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The Month of Ramadan: The Month of Spiritual and Cultural Education

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

His Eminence, the Religious Authority Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah, delivered the two Friday prayer sermons at the Imamain Al-Hassanain Mosque, Ramadan, 1st 1430 H. – August, 21st 2009. Several prominent religious scholars, dignitaries and thousands of believers attended the Jumu’a prayer.

The First Sermon

Disagreement over the beginning of the month

Allah, the Most Exalted, says in His Glorious Book: "Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Quran, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong)." (02:185). We still hold to our opinion that today is the first day of the blessed month of Ramadan. The difference between our opinion and that of the other Shiite and Sunni scholars is based on the methodology each party adopts. They rely on sight seeing, while we rely on accurate astronomical calculations, which have never been wrong. And each has his own opinions and consequently his own obligations.

The month of blessings and forgiveness

When we receive the month of Ramadan, we feel, inspired by the Holy Book and the Sunnah of the Prophet (p.), that this month is meant to create a spiritual, cultural, and educational program that extends into the whole year. And this is what we inspire from the speech of Imam Ali (a.s.) on the day of the Eid: "Everyday that Allah is not disobeyed in is a Eid."

Imam Ali (a.s.) said that the Messenger (p.) gave a speech once (he did not define the exact date), and said: "O' People! The Month of Allah (Ramadan) has approached you – all months belong to Allah, since He is the Creator of time. But He has made a certain month, the month in which people return to Allah, making everything in their minds and hearts full of His love, so that everything in their lives would be dedicated to Allah – with His mercy, blessings, and forgiveness. Allah, the Merciful and the Compassionate, blesses His servants in this month. These blessings represent an incomparable joy and happiness. He bestows His mercy in this month like no other month. This mercy includes all man's needs in his life. He, the Most Exalted, facilitates the achievement of man's errands, and forgives, in each night of this month, those who ask for forgiveness, especially those who have committed wrong or have sinned.

We have to benefit from this month that carries with it all these blessings, mercy, and forgiveness, to get close to Allah and to love Him more – This is the month that is the best of all months in Allah's view. Its days are the best among the days; its nights are the best among the nights. Its hours are the best among the hours.

Allah is the Host

This is a month in which He has invited you – He has invited you to a feast, but one that does not fill your stomachs. Instead it fills your minds with the right, your hearts with the good, and your life with piety – You have been in this month, selected as the recipients of the honors of Allah, the Merciful – Allah honors us in this month by elevating our humanity. This is what the Quran says: "And surely We have honored the children of Adam." (17:70). And the most gracious honors Allah bestows on us are the ones that He bestows in this month.

The rewards of fasting

In this Holy month, when you breathe, it has the thawab (heavenly reward) of Tasbeeh, and your sleep has the thawab of worship– the sleep that the fasting believer benefits from to help him perform his worshipping duties the next day, is considered as an act of worship. Your good deeds are accepted in this month. So are you invocations – Allah accepts all our good deeds and listens to our invocations that express our needs, pains, and concerns, and responds to them. Thus, when this month commences, we ought to open up to Allah. Therefore, you must invoke your lord, in earnest, with hearts that are free from sins and evils – hatred, unbelief, or enmity – that Allah may bless and enable you to fast during it – since the fasting of those who are capable would save from Hellfire – and to recite His Book – since Allah wanted the Quran to be the guide and the course that nourishes man's spiritual and moral culture, as well as his movement in life. Thus, we have to read the Quran as such, to try to understand it and act according to its teachings – for only a wretch is the one who is deprived from Allah's forgiveness during this month – the month of Ramadan is the season; if you lose in the season, you will not be able to gain when the season is off.

The moral duties of the fasting believer

The Prophet (p.) wants us through our fasting, during which we experience hunger and thirst, to remember that we will stand before Allah on the Day of Judgment. So, we should remember through our hunger during fasting in this world the hunger on the Day of Judgment, which would be eased as we dedicate ourselves to Allah in this Holy month.

The Prophet (p.) says: "While fasting, remember the hunger and thirst of tomorrow on the Day of Judgment. Give alms to the poor and the needy – when you feel hungry, you will recall that there are other people who are always hungry – pay respect to you elders – because the elders have lived Islam long before you have and they have gained a lot of experience which you have not gained yet. What is meant by this is not to obey the elders concerning everything, but rather to respect them – Have pity on those younger than you – have mercy on them for their lack of experience and narrow mindedness, if they commit mistakes – and be kind towards your relatives and kinsmen – this act would prolong your life and bring you closer to Allah – guard your tongues against unworthy words – guard them against gossip, slander, filthy words…etc.

