Prof. Dr. Mahmud Es'ad COSAN

AKRA FM Friday Discourse

December 29, 2000



As-salâmu 'alaykum wa rahmatullàhi wa barakâtuhû!..

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today is a multiply blessed day full of joy and bounty. It is the third day of Eid al Fitr and and a Friday. May your Eid and Friday be blessed. May Almighty Allah shower you with His mercy and honor you in this world and in the hereafter.

a. The Joy of Eid

Ramadan was a joyous spiritual season full of rewards and inspirations, and it is in the past now. We are sad for its departure, yet we are observing the Eid with joy. Almighty Allah did not want us feel sad for the departure of Ramadan, so He made the Eid follow Ramadan. Alhamdulillah, we are observing it.

Almighty Allah knows the state of His servants. He ordered fasting in Ramadan; it is only a month in a year. He did not want His servants to fast every day of the year. Naturally, there are days that fasting is not observed, so that it does not become a habit. This makes a person be aware of his fasting and earn more rewards. The hardship would bring more rewards. There are ahadith about fasting on the hot days of summer indicating how rewarding it is. We know that some companions of the Prophet used to seek hot days to fast.

If Almighty Allah had allowed, and if the Prophet SAS had recommended it, some special servants of Allah would fast every day of the year. Nevertheless, fasting is recommended on certain days outside of Ramadan, and it is more effective when it is intermittently observed.

Our beloved Prophet would fast certain days and eat on other days despite the fact that he was the most god-conscious, the most god-fearing person. He would earn rewards not only for being patient while fasting but also for being thankful while he eats.

The Prophet would also sleep during the first part of the night so that his body gets sufficient rest to resume daily activities. In the latter part of the night during the precious hours before dawn, he would get up and offer long prayers.

The Prophet did not suggest abandoning the material life entirely; instead, he suggested a balance between the material life and spiritual life. He considered it lawful to work for this world as well as for the hereafter. It is stated in various ahadith that a reliable, trustworthy businessman is among those who are the beloved servants of Allah. Running a business, trading goods is a blessed occupation. Merchandise is brought from other places for the benefit of people. People could buy items that may be hard to find in their localities.

Now imagine certain fruits and vegetables that do not grow in cold climates. Fresh fruits, tomatoes, cucumbers, and other vegetables are grown in the south, on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and taken to colder climates. Variety of such goods is a blessing from Allah. Everything is perfect!

This means that work is good; worship is good, too. We ought to get some sleep for our body to rest. We also ought to get up at night and offer prayers. We must fast certain days, and eat other days so that we can practice being patient as well as being thankful. We must maintain a balance that fits the human nature. That is what Islam wants of us. Al-hamdu-lillâh alâ ni'matil Islam. We are thankful to Allah for the blessed religion of Islam.

Within the jurisdiction and rules of such a beautiful and pure religion, we started the three blessed months of Rajab, Sha'ban abd Ramadan. With increasing joys and pleasures, we reached Ramadan. Our zeal continued to increase in Ramadan. We worshipped sincerely throughout Ramadan.

Some brothers confined themselves in mosques for the last ten days of Ramadan for I'tikâf. They reached the highest peak of worship and conquered it there, Al hamdu-lillah. They rose the flag of victory.

Then, Almighty Allah blessed us with the Eid al Fitr: "O My servants! While you fasted, you have abstained from something lawful other times. You stayed away from food, water, and your desires. The Eid is a gift for you." Now we observe the Eid as a gift from Allah. That is why it is so joyous for us.

May Almighty Allah bless us all with many Ramadans, Nights of Power, illuminated nights, special days and Eids in this world and with a great celebration in the hereafter.

In our hadith discourses, we have tried to explain the blessings of Ramadan and rewards for fasting. We used various ahadith and wise sayings to explain the matter in various aspects. For instance, we said that Ramadan was a month of being a dervish. We also said that it was the month of Qur'an because the Qur'an is recited more often in this month. There is no doubt that it is also a month of patience and perseverance. Many forms of patience is practiced throughout Ramadan. It is also a school of spirituality, for Muslims get an intense spiritual training in this month. Good deeds are carried out in this month, and I hope we all continue practicing the very same deeds in other months. People will live more virtuously with these deeds.

b. Six Days of Fasting in Shawwal

In a hadith, the Prophet said:

RE. 425/11 (Men sâma ramadàna wa atba-ahû sitten min shawwâl, kâna kasawmid-dehr.) Sadaqa rasûlullàh, fî mâ qàl, aw kamâ qàl.

