The Month of Ramadhan is coming to an end. This is an opportunity to reflect and to ensure that we come out of this month a better person. If you have not already done so, NOW is your chance. Through the Nights of Qadr and the final stretch of the Holy Month, where we would either be looking forward to it ending or wishing it would go on for ever.
This Holy Month crescendos with the Night of Qadr but also the striking of Imam Ali, peace be upon him, the Gates to the City of Knowledge who is known to have said: – Victorious I am, by the Lord of the Holy House, as he was struck by the poisoned sword of the cursed ibn-muljim.
It is duly appropriate to learn some lessons from Imam Ali peace be upon him, to walk away from the Holy Month of Ramadhan with the intention of being a better person at the end of the month than at the start, and with the hope of reaching what little we can from a victory we know nothing about.
In the 109th Sermon of the sermons given by the First Imam, he gives us several pieces of advice that we should consider and ponder over in the last few nights of this Holy Month and to consider making them a permanent part of our life. Some of these pieces of advice, and their practical application to our daily life, are listed below for all of us, and especially the writer, to ponder over.
In the sermon the Imam lists a number of things that are the best way in which the beggar, ourselves, can beg with to Allahﷻ, and he starts with faith in Allahﷻ and his Prophet, peace be upon him and his Purified Household and the struggle in His way as it is the climax of Islam. He also mentions prayers, zakat, and fasts and the pilgrimage, each having a function to the worshipper which is concisely mentioned. For individuals such as myself, this is a reminder that we should renew our pledge to do the following…
- Prayers – Make the pledge to pray on time from here on end.
- Zakat – Ensure every debt that you owe Allahﷻ is paid.
- Fasts – Ensure no debts for our fasts are outstanding, and continue to fast through out the year. The recommended fasts of the first and last Thursday of each lunar month and the first Wednesday after the 10th of the lunar month are so highly recommended, you should make them up if you could not fast them and if one cannot – should pay the penalty for these recommended fasts.
- Pilgrimage – if you can afford it and have not been yet, it is an obligation upon you that you do so. Pilgrimage in itself annihilates poverty and cleanses sins.
No one can guarantee when we have to live until. Around us, many people have left this world this very month. Young, healthy, fit brothers and sisters that fell ill suddenly and perished. Regret is not a currency we can use in the hereafter.
The sermon also mentions the following:
- The visiting of families – which increases wealth and lengthens life. Brothers and sisters, if our lives are short and its ending is uncertain, that is one thing. But so are the lives of our loved ones. And when these probabilities and certainties are added together, the chance of regret due to inaction is multiplied exponentially. Our mothers and fathers especially, for those fortunate enough to still have them alive and to be living close to them, our brothers and sisters, our wives and husbands, our sons and daughters. Make this month the one where you pick up the phone and contact family you have not reached out to for some time. Ignore the past or whoever may be at fault… for Allahﷻ has on numerous occasions advised us to forgive in the Holy Qur’an, for it is closer to piety and the reward will be with Allahﷻ . Be kind to them, speak softly.
- A charity in secret and a charity in the open – one that covers our errors and the other that pushes away an evil death. Whenever you are asked for something, never reject the seeker. Even if it is a penny or cent. “And as for the beggar, scold him not” .
The Holy Qur’an
The sermon is very short, and will leave you to read it at the end of this article. However, this needs to be highlighted also. In the month of Ramadhan, we at least attempted to recite more Holy Qur’an than usual. Some of us managed to recite one chapter a day. Some more, some less. But the target was to at least recite one chapter per day. However far you were able to get through in a day, we must try to maintain at least some of that for the rest of the year.
In this sermon, the Imam peace be upon him, advices us to learn the Holy Qur’an, for it is the best of narrations, and be learned in it, for it is the spring of the heart. He asks us to seek healing through the Holy Qur’an and the light it has, and to perfect its recitation for it has the best of stories.
Make the Holy Qur’an a part of our daily life, brothers and sisters, so much so, that if we were to sleep with out having recited it would be like to sleep without having brushed our teeth. To leave home with out having recited the Holy Qur’an would be to leave without combing our hair.
“Thus, recite from the Quran as much as possible.”
Then he, peace be upon him, says this in his sermon – One who knows and acts contrary to his knowledge is as the ignorant – who knows not what to do and nor will he wake up from the ignorance he is drowning in.
Our priorities have unfortunately changed, and we need to claim them back. The advice from the Imam, the Divinely Guided, should not be taken lightly. Many of us question why Prophet Adam peace be upon him, despite the advice to stay away from the tree, ate from it when satan whispered to make him believe it would grant him eternity in paradise.
The same question should be reflected back upon us: Why is it that I do not act upon the advice from Imam Ali, peace be upon him, towards my worship and social obligations? Is something else luring me away? Is something else looking more attractive to me? Is satan decorating the life of this world and the ego I have?
Am I a better person this Month of Ramadhan than I was last?
