الحمد لله، الحمد لله الذي بنى دينَه على قواعد وأركان، وجعل منها صومَ رمضان، نحمده تعالى ونستعينه، ونشكره تعالى ونستغفره ونستغيثه، نعوذ بالله من شرور أنفسنا ومن سيئات أعمالنا، من يهد الله فهو المهتد ومن يضلل فلن تجد له وليا مرشدا، ونشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له، له الملك و له الحمد، يحيي ويميت، بيده الخير، وهو على كل شيء قدير،  ونشهد أن سيدنا و مولانا محمداً عبده ورسوله، وحبيبه وصفيه، بلغ الرسالة وأدٌى الأمانة ونصح الأمة، النبي الأمي الذي أرسله الله بالهدى والدين الحق، بشيرا ونذيرا بين يدي الساعة، صلى الله عليه وسلم وعلى آله وأصحابه ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.

أما بعد! فيا عباد الله اتقوا الله حق تقاته ولا تموتن إلا وأنتم مسلمون. يأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله وقولوا قولا سديدا يصلح لكم أعمالكم ويغفر لكم ذنوبكم. ومن يطع الله ورسوله فقد فاز فوزا عظيما. اتقوا الله فيما أمر وانتهوا عما نها عنه وزجر.

قال الله تعالى في كتابه الكريم : يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ أَيَّامًا مَعْدُودَاتٍ.

 

Allah says in His Noble Book, the translation of which is, “O you who have belief, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you – so that perhaps you will gain taqwa – for a specified number of days.” In these ayats, our Lord tells that fasting is and always has been one of the core acts of worship of the human being, one of those acts that He, in His infinite Wisdom, has prescribed for us, this umma, just as He prescribed for all those peoples who came before us. It is an essential, intimate and binding part of the contract of each and every one of us with our Lord. It lies at the very heart of the affair and is one of the acts upon which this great deen has been built, one of its foundational pillars. The Messenger of Allah said,

 

بُنِيَ الْإِسْلَامُ عَلَى خَمْسٍ شَهَادَةِ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَإِقَامِ الصَّلَاةِ وَإِيتَاءِ الزَّكَاةِ وَحَجِّ الْبَيْتِ وَصَوْمِ رَمَضَانَ

 

“Islam is built on five (pillars); bearing witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger, establishing the prayer, paying zakat, performing Hajj to the House and fasting Ramadan.” These five things are the things that must be made right for the human being to have any hope of success, they are the things with which we must take the greatest care. They are not something we can take lightly that every element is correct and every parameter met. And like every other pillar, there are elements which are deeply personal – it is a contract between you and your Lord, and there are elements which are social and communal, for we work together for birr and taqwa, not alone. We are not hermits.

The main social aspect of the fast concerns its start and its finish, both on a day-to-day basis and in terms of the actual commencement and completion of the month of Ramadan. The start and finish of the month of Ramadan is not a personal decision, it is a communal one based upon the witnessing, the physical sighting, of the newly-born moon. The Prophet said,

 

صوموا لرؤيتِه، وأفطروا لرؤيتِه، فإن غُمَّ عليكم فعُدُّوا ثلاثين

 

“Begin the fast when you see it and end the fast when you see it. If it is clouded over, however, then complete the thirty days.” The first thing we observe from this hadith is that the Prophet uses the plural form of the imperative: sumu, ‘begin the fast’. Fasting is something we do as a collective, a community. Each person does not follow his personal ijtihad on this matter, everyone goes in to it together and everyone leaves it together. it is something the community does together. It is a sign of deep division in a community, indeed of lack of community, to see two or three different eids in a single city and sometimes even in a single street. This is not something that you would have witnessed in the first community.