This hadith was narrated by Abû Ayyub al-Ansarî RA whose tomb makes Istanbul more honorable. In some collections, the narrator of this hadith is indicated as Sawban RA. The collections of Ahmad Ibn-i Hanbal, Tahawî, Abû Dawûd, Nasaî, Tirmidhî, Ibn-i Majah, and Muslim include this hadith. It is an authentic hadith; it has a strong chain of legitimacy.

The Prophet SAS said: (Men sâma ramadàna) "If a person fasts in Ramadan, (wa atba-ahû sitten min shawwâl) and adds six days of Shawwal to his fasting, (kâna kasawmid-dehr) It will be like he fasted the whole year." Here dehr means "time." Sawmud-dehr means fasting at all times, but here it means fasting every day of the year. Shawwal is the month that follows Ramadan.

Fasting every day of the year is not recommended by the Prophet. If a person fasts every day, his body will get used to it, and it will become a habit for him. He will not benefit from fasting. One should fast one day and eat the next day so that the body experiences both hunger and food. When it is hungry, it will practice patience. The hardship will bring more rewards in fasting. Fasting everyday is not recommended.

Why would a person fast everyday anyway? The answer is "to earn rewards." A person may think that fasting has such great rewards, so he should accumulate great deal of rewards by fasting everyday. It is not proper to fast everyday, yet a person can get the rewards as though he has fasted every day of the year. It is pointed out in this hadith: "In addition to the fasting in Ramadan, if a person fasts 6 days in Shawwal, he will get rewards as if he fasted every day of the year.

We take this hadith and practice it. Insha-Allah, we will fast six more days after the Eid and attain the rewards and joy of fasting the whole year. May Allah reward you all.

Now we can come up with an explanation: As you know (Al-hasanatu bi-ashri amsâlihâ)the good deeds are rewarded ten folds. A good deed will be rewarded ten times more. Then, 30 days of Ramadan will be rewarded as 300 days of the year. An additional six days will make it 360. A lunar year is about 354 days; it is 11 days shorter than the solar year. There are details of course regarding the leap year and so forth. Here we came up with 360 days of rewards. Please do not come up with the conclusion that the fasting will be rewarded only ten folds. The rewards for fasting is not ten folds, seventy folds, or seven hundred folds; it is more than that. We know that it is rewarded "without a count" because we know that fasting is a worship of patience when it is carried out properly. Its reward is stated in the following verse of the Qur'an:

(Innamâ yuwaffas-sabirûna ajrahum bighayri hisâb) "Surely the patient will be paid their wages without any reckoning." The reward will be so much that the numbers will not be sufficient to express the amount. That means those who observe fasting in Ramadan and six days of Shawwal will receive much more rewards than just ten folds. Furthermore, they will be treated as though they fasted every day of the year.

To inform you about such great rewards, I searched the hadith in the book and found it. I remind that you fast six days in Shawwal continuously or in twos or threes. Complete it to six days so that you receive great rewards.

Ramadan is a school, and we all have attended this school. We have sought knowledge in this school. Now we must practice what we have learned. The most important task in Islam is to practice the knowledge. Failure to practice the acquired knowledge is not desirable. A person who fails to practice his knowledge will be in a difficult state both in this world and in the hereafter; he will have no credit among people.

We learned how to fast in Ramadan, and we will practice it six days in Shawwal. Then, we can also fast on Mondays and Thursdays of the week. There are also fasting days in the beginning, middle and end of the lunar months. In the middle of the month, the 13 th, 14 th and 15 th days of the lunar months--which are known as ayyâm-i biyd because of the moon light during the night--can be observed in fasting. Hence, we should practice fasting throughout the year intermittently as the Prophet practiced it.