"And your eyes from such scenes that are forbidden and your ears from such sounds that should not be heard by you– there are certain things that Allah does not want man to hear, such as the songs that arise instincts and luscious desires and encourage committing falsehood – be kind to orphans – there are many orphans in society and we ought to bear the responsibility of taking care of them and raising them by becoming more like fathers to them. At the end of his life, Imam Ali (a.s.) said in his will of testimony: "Fear Allah in matters concerning orphans. Attend to their nutrition and do not forget their interests in the middle of yours."

"So that if your children become orphans, they also may be treated with kindness. Do invoke that Allah may forgive your sins – everyone should contemplate about his sins and ask Allah to forgive him for every sin he had committed, for He does accept His servants' repentance and does forgive them – do raise your hands in supplication when you pray, as it is the best time for asking for His mercy – during prayer, man's soul transcends to Allah, and since he becomes close to Him, he can ask Him for what he needs – when we invoke at such times being the best of times, we are answered by Him – when we invoke while in pure devotion, Allah would answer us – when we call Him, He responds; and when we ask for anything, it is accepted by Him."

"O' people! Your souls are tied to your deeds, as mentioned in the Holy Book: "Every soul is held in pledge for what it earns." (74:38) – untie them by asking for forgiveness – as we pay money to repay a certain mortgage, we are in debt to Allah and tied to Him by our deeds, so to untie them, we have to ask for His forgiveness – Your backs are heavy with loads, so make them light by prolonging your sajdahs (prostrations). And know that Allah has sworn by His Dignity that He would not punish those who pray and those who make sajdah. And He would not overawe them with Fire on the day when people rise to the Lord of the Universe. O people! Whoever feeds a fasting believer during this month– invite him to his house, or offer him a full meal, especially if he was poor – to Allah, it is as if he has freed a slave. And his past sins are forgiven…

"O people! Anybody who may cultivate good manners in this month – some people would not stand anyone talking to them, claiming that they are fasting. But fasting is not only to abstain from eating or drinking, you also ought to fast from getting angry and oppressing others – will walk over the "Sirat" bridge on the Day of Judgment though his feet may be shaking. Anybody who makes his slaves, male or female, take light work in this month – if we have employees and workers, we ought to assign them to light work if they were fasting – Allah will make his accounting easy on the Day of Judgment. Anybody who does not do anything wrong to others in this month, Allah will keep him safe from His wrath on the Day of Judgment. Anybody who respects and treats an orphan with kindness in this month, Allah shall look at him with kindness on the Day of Judgment. Anybody who treats well his kinsmen, in this month, Allah will bestow His mercy on him on the Day of Judgment. Whoever offers Sunnat prayers – recommended prayers – in this month, Allah will free him from Hell. Whosoever offers one "Wajib" prayer in this month, for him the Angels will write the rewards of seventy such prayers, that were offered by him in any other month. Whosoever recites repeatedly "Salaat-wsalaam" on me, Allah will keep the scales of his good deeds heavy, when in the Day of Judgment the scales of others will be tending towards lightness. Whosoever recites in this month only one "ayat" (a verse of the Holy Quran), he will be rewarded in a manner as if he had recited the full Quran in the other months.

"O' People! The Gates of Paradise remain open in this month. Do invoke that the gates may not be closed before you – by your wrongful deeds and sins – while the Gates of Hell are closed. Do invoke that these gates may never be opened."

The best deeds in this month

The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) says: "Then I stood and said: "O Messenger of Allah, what are the best deeds of this month? He said: "O Abu Al-Hassan, the best deed in this month is to abstain from doing what Allah has forbidden" – to control one's self and abstain from doing anything Haram.

This Holy month is a spiritual and educational month, through which we try to attain closer positions to Allah and work on the basis of the good that extends to all people. Moreover, we ought to work hard to earn all what Allah bestows on us in this month and brings us closer to Him to benefit from all that on the Day of Judgment; the day we stand before Allah to be judged, "The day on which property will not avail, nor sons; except him who comes to Allah with a heart free (from evil)." (26: 88-89).  

The Second Sermon

Palestine: The core of the conflict with the West

The blessed month of Ramadan this year returns with the Muslim world looking like a war front and remains the only place where occupation still exists and covers more than one part of it.