The second thing we observe from the hadith is the use of the word ru’ya, an Arabic word that in this context has always been understood until recently by the ulama of all four madhhabs to mean sighting or witnessing. It has always been a condition that there is an actual sighting of the moon with the naked eye. Always. The only differences of opinion lie in how many people must sight the moon for it to be binding and how close in geographical terms the sighting of the moon must be to you for it to count. This ru’ya is only binding when the witnesses are ‘adl, trustworthy. And in order to have trustworthy witnesses, ideally you must have in place the legal framework to determine their trustworthiness. Such a framework is only possible with community, true community with leadership. These witnesses report their sighting to the proper authorities who then transmit it to the people and announce the fast. There must be a minimum of two such witnesses, unless there is clear skies, in which case there must be more, there must be a significant. According to many of the ulama, if one or two people witness the new moon on a clear night, and no one else does, then it calls into question their value as witnesses. It is more likely they are seeing something that is not there than that no one else can see something that is there, and so their testimony should be taken on future occasions with a grain of salt.

If the simple process of witnessing, preferably local in the absence of a single unified Muslim umma, followed by announcement is not followed and instead every person follows his own whim, some following such-and-such a country, some following another, some using one form of calculation and some another, then chaos ensues and instead of unity and community, we get division and strife, fitna. And there are few things worse. Allah says,

 

وَالْفِتْنَةُ أَشَدُّ مِنَ الْقَتْلِ

 

the translation of which is, “Fitna is worse than killing.” If you live in a community, be part of that community – do not be stubborn and foment rebellion, do not isolate yourself and step aside from the group. It is not optional to follow the decision of your local leadership in this matter, it is fard, it is compulsory. And if the leadership has political authority, then they are well within their rights to enforce it and punish any dissenters, as the king of Morocco did a few years ago when a group of people openly disregarded the official position there regarding the start of the month and followed the decision of another country, thereby disrupting the unity of the land. He did not stand by and let them continue, but locked them up until they agreed to abide by the ruling of the land. This was correct and appropriate – if it had been allowed to continue, it would have spread like a cancer until no unity and togetherness could be found. Our strength as Muslims lies in our brotherhood. This is a deen of jama’ah. And it is only when we are truly a jama’ah that we can hope for the helping hand of our Lord.

This year, groups of people will be going out to look for the moon on Sunday night. If it is seen then, then the fasting will be announced for Monday. Otherwise the month of Ramadan will commence on Tuesday the 7th June, after the 30 days of Sha‘ban have been completed.

Fasting is also a deeply personal and intimate act of worship, one of the things that you do that is for Allah alone. Our Lord has described it with the word li, for Him alone. And like all acts of worship, it requires an intention. There can be no ibada without intention – it is the intention that infuses the act with meaning. Without it, prayer is simply a meaningless series of movements, hajj a strenuous exhausting journey and fasting simply doing without food and drink.

The intention for the fast, as with all intentions, does not have to be verbalised. The home of the intention is the heart not the tongue. Reciting an Arabic formula or litany that you have memorised is not an intention, but knowing exactly what you are embarking upon and having a firm resolve to do it as your Lord prescribed is. And that thing that we are about to embark upon is not just any fast, but the obligatory fast of Ramadan, and that is what we must intend.

This intention must take place before the commencement of the act, not after it has begun – that would leave the first moments intentionless, and if one part is without intention, the whole of it is without intention. The Prophet said,

لا صيامَ لمن لم يبيِّتِ الصوم

 

“He who does not make his intention to fast in the night before the fast has no fast.”

An intention is based on certainty, not doubt. It must be wholehearted, not partial. And that implies knowing before the start whether the next day is Ramadan or not. You cannot go to sleep, for example, not knowing if Ramadan has begun or not, and make an intention that if it is Ramadan you will fast, otherwise you won’t. Such an intention is not valid and, even if does turn out to be Ramadan the next day, you will have to make up the day and renew the intention the following night.

According to Imam Malik, one intention made at the beginning of the month is sufficient for the entire month, and does not have to be renewed every night. This intention can only be broken by acts which render the fast either forbidden or non-obligatory, such as menstruation, travelling or illness. The first category, menstruating women, must renew their intention when their periods end and they renew their fast. The latter two, travellers and the sick, if they do decide to fast, must renew their intention every single night until they once again become resident or well. This is the position of the great alim of Madina, although it should be noted that Imam ash-Shafi’i and Imam Abu Hanifa consider it to be obligatory for everyone without exception to renew their intention every night. What this means is that you should strive to be aware at all times throughout this month of the great act of worship you are fulfilling. We ask Allah to give us all a clear intention and a firm resolve. And protect us from the waswas of Shaytan and the doubts and misgivings of our own selves.

