"Ramadan Spiritual Sustenance"
رسولُ اللَّهِ صلى اللَّه عليه وآله :
إنّ الشَّقِيَّ مَن حُرِمَ غُفرانَ اللَّهِ في هذا الشَّهرِ العَظيمِ
The Prophet (ṣ) said:
Verily the most unfortunate is he who is deprived of Allah's forgiveness in this great month.
ʿUyūn Akhbār al-Riḍā (ʿa), v. 1, p. 295, no. 53
What is the ruling of using vitamin A ointment for lips (in order to prevent cracked lips) for the person in the state of fasting? What is the ruling of brushing teeth in the state of fasting?
If ointment doesn’t mix with saliva and doesn’t enter the throat, then it has no problem. If substances on toothbrush and water do not enter the throat, then it has no problem.
A Commentary on the Supplicatory Prayer of Ramadan 3rd
The supplicatory prayer of Ramadan 3rd is as follows:
اللهُمَّ ارْزُقْنى فيهِ الذِّهْنَ وَالتَّنْبيهَ؛ وَباعِدْنى فيهِ مِنَ السَّفاهَةِ وَالتَّمْويهِ، وَاجْعَلْ لى نَصيباً مِنْ كُلِّ خَيْرٍ تُنْزِلُ فيهِ، بِجُودِكَ يا اجْوَدَ الْأَجْوَدينَ
“O’ Lord! Grant me awareness and a deep degree of understanding and keep me away from unawareness and foolishness and grant me a share of all the good You send down [to the earth] in this day, by Your Munificence, O’ the Most Munificent of those who are munificent.”
* The most important points in the supplicatory prayer of Ramadan 3rd are the following:
The key role of rational thinking and forethought in awakening oneself and building awareness; the consequences of acquiring knowledge without actually putting it in to practice; the importance of the month of Ramadan and its advantages over the other months; and a classification of the different degrees and levels of Divine munificence and grace.
* Thinking, Knowledge, and Awareness
The holy month of Ramadan is the month of awakening and building awareness. This means that the time is ripe in this month to try to build awareness and seek wisdom through strengthening one’s rational thinking.
Thinking about the secrets of the creation of the universe, the sky, the earth, life, death, and even pains can be most edifying for mankind, given that such deep thinking can raise their awareness and expand their knowledge. The increased level of awareness along with more knowledge can, in turn, awaken the people from their state of forgetfulness and unawareness.
* Forethought is achieved through keeping away from Ignorance and impetuosity
One of the reasons behind impetuosity is ignorance and lack of wisdom. An ignorant and foolish person usually lives in his own illusions and would always make rash decisions and act impetuously in wrong times, assuming that everything is ready to act.
Obviously, such a person constantly gets himself in to all sorts of trouble and constantly fails in whatever he does. On the contrary, the individuals who are wise would consider all aspects of their actions before they take them and would keep away from impetuosity through forethought and prudence.
* A Knowledgeable Man of Words and not of Deeds!
Perhaps the most dangerous human beings in the world are the knowledgeable ones who do not put their knowledge in to practice. This is because if a knowledgeable person decides to use his knowledge to harm others, he will be like a well-equipped thief who breaks in to a building at night with a powerful flashlight. Clearly, such a thief will be able to rob the place more effectively than a naïve one without proper equipment.
Similarly, a knowledgeable person can do much greater harm to his fellow human beings, due to his expertise, than a person who lacks knowledge. Most of the adversities that mankind has faced all throughout history has been the result of the misdeeds of knowledgeable people who misused their knowledge for their own selfish interests. Moreover, most of the wars have been waged either by such people or through their intellectual support.
* The Holy Month of Ramadan, a Month Full of Blessings
The following tradition from the Prophet (ṣ) is enough to show how blessed and important the month of Ramadan is:
إِنَّ أَبْوَابَ الْجَنَانِ فِى هَذَا الشَّهْرِ مُفَتَّحَةٌ
“The gates of Paradise are open all throughout this month.”
This is a metaphor used by the Prophet (ṣ) to show how important every single good deed is in this month. Every verse of the Quran that we recite, the votive food that we give out to the poor in this month and all other good deeds that we may do during this month are each a gate of Paradise which is opened out to us.
* The Meaning of Munificence (al-jūd) and Generosity (al-karam)
Though the terms “munificence” and “generosity” are usually used interchangeably, munificence is considered to be a much loftier attribute than generosity within the framework of Islamic teachings, for it refers to the act of giving out something to someone as charity before they even ask for it. It also refers to the quality of being happy because of taking care of people’s needs by giving them the things they need. That which may clarify the most such a noble trait is the following verse of the holy Quran:
بَلْ يَداهُ مَبْسُوطَتانِ يُنْفِقُ كَيْفَ يَشاءُ
“Rather, both His hands [of Power] are wide open; He gives out (of His Bounty) howsoever He wills.”
