Five Weaknesses to Overcome This Ramadan


5 weakness

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The Arabic word for fasting is Saum, derived from the word Saim. Saim is a horse that is kept hungry by his master, and raced to build his stamina for battles. By commanding us to give up on our desires for some part of the day, Allah (swt) intends to build our stamina for our enemy. Who is our enemy? Our enemy is Shaytan (Satan) – man’s clearest enemy. He does not hide his intention to harm us. In fact, that is his purpose in life to cause us to slip, and appear displeasing to Allah (swt).

Ramadan is an annual training month for the Muslims. Through this one month of training, Allah (swt) plans to train us for the entire year. He teaches us what we need to control to strengthen our faith, and become strong soldiers of His army. If one follows the routine in other months as well, by no means can he fail.

Here are the five things – the five weaknesses of man – which one must learn to control.


  1. Hunger


When Allah (swt) created Adam (as), Shaytan looked at Adam’s (as) hollow belly, and knew his place for overcoming this creation. Our indulgence and love for food can be figured out by the number of new restaurants opening up every day in almost every street. The Sunnah is not to eat to our fill. Overeating affects mental, emotional and physical health. Instead of treating yourself to culinary pleasures- eat simple food and feed the deprived instead. Raise your scales for the hereafter.


  1. Desires


Desires lead man to spread corruption. It is desire that provokes a man and a woman to strike an illicit relationship. It is desire to stand-out from the crowd that entices us to buy more and the exclusive. We can splurge without thinking how much Sadaqah could have been given instead. Shaytan knows all his traps well. The day we overcome our desires and only satisfy them through Halal means, we will overcome our enemy.


  1. Sleep


Life of this world is for action while the next life is for rest and leisure. Whenever sleep overtakes, remind yourself of your limited time on earth. Get up and do something that will help in the hereafter. Have extra time? Memorise the Quran. Know it already? Teach a skill to someone especially the underprivileged and help them improve their lives.


  1. Tongue


Misuse of the tongue harms relationships. Therefore, the Prophet (sa) warned us about it, and the scholars have written books narrating the sins of the tongue. Speak good or remain silent. Plant trees in the Paradise by busying your tongue in the remembrance of Allah (swt).


  1. Anger


Returning from the meeting with the Divine when Musa (as) found his people idol worshipping, he flared-up and lost control. Immediately, he made Dua for himself and his brother. Know that anger is from Shaytan. Find the reason for outburst and resolve the matter. Recite the Duas for protection, and ask Allah (swt) to allow you to focus your energies in a better direction.


Keep Your Doors Locked: An Introduction to Shaytan and his Avenues

locked door“O you who believe! Enter perfectly in Islam (by obeying all the rules and regulations of the Islamic religion) and follow not the footsteps of Shaytan (Satan). Verily! He is to you a plain enemy.”(Al-Baqarah 2:208)

Believers are Momineen, a rank higher than Muslimeen. In the above verse, Allah (swt) addresses the believers- the believers who submit to their Lord. Their thoughts, action, speech and silence- are all out of submission to Allah (swt).

Faith is not like a glass of water you can drink. It rises gradually like tiny droplets of rain showering gently. Faith increases with knowledge and application combined. Allah (swt) brings Deen forward to those who are prepared to receive it out of submission. They don’t question why, what, how, where, who, etc.

What prevents people from submitting to Allah (swt) and entering Islam fully?

The Prophet (sa) warned: “The Shaytan (devil) flows in a man like his blood.” (Abu Dawood). He is naturally aware of our weaknesses. Hence, plots against us. He injects evil ideas and makes them seem fair. He beautifies actions of disobedience.  But, our Nafs is more powerful. Shaytan may throw ideas into our mind and heart like a ball. It is up to our Nafs to catch them or let them pass. We need to be vigilant and strict about our fleeting thoughts. But if, our Nafs forms a treaty with the Shaytan, we will belong to the companionship of Shaytan.

The first door through which Shaytan enters is that of desire

He uses this door for majority of the people. The scholars call this entrance ‘Al-Bahimah’ cattle-like. The trial of Adam (as) and Hawa (as) started with food. They were commanded not to go close to a particular tree, and Shaytan tempted Adam (as) to eat of it in order to become immortal. The consequence was that they had to leave Jannah.

Shaytan builds attraction around food, drink and intimate relationships. This is especially relevant to Ramadan, when Allah (swt) forbids indulgence into Halal to train our Nafs against Shaytan. But, Shaytan’s mission is to make us indulge excessively into food and sexual relations.

How can we guard ourselves?

Make Dua to Allah (swt). Eat Halal (permissible) and Tayyab (pure) only. Ask yourself before eating: “Am I really hungry?” Avoid overeating- as it poorly affects our worship, mannerisms, moods, etc. Don’t force-feed a sick person, a guest in the house or a small child. Do not equate food with love.

