Through mastery over the forces of our nature, if we are able to fast from the basic needs of life such as food, water and sexual desires during daylight hours, we will find it easier to deny the low desires of self, found in our inclinations toward learned bad habits and the call of satanic influences upon our thoughts and deeds.
The Honorable Minister Farrakhan teaches us in “Self-Improvement: Basis for Community Development,” Study Guides: “Whenever the human being lacks discipline, the society reflects that lack of discipline in the manifestation of excesses: Excessive eating, excessive drinking, excessive sex, the lust for material things, the greed for power, the overpowering of our intelligence by anger and envy. All of these excesses break the spirit of brotherhood and destroy human society.”
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches in How to Eat to Live, Book Two page 55, fasting “is prescribed for us in the Law of the Religion of Islam, (in) the Holy Qur’an, all Muslims who respect fasting should take the fast of Ramadan.” The Month of Ramadan is a means by which we can reach the goal of a selfless, God-centered regard for everything we engage in rather than self-centered, selfish tendencies that succumb to vain urges that heedlessly feed our hungers.
We are not fasting to lose weight. We are fasting to lose our egos and sinful characteristics. Ramadan is an Arabic word, in its root meaning it is to scorch, blaze, roast, or burn suggesting it is a means by which one burns away the impurities of “self.” If we fast with the right mindset, we are putting aside the basic hungers of life, which allow us to purify ourselves from the Enemy of ‘self’ so that we cannot be controlled through our hungers and desires.
As we shield ourselves through self-denial to remove the impurities of “self” we replace the old habits and characteristics of wrong-doing with the adornment of the qualities of righteousness. What beautiful advice we have from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to the Believer in these words: “cultivate within yourself the Attributes of Allah (God).”
Allah (God) Reveals, “(We take) God’s colour, and who is better than God at colouring, and we are His worshippers.” Holy Qur’an, 2:138.
In our worship and service of Allah (God) through that which He has enjoined on us in the way of faith we must never become imbalanced in our focus in the concept of ritual as worship. The concept of worship or devotion in Islam is called “Ebaada,” meaning: obedience; worship; devotion; to submit to the acceptance of the impress of Divine Attributes so as to drink in and reflect them on one’s own person; to be complete and utmost in our humility and submissiveness to the Will of Allah.
“We should open the door of our ears, the door of our heart, the door of our mind, to let Almighty God, Allah come in. For there He wishes to dwell: in the Infinity of the Brain of Man! The Will is the Real Power of Allah (God) in Man. However, the Will must be buttressed, or supported, by Faith and by Knowledge,” teaches the Honorable Minister Farrakhan, in “The Will Of God – Pt. 1.” Muhammad (PBUH) is reported to have said, Allah has stated, “Neither My Heavens nor My Earth contain Me, but the heart of My believing servant contains Me.”
Service, the idea of “Ebaada” in the Qur’an lies not in a the mere declaration of the glory of Allah (God) by lips and performance of certain rituals of service, e.g., prayer, fasting, charity, etc., but it is, in fact, to take on or be consumed by Divine morals to receive the impression of God’s Attributes, thereby taking on His Ways in complete obedience to His Will. Muslims are permitted for this reason to be named after the Attributes of Allah (God). The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan tweeted, ”When you have an attribute of God, you should strive for degrees of excellence in that attribute.”
As we heighten our devotional observation of the principles of faith through acts of prayer, fasting, charity, and the establishment of Truth through struggle (Jihad), we are reminded in the Month of Ramadan the “Great Struggle”— Jihad Al-Akbar— is the struggle of “self.” During the fast, we grow in ability to abstain and the power to grow into the Will of Allah (God), Most High. This opportunity for development in the Presence of God, Himself, is granted to every one of His servants.
The cultivation of the will to break out of the darkness of “self” that has kept us not only isolated as individuals, but as a people and as humanity, in the darkness; the absence of creative thought; the absence of self-cultivation. These are aspects of the “self” that we must eradicate by changing the negative habits of egoism that we all have suffered from to become a “zero.” The Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches in The Theology of Time, June 18, 1972, “When He puts Himself with us, He increased us ten-fold.
God has increased us ten-fold by adding His Number-One-Self. He’s the Great Number One God, putting himself beside nothing, zero. He made nothing ‘0’ come forth. He made something out of nothing by coming and standing beside nothing ‘0’ which was no more than a zero. It made the zero something we could count from. This is you and me.”
Allah (God) has Revealed in the Holy Qur’an, Chapter 59:19, for those that have forgotten Allah (God), He causes them to forget themselves: “And be not like those who forget Allah, so He makes them forget their own souls.” This should remind us that our very ‘self’ identity is intrinsically connected to The Person of God. What is The Personality of Allah (God)? Allah (God), Most High, The Supreme Being, is described in more than 99 Attributes, which represents His Infinite and Exalted Names.
With His infinite Attributes, we are given the capacity, by His Permission, to overcome any obstacle whatsoever. Allah (God) has also stated in the Holy Qur’an, Dhikru-Allah-u-Akbar, “the remembrance of Allah (God) is the greatest force,” Holy Qur’an, 29:45. It is this Force and Power of Allah (God), the Will of Allah (God) that is granted to the one that submits their individual will to the Will of Allah (God), the Believer:
one that righteously submits one’s will, their entire self and being, over to that Power and Force of The Supreme Being, so that one’s actions are no longer our own actions; one’s way is not ones own way, but our way and actions become The Way and Actions of Allah (God), Most High, by seeking His Thinking and Guidance. “When a person gets righteous, God accepts him as His FRIEND. Then the will of each other is with each other. What one wills, the other wills. It is the will of both,” writes the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in “Our Saviour Has Arrived” on page 145.
Muhammad, the Prophet, (PBUH) in an authentic Hadith, Qudsi beautifully narrates Allah’s (God’s) words, saying, “Allah (God) Almighty said: ‘My servant draws near to Me with nothing more loved by Me than the acts of worship that I have enjoined upon him. My servant continues to try to draw near to Me with more devotion, until I love him.
When I love him, I will be his hearing with which he hears, his sight by which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, his feet on which he walks. When he asks Me for something, I will respond, and when he takes refuge in Me, I will grant it to him. I do not hesitate in doing anything I intend to do as much as I hesitate in seizing the soul of My faithful servant; he hates death, and I hate hurting him.’”
Brother Sultan Rahman Muhammad serves as the Student National Imam of the Nation of Islam and resident Imam of Mosque Maryam National Center, Chicago. Visit NOI.org/ramadan, follow @ImamSultanM on Twitter, or email: [email protected].