In The Name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Merciful. The advent of the blessed month of Allah

His Eminence, Sayyed Ali Fadlallah, delivered the two Friday prayer sermons at the Imamain Al-Hassanain Mosque, Shaa’ban 27, 1445 /March 8, 2024. Several prominent religious scholars, dignitaries, and hundreds of believers attended the Jumu’a prayer. Following is a summary of the sermons.
The First Sermon
Allah, the Most Exalted, says in His Glorious Book:”
“Allah, the Most Exalted, said in His Glorious Book: ‘The month of Ramadan [is that] in which the Qur’an was revealed, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you, and perhaps you will be grateful.’ (Quran 2:185)

In a few days, the blessed month of Ramadan will be upon us, carrying the glad tidings of mercy, forgiveness, acceptance, and abundant blessings that Allah bestows upon His servants. It invites us to replenish our lives with goodness for ourselves and others, both in this world and the Hereafter.

The Prophet (p.) used to prepare his companions for the arrival of Ramadan. His biography states that in the month of Rajab, he used to instruct his companions to pray: ‘O Allah, bless us in Rajab and Shaa’ban and allow us to reach Ramadan.’ And as Shaa’ban entered, he would encourage them with a similar supplication: ‘O Allah, bless us in Shaa’ban and allow us to reach Ramadan.’
In the last Friday of Sha’ban, just like today, the Prophet (p.) stood to emphasize the significance of this month and the abundant rewards bestowed by Allah. He said: ‘O people! Indeed, the month of Allah has approached you with blessings, mercy, and forgiveness. It is a month that is considered the best among months in the sight of Allah. Its days are the best of days, its nights are the best of nights, its hours are the best of hours. It is a month in which you are invited to be the guests of Allah and are among the honored guests of Allah. Your breaths in it are tasbeeh (praise), your sleep is worship, your deeds are accepted, and your supplications are answered.’

‘O people, the gates of Paradise are opened in this month, so invoke Allah not to close them for you. The gates of Hell are closed, so invoke Allah not to open them for you. The devils are shackled, so invoke Allah not to release them upon you.’

With this, he intended for them to enter this month with awareness, eagerly anticipating its arrival, and to endure the responsibilities imposed by Allah during this time, which require effort, hardship, and perseverance.

These responsibilities go beyond the limits of abstaining from food, drink, and other permissible things, as some might think. Although fasting is the prominent feature, this month is also the month of night prayers, the month of the Quran, the month of generosity and giving, the month of family ties, the month of refining character, and the month of repentance and seeking forgiveness. It is the month of self-purification from any resentment and hatred, the month of guarding one’s senses against the prohibited, and the month of turning back to Allah in sincere repentance asking for forgiveness and following the straight path.

This is what the Prophet (p.) indicated in his sermon when he said: ‘So invoke Allah with sincere intentions and pure hearts that He may enable you to fast this month and recite His Book. Be charitable to the poor and needy among you, honor your elders, be merciful to your young ones, uphold family ties, and safeguard your senses from what is forbidden. Turn away from that which is impermissible to look at and listen to. Pardon the orphans of the people so that your orphans may be pardoned. Turn to Allah in repentance from your sins, and raise your hands to Him in supplication during the times of your prayers, for they are the best hours. Allah looks upon His servants with mercy during these times, answers them when they call upon Him, and accepts their prayers.'”

“So, dear loved ones, the month of Ramadan encompasses all these responsibilities that must be fulfilled, and none of them should be neglected. We should not consider that we have fulfilled the right of Ramadan upon us if we merely observe fasting without performing prayers on time, standing in prayer at night, giving charity to the poor and needy, improving our character, honoring the elderly, showing compassion to the young, or if we do not break the fast of a fasting person or being compassionate to an orphan, and if we do not repent and seek forgiveness from Allah for our sins.

