Weekly Letter

 

Ramadan: The Month of Mercy, Hope and Abundance

The Prophet says, ‘Woe to those who fail to earn Divine Mercy even though they have reached Ramadan, may their faces be dragged on the floor’.

 
This is one of the three instances where our noble Prophet uses such an expression.  
‘Being dragged on the floor’ is an idiom inferring inferior behaviour. He does not mean to curse them.  
He does not mean ‘May God curse you’.  
Or ‘May you be destroyed’ or similar expressions that we use.  
We already place our faces on the ground when we prostrate.  
This is how we should understand the words of the Prophet.  
Ramadan is an opportunity bestowed by God for people to repent.  
In this month, fasting is an opportunity to be purified from sins, God makes fasting a means for your purification.  
You stay hungry and be patient and then earn the reward of your fasting.  
You try to abandon bad habits and therefore earn rewards.  
When you think of all the people who are hungry and less fortunate, you earn rewards for your concerns.  
Just like when people set up food stalls to support the needy.  
You think about it and say ‘So this is what hunger and thirst is like’ and this way of thinking earns you rewards as well.  
The holy month of Ramadan is a time when God approaches believers with Divine Mercy; He can multiply your rewards by a multitude of hundreds.  
Begin with pure intentions, fast during the day, perform the Tarawih Prayer, wake up for the predawn meal and control your body and make the most out of this month.  
The Prophet says again:  
‘Many people who fast get nothing from their fast except hunger and thirst,  
Many people who pray at night get nothing from it except lack of sleep.’  
It should not be like this; while we are hungry we should also compose ourselves by controlling our eyes and ears, tongue and lips.  
Not being negative, not speaking negative, not listening to negative things, not extending a hand to negative things, not taking a step towards negative things.  
Using all of your body and faculties for what they were originally created for.  
And this is something that adds another dimension to fasting.  
You are making all of your organs and limbs fast; this is the sort of opportunity Ramadan provides.  
You will be rewarded depending on how well you do this.  
If you do it in full, you will take your place behind the great Messengers; join the caravan of Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali, may God be pleased with them.  
May God make allow us to fast in that manner and include us in the caravan, which is a reflection of the Luminous Moon, peace and blessings be upon him.  
Let me mention another matter here:  
There is a Turkish proverb that has been transferred from Arabic:  
‘Seek refuge in God from the evil of those who you helped.’  
Many years ago, forty years ago, at a time when emotions were high, when I was at the age where I would respond swiftly to negativities, I was not fond of this proverb.  
This thought will result in pessimism, open the doors of bad assumptions; so you will constantly make bad assumptions about others.  
I altered that statement:  
‘Try to soften those who are against you with kindness.’  
Respond with goodness toward those who commit evil as a requirement of their character.  
When I made that final statement I was unaware of the Messiah’s thoughts on that matter, but later I saw that the Messiah, the monument of compassion and benevolence says:  
‘True goodness is not responding to kind treatment with and the like, goodness is responding to evil with goodness and kind treatment.’  
Someone is moving to hurt you or coming to you to commit an evil act, baring their teeth.  
You need to respond like a human, not like any other creature. You need to look at ways to brush off that evil like a human being.  
Especially today, when matters are purposefully interpreted in ways that in no way resemble the truth, if you act in a similar manner, you will in turn magnify the calamity.  
By means of leaving an affliction alone, one will kill its fertility;  
a calamity cannot give birth another calamity any longer.  
Therefore look to leaving aside evil, vile words, atrocities, and dishonour.  
Act humane towards them.  
They come onto you with teeth baring, mouths salivating, claws out;  
dismiss them in whichever manner is most humane.  
A real believer, at a time when foul winds blow and scatter everything, a time when tsunamis follow tsunamis, and defamations rain upon them, does not waver from the line of steadfastness.  
For example, you have not stepped on an ant; you have cried over the death of a bee, I am mentioning a factual event.  
Despite you being like this, someone will come out and call you a ‘terrorist;’ they aim to legitimise and disguise their hate as sanctions and laws, and then spread and announce this to different parts of the world that they have connections to.  
It will come to the tip of your tongue:  
‘Those who call us terrorists and the vandals who mimic them.  
They are as insane as each other.’ This has come to the tips of your tongues.  
However this is vulgarity, worthlessness, it is to fall to their level.  
Despite it all, it has come to the tip of your tongue, and I think you should keep it there, do not say it; do not multiply the calamities.  
Well, there is a calamity; you are in those waves of affliction, wrapped inside this misfortune.  
