"Ramadan Spiritual Sustenance"
رسول الله صل الله علیه و آله و سلم :
الصَّومُ جُنَّة ٌ منَ النّار
The Prophet (ṣ) said:
Fasting acts as a shield from the Hellfire.
Al-Kāfī, v. 4, p. 62, no. 1
It is mentioned in the book “Practical Laws of Islam” that the elderly for whom fasting is difficult, are exempt from the obligation to fast. Please specify the scale of oldness.
One, in discerning whether an individual meets the due criteria allowing not fasting, should refer to the common understanding of the people (the ʿUrf).
A Commentary on the Supplicatory Prayer of Ramadan 16th
Thesupplicatory prayer of Ramadan 16th is as follows:
اللهُمَّ وَفِّقْنى فيهِ لِمُوافَقَةِ الْأَبْرارِ، وَجَنِّبْنى فيهِ مُرافَقَةَ الْأَشْرارِ، وَآوِنى فيهِ بِرَحْمَتِكَ الى دارِالْقَرارِ، بِالهِيَّتِكَ يا الهَالْعالَمينَ
“O’ Lord! Grant me the opportunity to be in the company of the righteous in this day and keep me away from the company of the unrighteous and station me near Yourself by Your Lordship, O’ Lord of all in existence!”
The most important points in the supplicatory prayer of Ramadan 16th are the following:
Explaining the characteristics and attributes of the righteous; the true examples of the righteous individuals in the Quran; and explaining the effects of being in the company of the righteous or the unrighteous.
* The Characteristics of the Righteous Ones according to the Quran
The holy Quran has frequently referred to the Abrār [i.e. the ever-obedient and righteous individuals], discussing their character qualities, great standing with Allah and, the great rewards which await them in the Hereafter. 
According to the Quran, one of the most prominent good deeds done by the Abrār [the righteous ones] and the ever-obedient servants of Allah is feeding the poor:
وَيُطْعِمُونَ الطَّعَامَ عَلَى حُبِّهِ مِسْكِيناً وَيَتِيماً وَأَسِيراً
“… and they give out the food, though they crave [and need] it, to the needy, the orphan, and the prisoner”
* Who are the Abrār [the ever-obedient]?
Abrār are those men and women who have a great soul, a powerful will, and an unshakeable faith in Allah which is reflected in their many good deeds. In an Islamic tradition, Imam al-Ḥassan (‘a) has explained more about the referents of the Quranic term “Abrār”:
كلما فى كتاب اللَّه عز و جل من قوله ان الأبرار فو اللَّه ما اراد به الا على بن ابى طالب و فاطمة و اناو الحسين
* The Grave Consequences of being in the Company of the Unrighteous
Negative character qualities can be likened to a contagious disease which can quickly spread from a bad person to anyone who associates with them and is in their company.
There are many examples of the good and bad people whose fates changed due to their association with bad and good people. A bad person can learn to change oneself and one’s fate by learning to be good through associating with righteous people. Similarly, a good person might fall in to transgressions due to associating with unrighteous people.
Usually bad friends try to change their friends through bombardments of negative ideas so that they turn in to someone like themselves. Therefore, after associating with bad friends for some time, one might feel that even the most evil actions are not so bad and that they are entitled to do them. In other words, being in the company of bad people can utterly confuse one’s sense of recognition of goodness and badness.
* Bad Company and Skepticism
Another negative effect of being in the company of bad friends is the development of a sense of skepticism about everyone and everything in one. With regard to this issue, Imam Ali (‘a) has been quoted as saying:
مُجالَسَةُ الْاشْرارِ تُورِثُ سُوءَ الظَّنِّ بِالْاخْيارِ
* Something which can kill One’s Heart and Soul
One must be most careful about one’s heart and soul and not let them be affected by just anyone. There are numerous Islamic traditions which indicate that associating with bad people can even lead to one’s spiritual death. For instance, the Prophet of Islam (ṣ) has been quoted as saying:
* Associating with the Righteous People, the Means to attain tranquility and peace
Being in the company of the righteous and pious individuals will pave the way for one to try to take the same path as they do and to finally become worthy of an eternal life of bliss in Paradise. This is because Paradise is a place only for the righteous and the pious where they will finally attain peace and tranquility in the presence of Allah.
