Lecture by Yasir Qadhi | Transcribed by Sameera
Here we are, having finished yet another Ramadan. Having been blessed with yet another Ramadan. It feels like yesterday I stood before you for the first khatirah and the entire masjid was as packed as it was today. It is as if it was yesterday when we were wondering how we are going to go through all of these 30 days. The summer months fasting. This is the difficult fasting of July and August, and we were wondering how it was going to finish. The month is as if it only came by literally one hour ago.
Such is it with time and such is it with Ramadan. This is how Allāh has blessed us with a small window. Allāh says in the Qurʾān “a limited number of days.” There are just a few, limited number of days. If you look at it, brothers and sisters – let's be honest here – the physical side of us is kind of looking forward to the month finishing in that we don't have to worry about the long days, the hectic iftars, rushing to the masjid and fighting with the parking lot.
Wallahi, brothers and sisters, there is also a more rational and spiritual side that is dreading the end of this month. Why? Because we will miss Ramadan and everything about Ramadan. We are going to miss fasting for the sake of Allāh and feeling thirsty in the daytime knowing that Allāh is rewarding us. We are going to miss giving up our sleep. We are going to miss the halaawah of listening to the Qur'an. We are going to miss the pleasure of every day – forget the iftar, far more sweeter than that is the brotherhood of Islam and the jam-packed masjids and seeing your Muslim brothers and sisters from across the city.
Brothers and sisters, we have been through many Ramadans. After Ramadan, we develop the post-Ramadan blues. We really miss the spirit of Ramadan. We miss everything about it, which shows us that one of the main wisdoms of Ramadan is an often overlooked wisdom. One of the main benefits of Ramadan is something that is usually sidelined. Perhaps the main benefit – we already said Qur'an, fasting, so many khutbahs and duroos – is that Ramadan reintroduces to the religion of Islam.
Sweetness of īmān
Ramadan makes us feel the pleasure of being a Muslim. Ramadan allows us to taste what the Prophet called halaawat'l-īmān. He said īmān has a taste and that the person has tasted īmān. There is an after effect of īmān. How does it taste? The Prophet said there is a sweetness of īmān.
Every one of us sitting here today has tasted that sweetness and has become addicted to the tilawah, the brotherhood, the masājid, the Qur'an, the dhikr, the du‘ā’, the ibadah. We are reintroduced to what it truly means to worship Allāh . In that process, we rediscover over and over again a fundamental fact: there is nothing sweeter than worshipping Allāh. There is no feeling on earth that can leave you as fulfilled and as happy and as productive as worshipping Allāh .
Your bodies are tired, your throats are dry, your sleep has been deprived, but I could not pay you a million dollars to feel like you feel right now, knowing that you fasted every day of this month and knowing that you struggled and have attended tarawih and have raised the bar. You feel like you have done something because you have done something that is truly the only productive thing that you can do, which is the worship of Allāh. Everything that you do for the dunya comes and goes. Everything that I do and you do for this dunya is all going to go, no matter what you do or how big of a house you built. Deep down inside you know that this is not what it is really all about. What you do for the sake of Allāh and for the sake of the akhirah truly remains. That is dar'l-akhirah. Allāh said, “Dar'l-akhirah is the real life.” Whatever we do for that hereafter is what makes us feel as if there is no other feeling in the world.
The Pleasure of a Relationship with Allāh
This is why, brothers and sisters, one of the biggest benefits of Ramadan and perhaps the biggest wisdom is that Allāh facilitates for us and gifts us some sweets – the sweetness of Islam, the sweetness of īmān, the sweetness of living like a Muslim. You know what happens when we go to a good restaurant or have a fancy dessert, we love it and want to go again. We tell everyone about the dessert place because when you taste something sweet, you want it over and over and over again.
Ramadan introduces us to the greatest of all pleasures, which is the pleasure of having a relationship with Allāh and being a true servant of Allāh . There is no pleasure that is greater than this pleasure, which is why Allāh has told us in the Qur'an that in worshipping Allāh, we will find our ultimate pleasure and happiness. Allāh tells us in the Qur'an, “O you who believe, respond, harken, obey to the call of Allāh and His Messenger whenever they call you to that which will give you your life back.” This is what the Qur'an says. Stand up, listen to anything that Allāh and His Messenger say when they call you to that which will give you hayaat. This is exactly what Ramadan does. We feel alive again because this is the real life – the life of the soul, the life of the ruh, the life of the heart. This is far more important than the life of the body.
I already spoke a few weeks ago about how in Ramadan, we intentionally weaken the body and make it secondary because when we push the bodies' urges and needs aside, the spirit rises up. When we neglect the body, the soul takes over. That is why Allāh tells us “don't take care of the body, I'll take care of it. Don't eat. Don't drink. I'll take care of you.” What does that allow us to do? The opportunity to concentrate on the soul. The soul feels more aware. Sadly, the īmān of every one of us won't be the same two weeks from now. We all know this. The īmān that we feel right here and now is not going to be the same one month from now. This is the reality. We feel alive.
