"When the Devil is Shackled"
The arrival of the month of Ramadan is celebrated with joy by the faithful, who would always look forward to its arrival. Many blessings and rewards promised by Allah SWT can be reaped during this holy month.
In fact, the graces and blessings began on the first night of Ramadan. This is mentioned in a hadith recorded by Imam at-Tirmidhi and narrated by Abu Hurairah RA, where Rasulullah SAW was reported to have said: Which means: "When the early evening arrives in the month of Ramadan, (leaders of) demons and devils are shackled, the gates of Hell are closed, not one door is opened, while the gates of heaven are opened, and not one door is closed.”
The devil is perceived as being shackled during the month of Ramadan. However, why are there still many people committing evil acts during the month?
A prominent scholar, Sheikh Abul ‘Abbas Al-Qurtubi once said: The devil is perceived to be shackled only for those who observe fasting strictly according to the tenets and requirements required. In contrast, those who do not fast and do not strictly practice its requirements, the shackling of the devil does not apply. In fact, he adds: Even if the devil is really prevented from interfering and disrupting humans during Ramadan, but evil is still committed, it is then due to the desires, common practices as well as the so-called ‘devil’ within humans that such evil still exists.
Verse in Surah al-An'am, verse 112, which was read out at the beginning of the sermon: Which means: “Likewise did We make for every Messenger an enemy - evil ones among men and jinns, inspiring each other with flowery discourses by way of deception. If the Lord had so planned, they would not have done it: so leave them and their inventions alone.”
Every year, the month of Ramadan greets Muslims around the world. But, in fact, the month of Ramadan is faced by Muslims with different notions, based on individual differences, knowledge, confidence and determination.
There are those who view Ramadan as a time to increase revenue and income from an economic standpoint. There are also those who view it from the point of health, where fasting is simply a mission to lose weight. Even worse, some see Ramadan as a ‘traditional’ ritual without any spiritual significance.
Let us look at how we can improve the quality of our fast:
First: Understand the purpose and mission of fasting clearly
The main goal of fasting as prescribed upon all Muslims is to resist the temptations of desire. Therefore, fasting is a practice to manage or to control desires, which is the enemy within us. If solat is for the connecting of our heart and soul with God, zakat for the cleansing of our soul from greed for wealth, then, fasting is a specific act of worship to resist our desires. This coincides with what Allah SWT stated in Surah Yusuf, verse 53: Which means: "Nor do I absolve my own self (of blame): the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil, unless my Lord do bestow His Mercy: but surely my Lord is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful."
Second: Learn and reflect upon the demands of fasting and maintain discipline
Fasting under such principles would be able to educate our soul, thus acting as an eliminator of sin. Abu Hurairah RA, Rasululullah SAW was reported to have said:Which Means: "Whoever fasts during Ramadan because of faith and expecting rewards, his previous sins will be forgiven".
Third: Avoid matters that decreases rewards and lessens the quality of our fast
If someone is fasting, but does not distance himself from unlawful acts, and disregards the sanctity of the sacred month of Ramadan, his fast does not bring about any effect in the transformation of his behaviour and actions. In a hadith recorded by Imam al-Bukhari and narrated by Abu Hurairah, Rasulullah SAW was reported to have said: Which Means: "Fasting is a fortress, therefore for those who fast, avoid vile and filthy talk. If abused or asked to fight, say: 'I am fasting’, twice.”
Fourth: Make the most of every moment and time to habitually practice obedience
Appreciate the month of Ramadan that we are observing by increasing the performance of acts of devotion for Allah SWT.
As we know, supplementary practices and acts of worship performed during the month of Ramadan will be given multiple rewards, similar to obligatory practices and acts of worship. Therefore, discipline the soul by increasing the performance of supplementary prayers, sharpen the mind by reciting the al-Quran and make it a daily routine to always visit and find solitude in the house of God and, hopefully, our desires and lust will be continuously and comprehensively tamed for the duration of Ramadan
In conclusion, here are some important lessons that can be drawn from the sermon today:
First: The term ‘the devil is shackled’ should be understood in a wider context rather than understood or interpreted literally.
Second: Fasting is not merely abstaining from eating and drinking, but includes strict observation of the pillars of fasting, the requirements, and matters that can invalidate fasting and so forth.
Third: Appreciate the month of Ramadan by performing virtuous deeds through the increase in performing supplementary prayers, reciting the al-Quran, spending time in solitude at the mosque, giving to charity, and so on.
Finally, let us all reflect upon the words of Allah SWT in Surah al-Baqarah, verse 183: Which means: “O, you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may (learn) self-restraint.”