All thanks and praise to Allah Most High that once again He has permitted us to realize the blessed month of Ramadan altogether. And we pray that this month which the Beloved of Allah has said is the month of Ummat-i Muhammad be a time when the tyranny fallen upon the Muslims be lifted, the wisdom and the honor due to them be restored.
During this blessed month we will fast, we will pray and read the Quran more; we will pay our zakat and alms. But what is important is not what we will do, rather how we will do them.
As we have been told many times, there are levels of worship, the lowest being as the Beloved of Allah Most High says in a hadith: "There are those who pray and all they receive is fatigue and those who fast and all they receive is hunger!" And those people think that because of their heedless worship they should receive their rewards as if Allah Most High needs their devotions. As Hd. Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, says: "Those people are poor tradesmen, who think they give their Lord their prayers and hope to receive health, wealth and happiness in this world and Paradise in the hereafter in exchange!" And Allah the Almighty says:
"...to the ones who do not believe, what they do seems to them good as well."
"Those are the ones Allah shut close their eyes, their ears and their hearts."
"In hell there are many men and jinn, who had hearts which did not care, had eyes which did not see, had ears which did not hear, those are the heedless ones."
Then there is the devotion of the heedful ones, those "Allah gave eyes to see, ears to hear and heart to care and love." Indeed Allah lets those whom He chooses to hear, see and understand, and agree with what they hear and see, those who use the gift which distinguishes them from animals: their intelligence. The blessed Messenger of Allah says: "The one who has no intelligence has no religion." He also says: "A moment of contemplation is better than years of heedless prayers."
For the heedful one, who sees everything as from Allah, whose mind decides that, because all is Allah's creation, they are good and as they should be, and related to each other. And his heart confirms this with empathy, respect and care. It is in that state the heedful one prays and fasts.
This feeling of "tawhid", oneness with all of Allah's creation ties one's body and soul together and makes one a whole. Only in this state of wholeness man can aspire to know himself, otherwise he is like a broken mirror where his image appears as a thousand "I"s.
The only way to salvation is knowing one's Lord, who says: "He who knows himself, knows his Lord." The act of praying, fasting, paying zakatis easy. Although the Messenger of Allah said: "Do not make Allah's religion difficult; make it easy, attractive, give the good news.", he did not mean it was easy to be a true Muslim, a true human being, as only a human being could be a Muslim, nor is it easy to worship as a true Muslim, a true believer, a true human being. What he was alluding to is the misguided, who thinks "more is better", and to the hypocritical, arrogant fanatic who shows off his excessive worship and he believes he is better than the rest, while the Beloved of Allah always advised for the median.
To enjoy the perfume of the rose you have to bear its thorns. Hd. Kushadali Ibrahim Hakki al Halwati says: "Worship is to attempt to accomplish that which is difficult for you, which needs sacrifice and patience. When your praying and fasting become easy and enjoyable, it is as if you have paid and bought something which is now yours. Then you are limiting the Greatness, the Power and Will of your Lord, and it is wrong. To reach your Lord you have to climb a steep path and it is difficult."
Does not our Lord say? "Certainly We will test you with some fear, some hunger, taking away from you some of your goods, some of your achievements. Good news to the ones who show forbearance."
But these difficulties should also be recognized, analyzed and realized. Are they tests from Allah Most High?, who says "I will not test you above your forbearance." Then it is certainly worth showing patience and acceptance. Or are they from the accursed devil? Or from our personal devil, our egos? Then we have to fight them, wage "Jihad-i Kebir", the Holy War against our own selves and take refuge in our Creator as He tells us to do. "Those who strive not to disobey Allah, when they are lead astray, away from truth by the accursed devil, let them call on Allah, and they will soon see the truth." But to recognize the truth you have to know the truth. That is why Allah Most High says: "Are the ones who know the same with the ones who do not know." And to know, one has to learn. The blessed Messenger tells us: "from the cradle to your grave spend your time in learning."
So I humbly pray to the One Creator of all and everything, the Lord of the universe, without Whose will we cannot even wish, Who says "Whatever good comes to you is from Allah, whatever bad comes to you is your own doing", and beg Him that He changes our bad ways to good which comes from Him, that this Ramadan is not spent only with hunger felt during the day and fatigue felt from long prayers at night, neither from the pleasures of the feasts of fast breaks nor the false feeling that because we mechanically do with ease what we are supposed to do, we are worthy of Paradise, but may my beloved children and this humble faqir spend our valuable time with learning, hearing, seeing, feeling, loving the creation because of the Creator, while fighting the temptations of the accursed devil and our private devil-our egos; showing patience to its difficulties and may we pass this test and hope that our Lord calls us His servants, amin.
Sheik Tosun Bayrak Al-Jerrahi