Discuss and think with one another to produce logical and alternative strategies so that you may elude this situation as humanly as possible.  
Our great dervish Yunus Emre says, ‘Respond without hands against those that strike you, without speech against those who curse you; a dervish ought to be selfless.’  
Respond without hands against those that strike you, without speech against those who curse you.  
Without speech against those who say, ‘Terrorist!’  
Without hands against those who crush you under their feet.  
The Pride of Humanity behaved as such, the Rightly-Guided Caliphs behaved as such; in the times following there were people of the Umayyads who also behaved as such.  
There were people from the Abbasids, Seljuks, and the Ottomans who also behaved like this or similarly.  
They always acted as such; they chased evil away with goodness.  
This was not their nature; it was not from based on their inferior reasonings.  
The Holy Qur’an states:  
‘Evil and goodness cannot be one.  
Repel evil with what is better (or best).  
Then see: the one between whom and you there was enmity has become a bosom friend’ (Fussilat, 41:34).  
The Qur’an says, ‘goodness and evil is not equal’.  
It says ‘if someone was to attack you, send them away with goodness’.  
And what happens then?  
‘Who knows, maybe those who felt hostility towards you, will one day come to be a confidant, a cordial friend.’  
Yes, on the contrary, if you retaliate with the same evil, you will be responsible for the matrimony of evil.  
When you retaliate to evil with evil, you would be pairing them; like doctors say, you would be causing a ‘vicious circle’ of evil.  
A vicious circle…  
I think it should be left alone.  
Perhaps one day, they will come to you with loneliness, feeling regret.  
In this respect, this should be our general character;  
I am trying to be the interpreter for your character on this matter, with my state of mind.  
You are gentlemen who do not step on an ant.  
You are people who weep before the death of a bee.  
You are people who say ‘I ask for forgiveness from God’ when you recall pouring water into a scorpion burrow seventy years ago, and remember it as a homicide.  
This is who you are; try to stay firm in your character.  
And, to a great extent, you have overcome this trial with your companions.  
When the assets and organisations that you made with great effort were seized and you were treated like rebels, forget striking someone, you did not even bend a finger against their attacks.  
That is how I saw your manner.  
But it seems like some people’s character is not so.  
If they were going to act in this manner, why didn’t we act accordingly, like them?  
‘I wonder what should be done.  
How to react?  
Will you plunge a spear into their bosom or subject them to a shooting spree?’  
Let me say parenthetically, even when we come across such things we should not correspond in a similar manner.  
Essentially, as expressed in books on Islamic theology and jurisprudence, it is a duty to protect a person in five matters.  
(Muslim scholars summarised these five matters as protection of: religion, life, intellect, progeny and wealth.  
These are our ‘fundamental freedoms’ which translate and are referred to as the five matters).  
Humans are entitled defended themselves to conserve them.  
Some lawyers add ‘freedom’ and make six matters, That is, ‘six fundamental matters.’  
If one defends themselves in regards to assaults in any of these matters and dies, they will die a martyr.  
Since, in today’s climate, where there is much sensitivity in such matters, I believe, even if they cause someone’s death, you shouldn’t react in a similar manner.  
‘To retaliate in a similar manner’ is a trait of the wrongdoer.  
This way of thought is what shapes the mind of those who will guide others.  
To respond to evil actions with evil is a trait of an oppressor.  
Let’s us return to the holy month of Ramadan:  
In this blessed month, we firstly are practicing the fast; secondly it has become a custom within society to recite the Qur’an.  
However, to engage with the Qur’an shouldn’t be limited to only a month.  
When we look at the righteous scholars of the early period of Islam, their affiliation with the Qur’an wasn’t limited to the month of Ramadan.  
This issue is mentioned amongst Islamic jurisprudence; examples of where the Qur’an is recited from beginning to end once every three days, even daily.  
To recite this book everyday will be difficult; you will need to dedicate fifteen hours solely to do this.  
That is, you will need to read a chapter (twenty pages) per half an hour; but if you want to read it properly, these sections require on average forty minutes.  
That is, if you read fluently with all grammatical rules.  
(In terms of reading the Qur’an, the etiquette to reading it is classified according to different modes, there are some ways to read faster than other modes).  
I am assuming you could complete a chapter in half an hour with this method; therefore, all thirty chapters of the Qur’an will be read in fifteen hours.  
How did they achieve this?  
The only explanation to this is that their time has miraculously been expanded.  
Certain eminent friends of God talk of the expansion of time.  
