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FAREWELL TO RAMADAN: THE FOUR LESSONS TO TAKE WITH US

 (Transcript of the Friday Khutba delivered by Shaikh Ahmad Kutty at the Islamic Institute of Toronto on the 6th of June, 2018)

FAREWELL TO RAMADAN: The Four Lessons to Take with Us

All praises belong to Allah, the Creator, Sustainer; the fountain of mercy and compassion, and the forgiver of sins and just in retribution.

We praise and glorify Him; when we do so, we join the chorus of singers of God’s praise all around us: the infinite creatures in the land and sea, in this immense cosmos, the size of which is known only to the Creator, who is all-wise, all-knowing and all-powerful.

As we stand here today, we are saying farewell to the month of blessings - the month of Ramadan.

We thank the Lord for the gift of Islam, for honoring us to worship Him, to stand in Prayer, to fast, to give charities and perform optional devotions: all intended to seek His pleasure and come nearer to Him. We did so to fulfill the purpose of our creation and realize the meaning of our existence.

I testify that there is no god but Allah and that He alone is worthy of all praise and worship.

I also testify that Muhammad is His servant and messenger, the seal of prophets and the perfect exemplar and guide for humanity.

May the Beneficent Lord shower him and his family and companions with His choicest blessings and peace, and may He also include among them.

 

Brothers,

Before I proceed I remind myself first and then all of you to be conscious of Allah; and to seek His pleasure in all of our thoughts, words, and actions.

Allah wants us to be mindful of Him. Taqwa nurtures in us the real consciousness of meaning and purpose of life.

Taqwa reminds us to keep the transient nature of our life in this world and to work for things that matter.

Taqwa reminds us to sort out our priorities in life.

It is when we become aware of transient nature of our worldly life that we become truly capable of living a meaningful life

Ramadan reminds us of the fleeting quality of life

Ramadan ought to teach us that we are here to sojourn for a while; and that soon we shall face death.

Death could come anytime.

When we take this lesson to heart, we will recognize our true priorities in life.

It is the lesson that our young brother Ali Banat from Sydney, Australia learned.

He was in the prime of his life; in the mid-thirties when his physician told him that he has an advanced stage of cancer and he would have seven months to live.

Ali Banat was not different from any one of us.

He was a Muslim for sure and yet he had amassed so much wealth and was living a life of unparalleled comforts and luxury.

He had a fleet of expensive cars which included a Ferrari, expensive watches, hundreds of most expensive shoes, and countless other luxuries and comforts like the rich and famous.

However, once his doctor informed him of his condition, he had a sudden awakening: He realized how caught up he was in the seductions of the world.

And it dawned on him that he wasted his life chasing phantoms:

“O Mankind, the promise of Allah is real; so, let not the transient world seduce you and let not the treacherous one seduce you.” (Qur’an: 35: 5)

No sooner he got the news he was determined to change his life

He considered cancer a ‘gift.’

It is a gift as he could spend the remaining life to prepare for his akhirah

That is why he “I got rid of my cars; I got rid of my watches, even my clothes I took them overseas and gave them to a lot of people out there.

“I wanted to try to leave this world without anything,” said Ali Banat.

Ali Banat ha advice for all of us is not to be obsessed with Dunya; instead to focus on things that matter: our salvation in the next world.

“After someone tells you, or you find out that you are sick or haven’t got much time in this life, wallahi this is the last thing you want to chase, and this is how we should be living our lives every day,” said Ali Banat as he advised people chasing worldly objects.

These people are going for the wrong goals; you will realize that when you get sick when someone tells you, you haven’t got long to live.

“You will realize all this stuff doesn’t benefit you in any way.”

Ali Banat sold his precious possessions; he started charity projects to help the needy and destitute,

He left behind a legacy of charity as he went on to set up some charities.

Thus his life serves as a testament to what difference a person conscious of true nature of worldly life could make in the world.

Let Ramadan teach us that our life is too short and too precious to waste on frivolities.

Let’s take to heart the reminder: This world is transient and fleeting, and the Life hereafter is better and abiding.

Let us remember that in the throes of death we will come to regret our obsession with this world. We would beg for a chance to turn our lives around.

That would never work. We have only one chance.

Therefore, Ramadan is a wake- up call. It should compel us to turn our life around.

Now let us come to the 2nd lesson: Ihsaan or excellence in worship and excellence in morals.

Ramadan is a training course:

It took us beyond the obligatory duties to engage in extra Nawaafil and devotions.

By doing this, we sought to excel in worship. To take our faith to a higher level:

Worshipping Allah as though we see Him in front of us, for even though we do not see Him, He does see us.

So we prayed Taraaweeh, engaged in voluntary devotions, offered charities and made supplications, some of us even are sitting in spiritual retreat, we read and listened to the Qur’an.

