We are on the verge of receiving another of Allah’s great gifts to humanity in the arrival of another month of fasting in Ramadan.
Our two greatest enemies, our selves and Shaytan are about to be met by reinforcements coming to our aid from Allah.
The chaining up of Shaytan is the fast itself because as with the adhan, which chases Shaytan away in hatred of the ‘Shahadatayn’, the fasting Muslim is in obedience to Allah’s command to ‘Fast the month’, and he has no power over those who trust in their Lord.
The need to obey Allah in this foundational act of our Deen is because of our humanity and its lowest impulses founded in the basest form of our selves, ‘the Nafs al-Amara bis su”, but it is not the whole story of our selves. This base self can be transformed, firstly into the ‘Nafs al-Lawama’, the ‘accusing self’ and finally into the ‘Nafs al-Mutma’inna’, the ‘Self at peace’. We only have one self and it is its transformation and purification that Allah and His Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallim, call us to. We need everything that Allah has to give us and He has no need of anything we have to offer, no matter how great we may consider it.
Fasting stops the whispering and influence of Shaytan and curtails the appetites of the self. The self commands to the bad and food and sex are fuel for its efforts. With that cut off it is weak in its resolve to commit wrong allowing the higher parts of our being some respite and space to please Allah with obedience and increase of His worship. Remember the Cherokee legend of feeding the two wolves that struggle for supremacy within each of us and follow the wisdom of the grandfather who indicated that the wolf that would win would be the one the grandson fed.
Ramadan is an annual corrective on our path to Allah in the Next World and a means for us in this one to maintain our passage on the Siratul Mustaqim. It is called the month that is ‘Karim’ but its generosity cannot be measured so therefore, take as much from it as you can for your journey and particularly that Night that is worth a thousand months. Fast your month, awaken your nights, especially the last ten, and if you can stay in i’tikaf, without injury or difficulty to others, then do so that you may totally submit on that most blessed of nights and seek Allah’s forgiveness for all that you have done, because it is a mountain of forgetfulness, arrogance, carelessness, insensitivity, pride, deceit and harm and ask to be protected from it in future. Our ranges of wrong are nothing compared to Allah’s forgiveness and this is key, forget yourself and remember Him and hold to Him and take what He gives you in this blessed month into the next year, and Allah knows best.