Friday, July 29, 2011

Shaykh Fahmi Zamzam on Preparations for Ramadhan


Shaykh Fahmi Zamzam Al-Maliki is like the perfect father figure. Anyone who sits before him would feel the warmth of his fatherly voice. Everything about him is fatherly. He speaks in a very relaxed manner, always in a friendly soft tone with intermittent small laughter. He reminds me of this saying by Katanni in Suhrawardi: Adab al-muridin: "Sufism is all good humor, whoever excels you in humor, excels you in Sufism." Shaykh Fahmi just know how to make people laugh, and beneath the laughter you just want to listen to him, agree with him and follow.

At a majlis taalim hosted by KL Ba'alawi last sunday  he said many people misunderstood the meaning of the Rajab du'a.

What it means is that we ask for barakah in our efforts to earn a living in the months of Rajab and Shaaban so that by the time we reach Ramadhan we'll have enough provision and need not worry about work but focus on ibadah instead. Unfortunately, many people do the reverse. Ramadhan becomes a time for them to double their efforts in the hope to yield more.  Prophet Muhammad s.a.w as we know would seclude himself (iktikaf) during the last ten days of Ramadhan.

There is a hadith, though dhaif (weak) in its narration, says, whoever feels happy about the coming of Ramadhan, Allah will protect him from hellfire. Ramadhan is indeed shahrun mubarakun. How can it not be when we are given 70 times more blessings for doing the obligatory (wajib) and for each sunnat worship we are given the reward of a wajib. One who truly knows the special merits of Ramadhan would want it to last for a year. Imagine if your salary is $2,000 and come Ramadhan you could be earning $140,000 for the same amount of work that you do.  

Fasting is a special blessing for ummat Muhammad s.a.w. The other prophets also had fasting prescribed to them and their followers but none of them enjoy the privilege of Ramadhan like us. The month is known as holy Ramadhan. We don't say holy Rajab or holy Shaaban and likewise we only say holy Makkah and holy Madinah because there are no other holy months and places.

You will know if someone's hajj is accepted when they appear to change for the better afterwards. Similarly, we can tell if our fasting is accepted by Allah if our behaviors and characters improved post-Ramadhan. In Ramadhan, during the prescribed hours we are not allowed to drink even halal drinks. So would you then dare to drink the haram? In Ramadhan, during the prescribed hours, husbands and wives are not allowed to have sexual intercourse (jima') even though it's a halal thing to do for them. So would a man dare sleep with a non-mahram? May our taqwa increase manifold - la'al lakum tat taqun.

A hadith as narrated via Salman al-Farisi tells us about the tradition during Prophet's time when Rasulullah would gather the sahabah on the last day of Shaaban and make an address: "O people, you are now on the eve of Ramadhan, a month which is holy and full of barakah." What is the evidence of its barakah? That we are given 70 additional blessings. The month is further blessed with Laylatul Qadar offering a reward of 1000 months of worship. It is a month in which we perform both the wajib (fasting) and the sunat (terawih prayers).

Do not be like some people who treat Ramadhan the same as the other months, only that they have their morning breakfast and dinner earlier. Instead of fasting, they feed on their desires for food. Know that there are three levels of fasting. The first level is for the public who merely refrain from eating, drinking, and jima' during day time. The second level is for the khawas (elite) who in addition to not eating, drinking and jima', they carefully watch their seven limbs i.e. eyes, ears, mouth, so on; and the third level is for the khawasul khawas (elite of the elite) as practised by Aishah r.a and the anbiya. When Saidatina Aishah r.a. was once gifted with 100,000 dinar, she spent the entire day distributing it to people, refusing to keep any for her iftar. She chose to eat whatever was available at home. Unlike us, if we had access to plenty of money, we will have many plans for ourself.

Shaykh Fahmi Zamzam also reminded the audience not to skip the rawatib prayers because it is even more important than terawih. So be mindful of the qabliyah and ba'diyah prayers. qabliyah subuh for example has got tremendous virtue. Imam Al Ghazali in his various kitab such as the Ihya' Ulumuddin and Siyarus Salikin says, there is no point in reading copious kitab if one is not able to perform qabliyah subuh because it is worth more than dunya and its contents. Therefore, do not take rawatib prayers lightly during Ramadhan.

Shaykh Fahmi gave a clue on Laylatul Qadar based on a formula which he has personally tested and experienced. For this year, it will most likely fall on the eve of 29th Ramadhan (eve of Monday) since the first day of Ramadhan is a Monday. Take note that Laylatul Qadar for mahzab hambali is fixed on 27 Ramadhan.

In the holy month of Ramadhan we are encouraged to host iftar dinner even if it only means serving one date, a glass of water or a bowl of milk. Allah will grant pardon and protection from hellfire to anyone who serves iftar meals. Other than that we are also encouraged to do four other practices: to say ash hadu an la ilaha illAllah; to seek forgiveness (astaghfirullah); to ask for heaven (nas alukal jannata); and to seek protection from hellfire (wa na uzubika minan nar). That is why it is good to do tahlil about half an hour before iftar and recite those prayers.

Another du'a that is worth practising is one which Prophet Muhammad s.a.w had taught Aishah r.a.:
Allahumma innaka afuwun karim
tuhibbul afwa faq fu 'anna
And of course one of the most primary deeds of Ramadhan is to recite Al-Qur'anul Karim.
Wallahu a'lam. May I be forgiven for any errors in my notetaking.
I wish all of us Ramadhan Mubarrak!

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