"Ramadan Spiritual Sustenance"
قال الإمامُ علی عليه السلام:
مَن أدّى زكاةَ الفِطرَةِ تَمَّمَ اللَّهُ لَهُ بها ما نَقَصَ مِن زكاةِ مالِهِ
Imam Ali (ʿa) said:
He who pays the obligatory alms-tax at the end of Ramadan, Allah uses it to make up for any deficit in the alms-tax paid on his wealth.
Wasā'il al-Shia, v. 6, p. 220, no. 4
Is it necessary to pay the kaffāra of the fast immediately?
It is not obligatory to offer kaffāra immediately, however, it should not be delayed so much so that it is called an act coming short.
A Commentary on the Supplicatory Prayer of Ramadan 30th
Thesupplicatory prayer of Ramadan 30th is as follows:
اللهُمَّ اجْعَلْ صِيامى فيهِ بِالشُّكْرِ وَالْقَبُولِ، عَلى ما تَرْضاهُ وَيَرْضاهُ الرَّسُولُ، مُحْكَمَةً فُرُوعُهُ بِالْأُصُولِ، بِحَقِّ سَيِّدِنا مُحَمَّدٍ وَ آلِهِ الطَّاهِرينَ، وَالْحَمْدُ للَّهِ رَبِّ الْعالَمينَ
“O’ Lord! Make my fasting worthy of appreciation and acceptance, the way that it pleases You and Your Prophet, while its laws have been made strong with the principles [of the Islamic Sharī‘ah], [I ask You to grant me my wish] for the sake of our master Muhammad and his pure progeny, and all praise be to Allah, the Lord of all in existence.”
The most important points in the supplicatory prayer of Ramadan 30th are the following:
The characteristics of a fasting which is worthy of Allah’s acceptance and the different degrees of fasting; the philosophy behind being grateful to Allah; and the necessity of working hard to earn the good pleasure of the Prophet of Allah (ṣ) in order to please Allah Himself.
* The Difference between Correct Fasting and Accepted Fasting
There is a difference between an act of worship which is done correctly, meaning that it has been done with all its due prerequisites and conditions met, and an act of worship which is actually accepted and rewarded by Allah. Fasting, as an act of worship, needs to enjoy a soul in order to be accepted by Allah and the soul of fasting is piety and God-wariness.
Therefore, one way to realize whether one’s fasting has been accepted by Allah or not is to consider, after the end of the month of Ramadan, whether one’s heartfelt piety and God-wariness has increased by fasting or not. If one does not feel any change in oneself, one has only fasted in order to have done with a duty not to strengthen piety in oneself.
Imam Ali (‘a) has referred to this fact in an influential speech given on the Eid al-Fitr, calling accepted fasting the actual Eid of those who fast during the month of Ramadan:
“This is an Eid only for those whose fasting has been accepted by Allah and their nightly prayers and acts of worship has been received and accepted by Him.”
* The Conditions for the Fasting to be accepted by Allah
Being pious in all aspects of one’s life is one of the most important pre-conditions for one’s fasting to be accepted by Allah. It is rather interesting that this calculated Islamic abstinence has been designed to improve people’s piety by helping them control their rebellious carnal desires and whims.
Therefore, one thing that we need to consider after having performed our religious duties of fasting and praying is whether these acts have been successful in cultivating a spirit of abstinence from sins and piety in us or not. In other worlds, the value of the acts of worship is determined by the degree to which they have been successful in making us more pious than before.
* Those who fast without being rewarded, and those who maintain Prayer Vigils without being awakened
All acts of worship have both an outward aspect and an inward one. The outward aspect of the acts of worship are the actual actions that they include; their inward aspect, however, is the instructive effect that they have on human soul, guiding one to the path to attaining nearness to Allah.
Therefore, one particularly needs to attend to the inner meaning of the acts of worship in addition to attending to their outward aspects.
There are people who fast in the month of Ramadan but they commit several different sins as well; such people may wrong other people, defraud them, defame their fellow Muslims, and harass innocent people by talking behind their backs or slandering them.
