New Islamic Directions

By Imam Zaid Shakir

Ramadan Lessons: Fear

Posted in notes by Imam Zaid Shakir on 2009-08-31

In this section, Ibn Rajab mentions some of the sayings of the righteous forebears to illustrate the magnitude of the fear they had concerning the acceptability of their acts. (pp. 375-376) We should not take for granted that our fast will be accepted. Rather, we should search for those areas where we can constantly improve our intention, our actions, and the depth of our devotion.

“The early generations of Muslims would work assiduously to conclude, complete, and perfect their religious actions. They would then be worried that those actions were accepted, fearing that they might be rejected. They are people described by the following Qur’anic verse: They give what they gave while their hearts are trembling with apprehension [lest their deeds be rejected]… (23:60).

It is related that Imam ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “Be more concerned about your action being accepted than you are about actually performing it. Have you not heard Allah mentioning [in the Qur’an]: Rather, Allah only accepts from the righteous (5:27). It is related authoritatively that Fadala b. ‘Ubayd said: If I were sure that Allah has accepted even a mustard seed of good from me that would be more beloved to me than the world and everything in it, for He has said: Rather, Allah only accepts from the righteous (5:27).

Malik b. Dinar mentioned: “Apprehension over the acceptability of an action is weightier than the action itself.” ‘Ata’ al-Salimi said: “Apprehension over a religious act should arise over concern that it was not undertaken for Allah.” ‘Abdullah ‘Aziz b. Abi Rawwad said: “I met them [some pious elders] who would assert themselves strenuously in worship. When they were done they would be gripped with apprehension whether those actions were accepted or rejected.” One of the righteous forebears said: “They [earlier generations of Muslims] would pray to Allah for six months that He would bless them to reach Ramadan. Then they would pray another six months that He would accept those actions [done during the month] from them.”

‘Umar b. ‘Abdul ‘Aziz went out to lead the people in prayer on the day of the post-Ramadan festival, he said to them in his address: “O People! You have fasted thirty days for Allah’s sake. You have similarly stood in prayer for thirty nights. Today you have left your homes asking Allah to accept [that worship from you].”

One of the righteous forebears was visibly sad on the day of the post-Ramadan festival. It was said to him: “This is a day of joy and happiness.” He said: “You are right. However, I am a servant whose Lord has commanded me to perform a task for him. I do not know if He has accepted my performance or not.”



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