* Conclusion: Putting One’s Trust in Allah
The last part of this prayer is a reference made to the importance of trusting Allah. What one should realize is that Allah is the Lord, Creator, King, and Provider of everyone and everything which exists in the entire universe. So who is a better and mightier protector than Him for man to put his trust in?
THE SIGNS OF A BELIEVER
قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّه (صلی الله علیه وآله): «یَا عَلِی یَنْبَغِی أن یَکُونَ لِلْمُؤْمِنِ ثَمَانُ خِصَال: وَقَارٌ عِنْدَ الهَزَاهِزِ وَ صَبْرٌ عِنْدَ البَلاَء وَ شُکْرٌ عِنْدَ الرَّخَاءِ وَ قُنُوعٌ بِمَا رَزَقَهُ اللهُ لاَیَظْلِمُ الأعْدَاءِ وَ لاَیَتَحَامِلُ لِلاْصْدِقَاءِ، بَدَنُهُ مِنْهُ فِی تَعَب وَ النَّاسُ مِنْهُ فِی رَاحَة»
It has been narrated that the Prophet (ṣ) said: ‘Oh 'Alī, it befits a pious believer to possess eight characteristics: (he should) retain his bearings during difficult times, be patient during calamities, be thankful during times of ease, be satisfied with what Allah has given him, act with a spirit of moderation and compromise with his enemies, never put his friends in hardship, and the people should be safe from him, while he himself should be busy in a state of hard work and labor.’
Based on this tradition, the Prophet (ṣ) has specified eight characteristics for a true believer:
1. The first characteristic involves retaining one’s bearing during difficult times. Sometimes in life, we are placed in straits by economic, political, or even ideological storms. Yet, no matter how difficult the circumstances get, the believers are never shaken and they continue to endure relying on the power of their faith. It is this faith which makes them unwavering in the face of ideological doubts, moral provocations, and political events.
2. The second characteristic is having patience during times of calamity. Whenever a believer is hit with a calamity, they endure it with patience. The worldly life has its share of calamities, such as earthquakes, various illnesses, floods, etc… The believer’s strong faith is what allows him to patiently endure these difficulties. There is a tradition narrated from Imam 'Alī ('a) which states: ‘Patience to faith is much like the head in relation to the body. Just as a body has no value without a head, faith has no value without patience’.
3. The third quality is being thankful during times of ease and peace. A believer is always thankful to Allah even when he is living a peaceful and serene life. There are some people who only think of Allah when they are beset with various troubles; the following verse is a reference made to such people: ‘When they embark in the ships they call upon Allah, consecrating their faith to Him. But when He rescues them and brings them to land, they suddenly begin to associate others with Allah in His Divinity.’
A faithful individual will not forget Allah even when he is at the peak of affluence and ease. There is the well-known story of an individual by the name of Ayāz who became a vizier to the king. He had previously been a shepherd and so he kept his old shepherd clothing as a reminder of who he had been. He would look at it from time to time and say: You are still that same shepherd who has now become a vizier to a king; it was Allah who gave you this rank.
 The New Mafātīḥ, p. 815.
 Āl-i-Imrān, 193.
 Al-Insān, 8.
 Tafsīr-i Nemūneh, vol. 26, p. 279.
 Ibid, vol. 25, p. 357.
 Al-Insān, 8.
 Tafsīr-i Nemūneh, vol. 25, p. 342.
 Ibid, vol. 26, p. 279.
 Tafsīr Nūr al-Thaqalayn, vol. 5, p. 533, hadith No. 33.
 Tafsīr-i Nemūneh, vol. 26, p. 280.
 Ethics in the Quran, vol. 1, p. 162.
 Ibid, p. 163.
 Al-Shyakh al-Sadūq. Ṣifāt al-Shi’a. [cited from the book Biḥār al-Anwār] vol. 71, p. 197.
 Ethics in the Quran, vol. 1m p. 163.
 The Rays of Guidance: a Series of Ethical Discussions, p. 261.
 Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 77, p. 45.
 The Rays of Guidance: a Series of Ethical Discussions, p. 255.
 The Message of the Quran, vol. 6, p. 171.
 The Message of Imam Amir al-Mu’minīn (‘a), vol. 15, p. 593.
 Tafsīr Nemūneh, vol. 25, p. 180.