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Lesson - 35
"And when My servants ask thee concerning Me, surely
I am Nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on
Me, so they should hear My call and believe in Me that they may
walk in the right way." Ch. 2:186
Summary of the previous lesson
This is my third and final lesson dealing with the subject of
fasting. To maintain continuity, I will very briefly summarize what
we discussed in the previous two lessons.
- Striving for a whole month by giving up food and water from
dawn till dusk, regardless of the season and length of the days,
appears to be a difficult task, superficially. Despite the fact
that doctors have now discovered the medical benefits of fasting,
there are many who will still find an excuse not to fulfill this
- The Holy Quran enjoins us to participate in this spiritual exercise
if we believe in Allah and His Messenger. If we have faith in
a doctor's advise, we are ready to take the strongest medicine
which may even be potentially harmful, or to undergo surgery which
could have adverse consequences for our health and may even prove
fatal. We readily and willingly accept all this although the physician
may be in error. Allah is, however free of faults. He does not
give wrong advise. In addition to this we have the testimony of
hundreds and thousands of prophets, truthful and righteous servants
of Allah and saintly persons. They all testify to the fact that
fasting is indispensable for purification of the soul and self
control. Why then do we not heed their advise?
- One could raise the objection as to why such an effort is not
made obligatory in religions other than Islam? To this the Holy
Quran replies that an exactly similar obligation was mandated
for previous nations. They, however, altered the Divine commandment,
in order to make life easier for themselves. In some nations the
ordinary people do not fast at all. In Islam, because the Holy
Quran is unchanged, the institution of fasting has also been preserved.
- The purpose of fasting is to guard against evil (taqwa).
Taqwa means protecting ones soul from harmful and detrimental
influences. No one obviously desires such exposure. Why, then
do people get involved in evil deeds, which cause more injury
or suffering than anything else?
- The reason for all of this is that the human body is similar
to other animals. That is why doctors first test medicines on
animals before administering them to human beings. The emotions
and desires generated in the human body are, therefore similar
to those of animals. Just as other animals do not like any kind
of restriction or restraint, the animal within man also resists
such measures. Loss of control over these emotions, and desires
leads to evil and misdeeds. For example, eating, drinking, and
getting married are lawful actions, but consuming food bought
with dishonestly earned wages, and illicit sexual relations fall
into the category of major sins.
- How is a circus animal trained and disciplined? It is by subjecting
it to deprivation of food, water, and sex for a limited period
of time. It is then only that it can rise above the animal level,
and sometimes perform even human tasks. At least, it becomes disciplined
enough to obey the command of its master. Similarly, fasting deprives
the animal within man of food, water, and sex, and brings it under
his control. This is called taqwa or guarding against evil.
- It is for man to bridle and ride the inner animal to spiritual
heights. In support of this concept, I have given the reference
of Ch.16:8,9. In these verses, after mentioning the physical act
of mounting and riding an animal, attention is drawn to the control
of the inner animal. It is also stated that besides providing
the wayfarer with a ride to make the journey, it is also essential
to show him the way. This guidance on the right path which had
been lost was given back to all of mankind by means of the Holy
Quran, and has been fully preserved to prevent future loss, or
interpolation. Allah is the only Being capable of giving such
guidance, for only He has the awareness of the inner, and spiritual
secrets of man.
Purpose of man's spiritual journey
Man has been given the means to make this spiritual journey, and
he has also been shown the right path. Now only one question remains
to be answered, what is the purpose of his journey? The Holy Quran
is a Book of amazing beauty, it answers this question precisely
in the verse under discussion:
"And when my servants ask thee concerning Me, surely I
May Allah be praised! What an exalted goal this is for the creation
of mankind; man must find God and get close to Him. This important
purpose has been mentioned in the Holy Quran in several places. For
example, the essence of Al- Fatihah is that unique prayer in it i.e.:
"Guide us on the right path.''
I have already explained in my commentary on Al-Fatihah that the destination
of this right path is Allah Almighty, Who is the Source of all blessing.
Below are examples of some other places in the Holy Quran where the
right path is mentioned:
"Surely my Lord is on the right path." Ch. 11:56
"He said: This is a right way with Me." Ch. 15:41
"Then as for those who believe in Allah and hold fast by
Him, He will admit them to His mercy and grace, and guide them
to Himself on a right path." Ch. 4:175
"Say This is my way I call to Allah…" Ch. 12:108
"Surely this is a Reminder; so whoever will, let him take
a way to his Lord." Ch. 76:29
Perfect example of the one who completed his
In the Holy Quran there are many other places where this great
truth has been revealed. I would like to draw your attention to
a couple of things mentioned in the verses under discussion today.
It should be noted that the Holy Quran does not say:
"when my servants ask about Me,"
the statement it makes is:
"And when my servants ask thee concerning Me."
The verse addresses the person of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings
of Allah be upon him) because he is the one who has experienced more
closely than any other human being, the destiny of man's spiritual
journey towards Allah. This is again mentioned in several places in
the Holy Quran, the most outstanding of which are the verses:
"Then he drew near, drew nearer yet, So he was the measure
of two bows or closer still. ... And certainly he saw Him in another
descent, At the farthest lote-tree…When that which covers covered
the lote-tree; The eye turned not aside, nor did it exceed the limit.
Certainly he saw of the greatest signs of his Lord" (53:8,9,13,14,16-18).
Also in the verse:
"Say: This is my way: I call to Allah, with certain knowledge
(basirat) I and those who follow me" (12:108).
The Arabic word basirat in this context, means visualizing
through spiritual insight, or being a certain witness because of
spiritual insight i.e., the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allah be upon him) and those who follow him develop the capability
to visualize Allah with their spiritual sense of sight. A poet has
expressed this very subject in a Persian couplet. Addressing the
Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) he says:
"On the Night Of Ascension your ascent (spiritual journey)
extended beyond the heavens. The point of destination you reached
was not reached by any other prophet."
One always seeks information about the destination from someone
who has already been there.
Bond between Holy Prophet and spiritual wayfarer
needed to complete journey
his verse also refers to the truth that closeness to Allah can
now only be achieved by establishing a bond with the Holy Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). This is the meaning
of the Arabic word, shafa`at which literally means establishing
a bond. Only those who believe in the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings
of Allah be upon him) and follow his footsteps can now find God.
It is a proven fact that closeness with Allah, can now only be achieved
through Islam. The proof of this is that Allah Almighty communicates
with those who are near to Him, and this is found in the followers
of no other religion than Islam.
Other necessities for the spiritual journey
The commentary on the remaining words of this lesson is as follows:
- "So they should hear My call," i.e., those who want to get close
to Allah should follow the guidance of the Holy Quran, and the
example of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon
- "And believe in Me," that is closeness to God is not achieved
instantaneously. The more exalted the goal, the greater the reward,
the harder the achievement, and longer the period to accomplish
it. In order to test the faith of a person, Allah also tries him
with trials and tribulations. It is essential to remain steadfast
and to maintain faith in Allah during such periods.
- "That they may walk in the right way." It is apparent from Al-Fatihah
and other verses of the Holy Quran already quoted, that it is
Allah Who guides man on the path that leads to Him. This has been
expressed in another location in these words:
"And those who strive
hard for Us, We shall certainly guide them in our ways" (29:69).
Allah, then communicates with those who are able to find closeness
with Him in this life. Those who do not receive this honor should
not despair. As long as they are following the right path they
will eventually find their destination, that is closeness with
Allah. It may occur in this life, or the Hereafter. May Allah
make us one of those. Ameen (Be it so).