The second door through which Shaytan enters is that of anger

The scholars call this entrance, ‘Sabaiyah’ like wild animals. An angry person just wants to attack. He carries a burning feeling in his heart.  Anger also leads us to pride and arrogance. Shaytan whispers to people to take revenge, instead of forgiving them.

As a result, we act disgracefully- regretting our actions later. He turns us into a Zalim (oppressor) whom Allah (swt) hates. Instead, Allah (swt) loves Muhsinun (who act beautifully) and suppress their fury.

The third door through which Shaytan enters is the door of Hawa

Shaytan makes some people obey their moods and conveniences. The scholars call this entrance ‘Shaytaniyah’ demonic. They may worship Allah (swt) as much as they like to, in the manner they like to and not be bothered about what Allah’s (swt) commands are. For them their personal choices matter more; hence, they pick and choose. Hawa is like a stubborn child. It will jump into a deep swimming pool simply because it appeals to it.

This attitude is opposite of Taqwa- the state in which you obey Allah (swt) regardless of your own desires and feelings.This sin can be originally seen in Iblees, who used to worship Allah (swt) out of desires because he found pleasure in it. But, when Allah (swt) commanded Iblees to prostrate before Adam (as), Iblees refused.

There is a difference between Shahwah and Hawa. Shahwah is restricted to excess in food, drink, sleep, relations, etc. But Hawa is dangerous, because it prevents a person from entering Islam completely. He embraces some parts and rejects the rest. He is entirely dictated by his moods. He creates innovations.

The cure is to know Allah (swt). Renew our intentions to gain knowledge only to please Allah (swt). And to analyze every action we take.

Pearls of Peace: An extract from Surah Furqan

pearls5Surah Al-Furqan

Now, we begin Surah Al-Furqan – the Criterion.

Stop picking holes in others!

Some of us love picking on others. But why do we do that? Is it because we have silently acknowledged they are better than us and a tiny seed of jealousy sits in our hearts? People mock the practicing Muslim wherever they see them. The Quraish mocked the Prophet (sa) and called him all kinds of name.

Some of their arguments were, “And they say: Why does this Messenger (Muhammad (sa)) eat food, and walk about in the markets (like ourselves). Why is not an angel sent down to him to be a warner with him? Or (why) has not a treasure been granted to him, or why has he not a garden whereof he may eat? And the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers, etc.) say: You follow none but a man bewitched.” (Al-Furqan 25:7-8)

Allah (swt) comments, “See how they coin similitudes for you, so they have gone astray, and they cannot find a (Right) Path.” (Al-Furqan 25:7-9) Because their hearts have been sealed to receive any guidance; therefore, they mock the messenger. Here is a warning for us: never mock the scholars or those who are knowledgeable. It is Allah (swt) who eases the path to knowledge for those whom He chooses. We should pray to Him to make us of those, instead of holding ill thoughts about the other person.

Allah (swt) responds, “And We never sent before you (O Muhammad (sa)) any of the Messengers but verily, they ate food and walked in the markets. And We have made some of you as a trial for others: will you have patience? And your Lord is Ever All-Seer (of everything).” (Al-Furqan 25:20) Had Allah (swt) not sent a human messenger, how would have we related ourselves to him? We would have perhaps said, “Oh, he is not human he does not understand us.” It is a great favour of Allah (swt) upon us that He chose a human messenger whose conduct is an excellent example for entire mankind. Today, the disbelievers are studying his Seerah to improve their lives.

The intense opposition of the Quraish

Why were the Quraysh so intense in their opposition to the Prophet (sa)? It was because of the company that they kept. None of them had a genuine concern for people’s well-being. All of them desired authority and leadership and shamelessly devoured people’s properties. Hence, we go back to our earlier lesson: you are known by the company you keep. Because there was no one in their circle who could advise them to goodness; they considered themselves right. Staying in wrong company only destroys us in the end. Therefore, it is best to distance away from those who call us to a path other than that of the messenger (sa).

A fruitful reminder

Allah (swt) warns us, “And (remember) the Day when the Zalim will bite at his hands, he will say: “Oh! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger ( Muhammad (sa)).” “Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend!” “He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (this Quran) after it had come to me. And Shaytan (Satan) is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need.” (Al-Furqan 25:27-29) This tells us the importance of holding on to the Quran, studying it and reflecting on its verses.

Knot ties with the Quran

On the Day of Judgement the Prophet (sa) will complain, “And the Messenger (Muhammad (sa)) will say: “O my Lord! Verily, my people deserted this Qur’an (neither listened to it, nor acted on its laws and orders).” (Al-Furqan 25:30). This is the month of Quran. Allah (swt) gives us a chance after every eleven months to re-connect with it and not be of those who have discarded it. Let us not miss this opportunity. Let us learn it and also teach it to others.