Those who graduated the spiritual school of Ramadan should continue with the six days of fasting in Shawwal. I strongly recommend it to my brothers and sisters.

c. Rewards for One Day of Fasting

We also recommend the weekly fasting on Mondays and Thursdays. This is a recommendation of the Prophet. It is not an obligation; nevertheless, these voluntary fasts will also have great rewards. Here is a hadith narrated by Anas RA and included in the collections of Ibn-un Najjar and Ibn-i Asâkir:

RE. 426/3 (Men sàma yawman tatawwu-an falaw u'tiya mil'al-ardi dhahaban mâ wafâ ajrahû dûna yawmil-hisâb.)

"With the intention of worshipping Allah and expecting rewards from Allah, if a person fasts a day voluntarily, he will earn such rewards that If he were given a great amount of gold that would fill up the earth, this amount of gold would not meet the value of the rewards on the Day of Judgement." That means a day of voluntary fasting will be more valuable than gold that would cover the face of the earth and fill it up. This is the reason I recommend you fast the aforementioned six days.

I also would like to remind you about another day for you to fast. You should make a note of it on the calendar, in your notebook, or in your mind: If a person who is not performing pilgrimage fasts on the day of Arafa, i.e., the day before the Eid al-Adha, the sins he had committed in the year that has passed and the sins he may commit in the year ahead will be wiped out! There is a hadith about this.

This is very important. That means Almighty Allah will give him at least one year of life following the Eid al-Adha. Also, his sins will be forgiven. Perhaps, he will not commit sins, and he will be a good servant. A righteous and pure year will be granted to the person.

Having learned how to fast in the spiritual school of Ramadan, we shall practice fasting after Ramadan. We shall start with the six days of Shawwal.

You should remember the purpose of fasting as indicated in the Qur'an:

(Yâ ayyuhalladhîna âmanû) "You who believe, (kutiba alaykumus-siyâm) fasting has been prescribed for you made an obligation for you (kamâ kutiba alalladhîna min qablikum) just as it was prescribed for those before you, (la'allakum tattaqùn) so that you may attain taqwa [be godfearing]."

That means the purpose of fasting is to attain taqwa i.e., to become godconscious and godfearing. That means fasting is like a very precious medicine that would cure a spiritual disease: Lack of taqwa, unawareness, and committing sins without worrying about the hereafter. Ramadan and fasting would bring a person taqwa. (Fe innat-taqwâ khayruz-zâd) "Taqwa is the best company for a person who is on a spiritual journey."

d. The Friends of the Prophet

In a hadith the Prophet said:

RE 162/1 (Awliyâî minkum al-muttaqùn) "O believers! My friends among you are those who have taqwa." These are the ones the Prophet likes the most.

The most important skill we must learn in Ramadan is taqwa. Taqwa also means abstaining from all deeds that may lead to committing a sin. It also means being extremely careful about deeds; avoiding all kinds of offenses and carrying out duties and responsibilities. We should have acquired taqwa in Ramadan.

We also have been trained in Ramadan about strengthening our will and perseverance. For one month, we had access to food and water, but we did not have any during the day despite the hot weather and hunger. We held our desires while we fasted. We practiced how to be patient. After Ramadan, we must continue practicing taqwa. We must stay away from offenses, wrong deeds, and all kinds of bad deeds. We must try to lead a righteous life after Ramadan, too.

Our beloved Prophet said: (Fa-in kuntum ulâ-ika fadhâlika) "If you have become like this, if you have attained taqwa, then you are my close friends." Your spiritual level will be elevated to the rank of my close friends. (Wa illâ fa-absirû, thumma absirû) "If you have not attained taqwa, If you fail to be a Muslim who abstains from sin and offences, fears the wrath of Allah, tries to earn the love and consent of Allah, pays attention to his actions, and keeps a control on his eyes, tongue and hands, then you wait for the calamities that will fall on you." He added: (Lâ ya'tînan-nâsu bil-a'mâl, wa ta'tûna bil-athqàl) "While people come to the colossal court on the Day of Judgement with loads of good deeds and rewarding acts, you should not come there with the loads of sins and offenses that are piled up like mountains. Do not fall into a state like that. (Fayu'radu ankum) If you do, you will not be looked at with favor." Almighty Allah will not favor you, the Prophet will not intercede for you, and those great personages who could testify in your favor will not look at you. If Allah does not like a person, nobody will look at that person with favor. This is why we must attain taqwa and be a godfearing person.