This is how the Muslim world looks like, from occupied Palestine where colonization is consuming what is left of its lands, and where the enemy's Prime Minister vows to continue his settlement policy. Yet, certain Arab officials promise to fulfill their commitments concerning normalization. One of them has even advised Israel not to attack Iran in this stage, since this act "will unite the Iranians behind their leadership".

America's full support to Israel

The American Administration that convinced some Arab parties that it will take a more positive approach towards the Arab and Palestinian rights has continued to haunt and imprison all those who donate alms tax and other charities to the Palestinians to promote this cause. At the same time, it has offered tax exemptions to the American associations that support Israel and encourage building additional settlements in East Jerusalem, under the pretense of facilitating social and educational activities.

Thus, we are witnessing a new stage, where by the rationale of Jewish colonization takes precedence over the rationale of the Palestinian right of return. The rationale of negotiations, which is the only option according to the head of the Palestinian Authority, takes precedence over the logic of rejection and resistance.

The nation has been striken by a spiteful enemy and conspiring international axes, as well as this kind of leadership that has been tired of the Palestinian cause, although they have made no significant effort to promote this cause. They want to be liberated from it and accept what the occupation has to offer, even at a time when the peoples have proved that they are able to defeat the enemy any time they are given a chance to fight it.

Iraq: Internal strife continues

As for Iraq, in which the criminal explosives are haunting the people in the streets, workplaces, and crowds, the American President has promised it with more hazardous violence, as he said. Thus, the mill of killing and destruction will continue to serve the interest of the occupier as well as certain axes that want the Iraqis to be burnt with the fire of internal strife and prefer that they divide amongst themselves and in their political and popular positions rather than unite under the slogan of the unified country, because they do not want this country nor its leaders and figures to rest…

As a result, the Iraqis ought to work as a national and Islamic team to block the road before those who call for division and foment sedition. Thus, they should unify their ranks and inspire the concepts and values of this month to establish the free and independent Iraq that rejects the occupation, casts off the strife, and persecutes the murderers and criminals.

Afghanistan: Security chaos

On another level, Afghanistan that is carrying out its elections under the spears of the occupation that is still bombarding the houses of the poor, killing entire families every time they suffer from a field setback… It has stepped into the mazes of security and political chaos that the Afghani people have no way to step out of, neither by the elections nor by other means. Moreover, the occupiers do not wish to see the Afghanis out of its bloody swamp, for they do not want them to enjoy freedom, because the former's interests and greed drive them to tighten their hegemony and prolong their occupation.

Yemen steps into the maze of divisions

As for Yemen that has entered into the whirlpool of internal wars that threaten to increase the calls for separation and pave the way for further divisions in which the political title merges with other complicated titles that make the country on the verge of a difficult and critical phase. During this phase, the internal and external intermediaries would fail, as the warplanes, tanks, and canons would continue to shell, imposing the logic of blood over the logic of dialogue. We want the Yemeni authorities to launch this dialogue relentlessly, and we want the other parties to respond to it. We cannot understand how could Yemen propose an initiative concerning the inter-Palestinian dialogue and at the same time fail all the calls for real internal initiatives that put an end to the struggle in Saada and restore unity, stability, and security to Yemen?!

The bloody scene in the Muslim world

This bloody scene, at the advent of the blessed month of Ramadan, in which the images of street fighting in Somalia overlap those of what happened in Gaza few days ago, as well as the calls for taking revenge from the Muslims and those who are fasting in this blessed month… all these developments demand an Islamic stand that reviews these alien lines that are a natural result of foreign occupation and internal oppression, in addition to ignorance and fanatic hatred.

Lebanon: the crisis of living

In Lebanon, recent studies have indicated that reducing the power shortage requires 3 billions and three years, while the state needs several other billions to improve the status of its institutions. Faced by such a situation, we wonder why this desperate fighting is taking place over the various ministries, and why do the parties stick to their demands while the state is broke, knowing that most of those who were in power did not make any serious efforts to reduce the burden of power shortage or to improve the economy that would in turn improve the dynamics of the Lebanese political life.

We say to the Lebanese politicians who are hailed by the people day and night: If your enmity towards each other is deep- rooted that much, and if you do not have the empowered state as your goal, and if you do not have the ability to confront the problems that you yourself have created through the kind of leadership you pursued, then rest down or resign or practice some real fasting that will purify you from the political vices that corrupted the reality and corrupted the mentalities and exhausted the country.