Allāh says in the Qur'an that this Qur'an contains in it your ruh. The Qur'an is called your ruh because when you follow the Qur'an, you become alive again. The Qur'an is called your nur. In the first khatirah I gave, we talked about Surat'l-Baqarah and mentioned the motif of light and how Allāh describes the Qur'an, Islam, and hidayah as light. All of this goes back to light and life is what we need to live. Our Prophet felt the hilawah in worshipping Allāh and knew what it meant to worship Allāh. That is why when a problem happened to him, what did he do? Aishah tells us, “If something gave him problems…”
Before I finish the hadith, let me ask a question to me and you. When you have a bad day at work, when you have an argument with your wife, when you have a problem with your kids, how do you relax yourself? Let's be honest here. Most of us turn on the Shaytan, which is called the waster of time. It is one of the biggest ways we relax ourselves, or we may surf the net or check Facebook statuses or what not. We think this will calm us down.
Aishah says, “If something caused him any problems, he would immediately rush to the ṣalāh.” Why? He realized re-establishing the connection with Allāh will calm you down. That is what will bring about peace. This is why when it was time for the ṣalāh and if Bilal was a little late, he would say, “Bilal, where are you? We want the pleasure of ṣalāh! Give us the sweetness of the relationship with Allāh !”
Raising the Bar
The sad fact of the matter is that we are not as good Muslims as we should be. In Ramadan, every one of us raises the bar. This is one of the blessings of Allāh. Anyone who has an atom's weight of īmān, māshā'Allāh tabarakAllah in Ramadan they raise the bar. If they are not praying, they began to pray. If they are not praying sunnah, they pray sunnah. If they pray sunnah, they start praying tahajjud. If they read one page of Qur'an a day, they start reading ten pages a day. This is the Sunnah of Allāh.
Brothers and sisters, every one of us has raised the bar this month. When we raised the bar, what have we discovered? Raising the bar is not that difficult. In fact, the rewards and pleasure are worth it. Now that Ramadan is over, what are we going to do after this? Are we going to back to where it all began? Are we going to go back to our previous lifestyles? If that is the case, then the fact of the matter is that Ramadan has not truly benefitted us. Allāh gave us the dessert, but apparently we didn't taste the sweetness because we aren't interested in tasting it again and again and again.
One of the signs of Allāh having accepted a good deed, as our scholars of the past say, is that you are better after the deed than before it. If you go for Hajj, you better come back changed, or else your Hajj is useless. That is the reality of what Islam and the Qur'an and Sunnah teaches us. When you have had a momentous blessing of Allāh , it should show in your daily life. That is why the scholars say that those who go for Hajj and come back the same, it is as if Hajj did not have any impact on them. The same goes for any blessing.
Ramadan is one such blessing. We have been blessed with another Ramadan. Allāh knows how many more Ramadans we are going to have. Brothers and sisters, every one of us knows people who were not with us last Ramadan. A time will come when people will be remembering us as well. “Fulan so-and-so used to be amongst us,” and we are not going to be there. Allāh knows when our last Ramadan is.
The point of Ramadan is that we rise up maybe a hundred or a thousand, and when Ramadan finishes, nobody can maintain that because it is too much, but don't go falling and crashing back down to where you began Ramadan. All of us will dip a little bit and cannot maintain it, but when we go down, if we have raised up 100 levels, then go down 30, 40, or 50, but down go crashing back down by 100. If we have raised ourselves, 1000 steps, then go down 300 or 400 but raise the bar so that every time Ramadan comes, we find ourselves better Muslims at the end of the month than before the month.
Anyone who is not praying five times a day, brothers and sisters, for how long? For how long are we going to delude ourselves? The bare minimal requirement of being just a practicing Muslim is the five daily salawat. Let us make this our habit from today that “khalas, Ramadan has taught me that being a Muslim is beautiful and something that I can enjoy and makes me feel alive.” From today, no more excuses! Five daily salawat.
Those of us who were not reading the Qur'an read a little bit in Ramadan. Okay, khalas, you cannot read a juz a day, but read a page a day, two pages a day, half a page a day. Have some daily relationship with the book of Allāh . This is your breakfast, brothers and sisters. Your real breakfast is reading the Qur'an. If you don't have your breakfast, you can't function. If you don't read Qur'an every day, then your soul will not have its food. Have some breakfast. Have something to do with the Qur'an.
We all gave some charity. We can't all give 5K, 10K, 20K every month of the year, but still have some regular recurring charity. Sponsor an orphan for $40 a month. Every Friday, give $5 to the masjid. Give something for your mother and father. Have something regular. Our Prophet said, “The most beloved of all deeds in the eyes of Allāh are those that are the most consistent / regular, even if it is something small.” A dollar a day. A dollar a week. Five dollars a week. A page a day. Something that is consistent.
Ramadan has taught us consistency. Every day fasting. Every day tarawih. Every day Qur'an. subḥānAllāh, brothers and sisters, every one of us was thinking, “How can I fast 16-17 hours with no food or drink?” The day before Ramadan, you are drinking all day because it is more than 100 degrees outside. Now it is as if it is not even an issue, and you are completely used to it.
