Think less of food this Ramadan…

LanH, [email protected] | .

IN slightly more than a week’s time we will be observing Ramadan, the 9th month of the Islamic calendar (Hijra) when Muslims worldwide fast for the whole month. To all readers, 'Ramadan Kareem' (Generous Ramadan) and 'Ramadan Mubarak' (Blessed Ramadan).

Ramadan is the month when Muslims abstain from taking food and drinks during the day. So Ramadan is about taking less food because you can only eat after sunset but the irony of it, Ramadan is the month when many Muslims spend so much time, money and concern (thinking) on it.

In my opinion it is timely to think, see (for example TV programmes on food and cooking), talk and write less on food at this time of the year. Let’s stick to our well known ‘kata orang-orang tua’ (old folks saying), ‘makan untuk hidup, bukan hidup untuk makan’ (eat to live, not live to eat). Actually the saying was coined by the great Greek Athenian philosopher, Socrates.

So dear readers I am not going to write about food in this article but ‘switch’ to three important things (regarding ‘masjid’, night hour and ‘solat’ (prayer) as lesson from the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) Isra’ and Mi’raj journey mentioned by an ‘ustaz’ (religious teacher) during his ‘tazkirah’ at a ‘masjid’ near my house recently. We could put into practice regarding the three things mentioned during this coming Ramadan. ‘Insya-Allah’ we would lead a tranquil life if we take concern of the three things mentioned.

First is regarding ‘masjid’ – the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) Isra’ journey was from Masjidilharam to Masjidil Aqsa. It was a journey from a ‘masjid’ to another ‘masjid’. In our daily life especially among men, ‘masjid’ should be always in our mind.

For the five times ‘fardu’ (obligatory prayers) that are subuh, zuhur, asar, maghrib and isyak, we must have the ‘keazaman’ (determination) to perform all of them in ‘jemaah’ (congregation) in ‘masjids’ or ‘suraus’ (small masjid) where the ‘azan’ (call for prayers) were heard from.

Thus our daily schedule depends ‘heavily’ on the ‘solat’ times. For example, to perform the subuh prayer said at 5.40 am, we have to wake up very early; then during office time we should end meetings before 1.00 pm so that we have ample time to attend the zuhur mass prayer…the same goes on for the other ‘solat’ times.

As for the masjids…to a person who is ‘always on the move’, he had already set plans in his mind, which masjids he would attend for his payers. He had set the time – for example for subuh prayer he would perform it at a masjid near his house, for zuhur it is a masjid near his office, for asar it is a masjid on his way for a meeting and for maghrib and isyak prayers it is a masjid where there is a ‘tazkirah’ (lesson) between the two prayers.

When a Muslim is determined to do all his obligatory prayers at masjids, insya-Allah he would have the blessing of Allah SWT. He is among the seven righteous people whom Allah will shade on the Day of Judgment.

Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “There are seven persons whom Allah will shade on a Day when there is no shade but His. They are a just ruler, a young person who grew up in the worship of Allah, a person whose heart is attached to the MASJIDS, two persons who love each other who meet and depart from each other for the sake of Allah, a man whom a beautiful woman of high status seduces but he rejects her by saying I fear Allah, a person who spends in charity and conceals it such that his right hand does not know what his left hand has given, and a person who remembered Allah in private and he wept.” (Sahih Bukhari 629, Sahih Muslim 1031)

Well, dear readers by going to the masjids, insya-Allah all your problems would be solved. But of course you must be ‘ikhlas’ (sincere)…you go to the masjid only for Allah SWT shake and nothing else. For example during this Ramadan, you don’t have to think about food for ‘iftar’ (breaking of fast) because many masjids would have spread of food for congregators. The food may not be lavish or up to ‘your standard’, but remember the wise man saying…’eat to live not live to eat’.

Then if you wish to ‘upgrade’ the food serve, why not you sponsor the food and drinks for ‘iftar’ at the masjid – perhaps for a day or two. Insya-Allah your good deeds would be rewarded handsomely by Allah SWT. It was because Ramadan is the best time of the year for Muslims to double or triple his good deeds as required by Islam.

Muslims should not be involved in a wastage ‘project’ such as spending lavishly for breaking of fast at high class hotels and restaurants; they should be reminded that they are accountable for five things before the coming of five. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: "Take benefit of five before five - your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free-time before your preoccupation, and your life before your death." (Hakim)

So to Muslims brothers and sisters; do not indulge in empty, hollow and unbeneficial deeds, for Allah SWT says in Surah Al-Asr: "Verily! Man is in loss, Except those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth (i.e. order one another to perform all kinds of good deeds which Allah has ordained, and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which Allah has forbidden), and recommend one another to patience (for the sufferings, harms, and injuries which one may encounter in Allah's cause)." Yes with the money you have (wealth) why not spend a little amount of it to sponsor food for ‘iftar’ at masjids this Ramadan.