 

أقول قولي هذا وأستغفر الله لي ولكم ولسائر المسلمين من كل ذنب فاستغفروه إنه هو الغفور الرَّحيم

 

الحمد لله الحمد لله رب العالمين، وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له وأشهد أن محمداً عبده ورسوله، صلى الله وسلم وبارك عليه وعلى آله وصحبه، والتابعين وتابعي التابعين ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين. أما بعد! فيأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله ما استطعتم واسمعوا وأطيعوا وأنفقوا خيرا لأنفسكم. يا عباد الله أوصيكم وإياي بتقوى الله وطاعته وأحذركم وإياي عن معصيته ومخالفته قال الله عز وجل في كتابه الكريم فَالْآنَ بَاشِرُوهُنَّ وَابْتَغُوا مَا كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا حَتَّى يَتَبَيَّنَ لَكُمُ الْخَيْطُ الْأَبْيَضُ مِنَ الْخَيْطِ الْأَسْوَدِ مِنَ الْفَجْرِ ثُمَّ أَتِمُّوا الصِّيَامَ إِلَى اللَّيْلِ

 

Allah says in His Noble Book, the translation of which is, “Now you may have sexual intercourse with them and seek what Allah has written for you. Eat and drink until you can clearly discern the white thread from the black thread of the dawn, then fulfil the fast until the night appears.”

This noble ayat from the Book of Allah provides us with the basis for the legal definition of siyam, of fasting, for linguistically-speaking, the word simply means abstinence of any kind. Indeed, in surat Maryam, the word is used to describe the abstinence from speech. But that is not what is intended in this context. Food, drink and sexual intercourse are the three things mentioned in the aya, and the three things from which the faster must abstain in order to have a legally-acceptable fast. This fast begins at the first crack of dawn and concludes when night appears. The first crack of dawn means the onset of the time of Fajr and night appearing means when the sun finishes setting below the horizon or the onset of the time of Maghrib. Thus, the prohibition against eating, drinking and sexual intercourse begins as soon as the first syllable of the adhan of Subh is called. From that moment your fast has begun, so no more food and drink can pass your lips, only what is within your mouth already may be swallowed. Those first few moments, qualitatively-speaking, are no different to any other moment in the day, so being loose with them and disregarding them holds the same consequences and brings the same kaffara penalties, so be careful and try to leave a short gap between when you stop eating and when Fajr begins.

For the purposes of fasting, the words food and drink are used in their widest sense. In other words, they refer to any solid, liquid, gas or smoke that is ingested, whether through the mouth or any other orifice, provided that they reach the throat or stomach, and provided that they have some sort of nutritional value and can be avoided. So rocks and stones, which pass through the body unchanged, and small mites and insects which fly into your throat unbidden as you are walking do not break the fast.

In terms of breaking the fast, intention does not come into it according to Imam Malik. Negligence or forgetfulness are not an excuse, your fast is broken as soon as a forbidden substance reaches your throat or stomach, even if it that be in the course of doing wudu. If water reaches your throat you must make up the day.

Sexual intercourse is also used in its broadest sense and refers not just to the sexual act but to all other activities that lead to sexual fulfilment, even the simple acts of looking and day-dreaming. One thing it does not refer to, however, is what occurs while you are asleep as that is something totally beyond your control. So wet dreams that occur during daytime sleep do not break the fast.

Although it is enough to eat something before you sleep and then wake up during the time of Fajr, the best way to fast is to wake up during the time of sahur before Fajr and eat something then. This meal is known as suhur. Similarly, it is also best to break your fast as soon as night comes rather than delaying it until later. There is no extra reward for fasting longer than required, only disapproval. In fact, any sort of unprescribed excess in the deen is a sign of an umma’s sickness, not its wellbeing. The Prophet said,

 

لا تزالُ أمتِي بخير ما عجّلوا الفطرَ وأخّروا السحور

 

“My umma will continue to be in good state so long as they hurry to break their fasts and wait [until the end of the night] to eat their suhur.”