Average people even, when talking of this notion, they say:  
‘I prayed forty cycles of the Prayer and the clock was in front of me, when I looked, only five minutes had passed.  
God knows, ‘In one evening I was able to recite the whole Qur’an’, says a man.  
We see this in the biographies of hadith transmitters.  
Yes, from amongst people that you know, those close to me, some said they recited the whole Qur’an every three days.  
This means, that every day they read 200 pages of the Qur’an.  
I wish they understood the meaning while they read.  
The message that has come directly from the Lord.  
‘What is this holy message saying, what does the Lord want from me?’  
Not as though it has been sent to God’s Messenger, read as though it was sent to them.  
Yes, it was sent to Him but it was simultaneously sent to me also; to have this perception.  
This is dependent upon comprehending the meaning.  
However, since we don’t read it like this, collectively reciting the Qur’an is a custom in our mosques; that is, a form of worship to recite it to one another, where one reads and the others’ listen.  
‘What is the Lord saying here?’  
We don’t seem to be worry too much about the meaning.  
The righteous predecessors of the early period of Islam would recite the Qur’an every fifteen days.  
I have not witnessed one say ‘thirty days’.  
However, one should at least recite the whole Qur’an every thirty days, that is twenty pages a day.  
The speech of God should be recited within this time frame, it should be organised in such a manner.  
I would briefly like to mention another matter:  
I don’t have much knowledge on the view of different schools; however, according to Hanafi thought, the consensus is that, if you look at the Qur’an while praying, this will nullify your Prescribed Prayer.  
The scholar Abu Yusuf, says, making an exception:  
‘For the supererogatory Prayer, it is permissible to look at the Qur’an’.  
Abu Yusuf, an important personality during the Abbasid period, he was a Sheikh al-Islam.  
He wrote the Kitab al-Haraj (The Book of Taxation), which was an important book for the state at that time.  
He says, that ‘for the supererogatory Prayer, it is permissible to recite while looking at the Qur’an’.  
There are different prayers that we complete daily, this amount is extra; this amount is obligatory upon us, and this amount is supererogatory  
Like this reading desk here.  
Is there one here?  
Like this reading desk here.  
We could place a copy of the Qur’an on a desk and observe the supererogatory Prayers by reading from it.  
People who know the entire Qur’an from memory could use this as a key, that is, they could have a quick look at it to overcome the deadlock in their memory, in a way by-pass the obstruction.  
Others can completely read from it.  
I wish everyone could read the entire Qur’an at least once in their supererogatory Prayers.  
For God’s sake, if you read the entire Qur’an at least once a month like this, then you will be able to finish it entirely twelve times a year.  
It is the Word of God.  
This is another issue.  
I wish!  
We read the entire Qur’an only once a year, that is during the holy month of Ramadan.  
This is how much we value the Word of God.  
Actually, we should not take this for granted; as God can reward us a thousandfold according to our intentions.  
However, we should at least make the best use of this one time by trying to see the underlying Divine purposes in the Qur’an.  
As I, humbly, have already mentioned earlier, if only believers could read the Qur’an at three different times during the day, then look at the meaning using an annotated translation.  
Not with the Qur’anic Commentary of the prominent scholar Hamdi Yaz─▒r nor that of Razi’s nor of Abu Suud’s.  
Reading one from these will take a long time to finish.  
But you can do it with an interpretation that is compressed into one or two books.  
You may plan your reading as one page from the Qur’an followed by one page of the interpretation. You may divide your chapter to three sections; one part to be read at noon, one in the afternoon and one half an hour before the Tarawih Prayer.  
I believe when divided into three sections, you will be able to finish your 20 pages a day; together with its interpretation.  
If we are only completing one whole recitation of the Qur’an per year; we shouldn’t do it carelessly and mess it up. We should do it with this much dedication.  
What is the purpose of the Almighty for sending the Qur’an?  
What does He want from us?  
In order to see and be aware of these purposes; we must at least put some effort; and be one and together with the Qur’an.  
Yes; during Ramadan number one is fasting; two is Qur’an and three is the Tarawih Prayer.  
Towards the end of his celebrated life, our noble Prophet led the Tarawih Prayer twice.  
However, it would be a difficulty to gather the congregation in this way if it was compulsory.  
In a way, it would impose a burden that would be beyond the capability of people, an ‘impossible proposal’.  
An ‘impossible proposal’ such as the one mentioned in the following verse:  
‘God burdens no soul except within its capacity’ (Al-Baqarah 2:286).  