Let it be known that Ramadan is a sacred month among all other months and Allah SWT wants all His subjects to fulfill the month with obedience and ‘taqarrub’ (be nearer) to Him. The continuous satiety of an individual’s life will fulfill and enhance the soul with obstinacy and extremity. We hope that Ramadan will help develop loving and caring Muslims.

Yes, dear readers especially men; you are required to be at the masjid five times daily for the obligatory prayers but that does not mean that you should be at the masjid all day and night long. It was because a large part of the recommended good deeds (sunat) should be done at home or elsewhere such as at your workplace and when you are among human beings and other creatures.

During the day we are busy working but at night we are blessed with free time for us to rest and sleep and it is recommended for us to spare the last 1/3 of the night at home to do recommended (sunat) good deeds such as performing the night prayers such as ‘solat tahajud’, making du’a (supplication) and doing ‘dzikir’ and reflections on ourselves.

According to some ‘ulamas’, our home is a godown for us to gather ‘pahala’ (Allah’s blessing); for small deeds such as a wife making drinks for her husband would be rewarded handsomely by Allah SWT, what’s more if she cooks and serves food for the whole family either for ‘iftar’ or ‘sahur’ during Ramadan.

So this Ramadan, do not waste our precious time for example playing ‘dam haji’ (checkers) and carom while waiting for the time for ‘iftar’. Fill it with ‘zikir’ (dhikir that is eulogizing Allah in the words taught by the Prophet or in the words prescribed in the Qur’an) and increase our du’a (supplication) to Him.

Work hard to gain maximum benefits from the gifts of Allah SWT during Ramadan. In this holy month, one ‘sunat’ (optional) deed done would be rewarded like a ‘wajib’ or ‘fardu’ (obligatory) deed, and a ‘fardu’ deed would be rewarded 70 times or more than in other months

Who know perhaps this is our last Ramadan, thus grab the opportunities given by The Almighty ; we should do our best to please our Creator, Allah SWT. Every second counts thus fulfill it with activities in accordance to the Creator’s wish.

This Ramadan, one’s tongue should be wet with words of praising Allah SWT (lidah perlu basah dengan kalimah Allah) with the chants of ‘Laa Ilaha IllAllah (there is no God except Allah) which is the heaviest in weight in the side of Allah SWT.

“Then there are many more ‘kalimah’ that should be read such as ‘Subhanallah, Walhamdulillah, Wala Ilaha Illallah, Wallahuakbar’, Astaghfirullah al Lazi La Ilaha ‘illa Hual Hayyul Qayyum Wa Atubu Illahi’, ‘La Haula Wala Quwwata Illa Billah’, and ‘Subhanallahi Wabihamdihi Subhanallahil ‘Azim’. There is a hadith saying that chanting ‘Subhanallahi Wabihamdihi’ once, a ‘nakhlah’ tree would be planted for that person in Paradise.

In doing our daily chores such as paying bills, waiting for public transport and even when one is trapped in a massive traffic jam, why not use the time to recite the above ‘kalimah’.

These ‘kalimah’ should be chanted in full concentration for the maximum rewards by Allah SWT but for the ‘zikir selawat’ (praises to Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.) its reciters' would also be rewarded even if his mind is not on what they recite, what more if he pays full attention to it. Among the simplest ‘selawat’ is ‘Allahumma Salli Ala Saiyidina Muhammad, Wa’ ala Ali Saiyidina Muhammad’.

Ramadan and the noble Qur’an cannot be separated. It was in this month that the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to the Prophet s.a.w. through Angel (Malaikat) Jibril a.s. So to Muslims brothers and sisters why not brought along a small Qur’an with you and recite it while you are waiting in a line or better still during long journeys on buses and trains.

And when travelling don’t forget to bring along a packet of dates with you, so that when it is iftar time, pass the dates to person or persons next to you for you would be rewarded handsomely by Allah SWT as the Prophet s.a.w. had declared: “If a person gives iftar to a fasting person in this month, his sins would be forgiven. And he will be given as many rewards as has that fasting person.” Insya-Allah a few dates would help you 'settle' your 'hunger problem' and unable you to perfom your 'solat' thus what's the benefit to waste time, talk and think too much on food? – ES

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