"Ramadan Spiritual Sustenance"
رسولُ اللَّهِ صلى اللَّه عليه وآله:
لَو يَعلَمُ العَبدُ ما في رَمَضانَ لَوَدَّ أن يكونَ رَمَضانُ السَّنَةَ
The Prophet (ṣ) said:
If the servant was to fathom the worth of Ramadan, he would wish that Ramadan lasted the whole year.
Biḥār al-Anwār, v. 96, p. 346, no. 12
Does i n s e r ting inedible tools (e.g. dental instruments) in to the mouth invalidate the fasting?
It doesn’t; unless, the tool that has been moistened by the saliva is taken out of the mouth and i n s e r ted again in it in which case if the amount of moist on the tool is so much so that it does not disappear in the saliva and the individual swallows the moist, then the fasting is invalidated.
A Commentary on the Supplicatory Prayer of Ramadan 23rd
Thesupplicatory prayer of Ramadan 23rd is as follows:
اللهُمَّ اغْسِلْنى فيهِ مِنَ الذُّنُوبِ، وَطَهِّرْنى فيهِ مِنَ الْعُيُوبِ، وَامْتَحِنْ قَلْبى فيهِ بِتَقْوَى الْقُلُوبِ، يا مُقيلَ عَثَراتِ الْمُذْنِبينَ
“O’ Lord! Cleanse me of my sins in this month, purify me from my moral defects, and put my heart to the test by means of piety, O’ Pardoner of the lapses of the sinners!”
Among the issues attended to in the supplicatory prayer of Ramadan 23rd are the following:
The significant role of the month of Ramadan in the purification of one’s heart and soul; the role of repentance in decreasing the punishment of sins; the necessity of attending to one’s moral defects and weaknesses and taking actions toward eliminating them; and an explanation of the concept of the piety of the heart.
* Cleansing the Heart of the Impurities of Sins
The month of Ramadan has been likened in the Islamic teachings to a feast whose host is Allah. When one is going to attend a feast which is hosted by Allah, one needs first to cleanse their clothes and body beforehand because it would be considered embarrassing to attend such a feast with impure clothes and body.
There are some people who cleanse their body and clothes before they enter the month of Ramadan and they finish the month of Ramadan while they have successfully cleansed their hearts and souls.
* Repentance, the Key to Self-purification
Indeed, so long as the heart has not been purified of the impurities of sins and the soul has not been cleansed of the stains of transgressions through repentance, it will be impossible for one to engage in moral training and walk the path toward attaining nearness to Allah. It will also be impossible to benefit from the light of guidance and experience the ineffable rapture of true spirituality.
* How does Ṣalāt eliminate Sins?
When a person prepares to perform one’s Ṣalāt they have to cleanse themselves in every way; they need to cleanse not only their body and clothes of impurities, they need to perform the Ṣalāt in a place which is not usurped, nor bought or prepared through unlawfully-earned money.
A quick glance at the conditions that one must meet before performing one’s Ṣalāt indicates that all of them are deterrents against wrongdoing, sins, and injustice.
Ṣalāt cultivates the sublime human virtues deep in the hearts of mankind; it strengthens man’s willpower and purifies their heart and soul from the impurities of sins and transgressions.
The damage done to one’s soul by sins will heal and the stains of transgressions on the heart will be cleansed by means of Ṣalāt. Inasmuch as Ṣalāt is a way of expediting spiritual development and growth, it is a deterrent against evils and indecencies, sometimes doing it in a general fashion and sometimes giving certain misdeeds particular attention.
* One must first attend to One’s Own Shortcomings and Defects
Basically, a person who is constantly preoccupied with the identification and eradication of their own shortcomings and defects will have no time inspecting other people’s lives and finding faults with them.
Even if such a person detects some shortcoming in others, they will be ashamed to mention it because they will tell themselves: “How could I find faults with others, whereas I myself have so many shortcomings and problems?!”
It is a known fact that one is always more concerned with one’s own well-being than that of the others. So how can one attend to other people’s faults before attending to and eradicating one’s own shortcomings and faults? If one actually does this, it is clear that one does it not with the intention of reforming other people, but with the ill-intention of defaming and destroying them.
* The Identification of One’s Own Faults requires Self-knowledge
Selfishness and excessive self-love constitute major hindrances to the identification of one’s bad character qualities and acknowledging and accepting one’s moral defects.
It happens a lot that the people try to justify their bad character qualities trying to present themselves as impeccable individuals who are free of all defects and shortcomings. However, they only prevent themselves from gaining a correct understanding of themselves and their state through such baseless justifications.
Acquiring self-knowledge followed by acknowledging and accepting one’s shortcomings requires courage, bravery, and an iron will. If these factors are absent, one will try to cover up one’s faults and shortcomings and in case any of them are accidentally exposed, one will try to justify them by any means necessary!
* The Piety of the Heart, the True Essence of God-wariness
The Arabic term “Imtaḥin” in this prayer has been used to refer to the tests which mankind needs to go through in this world. The fact that one asks Allah to put his heart to the test is that it is only through such tests that one’s heart can be purified and possess the capacity for piety.
This is because the spirit of abstinence and piety along with the sense of responsibility toward Allah’s orders are things which are cultivated and grown within the human heart and soul.