This will be difficult for some, especially people working or running a business.  
For example, a person may work the land, and it will be hard for them to attend the Tarawih Prayer and pray 20 cycles.  
With the thought that everyone can pray at home whenever convenient for them.  
We can support this with one narration of his words:  
‘Ease and facilitate; do not hinder or make something difficult. Encourage, and do not make it hateful and thereby let people move away from it.’  
I am explaining this for the purpose of clarification.  
At times, the Prophet of Compassion would lead the Prayer more swiftly.  
He says:  
‘I wanted to prolong the standing during prayer, but I heard the cry of a child, and thinking about the state of mind of that child’s mother, I shortened the Prayer’.  
In order to make it easy at all times, the Pride of Humanity puts forward his method of ‘facilitation’.  
Thus, our Prophet leads the Tarawih Prayer for two days, but retreats to his home for the remaining days.  
The next day, the congregation gathers for the purpose of praying 20 cycles of Prayer behind the Prophet, and this is an extraordinary event. Imam Shafi says ‘It can be 8 cycles too’ based on a tradition narrated by the noble Aisha.  
Our mother says: ‘The Prophet would pray 8 cycles of Prayer during and outside of Ramadan’.  
Like the Tahajjud (the Night Vigil).  
But in relation to the 20 cycles consensus of the community takes place during the noble Umar’s time.  
It becomes a strong Sunnah by the consensus of the Companions of the Prophet.  
The Companions outside his door cough and call out so he can hear, he does not appear.  
The Prophet then explains his purpose and reasoning.  
Afterwards, everyone prays individually and happily.  
That is how the 20 cycles of the Tarawih Prayer became tradition.  
And there is another important matter. For someone to pray 20 cycles of prayer at the Tarawih, in relation to the five Daily Prayers.  
In the words of another noble saying of the Prophet, in the future, in realms beyond where deeds will be weighed, if a believer is missing some obligatory deeds, then God will say: ‘Check if he has any supererogatory deeds’.  
This is how it is if you are to look at the matter by taking the following tradition into consideration: ‘Make up for the shortcomings in the obligatory acts with the supererogatory acts’.  
The Tarawih Prayer is one such worship.  
Some of the supererogatory Prayers before or after the Obligatory Prayers will make up for the shortcomings in the obligatory duties.  
That is, if there is a defect in the obligatory acts.  
If we haven’t been able to perform our Prayers properly, if we performed them with some defect, if there is a problem in our ablution and cleanliness, if we have prayed in heedlessness, this means there is a breach, a crash.  
Therefore covering up and repairing these defects with the supererogatory acts and Prayers is a demonstration of God’s mercy; ‘Fill those gaps with extra acts; let my servant not have any gaps’.  
Yes, this is the ampleness of God’s mercy.  
The Tarawih Prayer is a very important form of worship that fills gaps.  
Yes, even if it is difficult, it can be completed if it is performed with this mindset.  
Yes, maybe there were some Prayers which we neglected at some point.  
When we go to the other side, God will fill the gaps with the Tarawih Prayers we completed; then with God’s permission we will say, ‘Praise and glorification for all states of being other than unbelief and heedlessness’.  
Another matter is observing the Tarawih Prayer with the recitation of the whole Qur’an.  
If the Tarawih Prayer is being completed with the recitation of the whole Qur’an, this is very important.  
If only there could be two or three people who know the entire Qur’an from memory present while the Tarawih Prayer is being performed.  
During the morning Qur’an recitation sessions the same verses are being recited; people are also learning a bit from the interpretation of the Qur’an.  
Also when listening in the Prayer.  
‘When we read the interpretation in the morning this was said; when we read it in the noon this was said; in the afternoon that was said, and at night that was said.’  
And when this matter is repeated in the Tarawih Prayer, the Qur’an will establish itself better in our minds; our neurons will open their doors like the doors of a castle to the Qur’an and say ‘enter’.  
Therefore, who knows how many times a day, a reunion will be established with the Qur’an.  
The Tarawih Prayer has also deepness in that manner; it has that meaning.  
May Almighty God make you successful.  
Breaking the fast has its own bliss  
You stay thirsty and hungry; your limbs are dry, and you say I wish I had a sip of water.  
Then the breaking the fast is the time to appreciate the essential value of Almighty God’s bounties  
And (remember also) when your Lord proclaimed: ‘If you are thankful (for My favours), I will most certainly give you more; but if you are ungrateful, surely My punishment is severe’ (Ibrahim, 14:7).  
