Monday, August 16, 2010

The 'Scorching Heat" and "Rain" of the Muslim Month of Ramadan

Al-Syed Muhiyuddin Abdal Qadir Al-Gilani 

"The experts have failed to agree on the significance of the term “Ramadån,” as it is used by Allåh (Exalted is He) in the Qurånic verse [åya]:142

[The time of fasting is] the month of Ramadån,       Shahru Ramadåna ’lladhi
in which the Qurån was sent down                          unzila fihi ’l Qurånu. (2:185)

Some of those experts have declared: “‘Ramadån’ is one of the Names of Allåh (Exalted is He). This is why it is called ‘the month of Ramadån,’ just as Rajab is referred to as ‘the quiet month of Allåh [shahru’llåh al-asamm],’ and ‘the worshipful servant of Allåh [abdu’llåh].’”

From one traditional report, transmitted by Jafar as Sådiq (may Allåh bestow His mercy upon him) on the authority of his father and his grandfathers (may Allåh be well pleased with them all), we learn that the Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace) once said:

The month of Ramadån is Allåh’s month.

According to another traditional report, this one transmitted by al-Asma Abu Amr once said: “It came to be called ‘Ramadån’ for the simple reason that young camels, newly weaned from their mothers, were so badly scorched [rumidat al-fisal] by the heat in the course of this month.”

Other authorities have maintained: “[It came to be called ‘Ramadån’] because, in the course of this month, the rocks and stones of the desert terrain would be scorched [turmadu] by the blistering heat. The [closely related] term ramdå is used as a collective noun, meaning “rocks and stones that have been rendered intensely hot.”

Yet others have said: “It was given the name ‘Ramadån’ because it has a scorching effect upon sins [yurmidu ’dh-dhunub].” That is to say, it burns sins away. This explanation has also been attributed to the Prophet himself (Allåh bless him and give him peace).

It has also been said: “Our hearts absorb a spiritual lesson from the heat [experienced while fasting], along with a reason to reflect on the state of the Hereafter, just as the sand and the stones absorb the effects of their exposure to the heat of the sun.”

To quote the words of [the early philologist and lexicographer] al-Khalil [ibn Ahmad] “The etymological source from which ‘Ramadån’ is derived is ar-ramad, the Arabic term for a rain that arrives in the autumn. This month is therefore called ‘Ramadån’ because it washes the sins away from our physical bodies, and also causes our hearts to experience a process of purification.”

According to a traditional report, Atiyya ibn al-Aswad once had a question [concerning this revelation] to put to Ibn Abbås (may Allåh be well pleased with him and with his father), so he said: It seems that some uncertainty has arisen concerning His words (Exalted is He):

We have sent it down                                    innå anzalnå-hu
on a blessed night.                                         fi lailatin mubårakatin (44:3)           

Ibn Abbås (may Allåh be well pleased with him and with his father) responded to this by telling him:

The Qurån was sent down as a single whole, from the Well-Kept Tablet [al-Lawh al-Mahfuz], on the Night of Power [Lailat al-Qadr] in the month of Ramadån. It was thereupon installed in the House of Glory [Bait al-Izza] in the heaven of this lower world. Then Gabriel (peace be upon him) brought it down and revealed it to the Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace) in a series of installments [nujuman nujumå], over the course of twenty-three years.

Such, in fact, is the meaning conveyed by the words of Allåh (Almighty and Glorious is He), in the first of the following verses [åyåt] of the Qurån:

Oh no! I swear                                                fa-lå uqsimu
by the setting-places of the stars—                bi-mawåqi'i ’n-nujum:
and that is a tremendous oath,                      wa inna-hu la-qasamun
if you did but know—                                   law ta-lamuna 'azim:
that it is indeed a noble Qurån,                     inna-hu la-Qurånun karim:
in a Book kept hidden,                                   fi Kitåbin maknun:
which none shall touch                                  lå yamassu-hu
except the purified,                                        illa ’l-mutahharun:
a revelation from                                            tanzilun min
the Lord of the Worlds.                                 Rabbi ’l-Álamin. (56:75–80)”

The Seventh Discourse: On the excellent qualities of the month of Ramadån.

Al-Syed Muhiyudin Abu Muhammad Abdal Qadir Al-Gilani (b.1078 A.D, Gilan, Iran) succeeded the spiritual chain of Junayd Baghdadi. His contribution to thought in the Muslim world earned him the title Muhiyuddin (lit. "The reviver of the faith"), as he along with his students and associates laid the groundwork for the society which later produced stalwarts like Salahuddin Ayubi. His Sufi order named after him is generally thought to be one of the most popular Sufi orders of the Islamic world.
In Tasawwuf (the sciences of the heart), his spiritual instructor was Shaikh Abu'l-Khair Hammad bin Muslim al-Dabbas. From him, he received his basic training, and with his help he set out on the spiritual journey. After completion of education, Abdul Qadir Jilani abandoned the city of Baghdad, and spent twenty-five years as a wanderer in the desert regions of Iraq as a recluse. He was over fifty years old by the time he returned to Baghdad in 1127, and began to preach in public.

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