I advise all dear brothers and sisters attending the prayers and myself to observe piety which is the best product of this auspicious month. Once again, the auspicious month of Ramadan arrived with all its blessings and spiritual beauties. Before the beginning of the auspicious month of Ramadan, the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) used to prepare people for entering this important, lofty and blessed arena: “The month of God has come to you with its blessings and mercy” [Uyun Akhbar al-Ridha, v 1, p. 295]. According to a certain narration, the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) in a sermon which was delivered on the last Friday of the month of Sha’ban, “He said to the people that the month of Ramadan arrived” [Iqbal al-A’maal, v 1, p. 2] If we want to describe the month of Ramadan in a sentence, we should say that it is the month of opportunities. In this month, there are many opportunities ahead of you and me. If we can make use of these opportunities in the right way, a great and very valuable resource will be accessible to us.
We are all invited to a divine banquet
The Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) said, “This is a month in which you have been invited to a divine celebration”. One should think deeply about this sentence. It says that we have been invited to a divine celebration. It is not obligatory for all people to benefit from this divine celebration, no it has been made a faritha. We have the power to choose whether or not to benefit from this celebration. There are some people who do not at all find the opportunity to pay attention to this invitation. They are so ignorant and they pay such careful attention to materialistic issues and the materialistic world that they do not notice when the month of Ramadan arrives and when it ends. They are like the people who are invited to a very impressive and blessed celebration, but they do not have the time to take part in it and they do not even look at the invitation card. These people deprive themselves of all the blessings.
Some people know that there is such a celebration, but they do not join in the celebration. These are the same people whom Allah the Exalted has not bestowed His kindness on. These are the same people who – although they have no excuse – do not fast and who deprive themselves of reading the Holy Quran or the prayers of the month of Ramadan. There are some people who do not join in this celebration. It is clear what will become of these people. A large number of Muslim peoples – people like us – join in this celebration, but we do not benefit from it to an equal extent. A number of people benefit from this celebration to the full extent.
In the month of Ramadan, take advantage of all its opportunities
Fasting has such a large number of blessings – in terms of the spirituality and enlightenment that it bestows on one’s heart- that, perhaps, it can be said it is the greatest blessing of this month. A number of people fast and thus these people have joined in this celebration and they have benefited from it.
But, as well as fasting – which is the spiritual hardship of this auspicious month – these people follow Quranic teachings in a perfect manner. They think deeply when they read the Holy Quran. Reading the Holy Quran at nights and at midnights, developing a close relationship with it and being addressed by God while one is fasting or while one is enlightened as a result of fasting gives one a special kind of pleasure and it has a special significance. The thing that one obtains out of such reading of the Holy Quran cannot be obtained in normal conditions. These people benefit from such reading of the Holy Quran too. Besides, they benefit from speaking to Allah the Exalted, being addressed by Him, praying to Him and opening up their hearts to Him. They do these by reading the prayers of the month of Ramadan. Reading the Abu Hamza al-Thumali dua and the duas that one reads during the days, nights and early mornings of Ramadan are actually a kind of speaking to God, making requests from God and getting close to God. These people benefit from these things too. Therefore, they benefit from all the blessings of this celebration.
Avoiding sins and acts forbidden by God are the most virtuous deeds during the month of Ramadan
Avoiding sins is of higher priority and, perhaps, it is more important than these duas in some ways. These people do not commit sin in this month either. In the same sermon which was delivered by the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.), the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) asks the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) which act is the most blessed act. The Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) answers, “Avoiding sins”. Avoiding sins is of higher priority than Islamic obligations. It prevents one and one’s heart and soul from being corrupted. These people avoid sins too. So, the blessings of Ramadan include fasting, reading the Holy Quran, engaging in dua and dhikr and avoiding sins. A combination of these things brings individuals close to achieving the things that Islam wants.
When all of these things are done, then our hearts become empty of grudges, the spirit of sacrifice is revived and helping the poor and the underprivileged people becomes easy for us. It becomes easy for us to act to the advantage of the others and to the disadvantage of ourselves in materialistic issues. That is why crime decreases and good deeds increase in the month of Ramadan. Thanks to this divine celebration, in this month the people in a society show more kindness towards one another more than they do at other times.
