"Ramadan Spiritual Sustenance"
Hadith of the Day
رسولُ اللَّهِ صلى اللَّه عليه وآله:
إنّ أبوابَ السماءِ تُفتَحُ في أوَّلِ ليلةٍ مِن شَهرِرَمَضانَ، ولا تُغلَقُ إلى آخِرِ ليلةٍ مِنهُ.
The Prophet (s) said:
Verily the gates of the heavens are opened on the first night of the month of Ramadan, and are not closed again until the very last night.
Biḥar al-Anwār, v. 96, p. 34, no. 8
I live in a city but I should be in another city four days a week because of my occupation and three other days in my own city. How should I perform prayer and fasting?
Your prayer and fasting should be performed complete in both places.
Daily Prayer of the Month
A Commentary on the Supplicatory Prayer of Ramadan 1st
Supplicatory prayers [i.e. Du‘ās] are of great significance within the framework of Islamic teachings. One outstanding category amongst all prayer categories is that of daily supplicatory prayers of the month of Ramadan which are recited every day during this blessed month in the mosques all around the globe and manifest in the best way the Devine mercy and compassion.
Though reciting these prayers during the month of Ramadan is important, it is equally important to ponder every single phrase of these prayers and use their teachings for self-purification and moral training.
The Supplicatory Prayer of Ramadan 1st
«اللهُمَّ اجْعَلْ صِيامى فيهِ صِيامَ الصَّآئِمينَ، وَقِيامى فيهِ قيامَ الْقآئِمينَ، وَنَبِّهْنى فيهِ عَنْ نَوْمَةِالْغافِلينَ، وَهَبْ لى جُرْمى فيهِ يا الهَ الْعالَمينَ، وَاعْفُ عَنّى يا عافِياً عَنِالْمُجْرِمين»
“O’ Lord! Make my fasting in this month the fasting of [true] fasters and my prayer vigils in it the vigilance of the prayerful, awaken me in it from my state of incognizance, forgive me my sins in it O’ Lord of all in existence, and pardon me, O’ Pardoner of the guilty ones!”
The most significant pointers to be considered in this prayer are the following: the qualities of true fasters and true ascetics who maintain prayer vigil on the nights of the month of Ramadan; the concept of incognizance and the ways out of it; the relation between asking Allah (swt) for forgiveness and the actual forgiveness of sins; and the extent and scope of Divine pardon and forgiveness.
We will discuss each point separately below.
Who is a true faster?
The most basic meaning of fasting, which we call the “body” of fasting, is to refrain from eating, drinking, and doing other things that would physically invalidate one’s fast. However, there a deeper reality to fasting which could be taken as its spirit. In this sense, the spirit of fasting is trying to achieve the summit of piety and God-wariness, something which has also been referred to by the Quran as the purpose of fasting:
“O’ you who believe! Fasting has been prescribed for you, just as it was prescribed for those who were before you, that you may become pious.”
When one fasts, his heart is purified and becomes more sensitive spiritually. As a result, one will be able to cultivate in himself a sense of responsibility, piety, God-wariness, and gratitude toward Allah (swt). Therefore, true fasting is realized when it leads to self-purification and moral training, resulting in higher levels of piety and God-wariness.
Who are the Prayerful?
The Prayerful are the people who seek spiritual elevation and growth and so they get up at the last hours of the night before dawn, and they worship Allah (swt) and supplicate the All-sufficient Creator. They are, furthermore, who while performing prayer enjoy the presence of heart.
Incognizance and Wakefulness
From a religious perspective, incognizance means a heedless negligence of Allah (swt), the Day of Resurrection, the transient nature of this world, and of Satan and his temptations. In short, incognizance is the state where one is heedless of the issues which are important for one’s prosperity and eternal felicity.
Wakefulness, on the other hand, is the most influential factor which can boost spiritual growth and development. Wakefulness, in its religious sense, is defined as a sort of self-awareness which allows one to consider one’s past deeds and make plans to avoid making the past mistakes in the future and to make amends for the past mistakes.
Praying to Allah, the Lord of the everything that exists, for Forgiveness
Indeed, the phrase “forgive me my sins in it (this day) O’ Lord of all in existence” in this prayer is an instructive lesson for all and demonstrates that the way out of the wretchedness of sins and back to the path of Allah is always accessible for us.
