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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Imam al-Haddad on Fasting

Condensed Excerpts from 'The Book of Assistance' by Imam al Haddad:

Imam al-Haddad on Fasting (Chapter 19)

Increase your good works, especially in Ramadan, for the reward of a supererogatory act performed during it equals that of an obligatory act performed at any other time. Ramadan is also a time when good works are rendered easy and one has much more energy for them than during any other month. This is because the soul, lazy when it: comes to good works, is then imprisoned by hunger and thirst, the devils who hinder it are shackled, the gates of the Fire are shut, the gates of the Garden are open, and the herald calls every night at Allah’s command: ‘O you who wish for goodness, hasten! And O you who wish for evil, halt!’





You should work only for the hereafter in this noble month, and embark on something worldly only when absolutely necessary. Arrange your life before Ramadan in a manner which will render you free for worship when it arrives. Be intent on devotions and approach Allah more surely, especially during the last ten days. If you are able not to leave the mosque, except when strictly necessary, during those last ten days then do so. Be careful to perform the Tarawih prayers during every Ramadan night. In some places it is nowadays the custom to make them so short that sometimes some of the obligatory elements of the prayer are omitted, let alone the sunnas. It is well known that our predecessors read the whole Qur’an during this prayer, reciting a part each night so as to complete it on one of the last nights of the month. If you are able to follow suit then this is a great gain; if you are not, then the least that you can do is to observe the obligatory elements of the prayer and its proprieties.


Watch carefully for the Night of Destiny [Laylat’ul-Qadr], which is better than a thousand months. It is the blessed night in which all affairs are wisely decided. The one to whom it is unveiled sees the blazing lights, the open doors of heaven, and the angels ascending and descending, and may witness the whole of creation prostrating before Allah, its Creator.


Most scholars are of the opinion that it is in the last ten nights of Ramadan, and is more likely to fall in the odd numbered ones. A certain gnostic witnessed it on the night of the seventeenth, and this was also the opinion of al-Hasan al-Basri. Some scholars have said that it is the first night of Ramadan, and a number of great scholars have said that it is not fixed but shifts its position each Ramadan. They have said that the secret wisdom underlying this is that the believer should devote himself completely to Allah during every night of this month in the hope of coinciding with that night which has been kept obscure from him. And Allah knows best.


Hasten to break your fast as soon as you are certain that the sun has set. Delay suhur long as you do not fear the break of dawn. Feed those who fast at the time when they break it, even if with some dates or a draught of water, for the one who feeds another at the time of breaking the fast receives as much reward as he without this diminishing the other’s reward in any way. Strive never to break your fast nor to feed anyone else at such a time except with lawful food. Do not eat much, take whatever lawful food is present ‘ and do not prefer that which is tasty, for the purpose of fasting is to subdue one’s lustful appetite, and eating a large quantity of delicious food will on the contrary arouse and strengthen it.


Fast on the days on which the Law encourages you to fast, such as the day of Arafat for those who are not participating n the pilgrimage, the ninth and tenth [‘Ashura] of Muharram, and the six days of Shawwal, starting with the second day of the Feast, for this is the more effective discipline for the soul. Fast three days in each month, for these equal a perpetual fast. It is better if these are the White Days, for the Prophet, may blessings and peace be upon him, never omitted to fast them whether he was at home or traveling. Fast often, especially in times of special merit such as the Inviolable Months, and noble days such as Mondays and Thursdays. Know that fasting is the pillar of discipline and the basis of striving. It has been said that fasting constitutes half of fortitude. The Messenger of Allah, may blessings and peace be upon him, said: ‘Allah the Exalted has said: “All good deeds of the son of Adam are multiplied ten to seven hundredfold, except fasting, for it is Mine, and I shall reward a man for it, for he has left his appetite, his food and drink for My sake!”’ ‘The one who fasts has two joys, one when breaking his fast, the other when meeting his Lord.’ And; ‘The odour of the fasting man’s mouth is more fragrant to Allah than that of musk.’


Allah says the truth and He guides to the way. [XXXIII:4]

The Ten Directives of Imam Ghazali



In the name of Allah, most merciful, most generous

The Ten Directives

From the Gathered works of Imam Ghazali (may Allah show him mercy)
Translated by Arfan Shah

Proofread by Adnan Tariq


All praise is for Allah, the giver of success, who gathered the hearts of the lovers, the ability to practice the prophetic way and the rulings of the Quran. The Opener who opens the insight of their eyesight, so they see the place of sublime in the battle of the veiled. The Inspirer who inspired bright proof through overwhelming evidence then affected it soundly. Called them with a tongue to the order of love, from the garden of affection, how can the lover sleep when he sees the beloved ones...?!

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To begin: may Allah blow on us a breeze of closeness; quench our and your thirst from beakers of his love. This is an explanation of our way and a proof for peoples’ realisation. Built upon ten directives that awaken those in slumber so they can establish these directives.

The First Directive 

Is a truthful intention that does not waver because he said (upon him peace and blessings), “The recompense for the intender is their intention.” (Muslim) intention means the determination of the heart. (To do or not do something).



The definition of intention is the determination of the heart and truthfulness is completing an action or leaving an action for the Lord. In reality is it continuing on this natural effectiveness because one of the signs of an unchanged determination is that his resolve towards the goal is unswerving; remaining on his determination. As the action is for the Real (Allah) and this is the necessary truth so do not leave that which you have intended for the Creator.

The Second Directive 

To perform an action for Allah without a co-sharer or partner because he said (upon him peace and blessings), “Worship Allah as if you see him and you cannot then as if he sees you.” (Muslim)

A sign (of this) is that you are not pleased with anything but the Real (Allah) and you see nothing other than him. You avoid creation as the Chosen Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Cursed is the slave of the gold coin.”