GUIDANCE WHICH IS CONSISTENT WITH MAN’S ORIGINAL NATURE
وَقِیلَ لَهُ (امام سجّاد(علیه السلام)) یَوْماً: «إنّ الحَسَنَ البَصْرِی قَالَ: لَیْسَ العَجَبُ مِمَّنْ هَلَکَ کَیْفَ هَلَکَ؟وَإنَّمَا العَجَبُ مِمَّنْ نَجَا کَیْفَ نَجَا. فَقَالَ(علیه السلام): أنَا أقُولُ: لَیْسَ العَجَبُ مِمَّنْ نَجَا کَیْفَ نَجَا وَ أمَّا العَجَبُ مِمَّنْ هَلَکَ کَیْفَ هَلَکَ مَعَ سِعَةِ رَحْمَةِ اللهِ»
It was said to Imam al-Sajjād ('a) that Ḥasan al-Baṣrī had said: ‘It isn’t surprising that people are misguided; rather it is surprising that people are guided’. Imam al-Sajjād ('a) replied: ‘I say that it isn’t surprising that people are guided; Rather, it is surprising that people are misguided. For how have they become misguided despite Allah’s all-embracing mercy!
This tradition has made an allusion to a very important point. There are some people who have become accustomed to a sort of pessimism always seeing the empty half of the glass. Due to this way of thinking, they look at Satan, the forces of lust and desire, and the corruption of the world around them and conclude that there is very little chance of being rightly guided in a world full of so many evils. In essence, they see misguidance as the default state and guidance as a lucky break. We believe that people who hold such a viewpoint are misguided in this respect and that this is a trick used by Satan in order to lead such people astray. Such a viewpoint was unfortunately held by Ḥasan al-Baṣrī, as attested to by the aforementioned tradition.
It has been narrated that once Imam 'Alī ('a) asked Ḥasan al-Baṣrī: ‘Why didn’t you participate in the Battle of the Camel [Battle of Jamal]? He replied: I left my home to participate but I heard a voice calling out that both the killer and the killed (meaning both opposing sides) will be in the hellfire’. When the Imam ('a) heard this, he said to him: ‘You are right; that was your brother Satan who called out these words in order to misguide you’. Unfortunately, Ḥasan al-Baṣrī was one of the elements who caused much corruption during the time of Imam 'Alī ('a) and yet he is considered by the Sunnis to be amongst the jurisprudents and Quranic commentators of the Sunni school.
Righteous servants of Allah, on the other hand, do not think so; they believe that all people have the potential to be rightly guided. The reason behind this stance is clear: due to his all-embracing mercy, Allah sent 124,000 prophets to guide mankind, with the divine s c r i p tures, particularly the Quran, which contained the necessary instructions for man to find guidance. Additionally, Allah has provided man with intelligence and a reason by the use of which he can subjugate his evil-prompting self. He has given man a pure original nature which continuously guides him to what is right and pulls him away from what is wrong and He has bestowed within man a conscience to constantly judge his actions.
Through the life of man, Allah uses various means to teach him and awaken him to the reality of this world. The signs of Allah are everywhere, hence wherever man glances, whether at the heavens or the earth, he sees the signs of the Greatness and Oneness of Allah. What more is needed for guidance?! If we were to take a single strand of hair and place it under a microscope, that single strand of hair and the wonders latent within it would be enough proof for proving the existence of and the Oneness of Allah. Now imagine the entire world and all the wonders that it contains, from the variety of creatures and plants to the amazing structure of the human body. Truly this world is an overwhelming proof for the existence of the Creator and a powerful means of our guidance.
Imam al-Kāẓim ('a) is narrated to have said the following to Hārūn, the ruthless Abbasid caliph: ‘Whatever you see is an admonishment and lesson for you’. The mercy of Allah has necessitated that He bestow some beacons of guidance within the created world for people to be guided to the right path; so it shouldn’t be surprising when people are guided. Rather with all of this overwhelming evidence, it should be surprising when they choose to be misguided. One of the biggest tricks of Satan is when he leads the people to believe that the ‘times have become corrupt and that there is nothing that they can do in order to save themselves as well as others from perdition’.
This is simply a way of escaping one’s responsibility and it develops a feeling of hopelessness in regards to change and progress. The Pious individual should adopt Imam al-Sajjād’s ('a) attitude in always being hopeful of Allah’s guidance and working hard towards attaining it. What is interesting to note is that Imam al-Sajjād ('a) lived during the dark times of the Umayyads, when his father and all of his companions had been murdered and martyred by them. In spite of this, he said that guidance is the rule while misguidance is a deviation from this rule.
 The New Mafātīḥ, p. 816.
 The Rays of Guidance: a Series of Ethical Discussions, p. 98.
 The Teachings of the Infallibles, vol. 2, p. 121.
 Ethics in the Quran, vol. 1, p. 246.
 Ibid, vol. 16, p. 285.
 Ibid, vol. 9, p. 269.
 One Hundred and Eighty Religious Q&As, p. 410.
 Tafsīr-i Nemūneh, vol. 16, p. 285.
 Ibid, vol. 14, p. 781.
 Ibid, vol. 5, p. 553.
 Ethics in the Quran, vol. 1, p. 322.
 Ibid, p. 333.
 The Lexicon of Tafsīr-i Nemūneh, p. 70.
 Tafsīr-i Nemūneh, vol. 14, p. 98.