This is what Imam Zain al-Abidien (a.s.) used to supplicate to his Lord when welcoming the month of Ramadan. He said, ‘O Allah, assist us in fasting this month by restraining our limbs from disobedience to You and utilizing them in what pleases You. So that we do not lend our ears to vain talk… Let our hands not reach towards the forbidden, and our feet not step towards the prohibited. May our stomachs be filled only with what is permissible, and our tongues speak only what is upright. May we stand in the prescribed prayers at their designated times and fulfill their obligations. May we excel in maintaining family ties, being generous to neighbors… purifying our wealth through the payment of Zakat. May we reconcile with those we have severed ties with, and seek justice for those we have wronged. May we make peace with those who harbor enmity towards us…’

The times of the month of Ramadan, with its days, nights, and pre-dawn hours, are extremely valuable. They will not return, and we will regret not utilizing them when standing before Allah. With a little effort during these precious moments, a person can protect himself/herself from the fire and attain the highest ranks. The Prophet (p.) indicated this when he said in his sermon, ‘O people! Whoever improves his/her morals during this month will pass on the Sirat on the Day when feet will slip… Whoever with maintains his kinship bonds in this month, Allah will be merciful with them on the Day they meet them … Whoever volunteers for a prayer in this month, Allah will record for them a release from the Hellfire. Whoever performs an obligatory act in this month will be rewarded as if they performed seventy obligatory acts of prayer in other months. Whoever recites a verse of the Quran in this month will have the reward of reciting the entire Quran in other months… This will result in forgiveness and freedom from the Hellfire. Whoever revives Laylat al-Qadr in this month will receive the reward better than a thousand months of obeying.

As we approach this month, we should advise ourselves to consider a few important matters. First, we should plan a schedule for ourselves and what we share with others during this month. We should not let others lead us into programs that distract us from the spiritual, faith-based, and educational atmospheres of this month. This does not mean that we should completely avoid taking a break, enjoying some recreation, which is necessary and should be planned within limits, keeping in mind the essence of this month.

Second, it is important to familiarize ourselves with the religious rulings related to Ramadan. We should know what is obligatory upon us and what may compromise our worship, ensuring that we fulfill our obligations correctly. We should be aware of recommended acts to perform and discouraged acts to avoid.

Third, we should not perceive Ramadan as a month of indulging in food and drink because we abstain from them during the day. Rather, Ramadan should be a month of moderation in eating and drinking, maintaining balance and avoiding extravagance, as emphasized by Allah: ‘And eat and drink but waste not by extravagance. Indeed, He likes not those who waste.’

Fourth, we should take advantage of the familial atmosphere that Ramadan provides. Families come together, and family members meet, fostering relationships that may not happen as frequently in other months. This is an opportunity to strengthen ties between parents and children, and among siblings, to repair any strained relationships.

Finally, as we welcome this blessed month, let us supplicate: ‘O Allah, allow it to approach us with safety, faith, peace, Islam, and glorious well-being. Grant us ample provision, averted afflictions… Let us reach the end of Ramadan with You having forgiven us, pardoned us, and shown us mercy
The second sermon
Worshippers of Allah, I advise you and advise myself to follow the guidance of Imam Al-Rida (a.s), to one of his companions who came to him on a day like this (the last Friday of Shaa’ban). The Imam said, ‘O Abu Al-Salt, most of Shaa’ban has passed, and this is its last Friday. Therefore, rectify any shortcomings in what has passed of it, focus on what concerns you, abandon what does not concern you, increase in supplication, seeking forgiveness, and reciting the Quran. Repent to Allah for your sins, so that you enter the month of Allah while being devoted to Him. Do not carry any trust around your neck unless you fulfill it, remove any grudge from your heart towards a believer, abandon any sin you are committing, and fear Allah. Trust Him in both your private and public affairs, as ‘And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him.’ Increase saying in what remains of this month: ‘O Allah, if You have not forgiven us in what has passed of Sha’ban, then forgive us in what remains of it,’ for in this month, Allah emancipates many from the Hellfire …’

Dear loved ones, through this advice, Imam Al-Rida has outlined what we should do to be worthy of the hosting of Allah in His month, and to qualify for the promised rewards for those who fast, establish prayers, uphold the limits of Allah, and follow His teachings. Thus, we become closer to Allah, and capable of facing challenges.