He should leave, for the sake of Allah (the All-mighty), all his aspirations; because he said (upon him peace and blessings), “Form the perfections of one’s Islam; is to leave that which does not concern him.” (At-Tirmidhi)

It is passions so avoid if they afflict you because of his speech (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), “Leave that which gives you doubt for that which does not.” (At-Tirmidhi 2520 and An-Nisa'i 5711)

So if these principles are sound then the branches will give fruits of closeness. So be like this in the world and in meaning in the afterlife; upon the extent of your aspiration and steadfastness upon action. Leave error like in the famous prophetic narration, “Be in the world as if you are a stranger or a wayfarer.” (Bukhari) and “Consider yourselves inhabitants of the graves.” (ibid)

A sign of satisfaction and sufficiency with hot, cold and hunger is his speech, “Sufficient for the son of Adam are some morsels which keep his back straight.” (At-Tirmidhi 2380 and Imam Ahmed 17186)

So do not incline to wheat, barley or to the pit of the date stone. Be satiated with pure things and do not desire the impermissible. Do not lower yourself to minor desires. A sign of a stranger is having less and using little and the opposite is being agreeable to much. Not questioning as he is under the shelter of the stranger. The sign of a traveller is his fast response and satisfaction with what came to him of comfort. And the sign of the dead is altruism to his religion as well as questioning, most of the time.

Third Directive
Accepting the Real (Allah) totally and in conformity. Oppose yourself with patience upon separation, hardship; abandonment of whims, distancing (oneself from) passions, places and disagreements. Whoever goes back to him leaves the veil and enters the disclosure. Then he sleeps late; mingles isolation; is satisfied with hunger; his honour is low; his speech is silence and abundance is little.

Fourth directive

Action is by fellowship and not by innovating lest he becomes a follower of his passions. Do not be proud of your opinion as there is no success in he who takes himself as a protector because he (upon him peace and blessings) said, “It is upon you to hear and obey, even to an Ethiopian slave.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Fifth directive
High aspirations delay your corruption. As they say, “Do not leave the action of today for tomorrow.” As some actions are part of others and only those who are satisfied with little are prevented from much. The correct group to follow is the Sunni's not the Shia, not the Mutazilites and not the innovators because of his speech (upon him peace and blessings), “O’ my beloveds, be with the majority.” They asked, “O’ Messenger of Allah, who are the majority?” He replied, “What I and my companions are on.”

Sixth directive

Weakness and lowness. Do not be lazy in the acts of obedience and refraining from striving. Rather be weak in all actions except those for the Real, the Generous. See the Creator through generous and respectful eyes; as some it is means to others; in reverence to the owner of the glory and honour. As the way of Allah (mighty and majestic) is if he desires something; it does not exceed by negating the means. When the Glorious desires to show you his greatness, more than others, the auspices of his order become clear. If you know that everything is under the control of Allah (mighty and majestic) and returns to him; then be grateful for it as it reached you from Him. So make your weakness in a corner and your habitation to him is with apology and do not conceive your ability as there is contention in ability.

Seventh Directive
Fear and hope mean lack of tranquillity in the Majesty of excellence except according to the evident. So be good by showing generosity and excellence.

Eighth directive
Constant worship, this is either the right of the Real or the right of the servant. As the one without a constant action does not have a constant support. Be constant without suffering boredom; be not he who is absent in his actions and words. As the ego is excessive with this in public and in secret. Take into account the rights of the servant as good or occurs from them. He loves or abhors for them what he loves or abhors for himself of good or evil. Know that Allah (the exalted) is not satisfied if he likes that which Allah does not.

Ninth directive
Is constant vigilance of himself and he is not absent from Allah (mighty and Majestic) for a blinking of an eye. Whoever is constant upon being vigilant, in his heart, for Allah (mighty and majestic) negates everything other than Allah, finds Allah and perfection. Then knowledge of certainty will be arrived at by his beauty. He will not see movement, stillness, eye movement or calmness without the power of the All-Mighty being free from it. So increase your vigilance for it will be raised to the level of certain knowledge then to annihilation after that and that is the reality of certainty. So say, “I do not see anything except I see Allah (mighty and majestic) through it. He is the Everlasting that established everything. That is something he established by his order and his power; according to witnessing and presence.” So show etiquette with the Creator and mix with excellent associates. He said (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), “My Lord gave me etiquette and then perfected me in it.”

Tenth directive
Know, what is necessary for you to be occupied with striving internally and the externally. As whoever thinks that he is free from obedience is a bankrupt fool because he has no Lord other than him. He said, “Say, if you love Allah then follow me; Allah will love you.” (The Family of Imran 4:31)


So these are founding principles that castles are based, unlike any other castles. Base it upon large rocks; for the heads of the charges; cultivate your fields; sow seeds of happiness; plant in paradise remembrance; receive gardens of flowers and rivers; its bedding is red anemones of struggle; its bed gardens of enduring reality; in hope of reaping the field by scythes of endeavour; intended for the rich giving of a generous giver and Allah (the exalted) purifies and brings them forth. Indulge freely in the manifest and enjoin from what is shameful. He is the Generous, the Munificent and the merciful.

Peace upon those who follow guidance. Do not innovate, benefit and be beneficial and join the righteous servants of Allah, their party is successful, blessed and shown mercy. Allah send blessings and peace upon our master Muhammad one of the lights of gnosis and the secret of knowledge of God; and upon his family, his companions; whoever follows his path and party. All praise is due to Allah who completed the favour of righteous actions and spreads his blessings. Ameen. (O' Allah please respond.)

Translated from Mujmua Ar-Risail Al-Imam Al-Ghazali. Printed by Maktabah At-Tawfiqqiyyah, Egypt, Cairo.