May Almighty Allah give all of you taqwa, and place you among His righteous servants.

e. The Most Generous of Men

In Another hadith, our beloved Prophet said:

RE. 163/5 (Alâ uhbirukum anil-ajwad: Al-ajwadu allàh, al-ajwadu allàh, al-ajwadu allàh, wa ana ajwadu walad-i âdam, wa ajwaduhum min ba'dî rajulun alima ilman fanashara ilmahû yub'athu yawmal-qiyâmati ummatan wahdahû, wa rajulun jâda binafsihî fî sabîlillâh, hattâ yuqtal.)

This hadith was narrated by Anas RA and collected by Ibn-i Abdil-Berr. The Prophet said: (Alâ uhbirukum anil-ajwad) "Listen to me carefully, for I will inform you about the most generous one: (Al-ajwadu allàh) The most generous one is Allah, (al-ajwadu allàh) the most generous one is Allah, (al-ajwadu allàh) the most generous one is Allah."

Almighty Allah is akbar, the greatest one. He is the most high, the most generous. His attributes are so great that there is nothing comparable. He provides sustenance for all, showers mankind with countless blessings.

The Prophet SAS continued: (wa ana ajwadu walad-i âdam) "As a Prophet of Allah, I am the most generous of the children of Adam." During the lifetime of the Prophet, people witnessed countless examples of his generosity. He would give so much that those who witnessed it would be amazed. If he received plenty of goods, property or money piling up high, he would give it away before the day would end. If he received them in the evening, he would distribute them before the end of the night. When he gave, he would give in plenty. He would give a flock of sheep that would fill up a valley to a person. He was the most generous of men in all aspects physically and spiritually.

The Prophet added: (wa ajwaduhum min ba'dî) "The most generous of men after me is (rajulun alima ilman fanashara ilmahû) a person who has the knowledge and disseminates the knowledge." It is a scholar who teaches people and spreads the knowledge. A person may give away some money with which some good may be purchased in the market. That would be the end of the money. But, when a scholar gives away knowledge, this knowledge could make an impact on the recipient's life. It could benefit the person spiritually, physically, and financially. The benefits of such knowledge would outweigh the benefits of the donation of money. Sometimes a person hears a statement from a scholar, and his life changes because of that statement. A word, some knowledge could make a person change his direction in life and could lead him to Paradise. In conclusion, the scholars who teach people are the most generous ones after the Prophet because they donate spiritual treasures to people.

The prophet also said: (yub'athu yawmal-qiyâmati ummatan wahdahû) "A scholar will be treated as an ummah on the Day of Resurrection." Ummah is a group of people who are gathered around a leader. A scholar who teaches his knowledge to people will be honored in this way.

Dear brothers and sisters! Please spread the knowledge you have acquired while you attended the school of Ramadan. Be generous in this way. Teach your children, your neighbors, your friends, and your circles what you learned in Ramadan. Contribute to the spread of Islam. As a world traveller, I see the followers of other religions working very hard despite the flaws in their creeds. They win the hearts of people and advance. On the other hand, Muslims are losing ground in their own countries. They fail to raise their children properly. Yet worse, they fail to keep themselves on the right path. That is why seeking, teaching and spreading the knowledge is very important in our era. Please take part in conveying the message of Islam by teaching what you have learned in Ramadan.

The Prophet described the next generous person: (wa rajulun jâda binafsihî fî sabîlillâh, hattâ yuqtal) "And a person who gives his life for the sake of Allah until he is martyred." A person's life is dearer to him than anything else. Giving up the life, therefore, is a great generosity.