Like any form of meal, iftar is best done in company, and the larger the gathering the more the blessing. And the best way to break the fast is the way of our noble Messenger, with dates and water or milk. So, they will be served every night here in the mosque throughout the month of Ramadan, followed by soup and bread after the Maghrib prayer. There will be a number of different people making soup throughout the month and the soup rota list will be on the message board by the entrance. Everyone is welcome to come and break their fast here with us. I would ask people to make a special effort to come on Saturday nights, because we have a very special program with Dr Yasin Dutton giving tafsir classes between 5 o’clock and Maghrib.

The month of Ramadan is about qiyam as well as siyam, so there will be qiyam al-layl, that is to say the Taraweeh prayer, immediately after Salat al-Isha every single night of the month. The adhan for Salat al-Isha will be called every night at 7.15 pm. Although taraweeh is not obligatory, it was important enough for the second Khalifa, Umar ibn al-Khattab, to establish it in the mosque of the Prophet and call it the best of bid’as. And, since that time, the Muslims have never wavered in praying it, and no Ramadan has gone by without its being established. It is one of the chief means by which the nights of Ramadan are brought to life. The taraweeh in this mosque will comprise twenty rakats, and in the course of the month we aim to complete the khatm of the Book of Allah. Our imams will be reciting in the riwayat of Imam Warsh, a riwaya with strong historical ties to the African continent. So we invite you all to come. Do not miss the opportunities that this month provides.

We ask Allah to bless this month of Ramadan and bless all who fast it and all who stand it in prayer. We ask Him to make it a month of openings for us and for all the Muslims, and a month in which our hearts are joined together and our differences forgotten. We ask Allah to give victory to His deen.

 

إِنَّ اللهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ، يَا أَيُهَا الذِينَ آمَنُواْ صَلُّواْ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُواْ تَسْلِيماً.

اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وَسَلِّمْ وَبَارِكْ عَلَيْهِ وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ  أَجْمَعِينَ. وَارْضَ اللَّهُمَّ عَنِ الْخُلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ أَبِي بَكْرٍ وَعُمَرَ وَعُثْمَانَ وَعَلِيٍّ، وعن أم المومنين عائشة التي أمرنا الله في سورة النور أن ندافع عنها، وَعَنْ سَائِرِ الصَّحَابَةِ أَجْمَعِينَ، خُصُوصاً اِلأَنْصَارَ مِنْهُمْ وَالمُهَاجِرِينَ، وَعَنِ التَّابِعِينَ وَتَابِعِي التَّابِعِينَ وَمَنْ تَبِعَهُمْ بِإِحْسَانٍ إِلَى يَوْمِ الدِّينِ.

اللَّهُمَّ اهْدِ وُلَاةَ أُمُورِ المُسْلِمِينَ لِمَا يُرْضِيكَ وَلِاتِّبَاعِ سُنَّةِ نَبِيِّكَ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَهُمْ عَلَى الصِّرَاطِ المُسْتَقِيمِ، وَأَصْلِحْهُمْ يَا رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ.

اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى شَيْخِنَا، وَعَلَى أَمِيرِنَا، وَعَلَى جَمِيعِ أُمَرَاءِ وَزُعَمَاءِ المُسْلِمِينَ.

اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى المُسْلِمِينَ فِي هَذِهِ المَدِينَةِ، وَوَفِّقْهُمْ لِمَا تُحِبُّهُ وَتَرْضَاهُ يَا أَكْرَمَ الأَكْرَمِينَ.

اللَّهُمَّ أَعِزَّ الإِسْلَامَ وَالمُسِْلمِينَ، وَاخْذُلِ الْكُفْرَ وَالْكَافِرِينَ، وَانْصُرِ المُجَاهِدِينَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ. وَاجْعَلْ كَلِمََتَكَ هِيَ العُلْيَا وَكَلِمَةَ الْكُفْرِ هِيَ السُّفْلَى.

رَبَّنَا ءَاتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقَِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ.

إِنَّ اللهَ يَامُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى، وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ، يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَّكَّرُونَ، وَلَذِكْرُ اللهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ. وَقُومُواْ إِلَى صَلاتِكُمْ يَرْحَمُكُمُ اللهُ.