Wa-Alaykum As Salaam
Samer .L. Al-Hakim
Text of the Sermon: The best means by which seekers of nearness to Allah…
ومن خطبة له (عليه السلام) في أركان الدين الإسلام
إِنَّ أَفْضَلَ مَا تَوَسَّلَ بِهِ الْمُتَوَسِّلُونَ إِلَى اللهِ سُبْحَانَهُ: الاْيمَانُ بِهِ وَبِرَسُولِهِ، وَالْجِهادُ فِي سَبِيلِهِ فَإِنَّهُ ذِرْوَةُ الاْسْلاَمِ، وَكَلِمَةُ الاْخْلاَصِ فَإِنَّهَا الْفِطْرَةُ، وَإِقَامُ الْصَّلاَةِ فَإِنَّهَا الْمِلَّةُ، وَإِيتَاهُ الزَّكَاةِ فَإِنَّهَا فَرِيضَةٌ وَاجِبَةٌ، وَصَوْمُ شَهْرِ رَمَضَانَ فَإِنَّهُ جُنَّةٌ مِنَ الْعِقَاب، وَحَجُّ الْبَيْتِ وَاعْتِمارُهُ فَإِنَّهُمَا يَنْفِيَانِ الْفَقْرَ وَيَرْحَضَانِ الذَّنْبَ، وَصِلَةُ الرَّحِمِ فَإِنَّهَا مَثْرَاةٌ فِي الْمَالِ وَمَنْسَأَةٌ في الاْجَلِ، وَصَدَقَةُ السِّرِّ فَإِنَّهَا تُكَفِّرُ الْخَطِيئَةَ، وَصَدَقَةُ الْعَلاَنِيَةِ فَإِنَّهَا تَدْفَعُ مِيتَةَ السُّوءِ، وَصَنَائِعُ الْمَعْرُوفِ فَإِنَّهَا تَقِي مَصَارعَ الْهَوَانِ.
أَفِيضُوا في ذِكْرِ اللهِ فَأنَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الذِّكْرِ، وَارْغَبُوا فِيَما وَعَدَ المُتَّقِينَ فَإِنَّ وَعْدَهُ أَصْدَقُ الْوَعْدِ، وَاقْتَدُوا بِهَدْيِ نَبِيِّكُمْ فَإِنَّهُ أَفْضَلُ الْهَدْيِ، وَاسْتَنُّوا بِسُنَّتِهِ فَإِنَّهَا أهْدَى السُّنَنِ. وَتَعَلَّمُوا الْقرْآن فَإِنَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْحَدِيثِ، وَتَفَقَّهُوا فِيهِ فَإِنَّهُ رَبِيعُ الْقُلُوبِ، وَاسْتَشْفُوا بِنُورِهِ فَإِنَّهُ شِفَاءُ الصُّدُورِ، وَأَحْسِنُوا تِلاَوَتَهُ فَإِنَّهُ أَنْفَعُ الْقَصَصِ.
وَإِنَّ الْعَالِمَ الْعَامِلَ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمِهِ كَالْجَاهِلِ الْحَائِرِ الَّذِي لاَ يَسْتَفِيقُ مِنْ جَهْلِهِ، بَلِ الْحُجَّةُ عَلَيْهِ أَعْظَمُ، وَالْحَسْرَةُ لَهُ أَلْزَمُ، وَهُوَ عَنْدَ اللهِ أَلْوَمُ .
The best means by which seekers of nearness to Allah, the Glorified, the Exalted, seek nearness, is the belief in Him and His Prophet, fighting in His cause, for it is the high pinnacle of Islam, and (to believe) in the kalimatu’l-‘ikhlas (the expression of Divine purification) for it is just nature and the establishment of prayer for it is (the basis of) community, payment of zakat (Islamic tax) for it is a compulsory obligation, fasting for the month of Ramadan for it is the shield against chastisement, the performance of hajj of the House of Allah (i. e . Ka’bah) and its ‘umrah(other than annual visit) for these two acts banish poverty and wash away sins, regard for kinship for it increases wealth and length of life, to giving alms secretly for it covers shortcomings, giving alms openly for it protects against a bad death and extending benefits (to people) for it saves from positions of disgrace.
Go ahead with the remembrance of Allah for it is the best remembrance, and long for that which He has promised to the pious, for His promise is the most true promise. Tread the course of the Prophet for it is the most distinguished course. Follow the sunnah of the Prophet for it is the most right of all behaviours. Learn the Qur’an for it is the fairest of discourses and understand it thoroughly for it is the best blossoming of hearts. Seek cure with its light for it is the cure for hearts. Recite it beautifully for it is the most beautiful narration. Certainly, a scholar who acts not according to his knowledge is like the off-headed ignorant who does not find relief from his ignorance, but on the learned the plea of Allah is greater and grief more incumbent, and he is more blameworthy before Allah.
 Depending on the copy used, may be referred to as Sermon 110 or 107.
 Source: Islamic Laws 3rd Edition – According to Syed Sistani: A new annotated translation by Mohammed Ali Ismail, p. 396
Holy Qur’an2:237 ,2:178, 42:40
 Holy Qur’an 93:10
 Holy Qur’an 73:20
 Holy Qur’an 20:120
 Source of translation and text: https://www.al-islam.org/nahjul-balagha-part-1-sermons/sermon-110-best-means-which-seekers-nearness-allah cited 02/06/18.