If a person fights for the sake of Allah, he may lose his life or he may take the life of a person. It is not a desirable thing, yet booth sides may lose their lives. On the other hand, in the activities of a scholar, no lives are lost; on the contrary, some lives may be saved by the knowledge. This makes teaching the knowledge superior.

f. Knowledge is the Life of Islam

Since we are discussing about knowledge, I would like to remind you about a hadith:

RE. 223/10 (Al-'ilmu hayâtul-islâm) "The knowledge is the life of Islam." This means if there is knowledge, there is Islam. The knowledge is the life of Islam and the life of mankind. When a person acquires knowledge, he will be saved spiritually and physically, in this world and in the hereafter. With out the knowledge, a person endangers his life in this world and in the hereafter. This is why the Prophet emphasized on the importance of the knowledge. It is the order of Islam. A scholar has a higher rank than anybody else. A scholar would stand at the gate of the Paradise and would be allowed to intercede for anybody he wants. The rank of the scholar is higher than the rank of the martyr. The ink of the scholar is weighed against the blood of the martyr, and the ink overweights.

Being aware of the value of a scholar, you should direct the smartest of your children to seeking Islamic studies. Teach him the Qur'an! Teach him the path of the Prophet and rules of Islam. Then, he will teach Qur'an to people without expecting any worldly gains and without being affected by pressures. As your child teaches people the Qur'an, you will earn rewards.

There may be a time that the knowledge may not suffice to resolve the problems. Fighting may become necessary to protect the interests of Muslims. When the enemy attacks, there will not nay way out but fighting back. Then one has to fight even if it means getting killed. Almighty Allah would give such a person great rewards for his generosity.

One other thing we practiced in Ramadan is how to be patient. Allah loves the patient and the Prophet recommends being patient. It is stated in the Qur'an:

(Innallàha ma'as-sàbirîn.) "Verily Allah is with those who are patient." Allah loves them.

We also learned how to control our desires and we strengthen our will power. A person could earn great rewards out of this patience. Be patient and persevere, then you earn rewards.

In Ramadan we also recited the Qur'an. We recited the Qur'an in the mosques, at home. We must continue reading Qur'an after Ramadan, too. We should try to memorize some surahs and teach our children as well.

If I had the means and the authority, I would teach the Qur'an to all Muslims first. I would make them memorize it. Then when a person seeks other knowledge, he will have the means of discerning the right from the wrong. Because it will provide a sound foundation, a person will be successful in other fields and sciences.

The reason for some people to assume that they are Muslims yet to act in total contradiction to Islam is the way they started their education. If a person starts with the Qur'an and considers it the word of Allah that is revealed to Prophet Muhammad, then he will have a good start. He would tell his children that the purpose in life is learning the Qur'an and living a life in accordance to the Qur'an. Then the child will look at life under the light of the Qur'an, discern the right from the wrong, follow the straight path and avoid the wrong paths.

After Ramadan, we must continue reciting the Qur'an and studying its commentaries seriously. This is my recommendation for you.

As we would get up for the sahur meal, we should get up for the spiritual feasts in the middle of the night. We should continue offering the tahajjud prayers before dawn. The Prophet stated the importance of such prayers:

(Rak'atâni minal-layli) "Two units of prayer in the night..." This is not the obligatory prayer but the voluntary prayer. It is after I'sha, after Witr prayer but before the Fajr prayer.(Khayrun minad-dunyâ wa mâ fîhâ) are better than having this world and everything in it." Do not miss such rewarding deeds.

I would like to end today's discourse with another hadith. It is about something the Prophet loved very much. It is reported by the Mother of Believers, A'isha-i Siddiqa RA, and included in the collections of Bukharî and Ibn-i Mâjah:

RE. 521/13 (Kâna ahabbud-dîni ilayh) "To the Prophet, the most lovable religiosity is (mâ dâwama alayhi sàhibuhû) the continuity of the good deeds." That is, if a person maintains a good deed, then the Prophet loves that person. That kind of practice is a favorable one.

I recommend that after Ramadan you maintain the good deeds you carried out in Ramadan. Keep the purity and sincerity after Ramadan, too. Intensify them and do not let them diminish.

May Almighty Allah grant you His love. May He keep you among his beloved servants in this world and in the hereafter. May he reward you with great rewards in the hereafter. May He honor you in His paradise with His beauty. May He be pleased with you all.

As-salâmu 'alaykum wa rahmatullàhi wa barakâtuhû!..

29. 12. 2000 - SWEDEN