Discipline your desires

Our hearts are not opened to accept what is against our desires. Ibrahim (as) heard the command of Allah (swt) and he submitted right away. Allah (swt) asks us, “Have you (O Muhammad (sa)) seen him who has taken as his ilah (god) his own desire? Would you then be a Wakil (a disposer of his affairs or a watcher) over him? ” (Al-Furqan 25:43)

Following one’s desires is a sure way to end up in hell-fire, unless one realizes his mistake and repents. Desires are Shaytan’s (Satan) trap to trick men. If everyone was to follow their own desires, there would have been a chaos on earth. Therefore, Allah (swt) blesses us with Ramadan to discipline ourselves and soften up our hearts to follow His instructions.

Traits of a submissive slave of Allah (swt)

Talking about submission, let’s read how Allah (swt) describes His slaves, “And the slaves of the Most Beneficent (Allah) are those who walk on the earth in humility and sedateness, and when the foolish address them (with bad words) they reply back with mild words of gentleness.” (Al-Furqan 25:63)

First, He calls them Ibad-ur-Rahman (the servants of the Most Merciful). He associates them to Himself, and the attribute that He chooses is mercy. Subhan’Allah! He is teaching us to be merciful to others, walk humbly on earth and excuse ourselves from disputes and arguments with a word of peace. Allah (swt) does not like the proud and boastful; humility is a dear quality to Him. Hence, we are required to be humble in our prayers and acknowledge our low position.

Allah (swt) points to another quality of Ibad-ur-Rahman, “And those who spend the night before their Lord, prostrate and standing.” (Al-Furqan 25:64). This is where we should be spending our energies. One night, wake up only for Him. If we can do it for world cup, then why not for Jannah-cup?

We have heard the Hadeeth where it is stated Allah (swt) calls out at night; if there are any people seeking His forgiveness, He may forgive them; or if they are making Dua for something, He may answer it. Let’s not waste this opportunity of getting our Duas answered.

Turn a deaf ear to useless disputes

Engaging in disputes is a futile activity. Such people are not really interested in learning. They argue for the sake of arguing. Therefore, our Prophet (sa) guaranteed a house in Paradise for the one who gives up arguing. Why engage our tongues in something that is not approved by Allah (swt)? Why miss a few moments of Allah’s (swt) remembrance?

In arguments pretend to be deaf. You will be controlling your tongue from committing a sin and also achieve a lot of peace.

Seek refuge in Allah’s (swt) from the Shaytan

One thing is to abstain from sins, another is to increase good deeds and a third category is asking Allah (swt) to avert from us the punishment of Hell. This is the Dua of the Ibad-ur-Rahman:

رَبَّنَا اصْرِفْ عَنَّا عَذَابَ جَهَنَّمَ ۖ إِنَّ عَذَابَهَا كَانَ غَرَامًا إِنَّهَا سَاءَتْ مُسْتَقَرًّا وَمُقَامًا

“And those who say: Our Lord! Avert from us the torment of Hell. Verily! Its torment is ever an inseparable, permanent punishment. Evil indeed it (Hell) is as an abode and as a place to dwell.” (Al-Furqan 25:65-66)

Shaytan (Satan) controls us and we cannot control him, but for Allah (swt) it is possible. Let us then seek refuge with Allah (swt) against the treachery of the cursed one. Add Duas to your daily routine seeking Allah’s (swt) protection. Without His help, nobody can protect themselves from the tricks of Shaytan (Satan).

Spendthrifts – friends of the Shaytan

One of the traps of Shaytan (Satan) is to make us splurge on the non-essentials and when it comes to spending in the Cause of Allah (swt) we are counting change. Or he makes people overspend to later burden them with debts and loans. He is ever so active in snatching away people’s peace. Ibad-ur-Rahman knows the art of budgeting. They are neither extravagant nor miserly and choose the middle path instead. Let’s cut the size of our pocket.

Repent for peace within

Allah (swt) describes that they do not commit Shirk (associating partners with Allah), kill a soul unjustly, or commit illegal sexual intercourse. Since these are some of the major sins, there is punishment and humiliation for he who commits them. But the one who repents and changes himself, he will find his Lord Merciful, “And whosoever repents and does righteous good deeds, then verily, he repents towards Allah with true repentance.” (Al-Furqan 25:71) One of the qualities of a good believer is to be constantly engaged in repentance.

Strive to be the true Ibad-ur-Rahman

The Ibad-ur-Rahman does not testify to falsehood, and stays away from time wasters. In Ramadan, people are hastening towards doing good. Someone is reciting the Quran. Someone is offering extra voluntary prayers. There is someone hastening to give voluntary charity. And then there is someone busy in a computer game. Let us only make the best use of technology, rather than making it a means of our destruction.

Allah (swt) again mentions the importance of holding on to the Quran, “And those who, when they are reminded of the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of their Lord, fall not deaf and blind thereat.” (Al-Furqan 25:73). That is a sign of a living heart. They make Dua for righteous spouses and offspring that will be a comfort to their eyes. For them are treasures as a reward for what they have patiently endured in this world and they will enter peace. May Allah (swt) make us of the Ibad-ur-Rahman. Ameen.

(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s “Pearls of Peace” series, Cape Town, Ramadan 2013. The lecture can be listened to at this link.)