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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam,

In Surat Ash-Shuara Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'Ala says that the day of judgement is

(QS26. Asy Syu'araa' ayat 88-89)

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88. "The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail,
89. "But only He (will prosper) that brings to Allah a sound heart;

Ibn Sirin said, "The clean heart knows that Allah is true, that the Hour will undoubtedly
come and that Allah will resurrect those who are in the graves.'' Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib
said, "The clean heart is the sound heart.'' This is the heart of the believer, for the heart of
the disbeliever and the hypocrite is sick. Allah says:

(In their hearts is a disease) (2:10).

In one of his many works Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr (ibn Al-Qayyim) elucidates seven
conditions that we, as Muslims must possess for our hearts to be saleem.

The heart is the seat of Iman, or faith -- the hearts is the source of all righteous action.
Purity of the heart shows itself by transforming knowledge into action. Sickness of the
heart shows itself by meeting reminders with heedlessness.

In his mercy, Allah has sent Ramadan to us to purify our hearts. Though we may lose
sight of it, during Ramadan while our bodies are fasting, our hearts should be feasting. In
this celebration of self-restraint, we should also be celebrating a degree of nourishment
for our hearts that we do not normally find the rest of the year. We should be revelling in
this break Allah has given us to look inward -- revelling in the freedom we find from the
addictions and preoccupations that normally chain our hearts to our base desires. We
should find joy in the liberation that comes with moving closer to Allah. The temporary
cessation of our seemingly endless quest for material pleasure should afford us the
opportunity to strengthen our hearts and indeed to purify them.

1) In this month, we must establish a sense of belonging to the next

Allah SubhanahuwaTa'Ala says in Suratul-Hadid.
(QS57. Al Hadiid ayat 20)

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20. know ye (all), that the life of This world is but play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting and
multiplying, (in rivalry) among yourselves, riches and children. here is a similitude: How rain and the
growth which it brings forth, delight (the hearts of) the tillers; soon it withers; Thou wilt see it grow yellow;
then it becomes dry and crumbles away. but In the Hereafter is a penalty severe (for the devotees of
wrong). and forgiveness from Allah and (His) good pleasure (for the devotees of Allah.. and what is the life
of This world, but goods and chattels of deception?

The Messenger of Allah, SullAllahuAlayheWaSallam said

“What have I got to do with the material world. The example of the material
world and I is that of a traveler. Traveling in the afternoon heat, he stopped to
rest under the shade of a tree for some moments. Then, he rose and left it.” --
Tirmidhee, Ahmad (Hasan)
Again, seperation from those desires that normally consume our days, should allow us to
reflect, to think about the deception of this life. To understand the deception that lies in
living each day only for the fleeting pleasure of eating, drinking, sleeping or copulating.
Allah is detatching us from these things so that we can begin to understand what he and
his messenger are telling us -- that to continuously pursure pleasure, is to chase
something that will escape from you as soon as you catch it, and will cause a person to
forget their return to Allah.

“And hell is brought near that day; on that day man will remember, but how will the
remembrance avail him? He will say: Ah, would that I had sent before me (some
provision) for my life!” -- [Al Fajr 89/23-24]

Ali – Radi Allahu ‘anhu – once stood at the head of a grave and said to his companion,
“If he had a chance to return to this life, what do you think he would do?” His companion
replied, “He would do nothing but good deeds.” Ali – Radi Allahu ‘anhu – then said, “If
it is not going to be him, then let it be you.”
* * * * * * * * * * * *

2) Our hearts must begin to feel remorse and anguish upon committing

The Messenger of Allah said:

"Beware of sins which are treated as being minor, just like a people who
encamp in the centre of a valley, so someone brings a stick of firewood and
someone else brings a stick until they are therefore able to bake their bread.
Likewise sins which are treated as being minor and for which the person is
taken to account will destroy him." (43) Reported by Ahmad (5/331) and others
'Abdullah ibn Mas'ood said: The believer sees his sins as if he were sitting
beneath a mountain which he feared was about to fall upon him, whereas the
wicked sees his sins like a man who finds a fly settle upon his nose, so he does
this (one of the narrators said: He brushes it away from his nose). Reported by al-
Bukharee (Eng. Trans. 8/214/no.320) .

