined. It helps us to strengthen our conscience, the higher self, which in Arabic is called al-nafs-al-law-waamah. This is the self-reproaching nafs, this is the higher self that constantly blames itself and seeks to put right all the errors and sins of the lower self. Throughout our lives we struggle with this great jihad, of trying to control our desires and passions, so that our thoughts, our words and our actions are only good and pleasing to Allah. Once the Muslims returned from a battle, and Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said to them, you have completed the lesser Jihad, now you must engage with the greater Jihad, which is the struggle to control and purify your self.

I pray that every one of us here will use this Ramadan as an opportunity to fight this most important of all struggles, the Greater Jihad of taking control of our lives, control of our lower passions and desires. This struggle to cultivate self- discipline is not only for Ramadan. It’s a lifelong struggle. Shaitan will constantly offer temptations and make our evil nature seem pleasing to us. But we must be on guard, and we must remember what pleases Allah. We must say, ‘Auuzu bil-laahi minash shaytaanir rajeem: I take refuge in Allah from Shaytaan, the cursed one.

We must constantly keep in mind that Allah will hold us to account for our actions. We do not want to be among the losers, the ones who will enter hellfire, Jahannam, wal iyaazu bil-laah! We want to be among the winners, the ones who will enter paradise. We want to spend our lives, purifying our thoughts and words and actions, so that when we die we have a purified heart and soul. We want our Ruh, our soul to be as pure and umblemished as the day when we were born. The last verses of Surah Al-Fajr, are indeed the words we would all like to hear from Allah, when we die and return to Him:

“O purified soul, well pleased with yourself, and well pleasing to Me, enter you among my devotees, enter you my garden.”

My respected People,
Ramadan is also a time for us to remember those who are fasting every day of their lives, not by choice, not because they want to fast, but because of poverty. They simply don’t have enough to eat or drink. We who enjoy clean drinking water, hot meals every day and a warm comfortable home, we must remember that we are very fortunate to have these blessings. Ramadan is a time to remember others less fortunate. It is a time to show compassion and mercy. You know, every time a Muslim begins an important action, he says the Basmalah: Bismil-laahir Rahmaanir-Raheem! He says: I begin this action in the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate!

Dear respected Brothers and Sisters,
How many times a day do we say these words? Surely it must have some effect on our behaviour, if we are conscious of the meaning. Surely compassion and mercy must flow from our words and actions. In time our whole character should be infused with Allah’s mercy and compassion. This is one of the big lessons of Ramadan. And that is why it is important for us to pay our Zakat during this month. Zakat is the 2.5 percent of unused wealth that goes to the poor and needy. Let us try to remember these important lessons of Ramadan.

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all the Worlds; may the greetings and peace be upon the best Messenger, Muhammad, the unlettered Prophet; and upon his family and upon all of his companions. And after this,

Behold, Allah and his angels shower blessings on the prophet. O you who believe! Ask for blessings on him and salute him with a worthy greeting.

O Allah! Send your greetings opon Muhammad and his family, just as you sent your greetings on Ibrahim (Abraham) and his family. O Allah, send your blessings on Muhammad and his family, just as you blessed Ibrahim (Abraham) and his family. In both worlds, you are Praiseworthy and Exalted.

Second Khutbah:
All glory is for Allah, and all praise is for Allah; there is no power and no strength except with Allah.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Many of us think that Ramadan is a time to ‘go slow’ and to avoid exerting ourselves. Some of us, if we had the opportunity, we would want to sleep all day until iftar. This is completely wrong. Ramadan is not a time for hibernation. Ramadan is the time we should be busy reading and understanding the Quran, studying our faith and trying to improve our knowledge and our character. It’s a time of spiritual renewal and revival.

Many important events took place in Ramadan:

– The Noble Quran was revealed in Ramadan;
– The Battle of Badr took place in Ramadan;
– Makkah was conquered in a bloodless battle by Prophet Mauhammad (SAW) during Ramadan;
– Tariq bin Ziyad conquered Spain during Ramadan;
– The battle of Qadisiyyah took place in Ramadan. The list goes on and on…

So remember, Ramadan fasting is not about a diet of burning calories. It is about burning ego, pride and sins. Ramadan is not an excuse for laziness. It is not the time for sleeping, eating and unnecessary shopping. It is a time for improving ourselves, improving our mind and body and spirit. It is a period of turning point to change of attitude for the better of individuals and society. It is an ideal training period for filtering out bad habits, developing virtuous character and is thus referred to by Prophet Muhammad (SAW) as a shield against evil and wrongfulness. And also Ramadan is the holy Month that binds Muslims together in a spirit of joyous unity. We must welcome Ramadan like a long lost friend.

May Allah accept our fasting which we do only for His sake. We do not fast just to lose weight or to show off to others how religious we are. We fast because we love Allah, and we want to please Him. We owe Him so much. Fasting is a very small thing that HE asks us to do, only for Him.

May Allah spread His richest blessings on us, and on all those who fast during Ramadan, purely out of love for Him. May He help us to purify ourselves, by forgiving our sins and may He join us in the company of His friends, the awliyaa Allah.

O Allah, help us to purify ourselves in body, mind, heart and spirit. Help us to seek and find good pleasure, and O Allah, remember us in the company of your beloved friends.

O Allah, do not let our hearts deviate from the truth now that we have been guided, but grant us Mercy from Your very presence, for You are the Grantor of bounties without measure.

My Lord, help me to perfect my prayer, and of my descendants, Our Lord, accept this prayer…

My lord, forgive me, and my parents, and all Believers until the Day of Reckoning…

Glory to Allah, Lord of Majesty and Honour, and peace on the Prophets, and praise to Allah, Lord of all creation!

This Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Ramadan 9, 1436 A.H (June 26, 2015), by Imam Murtada Muhammad Gusau, the chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’at Mosque Okene, Kogi State Nigeria.

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