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Welcoming Ramadan - Sermon by Sh. Khalifa Ezzat

24 April 2020 - Sha'ban 1441

All praise is due to God, the Lord of the universe. I bear witness that there is none to be worshiped save God and that Muhammad is His Messenger. May the peace and blessings of God be upon him, his family, companions, and all those who follow them in righteousness.

Dear Honourable Muslims: In Islam, difficulties and calamities are destined by God Almighty. The Messenger of God [pbuh] said, "There is no trouble that comes to a believer except that it removes some of his sins, even if it is the pricking of a thorn.” These difficult times are but a blessing in disguise as per the words of God Almighty, "…but give glad tidings to the patient..." [see 2: 155]

Amid the current global crisis the world is facing as a result of the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), officially announced by (WHO) as a pandemic, it is important for Muslims to counter this pandemic through undertaking the necessary policies and following medical instructions announced by official health organizations and institutions for protection and treatment.

Under this current pandemic disease which is spreading around the world, many religious issues and Islamic rulings require new rulings and fatawas relating to the acts of worship [Ibadat] i.e. prayers, fasting, Zakah, Hajj, funeral services and others. Under this unusual time, the Islamic rulings changes according to the need and necessity.

Dear Muslims: One of the purposes of Friday Khutba is to guide Muslims to the right way and teach them the rules and guidelines of their religion. God says, ‘Remind, for reminder benefits the believers…' [51:55].

This year, we will welcome the blessed month of Ramadan in a very difficult time as the world is facing a unusual challenge i.e. the spread of coronavirus, a pandemic disease. Therefore, mosques are closed. Muslims will not be able to attend congregational prayers during this blessed month. However, they can still do these prayers at with the family. They will hopefully get the same reward.

Ramadan for Muslims is an opportunity for connecting with the Qur'an, performing acts of goodness, a blessing, to worship and develop obedience to God. Ramadan is a great month, a noble season, a month in which rewards for good deeds are multiplied. The gates of paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed. It is a month whose beginning is mercy, middle is forgiveness and end is salvation from hell.

The aim of fasting is to achieve Taqwa [i.e. piety, righteousness and consciousness of God]; to learn patience and perseverance; to learn discipline and responsibility; to purify our hearts and minds; to learn mercy and sympathy; to remember the poor and needy; and to achieve unity and cooperation.

Dear brothers and sisters: I remind you that we should prepare for Ramadan, by purifying our intention and learning the rules and etiquettes of Ramadan; by learning the meaning and purpose of fasting; by watching and counting our deeds; by recognising our shortcomings; by asking for forgiveness and making sincere repentance.

We need to make plan for the month; to fix a time for worship; a time for work; a time for rest; and a time for the family. Ramadan is the month of work and effort; not a month of laziness or sleeping. We should welcome Ramadan with an open heart, that is yearning for closeness to Allah (swt).

Dear Brothers and Sisters: the purpose of our gathering today is to learn and be guided to path of worshiping God; and to be reminded of the rules of worship; whether it is fasting or prayers or Hajj, or Zakah.

Therefore, I would like to remind you of these general rules and guidelines, that many Muslims enquire about.

  • One should make a sincere intention to fast for the sake of God every day before dawn.

  • If someone forgot they were fasting and drank or ate during fasting, he or she should carry on fasting.

  • The elderly, whether man or woman, can break fasting and give Fidyah or Ṣadaqah [charity] instead.

  • Those who have long term sickness such as diabetes do not need to fast, they can give Fidyah or Ṣadaqah instead.

  • Those who have temporary sickness do not need to fast however they must make up the missed days later.

  • The pregnant and breast-feeding women can break fasting if they feel it would harm her or the baby and make it up later.

  • Some categories of people can break fasting because of the nature of their job such as doctors who require full concentration, when they are in theatre performing a sensitive operation.

  • People who find it very difficult to fast or are certain that fasting will affect their health badly, or might faint are also allowed to break fasting.

  • Students who find it very hard to concentrate and are certain that fasting would affect their studies and exam can break fasting and make up later.

  • It is not allowed to break fasting on the assumption that your health might get badly affected. You break fasting only when you are certain that it would be dangerous to fast. This can be known through experience or doctor's advice.

  • It is not permissible to follow the timetable of another country such as Makkah or others to break your fasting with the excuse that it is a long day. This can only be done in countries where sometimes the sunsets very late. In countries where there is daytime and night like Britain, you cannot follow another country's time. However, if you are unable to fast the whole day because of an extreme difficulty that it will cause, then you can break your fasting and make it up later. In the Qur'an, God says: ‘God does not burden a person more than he can bear' [2:286]. ‘God wants ease for you, not hardship…' and say, ‘ God does not burden a person more than he can bear.' [2:286]
Dear honorable Muslims: Finally, take yourself to account before you are taken to account, weigh your actions before they are weighed, and know that the angel of death has already passed us to take the souls of others and without doubt one day he will pass others to come to us. Finally, I ask God to accept prayers, actions, and supplications. I ask Him to guide us all. Ameen

I ask God to guide us all.

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