This is a beautiful metaphor which implies that Allah is most Munificent in granting wishes because a person who is very generous will use both his hands to give things out in charity. Moreover, the fact that “both Hands” have been used in this verse might be a reference made to both the spiritual and material bounties that Allah gives out to people.
* THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SHIAS
The sixty fifth volume of the book Biḥār al-Anwār contains two important sections. The first section involves the virtues of the Shias, while the second section involves their characteristics. This means that, in addition to the virtues and advantages enumerated for the Shias, our traditions have also stipulated certain duties and responsibilities for them. In other words, One cannot claim to be a Shia only through being born in to a Shia family; being a true Shia entails many duties and responsibilities which must be fulfilled. These duties and responsibilities have been listed in a number of traditions by the Infallibles (‘a) in the book Biḥār al-Anwār under the section of the ‘characteristics of the Shias’. Let us review some of these traditions below-
* THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SHIAS- PART 1:
قال الامام الباقر(علیه السلام): «یَا مُیَسِّرُ أَلاَ اُخْبِرُکَ بِشِیعَتِنَا؟ قُلْتُ: بَلی جُعِلْتُ فِداکَ قَالَ: إِنَّهُمْ حُصُونٌ حَصِینَةٌ و صُدُورٌ أمِیْنَةٌ وَ أَحْلاَمٌ وَزِیْنَةٌ لَیْسُوا بالمَذِیعِ البَذِرِ وَلاَ بِالجُفَاتِ المُرَاعِیْنَ رُهْبَانٌ بِالْلَیلِ اُسُدٌ بِالْنَهارِ»
Imam al-Bāqir (‘a) is narrated to have said: ‘Oh Muyyasir, should I describe our Shias to you? He said: ‘Yes, may I be sacrificed for you!’. The Imam (‘a) said: ‘They are an impenetrable fortress and their hearts safeguard what they have been entrusted with. They possess sound reason, do not spread rumors, and do not disclose the secrets. They are neither too serious and rough nor pretentious; they are like ascetics at night, keeping vigil and praying, and like lions during the day.’
The first point which we must make clear is that there are different groups of Shias:
1. The first group includes geographical Shias who can be defined as those who are born in a Shia country and are statistically considered to be members of the Shia community of that country.
2. The second group consists of those born to Shia parents and raised by them.
3. The third group includes those who only verbally claim to be Shias, stating that they are followers of Imam Ali (‘a), while their actions are contradictory to the way of life of the Imam (‘a).
4. The fourth group comprises of those Shias who act upon their beliefs but their deeds are superficial and they haven’t achieved a deeper understanding of the religion. They have knowledge of some outer religious practices such as mourning for Imam al-Husayn (ʿa) or imploring the Infallible Imams for help, but they lack the deeper attributes of a true Shia such as piety, courage, safeguarding the secrets, etc… Certainly, it’s important to attend the mourning ceremonies of 'Ashura and participate in the local programs at the mosque but being a true Shia is not defined by and limited to these superficial markers. While respecting the importance of these practices, there are much deeper attributes which one needs to have in order to be a true follower of the Shia school of thought.
5. The last group consists of the true Shias who are familiar with all of the divine teachings of the Shia school of thought and who enjoy certain attributes seven of which have been listed in the aforementioned tradition. These characteristics are as follows:
1. An impenetrable fortress: The Shia must be much like an impenetrable fortress in the face of the enemy’s propaganda. Right now, the cultural climate of the world has taken a dangerous turn for the worst and our youth are particularly at risk. If we are unable to eliminate a dangerous virus, then we must at least empower ourselves to withstand its threats. Yet the question we should ask ourselves is have we truly strengthened our youth ideologically to withstand this threat?
 The New Mafātīḥ, p. 812.
 The Verses of Wilāyah in the Quran, p. 105.
 The Message of Imam Amir al-Mu’minīn (
 Ethics in the Quran, vol. 2, p. 425.
 The Message of Imam Amir al-Mu’minīn (‘a), vol. 4, p. 638.
 Ibid, p. 639.
 Wasā’il al-Shiʿa, vol. 7, p. 228.
 The Most Eminent Servants of Allah, p. 127.
 Ethics in the Quran, vol. 2, p. 385.
 Al-Mā’idah, 64.
 Tafsīr-i Nemūneh, vol. 4, p. 451.