‘If you are thankful (for My favours), I will most certainly give you more’.  
Feeling that thankfulness; to say ‘how valuable is this water’ when drinking it.  
Now, in Ramadan, a glass of water’s value is known.  
You thank God in such a way, at least with your actions.  
‘All praise be to God!  
You created this water.  
You created the relationship between this water and my mouth.  
You created the relationship with my throat.  
You created the relationship with my body.  
You created the need for water in my body, and I feel them all.’  
When human beings do not think of these, I think it means they live heedlessly.  
The ability of reflecting deeply, pondering deeply, grasping the general meanings, the reasoning of a human being necessitate considering the matter this way.  
If the breaking of the fast makes you think like this, that is a very important matter.  
When you are waking up for the predawn meal, you are abandoning sleep.  
Especially in these long days, you will observe the Tarawih tired, if you will be able to find time or not; will be able to sleep for two hours afterwards or not?  
But, to rise from that sweet sleep, soft mattress, from under the blanket.  
A meal needs to be prepared, which is another challenge.  
Abandoning your comfort, abandoning the comfort of your family, abandoning your relationship with them.  
They are such sacrifices that we cannot comprehend their meaning in the sight of Almighty God.  
Moving on…  
Beyond this point, there is also seclusion; this is also another of the commonly forgotten deeds in Turkey.  
It is implemented but to a great extent, it is only in imitation; there is no relationship between the truth and what is done.  
This seclusion happens in the last ten days of Ramadan, in the form of staying at the mosque.  
But today it is such a time that, either it hardly takes place or is so rare that, I believe that let alone others, the imams do not undertake it, the caller to prayer does not do it, the head of religious authority would not practice it, preachers would not engage in it.  
They say ‘it is enough to fast’; God willing I hope they are fasting.  
Yes, seclusion; that is completely like the life of seclusion that saintly people undergo, real seclusion.  
It is leaving behind the ‘world and what it contains’.  
‘True wisdom is not knowing this world and what it has;  
One oblivious to this world and what it has is the truly wise.’  
Fuzuli says this, who also says: ‘My star is the one which holds up the banner for the poet’s societies’.  
‘True wisdom is not knowing this world and what it has;  
One oblivious to this world and what it has is the truly wise.’  
It is to leave behind the world and everything that it contains.  
To completely lose oneself in the concept of ‘being seen’; to release oneself into this current.  
‘I wonder what it is like to be seen.  
How will it reflect on the mirror of my soul?’  
To always be running with that passion.  
One must also look at seclusion in that way.  
In that place one must eat less, sleep less, experience utmost astonishment, be annihilated and find God Almighty.  
Seclusion…  
This is a state of evaluating the matter in a different way by putting oneself through greater difficulties and suffering.  
Now, I hope God willing, that you utilise the month of Ramadan in this manner.  
I wish that we had the resources and facilities here to undertake seclusion.  
There was such a project; one of our friends wanted to build a mosque.  
My idea was that it would be a place where the groups of females would also be able to stay.  
Bathroom and ablution facilities would be present; at the same time men and women would be able to take part in seclusion in the last 10 days of Ramadan.  
Let 100 hundred people stay in those different rooms; for example in one room let 3-4 women stay, in another 3-4 men; so that 100 people could take part in the seclusion.  
We did not think of these things in the past.  
I do not know if people took part in seclusion in mosques, and whether they would they lie on the floor of the mosque or not.  
Unfortunately though, even though I served as a preacher for thirty years I cannot say I have seen people take part in this kind of seclusion.  
However the Pride of Humanity used to do it; the Rightly-Guided Caliphs used to do it; the Righteous Predecessors also used to do it.  
But now it has either been laid to rest or it is under intensive care. Wherever it may be, it doesn’t seem to be in our lives.  
Seclusion is the crown that tops off all that we do in worship during the holy month of Ramadan.  
By God’s leave it is an action that allows one become a ‘servant king’.  
Those who have devoted themselves in service must follow this route.  
For, if those who explain Almighty God to others, who try to awaken hearts in His light, and those who invite people to the way of God’s Messenger do not completely follow this noble path, nobody will believe them.  
Yes, as I have said before as well; if a person today is born into a life of a church, a synagogue, a Buddhist sanctuary, a Brahman temple, or any other culture, will this person contemplate becoming a Muslim even for a moment after a glance at the current Islamic world?  
It seems to me that if you were to think of it, all of your faculties would be in agreement that there is no chance for this to happen.