The fact that we are doing an act of worship that permeates our entire day should make
us more aware of everything that we do. We are aware that not leaving sins during the
day will cause Allah to not accept our fast, so we are more inclined to leave sins. In
essence because we are fasting we begin to magnify each sin as something that stands
between us and our worship of Allah -- prevents us from progressing in our quest to come
nearer to Allah him.

This lesson is one that we should carry with us all of the time. If we thought of each sin
as something that would destroy our relationship with Allah, and bring about his anger,
we would never commit such acts. But we are a people of forgetfulness -- we are a
people that use our good deeds as an excuse to do things we know are displeasing to
Allah. Brothers and sisters, Allah is not in need of anything from his creation. It is we
who are in need of every good deed we could possibly accumulate in this world.

We cannot ignore the affect observing sin without striving against it has on our hearts.
Whether this means that we willingly surround ourself with people that continuously
commit sins, or we are taking as entertainment things which make light or even promote
sins such as drinking alchohol and zina. Brothers and sisters it affects our hearts when
we watch things that are contrary to the laws of Allah – but not only do we not avoid
these things, indeed we boldly seek them out -- drowning our hearts in a sea of
disobedience and then expecting to have humility in our salah. Bringing to our ears
endless streams of idle talk and profanity and still expecting that our own tongues speak
only good. Does it make sense to believe that our hearts are unaffected by what goes on
around us?

* * * * * * * * * * * *

3) During this month, we must begin to place value where it truly is --

we must begin to feel that the remembrance of Allah is worth more than
any material wealth. The third attribute of a healthy heart is that the
person is more upset if they miss their daily recitation of Qur'an or
Dhikr than if they lost wealth.

If the wealth is more dear to us, then that indicates we do not see this Dhikr as essential –
we do not have an attitude that our relationship with Allah is in need of maintinence and
indeed improvement. If we have such a routine and we have no feeling upon missing it,
that most likely means we are continuing to do it out of habit – that the action is upon our
limbs, but its place in our heart is vacant.

Can we place a value on the remembrance of Allah? How much would someone have to
offer us to make us leave reading the Qur'an during the days of Ramadan. Or if we are
not doing it -- think how much money it would require for us to begin to do that.

If someone were to offer $50 for us to finish a Juz' each day would we do it? Would we
FIND the time even though we say we might not have it? If so then that means that the
enticement of money has a greater effect on our hearts than the reward of Allah.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

4) During Ramadan we must take pleasure in these acts of Ibadah -- we

should feel joy, and peace that our days and nights are being spent
fulfilling the purpose for which Allah has created us. The fourth
attribute of a heart that is saleem is that it finds greater pleasure in
worshipping Allah, than in food and drink.
This should be another point of self examination. We all know the pleasure we feel upon
having good food. We have a desire to eat more - perhaps even eat more than we should.
Have we ever had this same pleasure to come from an act of Ibadah. Perhaps for some of
us the idea of feeling joy or pleasure from fasting or Salah has never even occurred to us.

Now if this is the case -- that we have never even thought about feeling joy from
worshipping Allah we have to ask ourselves if it is really possibly to go through our lives
disliking something and still doing it with excellence. We all know that the things we
love are the things we do best. And if we have never considered loving our Salah or
loving the Fasting of Ramadan, it goes without saying that these acts of worship then are
probably among the worst things we do with regards to the care we put into them and
their resulting quality.

If we have felt joy from our acts of worship before, and yet food is still more pleasurable,
then that means our hearts are in a constant state of emptiness. The hearts are put at rest
when they are fulfilling the purpose of their creation -- when they are aware of their lord
and are looking forward to meeting him. We are trying to satisfy our hearts -- an entity
which is not physical -- with a pleasure that is purely physical and extremely fleeting.
Though this may distract us, it will not complete us, will not satisfy our hearts -- and
perhaps this is why we must eat so much. Becaues we are trying to use the food to fill a
void that cannot be filled by something material.
Allah says in Surat Ar-Ra'ad:

Verily in the remembrance of Allah do the heart's find rest [Ar-Ra'ad 13:28]

Brothers and sisters are we finding rest worshipping Allah in this month of Ramadan?
Are we finding satisfaction or are we finding our empty stomachs again and again
throughout the day -- counting down the hours until we can eat again. Are we finding
pleasure standing before Allah in Tarawih -- if we are doing it at all?