Starting with Gaza, where the Zionist enemy continues its policy that has become clear, of forcing the Palestinians to leave their land .
Meanwhile, negotiations between the Zionist entity and the Palestinian side continue without reaching any conclusive results. The enemy remains intransigent, seeking the return of its captives without showing any willingness to stop its aggression on the Gaza Strip or allow its residents to return home freely, lifting the blockade. The enemy takes advantage of pressures on Palestinians to force them to compromise on their demands. The support it receives from certain countries that wish it to emerge victorious from this battle, regain the strength of deterrence it lost, and become firmly in control after having lost it to the resistance.

And if there are voices we hear from those countries condemning this entity, some even saying that their patience is running out, it’s not for the sake of the Palestinian people. But it aims to beautify the Zionist Entity image that has been tarnished after the massacres and atrocities committed…However, these opposing voices have not reached and do not seem that it will reach the point of exerting pressure on this entity or stopping its support and preventing it from continuing its war.

It has become clear that the Palestinians can no longer be satisfied with mere words, statements, and condemnations of this enemy, while they want actions and serious positions to end the suffering of their people. It goes beyond providing humanitarian aid, despite their urgent need in the face of the famine that afflicts them. It extends to stopping the bloodshed and destruction that threatens their existence and stability in their land.

In this regard, we renew our call to Arab and Islamic countries to shoulder their responsibility towards this people, which constitutes strength for Arabs and Muslims, enhancing their presence in the world. This requires not neglecting it and being more aware of the consequences of leaving this people to its fate. We warn against leaving it to the Zionist enemy to manipulate its destiny, as it will not keep them immune from its consequences. And let them not forget the wise saying :I was eaten day when the white bull was eaten.

Unfortunately, we find that some view this people to be embarrassing them and a burden threatening their interests. Therefore, today we see them either standing idly by or supporting the enemy in its aggression…

We turn to Lebanon, which continues to adhere to the role it undertook, supporting the Palestinian people based on its belief in human, national, religious, and patriotic constants. It is necessary to support this people and not isolate it, even within the limits and available possibilities.

At the same time, international envoys, the latest being the American envoy, continue their visits to Lebanon under a barrage of threats from them or those issued by the leaders of the enemy’s military and security forces, and against the backdrop of “Israeli” attacks and the escalation it initiated. It is unfortunate that the ideas and initiatives presented only take into account the demands of the enemy and its interests without offering any corresponding guarantees at the same level to protect this country from aggression and lead to the restoration of Lebanon’s full rights in its land and security.

This calls for a unified stance against anyone who wants to diminish the sovereignty of this country and harm its security and stability. At the same time, we call for readiness to face any adventure that this enemy may undertake and threaten with, under the pretext of ensuring the security of its settlers. Although we still believe that, the enemy hesitates to engage in an adventure with a country it has experience and knowledge of its strong points.

In another field, we meet today on the anniversary of the Bier al-Abed massacre, in which more than a hundred martyrs and two hundred wounded, men, women, children, and even fetuses in their mothers’ wombs, fell victim. It was intended to eliminate that voice that has never acquiesced to injustice or arrogance throughout its life. Those who want this country to be a milking cow for them and their interests…

God willed that my father (ra) would be protected and continue the role, which he drew for himself, in disseminating awareness in the homeland and the nation and arousing them to confront aggression. This is materialized by building bridges of communication between its sects, doctrines, and components, considering dialogue as the way to address internal problems. It serves as an inspiration for all advocates of freedom and justice in this homeland and globally, and its echo will remain continuous…