Lailaha illAllah Muhammad Rasulullah, we earnestly ask Allah, if for any reasons our siyam (fasting) and qiyam (prayer) are not accepted this year, we ask for His mercy that He would consider whatever little benefit that we share through this blog in this month of Ramadhan. Surely He knows our weaknesses. He knows where our strength lies for He is the One who grants us any strengths that we may have. Surely He knows our weaknesses for He is the One who created us and our actions. Allahu Akbar, Subhanallah hi amma yushrikun.
We have been listening to good advice from as many sources as we could. Tonight, we learned from Shaykh Muhammad bin Yahya Al-Ninowy on the three different levels of fasting. Listening to him makes us fear that our siyam and qiyam might not be fully accepted and it might be thrown in our face, na'uzubillah.
Shakyh Al-Ninowy said he didn't want to wish us the common wish for Ramadhan - kullu 'ammin wa antum bi khair, that you are ok each time Ramadhan comes. He wished us something more special than that - Kullu 'am wa antum aqrabu illAllah wa qulu bukum aqrabu ila mahabbatihi wa muqarrabatihi. In short, he wished us so that each year with every Ramadhan we become closer to Allah. [Ameen]
Siyam as an ibadah is a means to the objective and the objective of siyam is la'al lakum tattaqun - 'so you may have taqwa.' Many ibadat has patience as one of its objectives because we tend to be impatient in our solat, zakat and hajj. Siyam is half of being patient. It's a school that trains us to be patient. But what is the purpose of the school? The higher goal of siyam is taqwa or being close to Allah. What is the sign of your siyam being accepted? Yes, if you are better today than yesterday and if you are closer to Allah this Ramadhan than the previous Ramadhan.
Ulama' tazkiyah including Shaykh Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani divided siyam into three levels. First, middle and higher levels. The first level is one who abstain from food, drinks and other desires that could invalidate the siyam. The second/middle level is for the tongue, eyes, hands, feet and other limbs to abstain from what is forbidden. The third level is for the heart to abstain from all other thoughts except Allah. If you eat, you break your fast but metaphorically if your eyes, ears, tongue and hands engage in things they are not supposed to, then the fast is broken. Or if the heart is concerned about things other than Allah then the fasting of the heart is broken. Therefore, we have to iqbal...rush with our body, heart and soul to the observation of Allah and shroud ourself from all things other than Allah. There is a verse in the Qur'an: 'Say Allah and leave them to play.'
The second level is the fasting of the pious - siyamul solehin. May Allah make our siyam in this category. We have to protect the eyes from falling on the haram. If they do then it's like an arrow of shaytan but if we abstain, then the arrow is switched to become sweetness in our heart. As for the tongue, we should abstain from lying, falsehoods, gossiping, uttering bad words or arguing. If one consciously refrain from arguing even if one is on the right side, Allah will grant a house in Jannah. The tongue should be occupied with zikir and reciting the Qur'an.
Our ears should not hear anyhing haram, even if we don't participate in gossip, hearing alone will qualify us as one who gossips. The same goes with the other limbs, the hands, foot and stomach too. We should make peace with our stomach. Just because we cannot eat from sunrise to sunset, that does not mean that we should eat as much as we want from sunset to sunrise. We should not overeat upon breaking fast. We should be lighter in food and spiritually higher. So eat less. Prophet Muhammad s.a.w never had any hot food in his house. He and his family live on simple food such as dates and water. We should practise this because when we are a little weaker, we are closer to Allah. We would feel our neediness even more. If we have been eating less and getting weaker as we approach the last 10 days of Ramadhan, our heart is supposedly capacitate on account of a weaker stomach. When the time comes for Laylatul Qadar, we will not be veiled by our stomach.
As for the heart, upon breaking our fast, it should be hanging between fear (khauf) and hope (raja'). Fear that our siyam and qiyam are rejected and hope that they would be accepted. Hope that it would be maqbulin (accepted) and not mamputin (rejected). So ask yourself do you think your siyam is accepted. The sign of it being accepted is if you have changed from the last Ramadhan or if you have improved from yesterday. Otherwise, you should correct and re-establish your niyat. Drop the burdens of backbiting, pride, hatred etc.
Concluding his tausiyah, Shaykh Al-Ninowy prayed that we listen and pick the best from his talk. "Pray that we are forgiven and that Allah will be extra merciful this month. May Allah bless all Muslims. I genuinely love all of you for the sake of Allah and I am not just saying it for the sake of speech because on the Day of Judgment, Allah will give His shade to two people who love each other genuinely for the sake of Allah."
The above is not a verbatim transcript.
Please click HERE to listen to Shaykh Al-Ninowy talk on 'The Three Levels of Fasting'.