Fast of the Month of Ramadhan: Philosophy and Ahkam
It is hoped that this small book has shed some light on the significance of fast in Islam and on the greatness of the month of Ramadhan. It is also hoped that it has made some readers realize the importance of considering this life as a golden and unique opportunity to prepare for the life to come. It is also hoped that those who read this book will share its knowledge with others rather than keep it all to themselves.
This is a book, we believe, which should not be left on the shelf to collect dust but circulated among our community to bring them closer to their Maker and to make them more serious about their creed. One hadith says: "For everything there is zakat, and the zakat of knowledge is its dissemination."
Does one who knows something useful have any choice with regard to sharing what he knows with others? Is it up to him whether to inform others of it or to just remain silent and keep it all to himself? Is there a free will to excercise in this regard?
If you think that the answer to these questions is in the affirmative, read the following verses of the Holy Qur'an and see how the Almighty curses and condemns those who know and who do not share their knowledge with others:
Surely those who conceal the clear proofs and the guidance that We revealed, having made it clear in the Book for men, these it is whom Allah shall curse, and those who curse shall curse them (too). (Holy Qur'an, Surah Baqarah 2:159)
Allah made a covenant with those who were given the Book: You shall certainly make it known to men, and you shall not hide it, but they cast it behind their backs and took a small price for it; so evil is that which they buy. (Holy Qur'an, Surah Ale-Imran 3:187)
Do not mix the truth with falsehood, nor should you hide the truth while knowing it. Holy Qur'an, (Qur’an Surah Baqarah 2:42)
Holy Qur'an 3:187 above refers to the People of the Christians and Jews who were given knowledge by the Almighty and who did not disseminate it. Ironically, they regard hiding knowledge as one of the "seven deadly sins," the sins which can never be forgiven.
Does Islam forgive those who have knowledge and who hide it or fail to share it with others? On p. 67, Vol. 2, of Bihar al-Anwar, Imam Mousa ibn Ja’far (as) quotes his forefathers citing the Messenger of Allah (S) saying, "One who reneges from his oath of allegiance, or who promotes what misleads people, or hides some knowledge with him, or confines some wealth with him unjustly, or knowingly aids an oppressor in committing oppression while being fully aware of his oppression, is outside the folds of Islam."
Truly if you consider this hadith, you will find it awe-inspiring. One who hides knowledge, according to this hadith, is on the same level with one who deliberately assists oppressors and oppression. Islam is clear of those who deliberately and in any way hide useful knowledge; so, we seek refuge with Allah, dear reader, against being among them. Rather, we should spare no means to share what we know with others. Good knowledge is like a good seed: once sown, it will Insha-Allah grow and multiply.
The Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) is quoted on p. 67, Vol. 2, of Bihar al-Anwar, saying, "The creed stands on four pillars:
a scholar who informs people of the knowledge which he has and who acts upon it;
a wealthy person who is not miserly when giving those who safeguard the religion of Allah;
a poor person who does not sell his hereafter in order to buy the life of this world; and
an ignorant person who is never too proud to seek knowledge." What a beautiful statement!
Here we have to stop for a moment to ask ourselves: "Who is qualified enough to be called a scholar, an ‘alim, one to whom the Almighty refers in one of the most Glorious of Qur'anic verses:
‘Surely those among Allah's servants who fear Him most are the scholars (‘ulema)' (Holy Qur'an, Surah Fatir 35:28)"?
The answer is provided by the very best man who ever walked on the face of planet Earth: our beloved Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his pure and sinless Progeny: "Each one of you is an ‘alim (scholar) so long as he pursues knowledge, but when he thinks he achieved it, then he becomes ignorant." Ignorant are the haughty ones who think that "they know it all." Although he (S) was the embodiment of each and every imaginable virtue, he (S) nevertheless was ordered by his Maker to:
"Say: Lord! Increase my share of knowledge!" (Holy Qur'an, Surah Taha 20:114).
The Holy Prophet of Islam (S) is quoted on p. 66, Vol. 2, of Bihar al-Anwar, saying, "Jesus son of Mary (as) once stood to address the Israelites and said, ‘O Children of Israel! Do not impart wisdom to the ignorant else you should do knowledge injustice, nor should you prohibit those who seek it from doing so else you should do them injustice." The Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali (as) is quoted on p. 67, Vol. 2, of Bihar al-Anwar, saying, "One who hides some knowledge with which he is familiar is as good as the ignorant."
Al-Majlisi quotes Ibn al-Walid quoting al-’Ubaydi quoting al-Dahqan quoting Durust quoting Imam Abu Abdullah al-Sadiq (as) saying that four things will always be lost: 1) friendship you grant to someone who is untrustworthy; 2) a favor to someone who does not appreciate it; 3) knowledge imparted upon someone who is not inclined to listen to it; and 4) a secret you share with someone who lacks discretion.
Not all people are inclined to learn, and unfortunately few are those who share what they learn with others. One of my favorite axioms says: "Do not cast pearls before swine." Pearls of wisdom, when cast before the dumb, will not be held with any esteem. Give this book to someone who appreciates it.
The kind reader is requested to send me an email to tell me what he thinks of this book, what suggestions he has to improve its second edition, and whether it in any way helped him/her realize how great fast is, how significant our life on this earth is, and how Allah looks upon knowledge and those who disseminate it. Some Internet sites have my current email address.
And if you appreciate the time and effort exerted in writing this book, please recite Surat al-Fatiha for the soul of my father the late al-Hajj Tu’ma Abbas al-Jibouri and for the souls of all believing Muslim men and women, the living and the dead, and rest assured that you will be richly rewarded by the Most Generous and Compassionate One for doing so.
Reciting the Fatiha for all believing men and women, the living and the dead, should be the daily practice of every Muslim especially after performing the daily prayers. It is also a good habit to do so while you are on your way to work or back home therefrom. Life is too short to be wasted. If you do so, you will Insha-Allah taste the sweetness of iman, and none of this fleeting world's worries and woes will trouble or harm you, Insha-Allah... What happiness is greater than that?!
We pray Allah Ta'ala to accept our prayers and fast and yours, and to reward all of us with everlasting bliss and happiness in this life and the life to come, Allahomma Aameen, Wassalamo Alaikom wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.