This part of the prayer also implicitly manifests how grave even the smallest of sins are because, no matter how small they are, they are considered to be in defiance of Allah’s orders.
The Scope of Divine Forgiveness
The Arabic term “‘Afw” [literally translating into English as pardon or forgiveness] means eliminating the effects and traces of sins. When used about Allah (swt), it refers to Divine pardon and forgiveness of sins. When Allah (swt) pardon’s the penitent person’s sins, not only will not He punish them for those sins but He will obliterate the adverse effects and traces of those sins as well.
The Lamp of Guidance
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Universe and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon our master Muḥammad and his pure progeny
Ethical and moral lessons as well as the issue of self-purification have always enjoyed a special status in Islamic seminary schools continuously attracting a large number of eager students. Such lessons –which are presented in the form of weekly classes- have been a long standing tradition in the seminary schools and continue being so up to this very day. The seminary students attend these lessons in order to learn how to break free of the shackles of worldly life and travel towards the spiritual world. These lessons are offered in addition to their normal coursework and studies serving the important function of spiritual purification and uplift. Such spiritual purification is a necessary component in the quest towards becoming a religious scholar (or indeed even a proper Muslim).
Some of these moral lessons have been collected and compiled throughout history and are now available in the form of valuable books. Two examples of such books are Munyat al-Murīd and Ādāb al-Mutaʿallimīn. The importance of this issue is made clearer when we understand the importance Islam attaches to knowledge and action as two complementary units. In addition, the issue of justice has been paired with that of knowledge. In other words, when someone wishes to become a judge, a Marja’, or serve as a witness, they must necessarily possess the prerequisite knowledge and, at the same time, be ready to take action based on their knowledge. If we were to separate knowledge and action from one another, the same social and moral disasters which have occurred to Western society will happen to us.
Due to the importance of this subject, Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi would traditionally begin his Wednesday classes with the interpretation of a related tradition so as to teach his students moral lessons beside scientific lessons, and to enlighten their hearts together with their minds. The present book comprises of a s e l e c tion of the traditions which have been discussed and interpreted in recent years. These lessons are a valuable treasure for people who intend to begin their journey of self-purification and for the preachers who want to enrich their sermons with moral lessons. It is hoped that through these lessons, all will strive harder than ever for self-purification.
THE VIRTUES OF BEING A SCHOLAR
«قَالَ الامام البَاقِرُ (علیه السلام): «عَالِمٌ یُنْتَفَعُ بِعِلْمِهِ خَیْرٌ مِنْ سَبْعِیْنَ اَلْفَ عَابِد
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is narrated to have said: ‘A scholar who benefits the people through his knowledge is better than seventy thousand worshippers’.
Worship is of such enormous importance that Allah has stated the following in the Quran regarding it: ‘I did not create the jinn and the humans except that they may worship me [to gain nearness to Me and to work their way toward perfection through it].’ Moreover, in the Tashahhud of the daily prayers, the issue of servanthood (in relation to worship) has been given precedence over the issue of prophethood: “I testify that Muḥammad is His servant and messenger”. In spite of the great importance of worship in Islam, the above tradition reveals that the status of the scholar is exponentially greater than that of the ordinary worshipper, albeit if he truly treasures this position and benefits people with his knowledge. In this way, the scholar becomes a beacon of guidance and an ark of salvation that can guide people towards the truth. It is such a scholar who is considered to be superior to seventy thousand worshippers.
 The Great Oaths of the Quran, p. 493.
 The Creed of Compassion, p. 40.
 The New Mafātīḥ, p. 672.
 Ibid, p. 812.
 Al-Baqarah, 183.
 Ethics in the Quran, vol. 1, p. 213.
 A Selection of Tafsīr Nemūneh, vol. 2, p. 370.
 Ibid, p. 102.
 Ibid. p. 103.
 Ibid. p. 338.
 Ibid, p. 348.
 The New Mafātīḥ, p. 812.
 Ibid, p. 1154.
 Lexical Items of Tafsīr Nemūneh, p. 385.
 The Message of the Quran, vol. 4, p. 370.