All of these were meant to bring us closer to Allah.

There is another aspect of Ihsaan: excellence in morals and behavior.

Ramadan taught us patience, compassion, and forgiveness.

Ramadan taught us to break bad habits and take on good practices.

So, to benefit from Ramadan, we need to ensure that such habits stick around.

We ought to develop the habit of extra Nawaafil and devotions; let’s develop Dhikr and Istighfaar as second nature;

Let us also be charitable and compassionate.

Let’s treat others with compassion.  Let’s cut down the wasteful habits;

Let’s learn to share the blessings with the less fortunate.

Let’s change the bad habits and take on good habits

I would urge that we start our day’s work in the morning.

Cut down our visits to coffee shops and spare the money we save to help the needy

Let’s take time to visit the sick and attend funerals;

Let us volunteer time and resources for worthy causes as Ali Banat did. He learned the hard way and saved himself from destruction.

He considers his cancer as a gift. Let ’s not wait for cancer or heart attack to teach us how death is ready to pounce on us.

The fourth lesson:

Let’s strengthen our relationship with the Qur’an.

We recited the Qur’an and listened to beautiful recitations during and after Taraweeh and Qiyam.

But we must never miss the primary purpose of the Qur’an.

The Quran came down as a cure for our spiritual and moral ailments; it is our guide for a better life; it should raise our consciousness.

Therefore, it is not enough that we merely chant it.

Instead, we ought to engage our three faculties: our tongue, our mind, and our heart.

We articulate the sound by reciting it beautifully.  That is only the first step.

Next is to understand the message;

And the next is to internalize the message.

Since the Quran is a cure and source of healing, we ought to look at it as a prescription.

We go to the doctor who prescribes a medicine; we carry the prescription in our pocket and read it again and again.

We cannot be cured unless we take the prescribed medicine.

People ask: why Muslims are the most backward people on the face of the earth?

The answer is that we take the Qur’an as if it was for chanting only.

Early Muslims took the message of the Qur’an to their hearts; they acted upon it and achieved the peak of success.

They transformed everything in the mold of the Qur’an.

They Islamized sciences produced art and music and literature: all molded by the soul of the Qur’an.

That is not happening now. How can it be when we do not seek to understand the message and apply the lessons?

We have split our brain into two compartments: one part of memorizing the Qur’an

And other section for acquiring scientific knowledge

There is no interaction between the two, for the Qur’an we read is not internalized; so we cannot synthesize the so-called religious and scientific branches of knowledge.

Our entire focus is to recite the Qur’an from beginning to end; if we can do it in a single breath that would be deemed as a feat today and he would win a big award.

But that is not how the prophet and the companions read the Qur’an.

They learned the lesson: we have revealed the Qur’an for people to reflect upon the message.

So, we read that Hudhayfah said that the Prophet recited a single verse: “If you punish them; (you have a right to do so for) they are Your servants; if You forgive them (you have the right to do so and still) You are the Mighty and Wise.”

Asma bint Abi Bakr spent the entire night reading: “And their Lord spared them from the torturous heat of hellfire!”

Imam Hasan al-Basari spent an entire night reciting “if you were to count the blessings of Allah, you would never finish counting them.”  When asked about it, he said, “it contains endless lessons for us to think about!” even the simple act of blinking our eyes, is a great blessing to thank Allah!

Let us, therefore, keep alive the four lessons of Ramadan:

Number One: Think of death which may visit us any time and prepare for Akhirah. Prepare to leave the world with a clear conscience, and leave a legacy of good works behind.

Number Two: Seek excellence in worship; achieve excellence in morals; treat others as you would want them to treat you.

Number Three: Break the bad habits and develop good habits; habits that would benefit us in the next world.

Number Four: Strengthen our relationship with the Qur’an. Let’s not stop chanting it beautifully; we ought to understand the message and apply it in our lives.

It is only by living the Qur’an that we can change our condition from bad to better.

I pray to Allah to accept our prayers, fasts, charities, supplications, and devotions of all sorts in this blessed month.

I pray that Allah includes us among those who gain His mercy, forgiveness, and freedom from hellfire.

I pray that Allah saves us and our children and grandchildren from the seductions of this world and help them remain steadfast in faith and commitment to Islam.

I pray that Allah shower His mercy on those who have passed away;

May He forgive them and admit them into His mercy and paradise.

I also pray that Allah send down healing and cure on those who are suffering from various afflictions;

May He grant them patience and make the suffering as a means of purification for them.

I invoke the mercy of Allah on those who are oppressed and persecuted all over the world. May Allah give them victory over their oppressors.

I also pray that Allah is with those who are suffering from worries and anxieties and challenges; May He comfort them and grant them relief.

May He answer our prayers and supplications, and may He include us all among the winners on the Day of Judgment.

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