Shaytan will come to us the day of 'Īd, brothers and sisters. The time of maghrib will come and go and nobody will even remember about it. Whereas before this, to the millisecond we are checking the watch. We have memorized the daily salawat timings and on the day of 'Īd, we forget and don't even remember what time maghrib is. It is completely lost. We have been fasting 30 solid days, and after that it is as if we don't even know what the word fasting means until the next Ramadan comes.
This is a reminder to myself and all of you. Once a month, once a week, have a bare minimum to do something regular. We prayed an hour and a half of tarawih. We are not going to do this every night. Maybe for ten minutes when you go home after isha, pray something extra. Have some relationship with Allāh . Next Ramadan, raise the bar and raise the bar and raise the bar until one day we will meet Allāh and every year will be better than the previous one. What a beautiful track record! We will show Allāh : “O Allāh, every year you gave me, I was a better person. I was looking forward to meeting you. This is my book! Come and read it!” This is the attitude of the Muslim: to be positive, energetic, optimistic.
Brothers and sisters, the real halaawah is the halaawah of īmān. Al-Hasan al-Basri , the famous ascetic, said, “You seek pleasure? You seek happiness? You will only find it in one of three things, and if you don't find it in three things, then know that the door of happiness has been shut for you, and you are not going to find it anywhere else. 1 – ṣalāh, 2 – qira'at'l-Qur'an, 3 – dhikrullah.” This is where you find happiness: ṣalāh, Qur'an, dhikr. If you are not going to find happiness in these three things, you are not going to find it anywhere else.
Another famous scholar of the past said, “If the princes and the playboys knew how much pleasure we have in our hearts, then those playboys who are messing around thinking they are enjoying the world and the princes and millionaires knew how we felt of happiness, they would kill us with swords to get the happiness out of our hearts.”
This is the reality, brothers and sisters, that every one of us in Ramadan experiences ourselves. I will ask you again: can a million dollars make you feel as productive as you feel after fasting Ramadan? Could a million dollars make you feel as if you have done something worthy and proud? You feel “alḥamdulillāh, great! I have done it!” That feeling of fulfillment only comes when you have a relationship with Allāh. Brothers and sisters, the month is over, but the Lord is the same. The time is finished, but our lives still have some time. Ramadan is over, but Allāh has blessed us with more life and we pray for many more years, but eventually that must come to an end. Every one of us will come to an end, so let us pray that this Ramadan will be the first of many Ramadans where we raise the bar every single month. Let us pray that inshā'Allāh this Ramadan we are going to show ourselves and Allāh. We are allowed to show Allāh. Allāh says, “Say: do your deeds because Allāh will see your deeds.” We are allowed to show our deeds to the Prophet . In other words, we are allowed to want the Prophet to look at our deeds. The Prophet as well is going to be proud of the deeds of his ummah. We are allowed to do this to boast in front of Allāh, not in front of the people. “Oh Allāh, I did this for You.”
Let every one of us make an intention that inshā'Allāh this Ramadan we will show ourselves and Allāh that we will be better Muslims. “Whatever deficiencies I have, I am going to raise the bar. I am not going to be perfect or an angel, but I will be better than I was before the month began.” That is the criterion: “I will be better than I was before the month began. Every Ramadan that will happen and I will continue to be better until I meet Allāh .”
Brothers and sisters, prayer, ṣalāh, dhikr, Qur'an, recitation, being with the Muslims and the brotherhood, realizing we are an ummah – you and I both know that when we go to work and are the only Muslim there, you feel lonely and cut off. With the community, you feel alive. Every single day, 500 Muslims gathering to worship Allāh is all gone now. It's not going to remain, but why should your attachment to the masjid be cut off? The masjid is so packed that people are standing and parking lots have a problem and come 'Īd and the day after 'Īd, we have two rows for prayer. Why? You are all living in the same city. You are all close to the masjid. Why should it be that the tilawah is heard every day and as soon as Ramadan is over, the Qur'an begins to gather dust until the next Ramadan? What type of attitude is this when Allāh has gifted us a Ramadan and allowed us to taste īmān? Let us continue that taste every day, every week, every month. Look at every door of good, whether it be ibadah, qira'ah, dhikr, sadaqah, and every one of us say, “inshā'Allāh, a little bit more.” Not to the extent of Ramadan – we can't do that. Just a little bit more. Whatever Allāh has allowed us to do. When you make the intention and take the step, Allāh will make it easy. The Prophet said, “Allāh says, 'Whoever walks toward Me one step, I walk towards him ten. Whoever comes to Me walking, I come to him running.” This is the beauty of Allāh . This is the majesty of Allāh. You show the intention and try whatever you can and Allāh will bless us with the rest.
May Allāh make this Ramadan an accepted Ramadan from all of us. May Allāh accept all of our fasting. May Allāh accept all of our qiyam. May Allāh accept all of our recitation of the Qur'an. May Allāh free every one of us from His punishment and anger and the fire of Hell. May Allāh place us amongst the victorious.