Without doubt, such individuals will get nothing out of their fasting except having tolerated thirst and hunger for a while.
* Akhaṣṣ al-Khawāṣ, the Highest Level of Fasting
The quality of fasting has been divided in to three distinct degrees and levels:
The general level of fasting: this level involves only abstinence from eating and drinking and also from all other acts that can invalidate one’s fast.
The special level of fasting: this is a level where, in addition to abstinence from drinking, eating, and other acts that can invalidate the fast, one also abstains from committing any kind of sin by any part of his body, including the eyes, the ears, the tongue, the arms, and the legs.
The most special level of fasting: this level of fasting includes all of the above-mentioned kinds of abstinence plus the fasting of the heart, meaning not even thinking about sinning, and fully devoting oneself to the remembrance of Allah.
* The Miracle of Gratitude
Calling Allah “Shākir” [meaning grateful] is a delicate yet precise expression which shows Allah’s extreme respect for the good deeds done by people. The fact that Allah is implored in this prayer to meet one’s good deeds with “appreciation” is rather beautiful. It is an implicit indication made to the fact that Allah thanks His servants for having obeyed Him and having done good deeds by granting them rewards.
The holy Quran has also mentioned this fact in the following verse:
وَ مَنْ تَطَوَّعَ خَيْراً فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ شاكِرٌ عَلِيمٌ
“And whoever submits to [the Will of] Allah in doing good deeds, Allah is All-appreciative [of his deeds], and Ever Knowing [of what they do].”
* The Satisfaction of the Great Prophet of Islam (ṣ), the Manifestation of Allah’s Good Pleasure
The holy Quran has instructed us as follows:
وَ اللَّهُ وَ رَسُولُهُ أَحَقُّ أَنْ يُرْضُوهُ إِنْ كانُوا مُؤْمِنِينَ
“… Allah and His Prophet are worthier to be pleased by them, should they be believers.”
An interesting point in the above-mentioned verse is that, since “Allah” and “His Prophet” have been used together as the subjects of the Arabic sentence, the verb, according to the Arabic grammar, had to be used in a sort of plural form called Tathniyah [meaning for two persons]. Amazingly, however, the verb has been used in the singular in this verse!
This is a delicate yet clear indication that Allah’s pleasure and His Prophet’s pleasure are actually the same thing and they are never separate things. In other words, the Prophet is always pleased with whatever pleases Allah, a fact which is an indication to the Unification of the Devine Acts [al-Tawḥīd al-Af‘ālī]. That is to say, all power comes from Allah and the Prophet has no power by or in himself. Therefore, his pleasure and his wrath are all for Allah and based on what pleases or angers Allah.
* The Philosophy behind Tawassul
In the last part of this prayer, one implores Allah but at the same time adjures Him by the Prophet and his pure descendants. This is done because when one resorts to such holy men of Allah as intermediaries to intercede for them, Allah will more readily accept and answer one’s prayers.
The second part of the tradition explained that those who have good intentions will be trusted by the people. When someone is trusted by the people, his business will thrive, his livelihood will grow and his sustenance will increase. The third part of the tradition explains how those who treat their family kindly will be blessed by Allah with a longer life. There are two aspects to the latter part of this tradition:
1. There is a spiritual aspect which is not totally clear for us. For instance, we know that a good deed such as visiting one’s relatives prolongs one’s life but we are unaware as to the spiritual mechanisms responsible for such an outcome.
2. There is a more comprehensible aspect which relates to the reality that one who treats his family kindly will have a more peaceful family life. As a result of this increased peace and stability, they will be under less pressure and this correlates to an increased lifespan.