The importance of seeking God’s forgiveness during the holy month of Ramadan
A number of people benefit from the month of Ramadan in such a way, but a number of people benefit from one aspect of Ramadan and deprive themselves of other aspects. A Muslim should try to make the most of this divine celebration and obtain divine mercy. He should focus on repenting of sins – whether small or large sins – and immoral acts. It is very important that we cleanse ourselves and our hearts of impurities and evils. This is possible with repentance.
There are many narrations which say that repentance and asking God for forgiveness is the best dua or it is more important than all duas. Repentance is for all people. Even the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) – that noble person – used to repent. The repentance of people like us is related to certain sins. It is related to common sins, animal instincts that exist in us and the sins which are referred to as animal sins – those obvious sins.
The repentance of a number of people is not because of making such sins. They repent because they have stopped exercising an Islamic obligation. And there are a number of people who do not stop exercising these Islamic obligations, but they still repent. Such repentance is because of the essential and natural negligence of an individual before the greatness of God Almighty. They repent because they cannot have a perfect understanding of this greatness. This kind of repentance is peculiar to God’s saints and outstanding personalities.
The great benefit of asking for forgiveness is removing a person’s neglect with respect to himself
We should repent of our sins. The big advantage of repentance is that it frees us from negligence in taking care of ourselves. Sometimes, we make a mistake about ourselves. When we think of repentance, then the sins that we committed, the mistakes that we made, the carnal desires that we pursued, the moral rules that we violated, what we did to ourselves and what we did to others will flash through our mind and we remember what we did. Then, we do not become arrogant and we will not be negligent in taking care of ourselves. This is the first advantage of repentance. Second, Allah the Exalted said that a person who repents – that is to say, a person who honestly prays to Allah the Exalted for forgiveness – and who is regretful for his sins, “Would have found Allah indeed oft-returning, Most Merciful” ” [The Holy Quran, 4: 64]. Allah the Exalted accepts our repentance. This repentance signifies that we will return to God and turn our backs on mistakes and sins. And God will accept our repentance, if it is a genuine repentance.
Notice that if somebody merely says, forgive me God, forgive me God, forgive me God, but his attention wanders, this is not valuable. This is not repentance. Repentance is a dua and a request. One should genuinely ask God for His forgiveness and mercy. He should say, “I have committed this sin. Dear God, bestow Your mercy on me. Forgive me for this sin”. This kind of repentance – for any of our sins – will definitely result in divine mercy. Allah the Exalted has opened this door for us.
Of course, according to holy religion of Islam, repenting in front of other people is forbidden. In some religions, people go to holy places and they confess their sins before a priest. This does not exist in Islam and such a thing is forbidden. Disclosing one’s secrets before other people is forbidden. It is no use doing this. Unlike illusionary and distorted religions which say that a priest can forgives one’s sins, in Islam, God is the only one who forgives sins.
Even the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) cannot forgive one’s sins. As this holy ayah says, “If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, come unto you and asked Allah’s forgiveness, and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah indeed oft-returning, Most Merciful”. [The Holy Quran, 4: 64]. If people go to the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) when they commit sins and when they are unjust to themselves, if they ask Allah the Exalted to forgive them and if the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) intercedes with God on their behalf, God will accept their repentance. That is to say, the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) only asks God to forgive them. He himself cannot forgive sins. Sins are only forgiven by Allah the Exalted. This is a genuine repentance and such repentance enjoys a special position. You should take care not to forget to repent in this month, especially in the early morning and at night. Pay attention to the meaning when you read prayers of the month of Ramadan.
Thankfully, our society is a spiritual society. Engaging in dua, dhikr and supplication is common among our people and our people love it. The pure and enlightened hearts of our youth are inclined towards the remembrance of God. These are all opportunities. We have been blessed with the month of Ramadan, which is a divine opportunity. You should benefit from this auspicious month and this very great opportunity. Keep your hearts close to God. Cleanse your hearts and souls with repentance. Speak to Allah the Exalted about what you want. The spiritual relationship of our people with Allah the Exalted has brought about great achievements and the month of Ramadan is a great opportunity to preserve this relationship. This opportunity should be grasped.
I hope that Allah the Exalted will help us make our angelic side overcome our animal side. We have an angelic side and a material and animal side. Our carnal desires make the material side overcome the angelic side. By Allah’s favor, we will be able to make our enlightened and spiritual side overcome the material side in this month and we will keep it as a great resource. By Allah’s favor, we will benefit from the month of Ramadan by engaging in self-education. This self-education will be helpful to us throughout the year.
Sep 14, 2007