by Shaykh Salah el-Din Mahmoud an-Nassar
Alhamdulillah was-salaat was-salaam `ala Rasulillahi....
O Nation of Muhammad (s), we nowadays live in the blessed shade of a great blessed month, the month of Ramadan, in which the Quran was sent down as a guide to mankind and as a clear sign for guidance and judgment.
The arrival of this great month to the nation of Islam is an honorable arrival. From the crescent of this month we receive inspirations that makes it unique among other months. The crescent of Ramadan has a special characteristic not to be found in other crescents: it gathers the Muslim Ummah around the same `ibadah (worship) at the same time. Every one stops those actions which break fast upon the arrival of dawn (subh) and then everyone resumes them at sunset in response to the caller of Allah, one call stops the believers another call gathers them together.
The crescent of Ramadan amongst the other crescents resembles a bow with its two ends gradually move to form a full moon in the end. This gesture represent both ends of this nation that meet each other when its faith is complete and it's powers unite when its word unites, under the word of unity and the unity of the word is to realize the purpose of its existence, by being one nation like what it's Lord said about it "Verily, this Ummah of yours is one nation".
The month of Ramadan is the month that gathers the Muslims together around more than one `ibadah (religious worship) at the same time it is the month of reciting the Quran and contemplating its signs and it is the month of the qiyam (tarawih) where the Muslims meet at the House of Allah in organized groups behind one imam. They move when he moves and they obey his commands as if they were soldiers following their leader and obeying his orders. Muslims in Ramadan help each other in righteousness and piety giving each other a helping hand, and being compassionate towards one another in a great social picture of support, compassion and kindness, among themselves when they generously give their zakat and charity they are sharing with each other. This is the way this nation must appear all the time.
How great this month is in which the Lord bestows numerous bounties. We mention two of them that take place on earth and two that descend from heaven. The two that take place on earth are guidance and mercy. Guidance is in the houses of Allah, manifesting itself in the acts of obedience and religious practice performed by Muslims in the houses of Allah day and night. They are either bowing, prostrating, reciting the Quran, engaged in remembrance or in thankfulness: teachers and students, guides and disciples, their hearts shine with Nur - light - about which Allah boasts about to the inhabitants of heavens (the angels).
Mercy is that relation between Muslims that Allah describes as "strong against unbelievers, but compassionate amongst themselves" so mercy is expressed in human relations.
As for Guidance and Mercy that descend from heaven, Mercy is manifest in the Holy Quran wherein is guidance for those who are conscious of Allah (muttaqin). Allah also says "This Quran guides to the best way" where with Allah guides all who seek His good pleasure and the ways of peace and safety.
The mercy that descends from heaven is the Divine Generosity. By multiplying the rewards of the believers one obligation becomes equal to seventy in other months and one supererogatory worship is equal to that of an obligation in other months. During this month the provision of the believers is increased. Whoever provides a fasting person with something with which to break his fast, then this sins will be forgiven and he will be protected from hellfire, and he will receive the reward of the person who was fasting without the reward of the fasting one being diminished in any way.
There are four characteristics to be practiced more often and emphasized in this month: two to please the Lord and two others are necessary for yourself, and you cannot do without them. The two to please the Lord are saying "la ilaha ill-Allah" and asking forgiveness. The two necessities are to ask Allah for Paradise and to seek refuge in Him from hellfire.
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