If food is more pleasurable, more desireable to our hearts than Ibadah, that means we
have an addiction – it means that our fleeting physical pleasure has a greater place in our
heart than the worhsip of Allah.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

5) Fasting should show us the importance of doing acts of worhsip with

sincerity. The fifth attribute is that the person is very concerned with
doing deeds solely for the sake of Allah.
We all realize that no one else knows whether we are fasting or not. And usually we
think about this in regards to whether or not we eat when others are around. But brothers
and sisters fasting with sincerity is abstaining from sins as well. Is it a sincere fast if we
are still committing acts of disobedience thinking that no one sees us? Are we just
abstaining from food because everyone else is?

The Messenger of Allah, SullallahuAlayheWaSallam said:

"What I fear for you the most is the minor shirk, that is ar-riyaa. Allaah will say
on the Day of Judgement when He is rewarding the people for their actions: Go
to those for whom you did riyaa for in the world then see if you find the reward
with them." [Related by Ahmad (5/428, 429) and al-Baghawee in Sharh us-
Sunnah (4135) from the hadeeth of Mahmood bin Lubaid, radiyallaahu `anhu,
with an authentic chain upon theconditions of Muslim.]

I'm am sure we have all heard the following hadith many times, but it is worthy of
mentioning again.

“The first man (whose case) will be decided on the Day of Judgment, will be a man who
died as a martyr. He shall be brought (before the Judgment Seat). Allâh will make him
recount His blessings (i.e. the blessings which He had bestowed upon him) and he will
recount them (and admit having enjoyed them in his life). (Then) will Allâh say: What
did you do (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I fought for Thee until I died as a
martyr. Allâh will say: You have told a lie. You fought so that you might be called a
"brave warrior". And you were called so. (Then) orders will be passed against him and he
will be dragged with his face downward and cast into Hell.
Then there will be brought forward a man who acquired knowledge and imparted it (to
others) and recited the Qur'ân. He will be brought, Allâh will make him recount His
blessings and he will recount them (and admit having enjoyed them in his lifetime). Then
will Allâh ask: What did you do (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I acquired
knowledge and disseminated it and recited the Qur’ân , seeking Thy pleasure. Allâh will
say: You have told a lie. You acquired knowledge so that you might be called "a scholar",
and you recited the Qur’ân so that it might be said: "He is a Qâri" and such has been said.
Then orders will be passed against him and he shall be dragged with his face downward
and cast into the Fire.
Then will be brought a man whom Allâh had made abundantly rich and had granted
every kind of wealth. He will be brought, Allâh will make him recount His blessings and
he will recount them and (admit having enjoyed them in his lifetime). Allâh will (then)
ask: What have you done (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I spent money in every
cause in which Thou wished that it should be spent. Allâh will say: You are lying. You
did (so) that it might be said about (you): "He is a generous fellow", and so it was said.
Then will Allâh pass orders and he will be dragged with his face downward and thrown
into Hell.” Sahîh Muslim: Book19 , Number4688
We must search within ourselves and find that sincerity -- if we cannot find it while
fasting -- an act that is solely between us and Allah, we will not be able to find it the rest
of the year, doing acts that are seen by the people.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

6) During Ramadan we must revive our humility in Salah -- we must

find a way to put everything out of our minds except Allah. If we are
fasting the whole day, Insha'Allah remembering Allah and then when it
comes to Salah we are still distracted, it means our hearts have been
infected by a disease. The sixth attribute, then of a heart that is saleem,
is that when we stand up for prayer, our worries and concerns leave us.
Now for most of us we commonly experience the opposite phenomenon – that as soon as
we make our takbeer every think that we had not been thinking about suddenly comes to
the front of our mind. And to some degree this is unavoidable, but we must feel a sense
of danger if this occurrence is characteristice of the majority of our Salah.

Allah SubhanahuwaTa'Ala says:

(QS39. Az Zumar ayat 22-23)

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22. So woe to those whose hearts are hardened against celebrating the praises of Allah. They are manifestly
wandering (in error)!
23. Allah has revealed (from time to time) the Most beautiful Message In the form of a Book, consistent
with itself, (yet) repeating (its teaching In various aspects): the skins of those who fear their Lord tremble
thereat; then their skins and their hearts do soften to the celebration of Allah.s praises. such is the guidance
of Allah. He guides therewith whom He pleases, but such As Allah leaves to stray, can have none to guide.