TEN INSTRUCTIONS FOR SELF-PURIFICATION AND SOCIAL HARMONY
قَالَ النَّبِی (صلی الله علیه وآله): «... وَتَصَدَّقُوا عَلَی فُقَرَاءِکُمْ وَ مَسَاکِینِکُمْ وَ وَقِّرُوا کِبَارَکُمْ وَارْحَمُوا صِغَارَکُمْ وَ صِلُوا أَرْحَامَکُمْ وَ احْفَظُوا ألْسِنَتَکُمْ وَ غُضُّوا عَمَّا لاَ یَحِلُّ النَّظَرُ إلَیْهِ أَبْصَارَکُمْ وَ عَمَّا لاَ یَحِلُّ الاِسْتِمَاعُ إِلَیْهِ أسْمَاعَکُمْ وَ تَحَنَّنُوا عَلَی أَیْتَامِ النَّاسِ یُتَحَنَّنْ عَلَی أیْتَامِکُمْ وَ تُوبُوا إلَی اللهِ مِنْ ذُنُوبِکُمْ وَ ارْفَعُوا إلَیْهِ أیْدِیکُمْ بِالدُّعَاءِ فِی أوْقَاتِ صَلاَتِکُمْ»
The Prophet (ṣ) is narrated to have said: ‘… Give charity to the poor and needy, respect your elders, be kind to those who are younger than you, visit your blood-relatives regularly, and restrain your tongues and your eyes and protect them from what is unlawful. Refrain from listening to what is unlawful, show affection to the orphans of others so that one day your orphans will be shown affection. Repent from your sins and return to Allah and raise your hands in supplication during the times of prayer’.
This section is a part of one of the most comprehensive traditions concerning the month of Ramaḍān. The more one ponders over it, the more one gains insight in to its finer points. Five of these recommendations relate to the social sphere, while five of them are, in effect, divine commands for man’s self-purification. When we pay detailed attention to this tradition, we can clearly see that the month of Ramaḍān is a month of growth and progress, both with regard to our relationship with Allah, and with people. In addition, this tradition really manifests the depths of love which Islam teaches its followers. Let us now delve in to the two sections of this tradition:
1. The first point deals with helping the poor and indigent. This is an instruction which is widely promoted in Islam and this tradition simply emphasizes it further.
2. Respecting our elders: We should always respect our elders, particularly our parents, and we shouldn’t be like some who leave their parents as soon as they gain physical and mental independence, sending their parents to a nursing home. Sometimes, children assume that they will forever remain young and will never experience old age and illness. This is completely wrong and the same thing which our parents undergo will happen to us as well. Unfortunately, this incorrect western custom is gradually growing in our country and we should be careful to treat our parents the same way we wish to be treated in our old age.
3. Treating those who are younger kindly: We should always be kind towards those who are younger and treat them with respect, in order that they can develop and gain independence.
4. Maintaining a good relationship with our blood relatives: The month of Ramaḍān is a particularly good month for strengthening family ties. Naturally, this is something which is obligatory in other months as well, but the month of Ramaḍān is particularly a good time for carrying out this religious duty. We shouldn’t allow the negative aspects of western culture to influence us in a way where the parents are unaware of their children and vice versa. We should be very careful to follow what Islam has taught us in this regard and create very strong family bonds.
 Kuliyyāt-i Mafātīḥ Nuvin, p. 817.
 Guftār-i Ma‘sumīn (‘a), vol. 2, p. 123.
 Payām-i Imam Amir al-Mu’minīn (‘a), vol. 15, p. 432.
 Pāsukh bi Pursish-hā-yi Mazhabī, p. 268.
 Payām-i Imam Amir al-Mu’minīn (‘a), vol. 4, p. 631.
 Ibid, p. 178.
 Guftār-i Ma‘sūmīn (‘a), vol. 2, p. 127.
 Tafsīr-i Nemūneh, vol. 1, p. 545.
 Bargozīdeh-yi Tafsīr-i Nemūneh, vol. 1, p. 142.
 Al-Baqarah, 158.
 Bargozīdeh-yi Tafsīr-i Nemūneh, vol. 1, p. 142.
 Al-Tawbah, 62.
 Tafsīr-i Nemūneh, vol. 8, p. 19.
 Ibid, p. 20.
 Āyāt Wilāyat dar Quran, p. 250.