If our hearts were softened to Allah's remembrance, to hear the takbeer would be a very
affecting thing – we would have humility that would bring our hearts above this

When speaking about the first aspect of knowledge to be raised up, the Prophet(SAWS)
said "It is humility, until you will not even see one humble person." an-Nisaa'ee It is in al-
Kubraa (3/42), as is found in Tuhfatul-Ashraaf (8/211). And it is related by al-Bazzaar (no. 232),
Ahmad (6/26), and by at-Tabaraanee in al-Kabeer (18/43), and in his Musnadush-Shaamiyyeen
(no. 6867).

And in another narration:

If you wish, I will inform you of the first knowledge to be raised up: the khushoo'; to the
extent that if you enter a congregational mosque, then you will not see a single humble
man in it." At-TirmidheeJaami' (no. 2655).

* * * * * * * * * * * *

7) We must begin to take advantage of our time, especially during

Ramadan, as an opportunity to do acts that will be pleasing to Allah.
We cannot afford to waste time, or spend it idly. Lastly, then one who
has a healthy heart is more stingy about wasting time than the greedy or
stingy person is about their wealth.
The Messenger of Allah SullAllahuAlayheWaSallam said:

"The two feet of the son of Aadam will not move from near his Lord on the Day
of Judgement until he is asked about five (matters):- 1) about his life - how he
spent it; 2) about his youth - how he took care of it; 3) about his wealth - how he
earned it; 4) and where he spent it; 5) and about that which he acted upon from
the knowledge that he acquired." [at-Tirmidhi, As-Silsilah as-Sahihah #946]
and he said:
"There are two blessings which many people lose: health and free time." Reported
by al-Bukharee (Eng. Trans. 8/282/no.421)
Brothers and sisters we must occupy ourselves with the remembrance of Allah. There is
only free time, time to waste, for the one who has finished his work. The sahaba would
pray to Allah half the year that they be able to reach Ramadan, the rest of the year, they
would continue to ask that Allah accept all of their worship during Ramadan. We assume
that everything we have ever done, has been accepted from us -- and we allow this to
deceive us into thinking we have time to waste -- we have "free time".
The sahaba who were promised Jannah were the most eager in striving for the reward of
Allah. We have no such assurance and yet we sit back, satisfied – filling our days with
endless entertainments and diversions. Brothers and sisters now is the time for
awakening. Death will soon come to seal all that we have done before it, as our appeal
to Allah on the day of judgement.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

What Ibn Al-Qayyim has outlined for us is a very comprehensive list of signposts along
the path to purification. If there is a time of the year that this path is made easy for the
believer, it is this month. By removing the influence of the Shaytan Allah gives us a
clear picture of the state of our own hearts. No longer are the voices within us obscured
by the background noise of the Shayatin. We must realize that every evil impulse, every
sinful act this month is purely the result of what is in our own hearts. While
simultaneously giving us this window into ourselves, Allah has ordained fasting upon us
to restrain our pursuit of material pleasures -- in his wisdom he has given us a perfect
opportunity to devote all of our energy to self-examination. But Ramadan is also the
month of the Qur'an -- so Allah has made clear for us the state of our hearts, removed the
distractions that would normally prevent us from working to purify our hearts, and he
SubhanahuwaTa'Ala has inundated us with a book that speaks to the hearts -- a book that,
if we allow it, will uplift and strengthen our hearts so that they are worthy of being a
place of residence for true and complete Iman.

During these last 10 nights of Ramadan that are approaching let us try to instill in our
hearts a belonging to the next world. Let us leave sins and feel remorse and anguish for
all we have done in the past. We must prioritize the remembrance of Allah -- if our
hearts are to become healthy it should have more value than any material sum. We
should find the pleasure in our Ibadah this month that Insha'Allah will stay with us the
rest of the year. We must ask Allah to gran us sincerity in all of our acts. We must clear
our minds during Salah and not adulterate our worship with thoughts of the worldly life.
And lastly, let us earnestly strive for the days of Ramadan that remain, and indeed for the
days of our life that remain to please Allah.